I have rarely felt so smug as I did in the car park today. Loading mine and a couple of friends’ skis into this rack after a day’s skiing is so utterly, well… convenient, it’s hard not to feel pleased with yourself. Although, credit where credit’s due, I had no hand in designing the thing – it’s Thule’s designers who have done it again. They have made a product that simplifies another part of the chaotic gear-faff that is a ski holiday.
Unlike the plethora of regular clamp-type roof rack ski holders on the market (see Thule’s own standard SnowPack), where the Extender makes everything laughably easy is that it slides on rails off the side of the roof of the car, thereby eliminating the need to reach up awkwardly, AKA balancing with one foot in your wheel arch and the other in the air while trying to load skis one-handed. We were loading skis onto a family seven-seater with a decent height roof, and the fact the rack extended out to the side meant I could load everything with my feet planted safely on the ground.
Thule suggests a maximum five pairs of skis, or two snowboards, but I have experimented and in a squeeze you can quite easily flip a couple of boards over and carry a total of four. The whole system is operated with big solid clicking buttons. The locking mechanism is simple, unlike a roof-box I accidentally hadn’t closed entirely and ended up shearing a key off in the lock. No such problems here. I found it much easier to operate than a roof-box, and you can see the skis you are trying to reach.
There are fittings to adapt the Extender to most roof bars, and fitting them to the ubiquitous aero bars, like our car has, is a doddle. The instructions are easy to follow; 15 minutes should do it. Just be sure to replace the rubber strips in the gaps in your aero bars when you assemble the SnowPack, or be prepared to have a very musical (whistley) drive when you get up to speed. Lesson learned!
Verdict: No more awkward reaching when loading skis onto the roof of the car.