Review: Yakima BaseLine Roof Rack

When space is at a premium on big road trips, the Yakima BaseLine Towers and HD Bars open up a whole new dimension: the roof. The roof rack system works with just about any flat-roof vehicle with no drilling required. The towers use padded clamps and brackets that securely attach to the top of the door frames.

At first, I was a little skeptical about how robust the towers would be. But after installing them, all my doubts were put to rest. The towers clamp down on multiple axes, meaning it would take some kind of blunt force from underneath to ever knock them loose—something that never happens from everyday use. Also impressive was Yakima’s installation instructions. They were unambiguous and easy to follow; and it took about an hour to set up the rack for the first time, start-to-finish. The rack even came with the only tool needed for installation—a torque-able Allen key preset at the necessary torque. Now that the initial setup is complete, however, I can remove or reinstall the towers and bars in about five minutes flat. I keep the Allen key in my center console, so I can install or uninstall them at any time, on the road or at home.

That’s especially handy with the HD Bars, which are dang sturdy, but have a decent amount of wind resistance. Nice part about the bars, however, are the metal clips on the ends, which easily accommodate ratchet straps, so I no longer have to mess with a tangle of straps to secure something like a canoe. Simply toss two ratchets over the vessel, clip the hooks to the ends of the bars, and cinch ’em down. On a recent weekend excursion, I rocked that exact setup through Gallatin Canyon to West Yellowstone and Hebgen Lake. Neither the bars nor the canoe ever budged, and after a few minutes I completely forgot that either were strapped to the top of my car.

Sturdiness aside, the nice part about the BaseLine & HD Bar setup is the versatility. Already, I’m planning to build a platform on it that I can take hunting—something to put deer quarters and game bags on, opening up bed space for sleeping and storing gear, creating a fully mobile setup. With a little imagination (and more Yakima products or self-fabricated contraptions), the system could also be modified to fit just about anything—roof box, rod rack, bikes, kayaks—you name it.

When ordering the BaseLine Towers, you’ll also need to select the appropriate clips and pads for your vehicle, along with adaptors for the bars you choose. Yakima’s RoundBars have the slimmest profile, while the HD Bars are the burliest. The JetStream bars fall somewhere in the middle, but are the most aerodynamic. All said and done, the towers cost $450 with the necessary hardware, and the HD Bars in the 55” length cost $350. Optional lock cores allow you to secure the towers to your vehicles, but I opted against them—I’m not too worried about folks stealing them here in Bozeman, or most of Montana.

Overall, for a road-trip ready storage solution, look no further than Yakima to get out of town this summer. Their products are top-notch, and they’re built for whatever you can throw at them here in southwest Montana and beyond.

Both the towers and bars are available at