Thule Vs Yakima [Which to Choose for a Bike Rack or Roof Box?]

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

When buying a car rack, Thule and Yakima are the two brands that often come to mind. Thule vs. Yakima, which one makes better car tracks?

Generally, the Thule racks offer more functionality and style than the racks made by Yakima. However, these racks are pricier. The Yakima racks are more budget-friendly and offer the basic functionality expected of car racks. Yakima’s racks cost less because they are not as stylish compared to Thule’s racks.

The racks made by these two companies look very similar. What makes them different from each other are their features and their prices. But in terms of quality and customer service, they are on equal footing.

Read on to learn more about the racks made by Thule and Yakima, their features and differences, and which of the two is the better brand.

Also, take a look at the best Thule roof rack, the Thule Evo Clamp, on Amazon to see its price and great reviews:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

And the best Yakima roof rack, the JetStream Bar Aerodynamic Crossbars for Roof Rack Systems:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Thule Vs Yakima

Thule Vs Yakima

Basically, the racks made by Thule are more stylish with lots of functionality. But these added features make them more expensive than the racks produced by Yakima. The racks made by Yakima are more affordable. They are also functional but have fewer accessories than the racks of Thule.

Yakima’s Racks Have Exceptional Value

The racks of Yakima have exceptional value because they are available at affordable prices without sacrificing their quality. While Yakima’s racks do not have as many features as Thule’s, they also have the same lifespan. They fulfill the same purpose, without the glitters.

Aesthetically Produced Thule’s Racks

Thule’s racks, on the other hand, are aesthetically produced. They are the result of combining artistic vision with engineering. These products are made with premium features that you don’t see in other rack brands.

The racks produced by Thule are more than metal bars. They are engineered with special designs and high-quality materials. So, while they sit on top of the car, they can support huge amounts of weight using only a few contact points. This is the main reason why Thule’s racks are more expensive than other racks.

Roof Racks

Roof racks made of cheaper materials are not as strong and durable. Such racks may bend on first use, and you are forced to repair or even replace them. That means additional cost. So, good and sturdy vehicle racks are worth the extra money.

Both Brands Have Their Own Specialties

While these two brands compete in the vehicle racks market, they seem to have their own specialties. Industry observers believe that when it comes to kayak racks, cargo boxes, and cargo baskets, Thule seems to be the market’s preferred brand.

However, when it comes to bike racks, truck racks, and crossbars, the brand that most consumers prefer is Yakima.

Racks Made by Both Brands Can Be Interchanged

There is one good thing about this Yakima vs. Thule issue: their racks can be interchanged. Vehicle accessories such as bike racks, roof baskets, cargo boxes, and kayak racks made by Thule will work on the crossbars made by Yakima and vice versa.

If they have the same crossbar shape and the same attachment style of the accessory to the crossbars, you can interchange the racks of Thule with the racks of Yakima. But to be sure, you need to check the details.

Brief Background of Thule and Yakima


Erik Thulin established thule in 1942 in Hillerstorp, Sweden. The company’s main focus is the production of vehicle accessories such as:

  • Water sports racks,
  • Cargo carriers and baskets,
  • Roof racks,
  • Bike racks, and
  • Related products.

This company’s specialty is in producing products with artistic design and vision.

Aside from Sweden, Thule has operations in the United States. This company is the leading manufacturer of car rack products in the U.S. About 75% of the company’s sales come from the United States. Their products are made both in Sweden and the United States. Thule has two factories in the U.S.A. They are located in Chicago, IL, and Seymour, CT.


Yakima started its car rack production in 1979 in the United States, particularly in Yakima, Washington. The company has relocated its facilities several times as it grew over the years. It has partnered with Toyota in sponsoring outdoor team events. Yakima offers rack products that are affordable but are also durable.

This company is now producing its vehicle racks in different locations. Aside from the United States, it operates factories in Taiwan and Mainland China. Yakima also make cargo boxes and perform final fitting on several products at their factory in Southern California.

Thule Vs Yakima Bike Rack

Yakima vs Thule

Bike racks are common vehicle accessories. Roof racks are ideal since they can be easily adjusted to fit different bikes and wheel sizes:


In this field, Yakima is the dominant brand. Their rooftop bike mount products sell more than those of Thule’s.

Huge Selection of Bike Racks at Different Prices

That’s understandable because this is the product line that Yakima focused on early on. It was the company’s bread and butter when it started its operations. They have a wide selection of bike racks available at different prices. There is no way Thule can compete with Yakima in this area.

Yakima makes two great roof racks. One is the HighRoad, and the other is HighSpeed. The price of HighRoad is $249, while HighSpeed costs $239. Both roof racks are universal fit, with torque right knobs, and can fit one bike.



On Thule’s part, it offers the TopRide. The price of the TopRide is $240. It is a great roof rack but is not as adaptable as the HighRoad of Yakima. You can use it to fit different bikes, but you will need to use separate adapters to do that.

This rack is also easy to install. However, it can only fit some vehicles, unlike Yakima’s, which can fit any vehicle. And TopRide has no lifetime warranty, which HighRoad of Yakima has.

In Terms of Bike Hitch Mounts – Which Is Better?

There is another aspect to this issue of Thule Vs. Yakima bike rack. This is regarding bike hitch mounts. Thule seems to have the upper hand over Yakima in this area than in the bike roof racks comparison.

Thule Vs. Yakima Bike Rack Issue

Generally, you can classify these products into platforms and hangers. And as for the Thule Vs. Yakima bike rack issue, the Yakima wins in the hangers category while Thule takes the number one slot in the platform class.

Serious and pro cyclists prefer platform racks because securing the bike, the contact between the platform and the bike is in the wheels and not in the bike’s frame. The contact in bike hangers is in the frame. Contact with the frame, over time, can cause damage because of the ultra-light aluminum frame of the racing bike.

It is a different case with casual cyclists. Bike hangers will not be a problem because their bikes have tougher frames. They will be OK even for an extended time. Yakima is better in this area because they focus on affordability and strength, which most consumers want. The products of Thule are geared for high-end consumers who want the best regardless of the price.

Thule Vs Yakima Roof Box

Roof baskets or roof boxes offer additional storage space for trips that require you to carry rugged items or lots of gears that the car trunk can’t accommodate. Most of these roof boxes can fit any crossbar shape regardless of the manufacturer:


Yakima remains true to its reputation by offering roof boxes with conventional designs. These boxes have square wind fairings and square edges and are like steel boxes without lids. Obviously, there’s not much thought that went into the design of these boxes.

Yakima’s roof boxes are available from $200 up. They can hold gears and items well, but their designs are not attractive, and the boxes have no distinct features. Some consumers even look at them as eyesores. For an additional $150, you can have an attractive Thule box on top of your car.

Thule’s Canyon XT

Thule offers its Canyon XT. It is a very stylish roof box. Its lines adequately blend with the rounded lines of many SUVs. The angle of the wind fairing is also nicely done. It is designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce wind noise.

This roof box can hold a maximum of 150 pounds, but it weighs just about 29 pounds. You can get one for $350. If you need more cargo space, you can add an accessory. Considering its price and design, in this Thule vs. Yakima roof box issue, the Thule roof box wins over the Yakima box.

Which Is Better – Yakima or Thule?

Yakima vs Thule review

You can only determine which of the two brands is right for you if you consider several factors. What are the variables that you need to think about?

1. Fit

This is the most important factor that you need to consider. The correct fit of the rack will ensure its full functionality. Most vehicles have supported roof rack fits from Thule and Yakima. However, there are some brands with fits that can considerably increase the usability of the rack. Or they can fit your car more efficiently and cleanly.

To make sure that you get the right fit for your vehicle, use the fit guide of Thule and Yakima. This guide will give you the important details on what fits your vehicle and the accessories that their racks can support.

In determining the right fit, the things that you need to be concerned about are the following:

Weight Limitations

Choose a rack the will support the greatest weight. Usually, the maximum limit is the same across all brands. Even so, check the details for each brand. In most cases, there will be one brand that will stand out.

Compatibility of Accessories

Check the things that each rack can carry. Look for a rack that can support the type of items that you intend to put into it.

Bar Spread

Look for a rack where its two crossbars are far apart from each other so it can accommodate long loads. The general rule here is the larger the bar, the better.

Manufacturer’s Notes

Check all the details and notes that are related to your fit. There are some cases where the roof rack will not allow you to open the sunroof.

2. Accessories

For the most part, there is no big difference in the quality of the accessories that both Thule and Yakima offer. The better brand for you will boil down to what you really prefer. That said, it would be better if you will be consistent in your choice of products. For instance, it would be more advantageous to use just one key to lock or unlock your rack components.

3. Appearance

Installing a rack and its accessories on your vehicle will definitely change its appearance. If you are very particular about the looks of your car, then choose the rack that blends well with your car’s overall appearance. Again, the best rack will depend on your preference.

The basic roof racks of both Thule and Yakima offer different styles of bars. It is in the looks of the accessories that they exhibit distinct differences.

4. Price

Price is the factor that can sway your buying decision – if your budget constrains you. The price that you need to consider should preferably include the cost of the accessories. You can save money if you look for sale items.

Don’t let the price be the only factor in considering a certain rack. Look at its quality and artistry as well. Stay away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ items. There is a great chance that such items will damage your vehicle.

Conclusion: Yakima Vs Thule

Thule produces vehicle racks that are more functional and stylish. However, they are more expensive. In contrast, the racks made by Yakami are more budget-friendly. But they also provide the basic functionality expected of racks. They are cheaper because they don’t have as much style as the racks made by Thule.

The main focus of Thule is to produce vehicle racks that are not just functional but can also enhance the vehicle’s appearance. They are preferred by those who have discriminating tastes and are not discouraged by the price. It is the other way around with Yakima rack buyers. They are more focused on value as well as functionality.

Read next:

Truck Bed Cargo Bag [8 Best Waterproof Bags]

All You Need to Know Before Buying an RTT