Sometimes, life brings you to a place where you need to look outside of the box for gear hauling solutions. Maybe your car doesn’t have a roof rack on it. Maybe you’re a hipster who’s sick of the normies hauling their skis on their roofs. In our case, we bought a van! What do you do with skis on a van? Climb 10 feet in the air in your ski boots to your roof rack? Put them inside so they can melt and drip water? No chance! Enter, the Chuck Bucket, courtesy of Chuck Rack out of Salt Lake City, UT.
Chuck Bucket Ski Rack Features:
- Capacity: Up to 8 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards
- Included strap keeps gear secure
- Rubber pad in bottom of Chuck Bucket protects edges
- BASE post configured for 2″ Receive with available 1-1/4″ adapter
- Includes cotter keys and anti-wobble screw
- Weight limit: 150lbs
- MSRP: $499
A gear hauling solution, born in the West:
The Chuck Bucket system, as reviewed here, includes the BASE post and the Chuck Bucket. They materialize on your doorstep in two fairly modestly sized boxes, with assembly required. The BASE post is essentially a couple of 2×2 pre-drilled metal posts, some nuts and bolts, and machined plates to hold it all together. Assembly was more intensive than most ski racks, but still pretty easy and they include the tools that you need. It was helpful to have a torque wrench handy to get it to spec. The included locking nuts are a plus. All told, I probably spent an hour putting together the BASE post, fitting it on the hitch, and then hanging the Chuck Bucket onto it.
There’s something delightful about the simplicity of a bucket to haul your gear. Using the Chuck Bucket is a breeze. There’s an upper guard that encircles your skis, and the front is latched to open and close for easy loading/unloading. The handle has a nice anodized finish, and this kit includes a neoprene wrap to put on the rack to protect your skis.
A major perk is that you just have to lift your skis up about three feet, which is easier on your back and body. Once they’re in, the Chuck Bucket kit includes a strap to cinch your skis to the support pole. The skis felt extremely secure and I wasn’t remotely concerned with them ever becoming, well, dislodged.
We got a camper van in the Fall, and as the first flurries of winter came we started looking around for a ski hauling option. I really didn’t want to climb up onto the roof to get our skis, and there wasn’t room inside our setup for indoor storage. Thus, the Chuck Bucket. By design, the rack tilts away from your vehicle by about 38º. This will work well for many cars, especially ones where the rear door opens and shuts vertically. It worked perfectly on our Crosstrek, for instance.
For our Ford Transit van, I needed a 14″ hitch extender to be able to open the door freely. One way around this is Chuck Rack’s Full-Tilt Upgrade Plates, which drops the rack down at a 90º angle. That might be a good option for folks who don’t want to use a hitch extender, but I do think the weight of the rack would be cumbersome when loaded. The anti-wobble screw that Chuck Rack engineered works well and takes out most of the side-to-side motion of the rack, but this is negated if you put a hitch extender into the next since the extender itself will add wobble.
There are three cotter keys on the rack, one securing the pivot mechanism, one on the bucket, and one on the upper guard. To pivot the rack down, you have to pull the cotter key and slide a little red-handled lever up and away to let the upright post pivot. It’s simple, hard to break, and effective.
The overall concept of the Chuck Bucket is great, and I have a few reflections from months of use through the Pacific Northwest winter. We hauled this rack along for a massive Christmas road trip, originating in Spokane, WA and dipping as far south as Big Sur with lots of skiing and playing on the way. I loved the simplicity and security of the rack. It’s such a simple way to load up and go.
We did notice that our van tends to create a lot of negative pressure at the back doors, which meant that the contents of the Chuck Bucket were in a constant swirl of road mist. This might be less pronounced on smaller vehicles, but our van really attracts dirt onto the rear doors and, accordingly the rack. We kept our skis in ski bags to protect them from road grime.
For similar reasons, the tilt mechanism quickly became fairly battle weary. While it also worked perfectly fine, as time and road grime wore on it became stickier to release the red lever that locks the mechanism in place. Usually it just took a few wiggles, but with cold fingers this could become a chore.
Regarding security, Chuck Rack recommends using a MasterLock Python cable lock. There’s a lot to like about this solution, not least the affordable price and versatility of this lock. The Chuck Rack BASE post has pre-drilled holes which work well with the Python and it’s easy to snake the cable through those holes and around your gear. The few times we parked and left the van in urban areas like San Francisco or Portland, I was definitely sweating bullets to get back and check on our gear. Bolt cutters would make quick work of this lock. This solution is not as secure as a locking roof rack.
Something that’s exciting, and somewhat unique, about the Chuck Rack system is buying the BASE post opens up the doors to multi sport haulage. They are currently making a Chuck Rack Vertical Bike Rack which builds onto the BASE post. I love that you can buy the BASE post and have a modular system to swap out throughout the year. Obviously I’m reviewing a product that’s intended for skiing, but you could put all kinds of things in the Chuck Bucket.
- A really well-executed, common-sense approach to gear hauling
- Virtually impossible to break. I expect years and years of use.
- Solid construction and high-quality materials
- Handful of anodized aluminum pieces add a sense of value
- Very secure haulage, with a strap I had no worries about my gear being secure
- Built-in tilt mechanism will work for many many users
- Interchangeable with other Chuck Rack systems
- Designed in Utah
- Susceptible to the normal problems associated with hanging something off the back of your rig
- Difficult to secure gear completely
- May not play nicely with side-opening rear doors
The Bottom Line: Chuck Bucket Ski Rack
For us, the Chuck Bucket was a perfect solution to hauling our skis. There are some options out there that are cleaner or more secure, but particularly for camper van people it’s hard to beat the utility and convenience of the Chuck Bucket. Adding a roof rack and ladder would have easily been over $1000 in additional expenses, before even buying a ski rack. This is a well-built product which has already had around 4,000 miles of use, and I expect to enjoy it for literally tens of thousands more.
Buy now: Available from ChuckRack.com