Posted by Rack Attack on 05-27-2015 under Base Rack Systems
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Thule Versus Yakima: What Rack Should I Buy?

What’s better, a Thule or Yakima roof rack? This question is asked by just about every single customer who walks through our doors, and one we’re happy to answer for you.

When considering what type of rack to buy, there are a number of variables you need to consider. That being said, in all but the most extreme cases both options will suit your needs. without issue.

Of all the variables you need to consider, the fit on your vehicle is paramount.

The Fit

The vast majority of vehicles out there have supported roof rack fits from both Yakima and Thule. But in some cases one company’s fit will significantly increase the racks usability, or will fit your vehicle in a more clean, efficient manner.

In order to discern the best fit for your vehicle you will want to input your vehicle’s information into a fit guide.Both Yakima and Thule supply fit guides to detail what will fit on your vehicle, and what accessories the racks support. Rack Attack also provides a “combined” fit guide where you can get all information for all rack vendors in one place.

What to look for:

  • Weight limits. You want a rack that can support the most amount of weight. While this limit is almost always the same across brands, be sure to take a look, as there are cases where one brand will be a clear winner from this number alone.
  • Bar Spread ('X' in the image above). You want a rack which positions the two cross bars far enough apart from each other to carry long loads. The general rule of thumb is a larger bar spread is better.
  • Accessory Compatibility. Take a look at what each rack can carry, and make sure the rack you choose supports the type of load you wish to carry on it.
  • Manufacturer Notes. Read all the notes associated with your fit. On some cars the roof rack will prevent you from opening a sunroof, or various other important pieces of information.

While almost all cars will have nearly identical stats between Thule and Yakima (including Whispbar and prorack), taking a look is crucial in case your vehicle is one of the few with a clear best option.

The Accessories

While just about all Thule and Yakima rack accessories (bike racks, kayak racks, ski racks, cargo boxes, etc.) are compatible with both racks (and many with factory cross bars), it can be convenient to keep to one brand for all of your products, if only for the advantage of using one key for locking all of your rack parts.

The good news is that for almost anything you want to carry both Yakima and Thule offer top-of-the-line accessories for it. While there are a few cases where one company has a clear advantage (such as the Thule Hullavator for lift-assisted kayak loading) for the most part there is no difference in quality between the accessories of each brand. What is ‘best’ often comes down to preference.

The Look

Adding racks and accessories to your vehicle will change how it looks, so you will want to make sure you like the look of the racks you put on your vehicle. There is no better or worse option here, it’s purely based on you, your car, and what you like.

For the most part it’s the look of the accessories where you will find the biggest differences. For the base roof racks both companies offer a variety of styles of bars from which you can choose to suit.

The Price

Finally, the price should be your final factor. If all other variables are the same, then the price will be all the information you need to make your decision. Be sure to price out the rack along with the accessories you desire. Also pay close attention to sale items as these can be a good way to save a few bucks.

For the most part the price between the main rack companies is comparable. While it is possible to find some much cheaper racks out there, it’s very important you do your research to ensure the quality of the product you are buying. Both Yakima and Thule guarantee their fits are secure and will not damage your vehicle. Saving money by going with a “one size fits all” type of system stands a very good chance at damaging your vehicle, costing you far more money down the road.

As usual, if you have any questions about racks or fits for your car you can give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you.

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