This is not exactly a ski gear review, but close enough to hopefully be interesting for some people. Just finished installing a Yakima rack system for our new/old ski car. Our previous cars all had Yakima racks and we own a bunch of their ski and bike mounts, so I was not looking at any other system. I went with the FatCat carrier because it has a very slim profile and our previous rack (the standard Yakima 6-ski carrier. PowderHound) would not have cleared the garage door.
Overall impression- the current offering is piece of garbage compared to the previous iteration that I had, I would gladly go to the old system if I could. Somewhere during these years Yakima changed its engineering department and it shows. The attachment is now more cumbersome, less secure, and feels like a poorly designed product.
Here are the things that pissed me off the most:
1. The RailGrab towers are designed to attach to a factory-installed rack. The previous Yakima mount that I had, Q-towers, was a brilliant piece of engineering- you screw a very low profile plastic peice onto your roof into the factory slots, and then the tower would attach into that plastic peice with two self-locking ans self-tightening pins. The Q-towers looked more compact than a factory rack, were rock solid, and were super-easy to take on and off, so I had no problems taking the rack off on Sunday night and putting it back on Friday evening (giving my wife a quieter commute without the rack on the roof during the week). The rail grab is another story- it is attached by tightening angle clips against the factory rail, the whole procedure is cumbersome enough to require a tool, so the rack is going to stay on for the whole season. At the same time the cover for the mounting hardware hardly stays on, you you have to lock the rack to make it stay on securely; the same cover on Q-towers was rock-solid with or without the lock engaged. Those are probably minor inconveniences, but the thing that totally dumbfounded me is that the nut that holds that angle clip is totally exposed even when the towers are locked. So, it is very easy to unscrew that nut, pull the angled clip off, and lift the whole rack off the car. I was comfortable leaving valuable stuff on my rack on the previous car, I am not sure how I feel about this one. This is just dumb design, and for Yakima, being a high-end rack system, that's just inexcusable.
2. The FatCat is a slick aerodynamic thick ski carrier that looks a lot better than the previous Yakima carriers (it is ostensibly Yakima's top model carrier), and probably looks better than anything else on the market. It also has a clever option to angle one of the sides up to get you more roof clearance for, say a tall plate binding or a snowboard. That's where the good things more or less end. The mounting bracket is designed to fit all kinds of rails- round, square, factory. Good savings for Yakima- they now dont have to make a bunch of hardware for different style racks. Unfortunately, something that has universal fit rarely fits a particular bar very well, so the fit to the Yakima's own bar is totally cumbersome. My previous carriers attached to the bar with a small round clip that was rock solid. This monstrosity if three times bigger and I could not tighten it securely before bottoming the screws. The whole assembly has layers of plastic pieces that have gaps in them that would hiss at highways speeds, and collect ice and dirt. It again galls me why I am paying money for Yakima's own towers and bars and then have to deal with compromised hardware only because it also has to fit a Thule. I would like to have a clip that is made for Yakima bars, and if I wanted to put that carrier on a Thule bar, I should buy an adapter or a "universal" version of the mount.
I have not tested the carrier itself, but it looks like it would have a bit of a problem accommodating skis of very different thickness- the rubber is quite thin, about twice as thin as on the old rack. it is still worth it to me because of the slim design, but if I didn't have the garage door height problem I would have gone for the PowderHound model.
That whole rack was not cheap, and if I didn't have a whole bunch of Yakima's bike and ski carriers already, I would have been looking at other services. I hope Yakima would improve the design, what I have now is quite disappointing.