The trusty rooftop ski rack has gone through many iterations over the years, and each year they get a little sturdier, a little more aerodynamic, and a little user friendly. Küat has taken approach which I personally haven’t seen before with their new folding ski rack; leave it down when cruising around town to optimize gas mileage, and pop it up when it’s time to head to the ski hill. That’s the idea behind the new Küat Switch 4.
Küat Switch 4 Ski and Snowboard Rack Features:
- 4 ski, 2 board capacity
- Folds to a low profile, aerodynamic orientation
- Universal security mounts fit round, square or aero bars
- Integrated locks included
- MSRP: $219
There when you need it, disappears when you don’t
Ski racks really only have one job, which is to reliably and safely keep your skis on top of your car. Everything beyond that is gravy. So we’ll talk about how the Küat Switch handles those basics first, and then move on to discuss some of the other features.
For starters, Küat built the rack around a universal security mounting system. This can accommodate round, square or aero bars on your vehicle. It’s a pretty classic design where a flexible strap folds under your crossbar, which you secure back into the rack and then tighten with an (included) secure Allen key which is machined to fit the bolt. Küat has done a great job making this system simple and easy. We used this on a Subaru Crosstrek with aero bars, and it worked like a charm: easy to get a sturdy, reliable fit. Round or square bars will also work, but might be slightly less rotationally stable (factory or aero crossbars are certainly the best).
Touching on a little more detail for mounting specs, Küat can accommodate a pretty generous range of crossbars. The max width is 4.25”, with a max height of 2” and a minimum height of 0.5”. So, truly, just about anything will work. The maximum weight is 165 lbs, which shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re sliding around on a couple of new chatter-busting lead core splitboards. But, always comply with the load capacity of your roof rack. The rack is about 6” tall when upright, and folds down to just 2.75”.
Küat included lock cores in both racks, which is excellent. It drives me nuts when you have to pay separately for lock cores from other manufacturers. So, you can hit the slopes from day one knowing that you’ll be able to safely lock up your skis or boards when needed. The downside to having the locks pre-installed is that you can’t use the same key for your other racks as easily. That’s the one upside of going with separate lock cores is you can more easily keep your existing keys.
Obviously, the hero feature of this rack is that it can fold down. When you go from up to down, you shed more than half of the vertical profile of the rack, coming down from 6” to less than 3”. There are noticeable reductions in wind noise when driving, too. I didn’t try to quantify MPG changes because there are too many other variables, but the reduced wind noise is a promising indicator that the Switch really does offer an aerodynamic profile.
It’s easy to convert the Switch from up to down, thanks to an oversized switch that you pull out to unlock the folding mechanism. It’s easy to handle with gloves on and feels smooth and well-built. That’s an important thing to consider, as adding in an extra set of hinges means that this rack has more places to break than a traditional ski rack.
Only time will tell how this lives up to years of road grime, but like all racks I recommend taking them off your car when it’s not the season for the activity. You can also extend the life of this rack by treating the hinges with a silicone grease or even WD-40 — anything to help delay corrosion from road salt and water. But, for the time being, I am pleased with how well-built the rack seems and is in line with other Küat products we’ve tested. BTW… if you’re looking for the ultimate ski rack, check out our review of the Küat Grip 6.
- The folding design works smoothly and, if nothing else, feels like it’s more aero
- Overall the rack is built securely with quality parts and engineering
- Included lock cores are a nice touch
- Easy to mount and ‘secure’ Allen wrench is a simple anti-theft solution
- Easy to get a secure fit on our oval cross bars
- Stellar price point
- More hinges equals more parts that can break down the road
- Might be more difficult to prevent the racks from rotating on square or circular bars
The Bottom Line: Küat Switch 4 Ski Rack
Obviously the folding feature of the Switch is a great addition to the market, and I think many people will be attracted to the idea of a rack that’s there when they needed it and folds away when they don’t. One of the best features, as-yet unmentioned in this review, is the price: for $219 for the 4-ski, and $249 for the 6 ski, Küat has made this rack really accessible to consumers looking to stretch a dollar. Couple that with the good build quality, and the Küat Switch is sure to be spotted in resort parking lots across the country.