For every product category, there’s often a ‘Cadillac’ option that tops the market as the most feature-rich, well constructed and obsessively designed. In the world of ski racks, the K?at Grip 4 is an easy nominee for that recognition. Thanks to the Northwest’s early start to the season, I’ve had a great couple of months testing this rack in the highway grime, occasional rain, and epic powder of a Northwest winter.
K?at Grip 4 Ski Rack Features:
Metal outer shell and premium gloss metallic powdercoat provide unmatched strength and finish
GripLock rubber securely holds skis or snowboards of varying sizes
FLIP MOUNT SYSTEM allows for quick install or removal
Large intuitive handle
Both GRIP and FLIP Mount System are fully locking
Slide out design makes for easy loading and unloading
Frosty grip on my touring skis and my (much cooler) buddy’s tele skis.
The Most Rack for the Most Money:
K?at is no stranger to making premium gear haulers. Their recent Piston Pro X caught our eyes for its eye-popping feature set and sleek designs, not to mention its price tag. The Grip 4 is in a similar vein: it caters to an audience that has money to spare on nice haulage. And what do you get for the money? Well, durability, ease-of-use, and security.
Let’s start with durability. The paint on the sleek outer casing of the rack feels like what you’d get on a new car: premium powder coating. The other aspects are (on my rack) anodized orange aluminum, offering rust-free weight savings. The rack is fairly wide compared to most ski racks, which means there’s room for a burly barrel-style hinge with great lateral rigidity.
The anodized aluminum is a sleek touch
And it’s an easy to use rack, too. A couple of things stand out here: when you flick up on the large, intuitive handle, springs pop the rack tops skyward instantly. Sheltered just inside of the rack’s opening is a big toggle which, when grabbed, lets you slide the rack out towards you for easy loading. It all works really well, and I love how the slide out toggle is sheltered beneath the top rack section so that snow and road gunk doesn’t gum it up.
Spring-loaded hinges make for one-touch opening
The install is innovative and breezy. K?at calls this their Grip Flip Mount System, and basically it’s a hex-key driven strap which you size for your bars, and then slide the strap’s catch into its locking slot. To lock it into place, you flip the catch down which ratchets the strap down nice and tight. Once you get it right the first time, installing the rack in future seasons will be as simple as setting it down on the crossbar and throwing that catch into place. No more repetitive twisting a hex key or tiny plastic nob with your frozen fingers. It is the best install I’ve experienced in a rack.
Just like the install, there are other things to like about the rack when you’re not using it. A major one is the low profile; visually, it definitely looks low profile, and the standing height above the cross bars is about 4.5 inches, which isn’t too shabby. It’s quiet, and I personally haven’t experienced any whistling when the rack is empty. I sometimes hear whistling with skis in, and I attribute that to my bindings. Some people have experienced a whistle with the rack, and I suspect that’s related to how far forward/aft the crossbars are on your particular vehicle. These are almost always adjustable.
Plenty of space for four skis or two boards on this rack
K?at chose big, soft, grippy rubber teeth rather than a single rubber ‘tube’ which is more common on ski racks. At first I couldn’t tell if this was aesthetic or function, but I think there’s a great functional component. The soft rubber, split up in its ‘toothy’ pattern, is better at wrapping itself around the edges of the individual skis and boards as they sit side-by-side. I think that reduces road jiggle and shifting on long drives.
Some of the other basics, like included locks, are also present and much appreciated. I like that K?at includes lock cores and keys with each rack, and it’s always bothered me when other companies sell them separately. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t prefer to lock their gear in, and having to pay extra for lock cores rankles me. So, K?at made it easy to lock the rack onto the car, and the skis into the rack. The sliding lock toggle is sheltered beneath the overhang of the upper rack piece, keeping it free of snow and easy to use.
I love how the lock toggle is tucked away safely
A quirk of my experience was that the box arrived a bit mangled, and when I opened it up I found that one of the four mounts had fallen out in shipping. I contacted K?at who quickly replaced the part, but it meant that footing didn’t match my other lock cores. They also mentioned that they see this happen, and it made me wonder what’s been done to pack the racks up better. The odds of it happening to you are slim, but in an otherwise positive review it’s important to note!
A better look at the slide-out switch sitting above the lock
Without argument, the most premium ski rack on the market
Top-quality design and construction. Should last for years and years.
Thoughtful one-touch opening and easy slide-out feature for painless loading
Clever Grip Flip mounting system
Comes with locks
Love the spring-loaded top bars
The big toothy rubber grips skis securely
Premium racks come at a premium price
Rare shipping issues are known at happen
Still a taller profile than K?at’s excellent Switch rack
The Bottom Line: K?at Grip 4 Ski Rack
It’s easy to recommend the K?at Grip 4 to people who can afford a premium rack. If you’re looking to splurge on a top-dollar quiver hauler, you can’t really get better than the K?at Grip 4. The build alone is singularly good, but the execution of the key features (namely one-touch opening, slide-out lower trays) is spot on. I don’t have any major critiques to the design and construction, and I’ve commented on the unusual shipping issue that I had. I don’t think I’m ever going to want another rack after this one.
Buy Now: Available from Kuat.com