How to transport skis

Young man packing his skis in the trunk of the car
Our guide to how to transport skis covers the best three solutions for any size of car to get you and your gear to the slopes without any hassle (Image credit: AleksandarNakic)

There’s snow in the forecast, you’ve waxed your skis, picked out a new pair of ski goggles and hauled your best ski jacket out of storage. And that’s not the half of it. By nature, skiing involves a lot of gear – boots, poles, a helmet and lots of bulky clothes. Chances are, you live a car ride away from the nearest resort or mountain and that’s if you’re really lucky. So in order to take advantage of all that fresh snow, you need to figure out how to get your gear to the mountain, and that can be tricky, especially if you have a smaller car. Clearly, you don’t want to pay for rentals when you have your own gear, so check out these three good options for how to transport skis so you can make your best turns on the hill.

1. Inside your car

family at a parking lot unloading ski and snowboard equipment out of their car

Transporting your skis inside your car is the most cost-effective and fuel efficient way to get them to the slopes (Image credit: Daniel Milchev)

Transporting your skis inside your car is the most cost-effective and fuel efficient way to get them to the slopes, and it usually keeps your skis more secure than other options. We won’t lie, it’s easier done when you have less passengers and other gear in your car, and when you drive a larger vehicle such as a truck or SUV, however you can still fit skis in a hatchback or sedan too so long as you know how.

If you do drive an SUV, your skis might simply fit in the trunk leaning up against the back seats. With a small-to-medium sized vehicle, it’s ideal if you can fold down the back seats and slide your skis in so that the tips rest in the center console between the two front seats. If you’re driving alone, you may also be able to fit your skis into the front diagonally so that the tails sit in the passenger footwell and the tips rest on the headrest of the back seat. This leaves your backseat and trunk available for other gear. Always strap your skis together and make sure they’re secure so that they can’t dislodge and interfere with your driving. 

Of course, it’s a good idea to check your skis fit inside your car before you actually want to go skiing, but this option keeps your skis protected from dirt that kicks up from the road, and the rusting influence of the elements. To keep them even better protected, you can place them inside a ski bag before packing them up (this way you’ll have what you need if you ever have to fly with your skis, too).

2. Roof rack 

woman removing skis from car while standing by friend at ski resort

The advantages of roof racks are that they are reasonably inexpensive, usually pretty easy to use (Image credit: Cavan Images)

Let’s say you’re also transporting luggage and other people and there’s absolutely no way any skis are fitting inside your car – what now? Well, depending on what kind of car you have, you can buy a roof rack that will hold your skis while you drive. Roof racks can mount onto the bars on the roof of your car, or attach via magnets or ball mountains. Not all roof racks work with all cars, but if you have bars, you can probably find something quite easily.

The advantages of roof racks are that they are reasonably inexpensive, usually pretty easy to use and they’re easy to store if you want to remove them, but they do have some real disadvantages too. If they’re mounted properly, they won’t cause any damage to your car, but they won’t protect your skis from rusting or all the grime that gets kicked up when you’re driving on grit-covered roads, which means your skis might need a good clean when you get to the slopes, and again when you return home. Annoying. 

They can also make your skis quite easy to steal if you’re leaving them on your vehicle for any length of time, and of course everyone can see your skis which may make them more tantalizing to the sticky-fingered. So, if you have a really nice pair of skis, make sure you park somewhere secure or make this your last option.

3. Cargo box 

Family loading cargo box

Once mounted, cargo boxes are easy to use and have locks to keep your skis protected from thieves (Image credit: Scott Markewitz)

If you have absolutely no room inside your car and you’re looking for a more secure transportation option than a roof rack that keeps your skis clean, you’re really looking at purchasing a cargo box.

The chances are that you can find a cargo box big enough to fit your skis that will work with your car, even if your car is on the small side. Once mounted, cargo boxes are easy to use and have locks to keep your skis protected from thieves as well as from the elements and dirt.

The downsides of this option are that cargo boxes aren’t cheap, costing anywhere between about $500 and $2000 and they also cut down on your fuel efficiency, making this the least economical option and not useful if you’re skiing on a budget. Furthermore, they’re quite large so if you want to take yours off your car during the summer months to improve your fuel efficiency, you’ll need a garage or storage space to store yours.

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.