Need to carry more gear or throw a kayak/canoe on your jeep for your next adventure? We take the Thule Jeep Wrangler roof rack system out for a spin and show you how simple it is to add some more capacity to your Jeep. We found the Thule system to be super easy to install, easy to remove and very capable of carrying the loads we wanted to carry – freeing up the often overpacked trunk and interior space.
Thule Jeep Wrangler Roof Rack System
When it comes to adding a roof rack to your Jeep Wrangler, there are many choices – from full cage systems to bolt on kits and gutter mounts. Since my mission is mostly hauling a car top carrier and a kayak and with easy removal and ease of installation (no drilling), I chose to go with the Thule Roof Rack system. While I like the looks and features of some of the full cage systems I wanted to avoid the added weight and noise I’ve heard can happen.
My Mission was to carry items such as:
- Skiing Gear
- Roof Top Carrier
- Bike Carrier
The Thule roof rack system does a fantastic job at safely carrying any of those items while freeing up precious cargo space in the rear. (Just watch the bikes and car topper when driving through places with any low clearance!)
Thule Jeep Wrangler Roof Rack
For my 2017 Jeep Sahara Unlimited, the recommendation for a Thule Jeep Wrangler roof rack is:
- ARB60 – 60″ Aerobars (must be 60″ kit!)
- Thule Rapid Gutter Foot Pack (4 feet) – Model # 300R
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What’s in the Thule Rapid Gutter box?
The Thule rapid gutter box comes with a bunch of components that need some assembly. The instructions were fairly straightforward, but we’ll cover some of the tricker pieces in a video below. The parts look well made, all protected from the weather and durable. Nothing sticks out as a potential gotcha or bad design.
Assembling ARB60 Thule AeroBlade
Assembly of the ARB60 AeroBlade is quick – insert the rubber track in the channel and push it in with your fingers as you work down the length of the blade. I’d recommend sitting the far end of the Aeroblade bar on a box, as these suckers cost a lot to scratch up as you work the non-slip strip down the AeroBlade.
Once you have installed the non-slip rubber channel, set the AeroBlade aside – Do NOT put the end caps on just yet.
Thule Rapid Gutter Foot Pack Assembly
In your Rapid Gutter Foot box, you should have four sets of the pieces below. All of these parts are used to build one foot as pictured below.
Here is a quick YouTube video showing how to assemble the foot:
The plastic part on top was slightly challenging to get into the ARB insert, but I found that if you push on the flattened side of the rivet/bolt and then push on the rounded side, it snapped in slightly easier.
Do NOT overtighten the hand nut. You want this loose so you can install the Roof Rack assembly easily.
Installing Thule AeroBlades onto Thule Rapid Gutter Feet
This part was the most hassle of the entire setup. When you slide the feet into the AeroBlade track, it doesn’t like to slide very well. I found I had to wiggle it back and forth to get it to push in and if it got stuck, I used a screwdriver to reach into the channel and move the black piece around to jostle it lose.
Once you get your feet on a bit, you will see there is a black slider that you can adjust (see picture below). This adjustment helps you get the feet set equal distant apart and helps it match your roof evenly, so the bars don’t hang off one side or another any further than the other. On my 2017 JKU Sahara, the rear roof rack assembly was marked at “59” on each side for the rear rack (over rear seat). On the front Roof Rack assembly – over the removable Freedom Top (front seat) the sliders were right around “57” – so a slightly smaller distance between feet.
Now that you have the assemblies adjusted, you’re just about ready to install the rack on your roof. At this point, I would recommend that you have all doors open, so you don’t pinch any of your doors rubber seals. If you have two people, it’s not too hard to lift over the rack and install, otherwise gently rest the opposite end of the assembly on the roof and insert into your jeeps rain gutters and work around to all 4 feet. The Aeroblade should look like a wing with the thicker end towards your engine. Once the roof rack is resting in the gutters, gently tighten the hand nut until firm. Picture below shows how the feet should align with your rain gutter. The larger foot should be on the inside, and the outer clamp should fit right over the bottom of the rain gutter.
With the feet and bars on your roof, you want to insert the outer edge strip by sliding it in the empty channel with grooves up. I just used scissors to cut off the excess right at the end of the AeroBlade. You want to do this to all ends. These will keep your bars from whistling and causing too much wind resistance.
The end caps are marked left & right – which corresponds to the side of the vehicle as well. When you slide these on, be sure that the clip that faces down slides over the rubber channels you installed on lower section – if the rubber pinches out, you can usually push it back in or pull the cap off and try again. The cap will help hold the lower rubber channel in, and when locked it will hold the upper resistance strip in too.
Installed Thule Roof Rack on 2017 Jeep Wrangler
The Thule jeep wrangler roof rack doesn’t look bad and feels sturdy. Now that everything is connected and sized well, further removals and installs should just take a few minutes if all you do is loosen the hand nuts and gently lift up.
Easy on, easy off. We’ve had the roof rack for a while now, and it has been effortless to add and remove. Just takes a couple of minutes to lift over the vehicle and re-attach to gutters. I have hooks in the garage to hang them when not in use to keep them out of the way. Never actually need to separate the feet or adjust them unless using on another vehicle.
The Thule Aeroblade bars and a universal mounting system capable of carrier many Thule and 3rd party roof rack components. This includes J-Bars – Great for carrying Kayaks to Bike Mounts, Roof Top Carriers for Skiing and Luggage and many other accessories.
Installing the Jeep Wrangler roof rack wasn’t too difficult or time-consuming. The most laborious part was getting the feet attached to the Aeroblade and adjusting them for the right dimension across the roof (they don’t slide on the AeroBlades with much ease). Other than that, no pieces were missing and no problems installing. We’re off for a road trip with this on top – so I expect I’ll have an excellent follow-up post soon with feedback on MPG/Wind/Noise issues if any.
Be sure to keep your bars within load limits. Thule Recommends 165 lb max load and Jeep has no real stance on roof racks. I went with Thule to give some flexibility and limit the addition of weight, and so far I’m happy.
Check your vehicle fit – https://www.thule.com/en-us/us/fit-my-car
If you have a roof rack system that you use or recommend, we’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or share your experience on our forums!