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WELCOME TO YOUR PREMIUM OVERLANDING GEAR STORE!
The Subaru Outback has become one of the most popular vehicles for overlanding over the past few years. The most recent generations called the 5th and 6th gen (5th goes from 2015 to 2019 and the 6th from 2020 to 2022), are those causing most of the buzz. Both have a larger body and wheelbase than previous models and can be considered a crossover vehicle.
All in all, the evolution of the Subaru Outback has been following a clear path: a stronger and more powerful vehicle, that can be suited for outdoors use, such as overlanding and even light off road activities. Not for nothing the newest Outback trim: the Subaru outback Wilderness 2022, has 9.5 inches of ground clearance, and 17” wheels with standard all-terrain tires. It’s an overlanding vehicle.
But back to the main point, in this collection we will do a very in-depth review roof racks for your Subaru Outback. We will take a look at the different roof rack systems, from platform roof racks to crossbars for your Subaru Outback, and even other rack accessories such as bike racks, roof cargo carriers or light bars. The idea is that after reading this, you will know exactly what roof rack you need, or what are the best options for your Outback.
We will cover common questions such as what the Subaru Outback roof rack weight limit is, and the weight capacity that Subaru as a manufacturer recommends. We’ll review some of the top brands from Prinsu to Front Runner and others, to make sure you are well informed. Finally, just so you know, we offer roof racks for the Subaru Outback 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.
The best Subaru Outback roof rack will depend on a few factors: what you plan to carry on it, and the versatility you need from it. If what you’re after is just a rack system that allows you to carry kayaks, boards, fishing rods or light cargo, then cross bars might do the trick. If you need something that can handle larger weights, bigger footprints and can have rack accessories installed to it, then we recommend you getting a full platform roof rack for your Outback.
We will take a look at some of the best full platform roof racks for an Outback, as we believe these are the safest, strongest and most versatile rack systems. The crossbars will be reviewed in the section below.
Also, keep in mind, if we review a particular roof rack, and you own an older version of an Outback, it’s likely the same brand also makes one for your particular year or generation, so just type on the search bar the year of your Outback and the rack brand. Or, even easier, just scroll down until you find all the Subaru Outback roof racks we have available.
Front Runner doesn’t manufacture a Slimline II roof rack for all the Outback versions. As a matter of fact, they make one for the 2000 to 2004 version, for the 2015 to the 2019 version and for the Outback Wilderness from 2022 onwards. They all have something in common: this roof rack attaches to the roof side rails of the Outback.
The rack pictured is for the Subaru Outback Wilderness, but we will add two buttons below, clearly labelling one for the Wilderness, and another for the 2015-2019 Outback.
Thanks to this platform rack attaching to said side rails, the weight capacity of the rack itself increases. The side rails help distribute the weight of the items carried over the roof, evenly across the whole body of the vehicle. The Front Runner Slimline II platform can itself handle 660 lbs, meaning that this roof rack has a weight capacity of 660 lbs on all three models they manufacture.
Installing the roof rack is quite simple, as it will grip or grab onto the existing roof rails. The platform itself is one of the best in the world. Made of high strength steel, powder coated in black and designed to be a versatile and modular rack, it gives you the option of installing hundreds of aftermarket rack accessories from Front Runner, and even mounting heavier items such as roof top tents, kayaks and even canoes. The rack itself comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty, so you know it’s made to last forever, and it won’t let you down.
Keep in mind, that since this Subaru Outback roof rack will be sitting over the side rails, it will be a higher profile rack than others. The height of the vehicle therefore increases by close to 2.5”. Depending on your preferences, this can be a bit too high, although the rack includes a wind deflector and it’s not that noisy, or it can be great as it allows you to easily reach underneath the roof rack to tighten or loosen accessories such as roof top tents and other cargo carriers.
Roof rack weight capacity of 660 lbs
There is no rack for the 2020-2022 Outback version
Easy installation, grabs onto rood side rails
Slightly higher profiled rack as it sits over side rails
Plenty of aftermarket rack accessories to add
Prinsu is an Idaho based company, making all their racks here in USA. They make a Subaru outback roof rack for the 4th Gen Outback from 2010 to 2014, for the 5th Gen Outback from 2015 to 2019 and for the 6th Gen Outback from 2020 to 2022. The image featured and this review are for the 6th gen Subaru Outback roof rack.
As said before, made in America, this roof rack is a low-profile platform rack, with a weight capacity of over 500 lbs. That allows you to easily carry over it from roof top tents, or even use it as a bike rack. The greatest thing about Prinsu racks, is that recently as the company has grown they have started developing numerous rack accessories, so now, you can upgrade this aftermarket Subaru Outback roof rack, with plenty of useful add ons.
The roof rack itself doesn’t require any drilling, making installation a simple process. It will just bolt to the existing mounting points on the sides of the roof of your Outback. Plus, you can choose to get it with either a standard wind deflector to reduce both noise and mpg impact, or getting the cutout to add a light bar either 40 to 42 inches wide. Regardless of the choice, this will be a great overlanding roof rack.
No drilling required to install it
Static load rating of 500 lbs is ok, but could be greater
Extremely low profile, less wind noise and resistance
Also available for 4th gen and 5th gen Outbacks (email us or search for them)
Crossbars are a different type of rack system for any vehicle. They are smaller, much easier to install, much lighter, but at the same time are limited. Once could say that crossbars can fit almost any vehicle and be extremely useful for carrying luggage, boards, even lumber (to an extent), but aren’t as strong to hold larger weights over the roof of your Outback.
Nevertheless, you might not want a platform roof rack, and you might prefer to just get the affordable and always reliable cross-bars for your Subaru Outback, and use them to either carry surfboards, snowboards, kayaks, even bikes, or just lighter weight items. Not being as strong or sturdy as a platform rack doesn’t mean crossbars can do the trick. Therefore, let’s take a look at our recommendation.
Rhino-Rack is one of the most famous manufacturers of crossbars in the vehicle industry. The Australian giant is up there in quality and reliability with Thule and Yakima. Their Cortex crossbar systems are extremely versatile and reliable. This Rhino-Rack Vortex Subaru Outback crossbar system with the JA9141 SKU, fits perfectly well the 6th generation outback from 2020 to 2022 and even the Wilderness version.
The vortex bars are two black bars, that will easily clamp onto the existing roof side rails on the Outback. To install them, you will literally need no more than 45 minutes, and you can do it on your own. The Outback crossbars have a dynamic load rating 9when the vehicle is in motion) of 150 lbs. This means they can easily carry canoes, kayaks, surfboards, snow boards, and even light weight roof top tents, but not all of them.
As we did before, we are featuring the crossbars for the 2020-2022 Outback and Wilderness, but Rhino Rack does make more crossbar models that will easily work with older Outback generations, all the way to the Legacy. You can follow the links to: 3rd generation Outback (2000-2003), 4th generation Outback (2010-2014) and 5th generation Outback (2015-2019).
Finally, another great factor to consider, especially with how high the prices on petrol these days are, is the minimal impact that crossbars have over the fuel consumption of a vehicle. These not only offer minimal wind resistance, but they are really lightweight, so the miles per gallon of your Outback will not be as affected when you’re not carrying anything over them.
Wight limit when driving of only 150 lbs
Barely any impact on wind resistance or mpg
After looking at the best roof rack systems for a Subaru Outback, it’s time to understand a bit better what is the roof rack weight limit, as well as Subaru’s recommended weight limit for the roof of your Outback. These are two very common questions that we believe must be answered to clarify to everyone looking for a rack and help them understand.
According to Subaru themselves, the Subaru Outback has a dynamic weight capacity of 176 lbs. That means, that the Subaru Outback can carry 176 lbs of weight on the roof when you are driving. However, when the vehicle is parked, that weight capacity increases all the way up to 650 lbs. This is according to Subaru themselves, as it can be found on forums, or by calling them directly. We still recommend you do your own homework and reach out to them yourself.
Now, that weight capacity can be considered conservative by some, and we have seen many people put on more than 176 lbs when in motion. We by no means recommend that you go ahead and try to put more weight on it but rather you follow their guidelines. Nonetheless, the roof rack weight limit is slightly different to the roof guidelines.
Each roof rack that we carry has been tested thoroughly to make sure that the weight capacity or rating is accurate. Most of them, at least Prinsu, Front Runner, Sherpa to name a few, offer a higher roof rack weight capacity of 600 lbs. Some even go over 660 lbs. That’s the roof rack.
If you consider the weight capacity of the vehicle, then the recommended and safest option would be that the weight between your roof rack and whatever you put over it, whether that’s a roof top tent, a kayak, or other accessories, doesn’t go over 176 lbs total when you’re driving.
Then, when you’re parked, we recommend you don’t go over 650 lbs.
Let’s do the math: the Subaru Outback roof rail weight limit is 176 lbs when driving. If you get a Prinsu roof rack, it’ll weigh 46 lbs. That leaves you 130 lbs “free”. If you get a roof top tent, we recommend a lighter tent, so that you don’t go over the 176 lbs recommended roof weight capacity by Subaru themselves.
Finally, when parked, you can go all the way up to 650 lbs. However, remember the Subaru Outback roof rack limit will vary depending on your roof rack. A Front Runner Slimline II can hold at least 660 lbs, but other models might hold less. Even if the car is rated to carry up to 650 lbs, if the rack holds only 600 lbs, then you should stick to the roof rack weight capacity.
Therefore, with the Slimline II and a tent of around 130 lbs, you’d still have around 474 lbs of weight left to use. That is usually enough for 2 to 3 people in a roof top tent.
Let’s summarize it: the Subaru Outback roof rack weight capacity will depend on your roof rack. Front Runner Slimline II holds 660 lbs, the Prinsu roof rack weight capacity is of 600 lbs, Sherpa roof rack weight capacity is of 700 lbs and other racks are in similar regions. Our recommendation is to get a solid roof rack that can hold at least 600 lbs of weight and avoid going over the 650 lbs static weight capacity recommended by Subaru, although there are some who go over it and have not had any problems.
In this section we will go over two of the most useful roof rack accessories for your vehicle: the lightbar and the bike rack. However, there are hundreds of other rack accessories you can use, from kayak racks or carriers, to roof top tent mount kits, awning mounts and more. Depending on the type of roof rack you get, accessories will vary, so do pay close attention at your rack brand and the available aftermarket accessories for it.
There are hundreds of different light bars and even light pods to use on your rig. You can choose to install one on the grill, over a bull bar, or on the roof rack. Depending on what you are after, different sizes and types of lights can work or not. For example, the wiring of a an LED light bar mounted on the grill or on a bull bar is easier to install, than that of a light on the roof rack.
However, for the purposes of this section, we will recommend the best LED light bars for a Subaru Outback roof rack. There are plenty of options, you can get a Front Runner 40” light bar if you have a Slimline II, you can get KC Hilites Por6 Gravity lights, the affordable yet reliable Cali Raised LED light bars (which have mounts for most aftermarket roof racks), or our preferred Rigid light bars. Just make sure that what you get, you also get the light bar mounts for the rack you want. Most racks sell them separately, or even the light bar brand has them, so ask us if you need help.
We recommend getting a light bar that’s no more than 42” wide for your roof rack. That’s because the Outback is not such a big vehicle, and most roof racks aren’t as wide. So, 40” or 42” wide LED light bars tend to be the correct dimensions for any Outback roof rack.
The Rigid E-Series Pro is a versatile and complete option. It is one of the brightest LED lights in the whole market.
The quality is the best in the entire world of lights. It also has a life span of 50,000 hours, a limited lifetime warranty, and it’s made of a high-grade aluminum alloy carcass, powder coated, thermal management system, and an impact resistant lens. All the connectors and outside features are waterproof, and it offers 41032 raw lumens. All in all, this spot/driving combo light bar is the best option for your Outback.
Amongst the Subaru Outback bike racks, we recommend the Front Runner pro bike carrier. We do offer other options depending on the rack you own, from the Thule Tandem Carrier to the Rhino-Rack bike carrier and other mounts.
The Front Runner Pro Bike Carrier will work exclusively with the Front Runner Slimline II roof rack kit, therefore it’s not compatible with other brands. However, if you own a Front Runner roof rack for your Outback, this is a great bike rack.
You don’t need to remove the wheels, both of them are left on. It has an off-road tough front wheel clamp and a rear wheel ratcheting strap, so there is zero contact between the bike rack and the frame, making it safe for your bicycle. It is ideal for protecting carbon fiber frames or paint jobs on your bike. Finally, it’s suitable for all bike sizes, it adjusts to most wheel diameters, weighs only 20 lbs, and can be very easily installed over your roof rack.
This has been answered in a section above. The Subaru Outback roof rack weight limit will vary from one brand to another, but most roof racks we carry have a weight capacity of over 600 lbs. However, please read the section above for more detail.
It all depends on the brand and style of rack, but not that hard. Most crossbars are a simple task, and some racks clamp or grab onto the roof rails, so it’s an easier task. Others do bolt onto the roof, but again, it’s not rocket science. You’d need to refer to us or the product manual of each brand to determine it.
We recommend full roof racks for heavier items such as roof top tents, or larger cargo. Crossbars are good for bikes, surfboards, or lighter cargo.
There will be some noise due to the wind resistance. Crossbars make less noise, a platform rack will make some, but nothing major. You can also add a wind deflector to most platform roof racks and reduce the noise and wind resistance considerably.
Yes, there are different roof racks for each Outback generation, so make sure you browse around properly and choose the right roof rack for the right model, year, or generation. All racks we sell specify the years they work for.
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