Subaru Outback Roof Rack

    Roof Rack For Subaru Outback Review 

    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.

    rear view of a subaru outback roof rack

    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.

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    Subaru Outback Roof Basket
    Subaru Outback Accessories
    Outback Cross Bars
    All Subaru Outback Roof Racks


    Subaru Outback Roof Rack For Tent

    The ideal 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 the top roof racks for a Subaru Outback, both platform racks and cross bars. However, we will begin by looking at the rack systems we think are best suited for all gear and equipment, but especially roof top tents.

    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.


    Prinsu 2024 Subaru Outback Roof Rack

    prinsu subaru outback roof rack

    Prinsu makes some of the best Subaru Outback roof racks in the market. With their racks made in USA, at their Idaho based headquarters, you know that quality and craftmanship are completely out of question. On top of that, there are a couple things that make this 2020 to 2023 6t Gen Prinsu Outback roof rack stand tall. The first one is how low profile the rack is, meaning there is much less wind resistance and noise with the rack over it. Compared to other brands, it’s barely 2.5” tall, it already includes a wind deflector, and there is almost no clearance between the rack and roof, reducing even further the resistance. 

    The second thing is the fact that this rack is modular, which means you can take out and add the slats which go from one side to the other of the rack, as you wish. The more slats you have, the more weight rating the rack will have. That said, being such a low profiled rack, it’s hard to reach underneath the slats if they are installed, therefore, Prinsu was so smart that to remove the slats, you just unbolt them form the side rails of the rack, and you can even remove a roof top tent by just raking off the two slats where it’s attached to. Genius.

    Finally, the third thing that stands out, is the large amount of aftermarket rack accessories Prinsu makes for their racks. From side handles to easily grab onto them and climb onto the rack, to roof top tent mount kits, and even light bar ready wind deflectors for you o install any light bar onto them. You will be able to buy the rack now, and then add more accessories along the way. By the way, this is the 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 Subaru Outback roof rack version.



    500+ lbs load rating

    Can be a bit hard to reach underneath the rack due to how low it sits.

    Extremely low profile, less wind noise and resistance


    Made in USA



    Front Runner Subaru Wilderness Outback Roof Rack 


    Front Runner Slimline II Subaru Outback roof RackFront 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 2015 To 2019 Subaru Outback Roof Rack

    Prinsu 2015 to 2019 subaru outback roof rack

    Last but not least, we jump onto another Prinsu roof rack, this one is suitable for the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 models. Much as other Prinsu roof racks, it’s an extremely low profile rack, reducing both wind noise and resistance. It offers you the choice of getting either a traditional wind deflector, or an LED light ready deflector, with the space to install any LED light bar under 40” wide. 

    Thanks to the fact that these Prinsu racks must be bolted onto the existing factory mounting points on your Outback’s roof (meaning you must remove the side rails it comes with), the rack itself is much sturdier and stable than other platforms. It also gives you a 550+ lbs static load rating, so any roof top tent in the market will be able to be installed over this rugged roof rack.

    We can never stop mentioning aftermarket rack accessories, and Prinsu now makes a lot fo them. Amongst them the roof top tent mount kit, which raises the tent a little bit over the rack itself, but mostly serves the purpose of letting you put it on and off much faster, without having to fasten many bolts. This is easier and faster.



    No drilling required to install it

    You must remove factory side rails to install it,

    500+ Load Rating.


    USA made



    Subaru Outback Cross Bars

    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.


    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Thule

    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Thule

    Thule cross bars have a name and reputation for themselves, they are excellent, long lasting, and adaptable to other rack accessories even from other brands. We prefer to recommend the WingBar Evo line for any vehicle, as they are the most aerodynamic, best value for the price, and have the right leg system that attaches to pretty much any raised side roof rails on any Outback.

    You read that right, these Subaru Outback roof racks from Thule, work for the Outback Wilderness, the 2020+ Outback, and the 2015 to 2019 Outback. You are more than welcome to click on any of the three buttons right below to go to the specific model you need. 

    Now let’s talk features and why we recommend them. First things first, the Thule Wingbar Evo crossbars have a 220 lbs load rating when the vehicle is in motion. That means, you can install even heavier roof top tents over these bars, and they’ll be fine. The aerodynamic shape reduces wind resistance and noise, keeping it to the minimum, and installation takes maybe 10 minutes. Plus, with a Thule Lifetime Warranty, you know you won’t even need to ever change them!



    220 lbs load rating

    To lock them, you need to purchase the One-Key locks separately

    Installation takes less than 15 minutes


    Lifetime Warranty





    Rhino Rack Subaru Outback Roof Rack Cross Bars

    rhino rack subaru outback crossbarsRhino Rack is another one of the crossbar and roof rack heavy weights. They have been in business for years, and characterize for their rugged, strong and sturdy racks, which by the way, have sometimes the ability of being combined with a platform, also from Rhino-Rack, to upgrade your cross bars into a full rack system. That said, in this case we’re talking Outback cross bars, so let’s take a look at them. 

    Rhino-Rack offers two styles: the RCL crossbars, which bolt directly into the existing factory mounting points of your Subaru Outback TOURING from the 2017 to the 2021 model. Remember, this is for the Touring only, which is a specific style, so make sure you are looking at the correct one. That said, factory mounted point cross bars, are sturdier, and can handle more weight than those that clamp onto the side rails. So if you own an Outback Touring and want high quality crossbars, these are for you. They have a load rating of close to 176 lbs.

    Alternatively, Rhino-Rack also offers the traditional cross bars that attach to the side rails of the Subaru Outback. Much like the Thule option, these clamp-on easily and quickly, with less than 15 minutes to install them, and with a 165 lbs load rating.



    Easy installation

    Weight limit when driving of only 150 lbs

    Affordable price


    Barely any impact on wind resistance or mpg



    BajaRack Subaru Outback Roof Rack Basket

    subaru outback roof rack basket

    The BajaRack Megamule basket is perfect for any Subaru Outback. The main reason for this, is the fact the BajaRack basket works with the three biggest cross bar brands in America: Thule, Rhino Rack and Yakima. Therefore, you can purchase it, and easily install it over your existing crossbars, so that whenever you need to carry larger items, such as boxes or bags which wouldn’t otherwise fit on your cross bars, you’re good to go. 

    The BajaRack Subaru Outback roof rack basket is 64” wide, giving you plenty of space for larger boxes, gear, or bags. It is made of high-quality steel, with a frame 1.3” in diameter, and including all steel hardware and an aluminum wind deflector to try and reduce wind resistance and noise. The height is of 5.5”, which is considerable when you factor the crossbars will be at least 2” more, so do keep that in mind before buying it, since it can be around 7.5” tall over your roof and might not fit inside all garages. 

    Now, things to keep in mind: the weight rating will depend a lot on where you mount the basket. The basket on it’s own can hold up to 300 lbs, but if your crossbars are 220 lbs, don’t exceed that weight. As to how much the basket weighs, that’s 66 lbs. Therefore, whatever you mount inside of it, factor the weight of the basket on the crossbars, as well as the gear or accessories inside of it. Finally, it is NOT suitable for tents or longer items such as boards. 



    Mounts over most crossbars: Thule, Rhino-Rack, Yakima.

    Not suitable for tents or longer items.

    Measures 48” x 64” x 5.5”. Enough for most accessories you need.

    Weight rating will depend mostly on the crossbars below it.

    Made of stainless steel




    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Accessories

    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.


    Subaru Outback Light Bar

    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.


    subaru outback light bar

    Rigid E-Series Pro 40” Spot/Driving Combo

    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.


    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Kayak Carrier

    subaru outback roof rack kayak carrier

    The best Subaru Outback roof rack kayak carrier is made by Front Runner. The kayak carrier attaches really easily as an accessory to any Front Runner roof rack (unfortunately this is exclusively for Front Runner racks), and allows you to carry from kayaks to canoes and boards. Overall, it’s a smart design, easy to install or remove, lightweight, and works very well keeping kayaks safe. Plus, if the kayak sits over a platform roof rack such as Front Runner racks, there is more surface area to rest on, reducing overhang and overall risk of tipping or flying off.

    Another great choice can be the Rhino-Rack strap down bonnet tie for skis or kayaks. It’s really affordable as an accessory and can be tied to any vehicle and any rack system, even crossbars. This is therefore a must, as they are pretty much straps that tie down the kayak to the vehicle and rack, and are pretty much universal, so they can be complementary with other straps or kayak carriers!



    front runner subaru outback bike rack

    Subaru Outback Bike Rack

    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.


    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Weight Limit

    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.


    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Upgrade – What To Look For?

    The first thing to look for is the roof rack weight limit, which we have thoroughly gone into detail right above this section. However, we now need to look at other important features for your future roof rack.

    Before you make the decision of purchasing a new Subaru Outback roof rack it’s important you look at the right features. A new rack system is essentially an upgrade for your vehicle, and we all know that if we are going to move up in the ladder, we want it to be the correct one. Sometimes, based on your actual needs, the most expensive is not necessarily the answer. Let’s have a look at what to look for when you are about to make a Subaru Outback roof rack upgrade.


    Subaru Outback Roof Rack Capacity

    The capacity is different to the weight limit. How and why? Well, the weight limit, as explained before, is the total weight the roof rack can hold, when moving or parked. The rack capacity means the area of the rack that can be occupied to carry items. Relate more to the cubic inches or feet it allows you to fully utilize.

    Basically, it means that if you have a platform roof rack, such as the Prinsu 6th Gen Outback roof rack, with a length of 80 inches, and a width of 44 inches, then you have 3520 inches of surface to use to carry products. We won’t calculate the cubic feet available, as that depends on the height of the items, and these racks don’t have elevated rails, yet when tied down properly, these racks can carry tents that can be even 20 inches in height. 

    That said, the capacity means the surface of the rack that can be safely utilized to carry gear, or at least the surface on which to support said gear. The larger the surface, such as in platform racks, the more stable it’ll be to carry larger or longer items, as well as having more tie-down points for protection.

    Cross bars, with a much smaller surface, can still carry long items such as boards, canoes, and such, as long as they’re not that heavy. Can also handle roof top tents, as each crossbar is normally around 30” apart, but allow you to install the tent and that’s it. Thanks to a larger surface, a platform Subaru Outback roof rack has a larger capacity.


    Rack Type

    Now we jump onto the rack type: cross bars, platform rack or basket. The crossbars, as you saw above, are single bars that go from side to side of the roof of your Outback, and either attach to the existing side rails, or onto tracks. The platform rack is the best, safest, most stable option, yet they can be more expensive, heavier, and noisier when it comes to wind resistance.

    Roof baskets are like platform racks as they are noisier, but tend to have raised sides, which allow for more secure mounting points for cargo, bags, or boxes. However, they are not suitable for longer items such as boards, or for any type of roof top tent. These are solely to better secure gear or cargo, not really for overlanding, unless the side rails are removable, and help it become a flat platform rack.



    Finally: price. What rack you can afford might limit the other decisions. Hopefully, since we are talking about a Subaru Outback roof rack upgrade, budget won’t be an issue, but we understand and know this is not always the case. Therefore, make the best out of it. Look for what are your true and real needs for an aftermarket roof rack and get the ones you really need. If you don’t see yourself ever carrying many items at the same time, get the crossbars, they’re much more affordable than a platform rack.

    Subaru Outback Roof Rack FAQs

    What is the Subaru Outback weight limit?

    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.


    How easy is it to install a Subaru Outback roof rack?

    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.


    How strong are Subaru Outback roof racks?

    If you buy from a reputable brand, Subaru Outback roof racks will be very strong. Prinsu is made in USA, Front Runner offers Lifetime Warranty, and so does Thule. This should give you an idea.


    Should I get crossbars or a full roof rack for my Outback?

    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.


    Will my Subaru Outback roof rack make much noise?

    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. 


    Is there any know problem with a Subaru Outback roof rack? 

    Not at all. All the Subaru Outback roof racks we recommend, haven’t had any major problems, risks or issues. Make sure to buy a safe and high quality rack, and your Subaru Outback roof rack won’t give you any problem.


    Are there different roof racks for the different Outback years or generations?

    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.


    All Subaru Outback Roof Racks