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SmartPhone Apps for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 7:45:41 AM America/Denver

In this new age of the Smart Phone, we can become overwhelmed by the technology available for us to simplify our busy lives, thus not really simplifying anything.  But with the Smart Phone you have an all-in-one tool for survival and fun that includes internet access, GPS coordination, cameras and much more.  With new apps being developed everyday, you can turn your phone into just about anything that you can think of.  We, your helpful Cracks & Racks crew, have put together a small selection of apps that can be fun and useful for outdoor enthusiasts to use during their activities.


If you like knowing where you are at the touch of a button while skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, mountain biking, camping, backpacking or whatever your calling may be, then check out AccuTerra.  AccuTerra is a one-stop, GPS-based, outdoor recreation app with terrain, trail, and ski area maps designed for the iPhone.  While comparable recreation maps for expensive dedicated GPS units can cost hundreds in additional fees, AccuTerra gives you access to millions of square miles at a fraction of the price.  Choose from over 220,000 miles of trails, thousands of trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas, it's the ONLY app available that displays all major public land boundaries.

GoSky Watch Planetarium & Google Sky Map

Go outside and check out the stars with the GoSkyWatch Planetarium App for the iPhone or Google Sky Map for Android.  These are impressive apps, which allow you to easily and quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more with a just a touch of the screen or by simply pointing to the sky.  Have fun with family and friends discovering the night sky.  Many of the new features are specifically designed for efficient outdoor use.  The red light mode is designed to preserve night vision.  The planets are shown with relative brightness for easy identification, and with touchless navigation, heads-up information display, and full 180 degree display you can see at a glance what is in the sky and where.  Looking for a planet or star?  Just use the finder and let the arrow guide the way.

iBird Pro

During your down-time while you sit back and relax and enjoy the outdoors this year, try out the iBird Pro app.  This app, iBird Plus, is an interactive guide to the most popular bird species found in the backyards of North America. Designed for both  the iPhone and Android platforms, this product contains illustrations, photos, bird calls and comprehensive facts to help you identify and enjoy 234 North American bird species. With no need for an Internet connection, and all of the data right at your fingertips, you can make bird identification a fun activity no matter what your outdoor passion is.

All-In Pedometer

There are some especially cool apps that you can use every day in your busy life like the All-In Pedometer. The Pedometer is the perfect tool for working out or just measuring how much you walk in a day. The built-in music player will get you pumped for the workout and the body tracker will show you the changes in your body, speeding up the progress toward your ultimate goal.  Just start the application, put your iPhone or iPod in your pocket, and get movin'!  The Pedometer does all of the calculating for you.

Knot Guide

You don't have to live by the old saying, "If you can't tie a good knot, just tie a bunch of bad ones" anymore once you download the Knot Guide for iPhone and Android applications.  People of all walks of life since ancient times have found knots both fascinating and essential.  Knots are used in sailing, climbing, tree trimming, jewelry making, and everyday tasks such as attaching a load to your vehicle.  Whether you're a novice or you have experience with tying knots, Knot Guide will assist you!  17 different categories include: Bends, Binding Knots, Climbing Knots, Decorative Knots, Fishing Knots, Hitches (End), Hitches (Middle), Lashings, Loops (Fixed), Loops (Slip), Rope Care, Sailing Knots, Scout Knots, Shortenings, Splices, Stopper Knots, and Whippings.

Weather Channel

Planning any outdoor adventure requires you be in touch with the weather, and we prefer to use the app from the Weather Channel because frankly, their forecasts are most accurate. This app takes your weather experience to the next level with full screen maps, extended forecasts, severe weather alerts, and more, all at your fingertips.  This app features a full screen, interactive radar map, it uses Google Mobile Maps for faster zooming and panning, it can pinpoint your location at launch, contains seasonal information, and it can post weather directly to your Facebook Wall.  Most importantly it shows you the dew point, which we all know is must have info to know when the next big storm is going to hit!

Google Earth

Sometimes exploring the world can be a little confusing.  Have no fear - the Google Earth App is here!  With Google Earth for Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, you can fly to far corners of the planet with just the swipe of a finger. Explore the same global satellite and aerial imagery available in the desktop version of Google Earth, including high-resolution imagery for over half of the world's population and a third of the world's land mass.

MyNature Animal Tracks

Another fun and educational outdoor app is the MyNature Animal Tracks.  We've all been there before, fishing a sandy riverbank, hiking over a lush green forest trail, gliding through a fresh snow fall on a clear crisp winter morning. Then, right there in front of you, you see a set of tracks. You wonder, which way they're heading, what animal was it, was it just here. Is it a canine or feline or maybe it's a bear?  Animal tracks can be found in nearly every square mile of North America!  With the MyNature app you are now equipped with a database with 7 search-able track categories fully illustrated by size and shape for quick selection, illustrations of both fore and hind feet.  Plus a complete description of track measurements, full color digital images of an actual track in the wild, gorgeous photos of each individual animal featured, illustrations of the most common gait pattern for each animal, sound files for an example of each animals vocalization, and even range maps showing each animals distribution across North America.

Elevation Pro

For those of you who like to explore the higher elevations check out the Elevation Pro App.  It brings worldwide USGS elevation to your fingertips and is now even better with fully integrated Google maps and Twitter sharing.  You can get elevation for any habitable place on Earth just by touching the location on the map!  Share your current Elevation on Twitter and have an unlimited number of Elevation Waypoints in Map, Satellite, or Hybrid views.  View two sources of elevation data - GPS and USGS data sources - for unparalleled accuracy.

Camping Recipes

When mac and cheese doesn't cut it,  check out Camping Recipes App for iPhone, where you will find delicious and easy camping recipes that will satisfy big or picky appetites. Do you have a particular way that you like to cook outdoors?  Find camping recipes suited to your style of cooking.  This app offers easy, delicious recipes for camping and hiking!  Why is it that food cooked outdoors always seems to taste better?  Now take it to another level.

Posted in Lifestyle By Cracks & Racks

Swing Away Vs. Fold Down - Hitch Mounted Bike Racks

Saturday, May 30, 2015 7:47:57 AM America/Denver

Most SUVs, trucks and wagons have some sort of lift gate or swing door to access the rear of the vehicle.  As a result, current hitch bike racks in today"s market have been designed to allow you access to the back of the vehicle while carrying bikes.

Loading and unloading your bikes is easier with a Hitch Mounted Bike Rack than a Roof Mounted Bike Rack because you only have to lift the bikes up waist-high.
Loading and unloading your bikes is easier with a Hitch Mounted Bike Rack than a Roof Mounted Bike Rack because you only have to lift the bikes up waist-high.

Hitch mounted bike racks are the easiest racks to operate.  As opposed to hauling your bikes onto the roof of the car, rear-mounted hitch racks make loading bikes easier since you only need to raise your bike waist-high.  Hitch mounted bike racks also install easily and can be removed easily with a single tool, or sometimes no tool at all, making it a great choice for weekend warriors or people who only want a rack for seldom use.  The Thule 9043 Helium Aero 3 Bike Rack is made of lightweight aluminum and incorporates a no-tool installation.

The New Thule 9043 Helium Aero 3 Bike Hitch Mounted Bike Rack is lightweight, has a no-tool installation knob, is fully equipped with locks, and fits 2" and 1 1/4" receiver hitches.

There are many features that round out the lineup of hitch racks.  Some racks have folding bike arms that can be stowed when not in use.  This feature is handy when parallel parking for example, since the rack is not sticking out behind the car.  This is a standard feature on all of the "Hanging Style" hitch mounted bike racks that we carry.

The Yakima Quick Cam Lever makes it easy to fold down the bike rack arms which minimizes the footprint of the rack on the back of the vechicle.

Thule has developed their version, the Hitch-Switch, which allows the bike arms to be raised and lowered with just the lift of a switch.  This feature is available on the Apex series, the Vertex series, the Helium Aeros hanging style bike racks.

Thule has developed there version called the Hitch-Switch which allows the bike arms to be raised and lowered with just the lift of a switch
Thule has developed there version called the Hitch-Switch which allows the bike arms to be raised and lowered with just the lift of a switch.

This same Hitch-Switch is also incorporated into most Thule bike racks for another benefit, lowering the entire bike rack to gain access into the back of the vehicle.  After you unload the bikes from the rack, pull the Hitch-Switch at the bottom of the rack to release the upper portion of the rack allowing it to tilt down away from the vehicle.  You now have enough room to open up your tailgate or hatch, gaining access into the back of your vehicle.

The Thule Hitch Switch is also used at the base of the bike rack to allow access to the back of the vehicle
The Thule Hitch Switch is also used at the base of the bike rack to allow access to the back of the vehicle

Yakima uses a similar system consisting of a spring loaded pin that, when released, allows the rack to fold down and away from the vehicle giving you complete access into the back.

The Thule Hitch Switch is also used at the base of the bike rack to allow access to the back of the vehicle
Yakima Spring Pin controls the racks upright position - pulling the pin releases the rack to be folded down to gain access to the back of your vehicle.

Integrated locking systems not only lock the bikes to the rack, but also lock the rack to the hitch.  Both locks are keyed alike, meaning you will only need one key to access either the bike lock or the hitch lock.

The integrated cable lock on the Yakima Swingdaddy is used to lock your bikes to the bike rack and in stored conveniently inside the bike rack
The integrated cable lock on the Yakima SwingDaddy is used to lock your bikes to the bike rack and in stored conveniently inside the bike rack when not in use

Vehicles with swing out doors, like the Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Toyota Rav 4 will most benefit from a swing out bike rack.  There are many advantages to swing-away bike racks versus fold down bike racks.  When the rack is swung open, you are afforded complete access to the rear of the vehicle even when the rack is fully loaded with bikes.  This means you do not have to remove every single bike from the rack before folding the rack to gain access to the back of the vehicle.

The Thule Apex Swing gets completely out of the way of the trunk with bikes loaded. Very convenient when needing to access the back of vehicle.


On the other hand, using a fold-down bike rack on a vehicle with a swing-open rear door will not provide complete access to the rear of the car, since the rear door will not be able to clear the rack, even when it's folded down completely.  Fold-down bike racks are a great choice for many vehicle applications, especially when access to the rear of the car can be achieved through an independent, lift-up rear glass, like the Toyota 4Runner.  While the fold-down rack will allow you to lift any lift-back or hatchback door, it is extremely cumbersome and awkward to fold down the rack when bikes are loaded, even with just 2 bikes.

Swing-away racks, such as the Yakima SwingDaddyYakima FullSwingThule Apex Swing, and the Thule Vertex Swing do require a bit more work to operate than a fold-down rack since you need to completely loosen the wing bolt to open the rack, and reattach it securely to close the rack when preparing for transit.

Preparation for swingaway racks involves loosening the security bolt and pulling the security pin
Preparation for swing away racks involves loosening the security bolt and pulling the security pin.

If your application requires you to move from a 2" receiver to a 11/4" receiver, have no fear, most of the hitch mounted bike racks from both Thule and Yakima are designed to adapt to either size receiver hitch options.  All that you need to do to adapt your rack to a different size receiver hitch is either attach or remove the sleeve located on the rack's tongue.  The only exception to this is the swing-away racks which only fit 2" receiver hitches.

The platform-style upright mounted hitch racks, such as the Yakima 2443 Hold Up, are sold in different varieties designated for hitch size.  You cannot attach a 2" upright rack to a 1¼" hitch receiver; you must buy the 1 ¼" version bike rack to do that.

Platform-style Upright Bike Racks, like this Yakima 2433 Hold Up, are receiver hitch size specific
Platform-style Upright Bike Racks, like this Yakima 2443 Hold Up, are receiver hitch size specific
Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

2010 Nissan Cube Yakima Roof Rack & Cargo Basket

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 7:48:43 AM America/Denver

Yakima 0124 Complete Rack Package and Yakima Mega Warrior Cargo Basket  installed on 2010 Nissan Cube.

Check out the New Nissan Cube equipped with the Yakima Q-Tower Complete Rack Package and Yakima 7080 Mega Warrior Cargo Basket

At first glance the Nissan Cube seems petite, square, and kinda cool.  After working on it for a half an hour, and after installing the Yakima Q-Tower Complete Rack Package and Yakima MegaWarrior Cargo Basket, The Crew at Cracks & Racks really started to like this car.  So we decided to snap some pictures of the rack system and tell you a little about it.

The Yakima MegaWarrior really compliments the body lines of the Nissan Cube
The Yakima MegaWarrior really compliments the body lines of the Nissan Cube

The base rack system is a set Yakima 0124 Q-Towers equipped with two packs of Yakima Q-31 Q-Clips and a pair of Yakima 58" Steel Roundbars.

Yakima 0124 Q Towers are the essential components to the base rack system for the Nissan Cube

This install was super easy following the instructions that come with the Q-Clips.  With a crossbar spread of 31", we had a perfect prerequisite for attaching the Yakima 7080 MegaWarrior Cargo Basket.

With 31" of bar spread, the Yakima Q-Tower Base Rack System provided a perfect foundation for the Yakima 3080 MegaWarrior Cargo Basket
With 31" of bar spread, the Yakima Q-Tower Base Rack System provided a perfect foundation for the Yakima 7080 MegaWarrior Cargo Basket

This was the perfect size basket for the Nissan Cube.  The size of the basket just plain fits the size of the car and the geometry of the basket compliments the overall theme of the Cube.  Take a look for yourself!

The Yakima MegaWarrior is the perfect size cargo basket for the Nissan Cube
The Yakima MegaWarrior is the perfect size cargo basket for the Nissan Cube
Posted in Cargo Carrier By Cracks & Racks

Note:  This rack system is no longer available.  It has been updated using almost all different components.  To create this same set up you will now need:  Thule 460 Podium Foot Pack to replace the Tracker 430 Foot pack; Thule Fit Kit 3113 to replace the Thule TK13 Base; and Thule Load Bars which are the same.  We mounted a Thule 430 Tracker Complete Rack System on a hard shell fiberglass tonneau cover.  This cover happened to be mounted to the bed of a shiny new Ford F-150 Platinum Edition pick up truck.  This setup was actually very easy to install, as it was nearly identical to mounting to a fiberglass camper top.

The Thule 430 Tracker II Complete Rack Package equipped with the Thule TK13 installs nicely onto your hard shell tonneau cover for your pickup truck.
The Thule 430 Tracker II Complete Rack Package equipped with the Thule TK13 installs nicely onto your hard shell tonneau cover for your pickup truck.

The first step to this installation was to figure out the positioning we wanted for the two crossbars.  We needed to make sure that our installation would not interfere with the bed-rail of the truck when the tonneau was closed.  Also, if we mounted our towers too far inside the tonneau cover then we would be installing through a double thick layer of fiberglass that consumed most of the center area of the tonneau.This customer wanted four Thule 517 Peloton (No longer available) bike racks added, but wanted us to keep the bike racks near the outside of the crossbars, so that loading and unloading was made as easy as possible.  The most effective way to achieve this is to orient the inside bike racks backwards and the outside bike racks forwards.  This enables the racks to be mounted closer together while avoiding handle bar and pedal interference. Note: Current bike rack options for this set up that are similar would be the RockyMounts PitchFork, or the Thule 527 Paceline.

The Thule 917 Peloton Fork Mounted Bike Racks can be positioned closer together when installed in opposite directions.
The Thule 917 Peloton Fork Mounted Bike Racks can be positioned closer together when installed in opposite directions.

One unique aspect of this installation that we needed to keep in mind is the clearance behind the backward facing bike trays.  We didn't want them to hit the rear glass on the back of the cab and we also needed enough clearance to have them not hit the rear of the cab when the tonneau cover was raised.
Determining where the rear crossbar should be mounted was crucial to this key aspect of our installation.  Once we determined how much space we needed for mounting the backward facing bike racks we could accurately measure and install our rear crossbar.  Once the rear bar was mounted we then focused on the front bar.  We opted to line up the rear of the tray on the forward facing bike racks with the back edge of the tonneau, giving it a nice symmetrical look.  This put the front bar at 33"  forward of the rear bar, which is a fine distance for mounting tray style fork mounted bike racks.

The Thule 430 Tracker II Complete Rack Package equipped with the TK 13 Fiberglass Application is the perfect solution for mounting onto a hard shell tonneau cover.
The Thule 430 Tracker II Complete Rack Package equipped with the TK 13 Fiberglass Application is the perfect solution for mounting onto a hard shell tonneau cover.

The Thule 430 Tracker II Complete Rack Package should have an equal amount of crossbar overhang on either side of the towers when installed correctly

Now for the fun part!! drill the holes, and mount it up.  With everything measured and marked this is really the easy part.  The instructions tell you what size bit to use, starting with a 1/8" bit pilot hole and finishing with a 9/32" drill bit.  Once the holes are drilled, spread some silicone around the holes (included in kit).  Next assemble the bases by attaching the base pads and inserting the bolts and washers through holes.  Once the TK Bases are positioned on the roof it is time to tighten them down.  This is where another person can really be handy, one person on top turning the bolts and the other underneath holding or turning the nuts.  Once tight, not too tight (when you hear fiberglass crunching, it's probably tight enough), you can set your towers and bars into the secured bases.  Now adjust the crossbars so that there is an equal amount of bar extending out from each tower and tighten the small allen screw located on the side of the towers.  This screw tightens the towers to the bars (not too tight on this one either).  The last step is to pop on the end caps (included with the towers) and attach the bike racks.

Posted in Rack Installation By Cracks & Racks

Honda Odyssey Roof Rack and Cargo Box

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 7:50:16 AM America/Denver

It's easy to run out of space when you load up the kids and dogs and head out for a family vacation.  That's why a cargo box works so well, and especially well on the roof of this 2010 Honda Odyssey.

We helped this customer choose a Yakima Sky Box 18 to fit his extra gear.  With 18cu.ft. of space, this box has excellent carrying capacity without being excessively large on the roof.

As a bonus, like all of the Yakima Sky Box Cargo Boxes, this box opens from both sides of the vehicle.  So on a vehicle such as this, with dual-sliding cargo doors, access to the box is easy regardless of how you load it and where you park it.

The base rack used on this Odyssey is the Yakima 0140 Railgrab Kit, which includes a set of 4 of the Yakima 0138 Railgrab towers and a set of Yakima 58" Roundbars.  The extra bar you see sticking out will give this customer the ability to attach a couple of bike mounts in the future, if he elects to.  The Yakima fit calls for 48" bars, so folks looking for a tighter fit will find that length to be sufficient.

Honda Odyssey with Yakima Sky Box 18 and Yakima Railgrab Towers
The 92" length of the Yakima Sky Box 18 fits the roof-line of the Honda Odyssey well
Honda Odyssey Roof Rack with Cargo Box
The width of the Yakima Sky Box 18 will make loading and unloading from the dual-sliding doors on the Honda Odyssey a breeze


Posted in Cargo Carrier By Cracks & Racks

Mini Cooper Cargo Box Install

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 7:51:02 AM America/Denver

If you're looking to have a cargo box installed on the roof of your Mini Cooper, here are some photos to get some perspective on the size.  The box in this photo is a Thule Atlantis 1600 - Black.  It's installed on the OEM roof bars that the customer had installed at her Mini dealer.

Note: The Thule Atlantis 1600 is no longer available.  There are a few new Thule boxes that will be similar to the size of the Atlantis 1600.  The Thule 615 Pulse XL (16 cubic ft.), the Thule 625 Force XL (17 cubic ft.),  the Thule 635 Sonic XL (17 cubic ft.).

Since the roof-line of the Mini is so small, we didn't really want to go with a much larger Thule Cargo Box.

Thule 686BXT Atlantis 1600 Cargo Box
The 686BXT attaches directly to the OEM Mini Crossbars with the included QuickGrip Mounting Hardware
Thule Roof Cargo Box Atlantis 1600 Black
The placement of the Cargo Box allows the vehicle's rear door to open without interference, even with a small spoiler
The short roofline of the Mini dictates the size of the roof box that will fit properly
MIni Cooper Cargo Box Install
The Thule Atlantis 1600 complements the roof of the BMW Mini Cooper.
Posted in Cargo Carrier By Cracks & Racks

Thule AeroBlade Flush Mount Ski Rack Hardware

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 7:51:39 AM America/Denver

Thule's new ski racks, the Thule 92724, 92725, and 92726 now come equipped with the new SpeedLink Hardware.  The SpeedLink hardware is easy to install, lockable with Thule's One Key System (included), and fits a broad range of crossbars, including factory installed crossbars, Whispbar Racks and the new Thule AeroBlade Crossbars.

What we have found is that the SpeedLink hardware - while functionally excellent - looks a bit chunky and awkward.  Of course this is only our opinion, but when mounting to slotted crossbars like the Thule AeroBlade, Rapid Aero, and Whispbar crossbars, we think the install could look and function a little better.  That is why we developed an original hardware kit that allows you to flush mount the ski rack to the crossbar by utilizing the T-channel on top of the bar.

Cracks & Racks' Original Thule AeroBlade Flush Mount Ski Rack Hardware Kit

Thule Ski Rack Flush Mount
A small modification to the existing hardware with the new Thule Ski racks enables you to mount the rack flush to Thule AeroBlade crossbars
Thule Flush Mount Ski Rack Install Hardware
Flush mounting a Thule Ski rack is easy when you utilize our Flush Mount Ski Rack Hardware Kit.
Thule Flush Mount Ski Hardware
Removing the original SpeedLink hardware and replacing it with our Flush Mount Hardware Kit makes the Thule ski racks look really good on top of Thule AeroBlade crossbars

This hardware works perfectly for the following Thule Ski Racks:

Note: Brand New Thule 92725 come with flush mount hardware included


This hardware works perfectly for the following Crossbar Styles:

You can download the instructions to installing our Flush Mount Ski Rack Hardware by clicking this link here -->  Flush Mount Ski Rack Hardware Instructions

If you're not sure if this hardware kit will work with your ski rack or your rack system, please contact the shop and we'll help you make a good decision.

This hardware modification is not recommended for use with the Thule 92726, Thule 91726 or 726 because the natural curve present in the Thule AeroBlade Crossbars and Whispbar Racks will bind the slide-out mechanism.  However, if mounting to Thule Xporter crossbars, or other OEM installed racks that have level crossbars, you will find adequate compatibility.

Whispbar Rail Bar
The Whispbar RailBar has a slight curve, which will bind the Pull-Top mechanism of the Thule 92726 Ski Rack
Thule Ski Rack Whispbar Mount
The curve of the Whispbar Crossbars works great with Thule 92724 and 92725 ski racks, but will prevent the Pull-Top ski racks from sliding smoothly
Posted in Ski Racks By Cracks & Racks

Softride 24232 Ski & Snowboard Rack- NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

Monday, July 27, 2015 7:52:21 AM America/Denver

Note:  The SoftRide 24232 Ski & Snowboard Rack is no longer an available product.  However, there are other options for bike rack/ski rack combos for the hitch of your vehicle.  Check out the Thule 9033 Tram.  This ski rack is an accessory that fits over your arms of your hanging style Thule bike rack.  This allows you to carry your skis and boards in the easily accessible rear of the vehicle, instead of having to get dirty by climbing up on the roof of your tall SUV.  The Yakima 2418 Hitch Ski is also an option, but in our expert opinion it is not quite as nice or as functional as the Thule 9033 Tram.

People are ALWAYS asking us about putting skis on the back of their cars and quite honestly, there aren't many options.  But, this is one of the better ones.  The Softride 24232 Ski & Snowboard Rack when attached to either the Softride 26247 Dura 4 Bike Rack or the  Softride 26321 Dura Assist Bike Rack carries skis and snowboards while allowing complete access to the back of the car or SUV while it's loaded.

The Softride 24232 Ski & Snowboard Rack folded down for rear of vehicle access

Installation of the Ski & Snowboard Rack is a cinch.  To attach, first slide out the Dura Bike Rack arms then slide in Ski/Snowboard Rack pieces and just like that you have converted a bike rack into a ski rack.  It really is that easy.

The Softride Ski/Snowboard Rack attachment holds the skis at an angle which is ideal when it comes to garage clearance issues.

The Softride 24232 Ski & Snowboard Rack holds skis at an angle for better clearance with garage doors and the ground

The Softide Ski Rack attachment has a lower opening that you slide the tails of your skis into, then they lay over into the upper clamp which closes snugly over the top portion of the skis, above the bindings.

The rack includes a lock at the clamp for a little extra piece of mind.  If you have a tall vehicle, no roof rack, issues with garage clearance or just want a ski rack on the back of the car instead of the top, then the Softride 24232 Ski & Snowboard Rack is definitely one of your best options.

The Softride 24232 Ski & Board Rack works nicely with the Softride Dura Bike Racks and is a great solution for carrying skis and or snowboards on the back of your car
Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

Audi Q7 with Whispbar Through Bar and Sky Box 21 Cargo Carrier

Thursday, July 30, 2015 7:53:08 AM America/Denver

The Whispbar Through Bar Rack System is probably as pretty as the Whispbar Flush Bar but definitely more functional with its extra bar hanging off each side.  This is important when you need more crossbar real estate to carry additional accessories simultaneously and or to have some added tie-down spots.

The Whispbar Through Bar fits excellently on the flush side rail of the Audi Q7

Go Big or Go Home!!  With this Q7 we mounted the Whispbar Through Bar and added a Yakima Sky Box 21 onto it.  You can't get any more carrying capacity than the Sky Box 21 and it doesn't look too bad either.  Space for the rear hatch to open all of the way is always a requirement when mounting a box and fortunately the Q7 allowed for that with even the largest of boxes.  Like all Yakima Sky Boxes, the rear of the box is angled to mimic the design of the rear hatch of a vehicle, allowing the box to be mounted further back on the roof, without rear hatch interference.   The end result is a being able to carry a larger cargo box without hanging over the windshield, yielding a much more aesthetically appealing look.

Turn your Q7 into a gear hauler by adding a Yakima Skybox 21
The Yakima Skybox 21 fits well on the Audi Q7
Posted in Cargo Carrier By Cracks & Racks

2011 Subaru Outback Cargo Box & Hitch Bike Rack

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 7:54:22 AM America/Denver

There's been lots of talk about the factory installed crossbars on the 2010 and newer Subaru Outbacks.  Conversation has generally centered around their ability to switch from a side-rail to a crossbar without any additional adapters.  This is a convenient feature but does have some drawbacks.

The issue with these crossbars is that they are stationary and have a set distance between them.  Plus the back hatch has a spoiler that points vertical when opened, causing fit problems for many accessories.  Here at Cracks and Racks we have found that a select few options do work and are compatible with these factory crossbars.

****If you absolutely need crossbars with a wider bar spread on this vehicle there is a solution.  Yakima has created the Landing Pad 12 and Landing Pad 13 to work in conjunction with the Yakima Control Tower and Yakima Round Bars to achieve that wider spread.****

Showing the option for wider bar spread with Land Pad 12



Here are some photos of a recent install we did on the factory installed crossbars on the roof of a 2011 Subaru Outback.  The cargo box pictured is the Yakima 7178 SkyBox 16s and the bike rack on the back is a Yakima 2426 Flipside Hitch Bike Rack (no longer available).

(Note: the Yakima Flipside is no longer available.  The new option is the Yakima 2464 SwingDaddy, a much more user friendly version.  The SwingDaddy also allows for access to the back hatch of the Subaru by swinging away completely and is designed to keep your bikes loaded on the rack while doing so, giving you more time to ride.


Yakima Cargo Box 16 on Subaru Outback-Get it now!! at
The Yakima Sky Box 16s fits the roofline of the Subaru Outback nicely
No rear hatch interference with the Yakima SkyBox 16
Tons of room...
Rear view of the Subaru Outback with a Yakima Flip Side Hitch Bike Rack
The FlipSide folds away for easy liftgate access.  Its replacement the New Yakima SwingDaddy gets out of the way also, but allows you to leave the bikes on the rack while you get into the back
Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

Flush Mounted Ski Racks

Thursday, August 6, 2015 7:55:06 AM America/Denver

What is a Flush Mounted Ski Rack and why is it beneficial? Instead of having mounting hardware that wraps around the entire crossbar,  flush mounting utilizes the channel that is found in the new aerodynamic Thule AeroBlades and the Whispbar crossbars.  This gives the rack a much cleaner look, with less components exposed on the rack itself.  Because of this, the rack becomes more aerodynamic and cuts down on the whistling and wind noise one would get with a conventional rack.  At Cracks and Racks we have a variety of flush mounted options such as the Rocky Mounts LiftOps, The Thule Universal Ski Flat Tops and Pull Tops, and the Whispbar Snow Mount WB300.

2013 Volkswagen Golf with Rocky Mounts LiftOp medium flush mounted onto a Flush Whispbar rack.
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the Thule 92726 Universal Pull Top Ski and Snowboard Rack flush mounted onto a Thule AeroBlade. The Pull Top pulls out from the roof of the vehicle for easier loading and unloading of skis and boards.
Toyota 4 Runner with the Thule 92726 Universal Pull Top Ski and Snowboard Rack, displaying how easy it is to load and unload skis or boards with its added feature of being able to "pull out" from the top of the vehicle.

-Note:  If you already have one of these Thule Universal Ski and Snowboard racks, but without the Flush Mounting hardware, not to worry.  You can buy the Thule Flush Mounting hardware on our website,

-Note:  If you do not have Thule Aeroblades or Whispbars, but do have a Thule Universal Ski and Snowboard Rack that you want more flush to your Thule Load Bars, then you need the Thule Load Bar Flush Mount Ski Hardware.

-Note: The Thule 92726 Universal Pull Top Ski and Snowboard Rack does not work well with Whispbar Rack Systems beacause the curvature of the crossbar tends to bind the sliding mechanism.

Here is an example of the Whispbar Snow Mount WB300 flush mounted to a Whispbar Flush crossbar. Notice the "channel" the Ski Rack hardware is mounted into. Creating a much more clean, integrated and aerodynamic look.
Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

Whispbar Flush Bar Rack with Yakima Fat Cat 6

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 7:55:46 AM America/Denver

Up close you can see the Whispbar Flush bar looks like it was installed at the Audi factory. Also note the close cropped bolt in the ski rack clamp that allows the sunroof to open

Looking for the coolest, sleekest rack available today?  Then, look no further than the Whispbar Flush Bar Rack system.  The Whispbar Flush Bar makes your vehicle look like it came from the factory with a strong, quiet and useful rack already on it.

The Whispbar Rack on this Audi wagon attaches to the flush side rail that runs down both sides of the roof of the car.  On top of this system there is plenty of room for the Yakima Fat Cat 6 Ski Rack.  This is the perfect combination of good looks and efficiency.  The Fat Cat 6 Ski Rack is capable of holding six pairs of fat skis while still keeping a nice low profile design.  Instead of bolts that attach an upper and lower plate, the NEW and improved mounting hardware, called SnapLocks, with over-molded stainless steel straps that fit easily onto most aerodynamic and factory crossbars. The new universal hardware is tightened from inside the ski rack and once locked cannot be accessed without opening the rack.

The new universal SnapLock mounts minimize the hardware wrapping underneath the crossbar, which is good in the case of low crossbars or sunroofs. This is very important to note as most of the new Audi's and many other new cars have a lot of glass on the roof, and the sunroof, instead of sliding inside the roof, must now pop up and out to open.

Whispbar Flushbar and Yakima Fat Cat 6 looking good and fitting nicely on this Audi Wagon


**Updated** Yakima now makes the Whispbar WB-300 ski rack which integrates into the channels on the top of the Whispbar racks, Thule AeroBlade Rack Systems and other AeroBar configurations.  This new rack is the same dimension as the 3088 Yakima Fat Cat 6 and also includes the same mounting hardware as the Fat Cat 6, but is finished in the same brushed aluminum color as the Whispbar Rack Systems.

Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

New Thule 500XT XSporter Pro Truck Rack

Friday, August 14, 2015 7:56:46 AM America/Denver

Thule 500 XSporter Cargo Rack
Racks can be moved back and forth along the bed rails and up and down to the desired bar spread and height.  This application is going to have a cargo box installed.

The Thule 500XT Xsporter Pro is the one rack that can transform your ordinary truck into a work truck prepared for virtually any job, or into a truck capable of mounting almost any rack accessory for your next adventure.  The Thule 500XT is a significant improvement in versatility and ease-of-use over its predecessor, the Thule 422XT Xsporter.  Whether you are carrying lumber, ladders, cargo boxes, bikes, skis, or boats this rack can do it all.

Thule 500 XSporter Height Adjustment
Reach the height you want with the "Custom Adjust" crossbars

The 500XT XSporter Pro is equipped with its patented "CustomAdjust" bars that have a built in quick dial with numbered slots so that any desirable height can be obtained for all types of loads.  The crossbars have been designed in an aerodynamic shape to reduce drag and cut down on noise.  Thule has also added a "WindDiffuser", which is a textured rubber strip placed on top and inside the crossbar's T channel to further reduce noise and drag.  The rack is made of reinforced Aluminum, giving it the versatility of being light and strong capable of holding up to 450lbs.

Thule 500 XSporter Pro Truck Rack Lumber and Ladder Rack
The rack all by itself, showing off the aerodynamic crossbars and the textured rubber strip along the top of the crossbars, which create a quieter more pleasant trip .

Thule has also considered the very popular Toyota Tacoma in the design of this rack, by creating the Thule XK3.  The XK3 is an adapter which allows the Thule 500XT Xsporter Pro to be mounted into the tracks that are already present in the bed of the 2005 and newer Tacomas.  Keep in mind, the XK3 adapter is NOT required for use with the Tundra, even though you may have the track system installed in your bed.

Thule 500 XSporter Mounting Hardware Closeup with Locks
Here are the clamps used to attach the rack to the bed rail. The XK3 adapter will have specialized clamps for the factory bed tracks on 2005-newer Toyota Tacomas.

This rack is also equipped with 4 Thule "SecureLocks", protecting what makes your "work truck" a "work truck".

SecureLock Technology on Thule 500 XSporter
The 500 Xsporter Pro comes with 4 Secure Locks. Two on the clamps that hold the rack on the truck and two on the "CustomAdjust" crossbars.

Among the new features of the 500XT Xsporter Pro is the ability to lock the rack to the vehicle.  Thule engineers have listened to folks on the street and designed the SecureLock system to prevent someone from removing the mounting hardware and taking the rack off the truck.  Additionally, there is locking capability to prevent the overhead racks from being removed from the base racks (not pictured).

One of the complaints we've heard about the Thule 500 is that it doesn't include the Load Stops that attach inside the channel at the top of the crossbars.  The New Thule 500XT Xsporter Pro now includes 4 Load Stops.

Overall, the Thule 500XT Xsporter Pro Truck Rack is an extremely versatile rack.  Installation is relatively easy, albeit a bit time consuming for 1 person, so leave about 60-90 minutes for a complete install.  With easy to follow instructions and light weight materials, the simplicity allows this to be a one person job, but two is always helpful.  With the crossbars being able to move back and forth along the bed and up and down, it's perfect truck bed rack for damn near any application.

Posted in Bike Racks By Cracks & Racks

Whispbar Flush Bar Rack with Thule 92725 Flat Top Ski Rack

Thursday, August 20, 2015 7:57:36 AM America/Denver

Whispbar Flush Bar Rack on Range Rover with Thule 92725 Ski Rack

Whispbar flush bar rack system with flush mounted ski rack
The Thule Flat Top on the Whispbar Flush Bar looks even better with the Thule Flush Mount Ski Hardware

Here we have installed the Whispbar Flush Bar Rack on a new model Land Rover Range Rover.  On top of the Flush Bar system sits the Thule 92725 Flat Top Ski Rack mounted beautifully with the Thule Flush Mount Ski Hardware for AeroBlades and Whisbar rack systems.  The Flush Bar Rack mounts into fixed points that come standard on the Range Rovers.  There are 3 different mounting points on each side of the Range Rovers.  In this case we used the front and the middle mount points so that it is easier when loading skis and boards into the ski rack we wouldn't have to worry about them hitting the rear hatch, when opened.  The Flat Top 6 Ski Rack is mounted without the use of the SpeedLink Mounting Hardware that the ski racks come out of the box with.  This is where the Thule AeroBlade Flush Mount Ski Hardware comes in.  While it does take more time and effort to install the ski rack in this way, it is undeniably a nicer looking installation when all is said and done.


Whispbar Flush Bar S8 with Fitting Kit K399 on Range Rover 2012

The Whispbar Flushbar on the Range Rover looks super sweeet!


Posted in Whispbar By Cracks & Racks

Road Shower, The Solar Shower of the Future!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:58:00 AM America/Denver

Ever been in a situation where 5 gallons of pressurized water would come in handy?  The Road Shower is your solution.


This solar heated, powder-coated aluminum tube holds up to 5 gallons of water and can be pressurized via a schrader valve with a bike pump or CO2 cartridge.  It comes with a 4ft hose and a spray nozzle with multiple settings, giving you the perfect stream for any application.

Pressurize your Road Shower through its built-in Schrader valve with your bike pump or CO2 cartridge.
Pressurize your Road Shower through its built-in Schrader Valve, using your bike pump or a CO2 cartridge.
Different spray settings for different uses.

The Road Shower does not take up much room on your roof rack either,  leaving room for other toys and accessories.  It comes with universal hardware capable of mounting to any kind of crossbar.  Like the Yakima Round Bars, Thule Square Bars, Thule AeroBlades, or Whispbars.

Shows how little real-estate it takes on the roof.



Factory Crossbar or Aero Crossbar mounting hardware

Factory Crossbar or Aero Crossbar mounting hardware

The Road Shower has many uses.  I used one on a camping trip for drinking water, cleaning dishes, washing off my Mountain Bike, getting the mud off myself and the dog, and putting out the campfire.  This product is tough and has been field-tested on some of the roughest 4WD roads in Colorado and Utah.  No matter what you are into, the Road Shower is a great piece of gear that will make your life easier.

Posted in Bike Accessories By Cracks & Racks

Rocky Mounts Lift Ops!! New and Very Improved!

Friday, January 22, 2016 8:15:18 AM America/Denver

Rocky Mounts Liftop Medium Ski Rack
RockyMounts LiftOp Med.  This has been Flush Mounted into a Whispbar crossbar.

So what's so great about the New Rocky Mounts LiftOp this year?  Get your pad and pen ready cause this list of features goes on for a while.  The LiftOps have added a new and improved universal cable strap mounting system along with a flush mounting option for those of us with the Thule Aeroblades or the Yakima Whispbars.  The rack comes with locks for your skis as well as for the rack.  They have beefed up the spring mechanism, keeping the rack up and out of the way while loading and unloading.  It has plenty of super soft rubber cushioning, making loading thick carving boards easy.  The LiftOps come in 3 different sizes for different carrying capacities.  And, last but not least, has one of the friendliest price points on the market.

Open View of the Rocky Mounts LiftOp Ski Rack
Open and closed view of the the LiftOp

The new and improved universal mounting hardware, or cable strap, has a very unique and user friendly design.   A hex-key and quick twist of the wrist is all you need to attach this ski rack to your crossbars.  The cable inside this mounting hardware can be extended or shortened by turning the hex head bolt inside.  This will accommodate even some of the larger factory crossbars out there.

Mounting Hardware for Rocky Mounts LiftOp Ski Racks
Left: shows the hinged cap that covers the Allen-Key tightening cable. Right: shows the mounting hardware completely closed and assembled.

What's that?  You have Thule AeroBlades or Yakima Whispbars!  Not to worry.  RockyMounts had the foresight to include Flush Mounting hardware with the ski rack.  This gives the rack a very clean and integrated look, cuts down on drag and mpg's, and removes unsightly mounting hardware from the roof of your vehicle. 

Flush Mounted ski Rack on Thule AeroBlade crossbars Cracks & Racks
This picture shows the benefits of theRockyMounts LiftOp flush mounted onto Thule AeroBlades: no mounting hardware; integrated look; less noise; better gas millage!

Well, sure you like it, but what about options?  The RockMounts LiftOps come in the three different sizes: Small (3 skis/2 boards),Medium (4 skis/ 4 boards), and Large ( 6 skis/ 4 boards).

4 pairs of Fat ski is no problem
4 pairs of Fat ski is no problem for the LiftOp Med
Beefed up spring mechanism keeps the top of the rack up and out of the way while you load and unload skis and boards.

It is always a pain when you are trying to load or unload your skis and the top portion of the rack keeps getting in your way.  This won't happen with the new RockyMounts LiftOps.  One of its nicest features is the newly designed larger spring, which really helps to give you the space needed to use the rack quickly and easily.

Basically, this rack can do it all.  With its many new features and a great price point it will be hard to justify going with another rack manufacturer.  Grab any of these fantastic rack options at  Free shipping with orders over $100.00!!

Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

Lost Your Yakima Keys?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 2:03:29 PM America/Denver

Oh no, you have lost your Yakima keys and need to replace them, but you are not sure how to find out what key number goes with your Yakima lock.  The lock number for Yakima lock core is stamped on the inside of the lock core itself, so the lock core will have to be removed in order to see what it is.  Yakima keys and cores have a letter "A" followed by a three digit number, ex. A###.

yakima lock core

The lock core can only be removed when it is in the unlocked position and will require a blank Yakima control key to remove the core.

If your Yakima product is locked then you will need to do one of two things:

  1. Call a locksmith to unlock your Yakima product so you can use the change key to remove the core and check to see what key number you need
  2. Stop by your local Yakima dealer to see if they have Yakima keys in-stock. They can systematically check all the keys until they find the right one

Not recommended:

  1. Drilling out the lock. A person can be successful in drilling out the lock and just replace it with a brand new set of locks. However, it is easy to damage the lock core housing on the Yakima product with the drill bit and then you will never get another lock to insert properly. Consider this a last resort.

All Yakima replacement Keys, Cores, and Control Keys can be purchased at

Posted in Bike By Cracks & Racks

Kuat NV 2.0 - First Impressions

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 4:32:00 PM America/Denver

In a nutshell, the Kuat NV 2.0 is a blend of simple elegance combined with functional design that caters to every level of cyclist from weekend warriors to the hard core mountain biker to fat bikers to roadies.  What is most impressive is that Kuat took the feedback from their dealers and end users of the original Kuat NV to help design this version of the bike rack. We commend the folks at Kuat for listening closely, staying true to their philosphy and remaining humble..

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Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

One-on-One Rack Consultation

Monday, August 22, 2016 2:58:54 PM America/Denver

We know buying a car rack can be difficult. Roof racks, for example, are highly configurable requiring many different components. The more you read, the more information there is to sort through.

That's why we created our One-on-One Rack Consultation with our staff, because it is our mission to make sure that your car rack investment not only fits your vehicle properly but works with your lifestyle as well.

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Posted By Scott Vold

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Ski Rack

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 10:54:15 PM America/Denver

Ski enthusiasts need an effective and efficient way to transport their equipment so they can fully enjoy themselves on the slopes while having everything they need to do so. Cracks & Racks specializes in quality ski racks designed to meet a number of needs so that our customers never have to settle. Learn more about buying the perfect ski rack for your specific needs.

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Posted in Cracks & Racks By Cracks & Racks

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