Honda Pilot Roof Rack Cross Bars | The Best Crossbars For Pilot Owners
Honda Pilot roof rack cross bars come in a wide variety of styles, finishes and sizes. But they’re not all created equal. While you can buy generic roof rack cross bars that will work on your Honda Pilot, buying crossbars actually designed for your Honda Pilot is a more effective, safe, and efficient way to go.
When it comes to Honda Pilot cross bars you have a lot of choices, but there are five that stand out for their strength, quality, durability and anti-theft features. The crossbars we’ve reviewed fit the unique roof configurations of different year versions of the Honda Pilot. Unlike a generic crossbar which can rattle or come loose, these are designed to work with the existing roof racks. Here’s a quick look at our selections:
There are three options for securing your load (kayaks, canoes, skis, surfboard etc.) to your car if you don’t have a rail system:
- Install a rack or hire a professional to install it for you. If you have no rail system, and no rain gutters or fix point system this may involve drilling into your roof, and ensuring the roof doesn’t leak later. Thus, the keyword “professional.” You can find DIY engineered systems on Youtube for creating your own systems, but most solutions require basic welding skills, a shop, and a lot of time on your hands.
- Make your own. Do a little research on Youtube, or talk to a company who sells roof rack systems to come up with a solution for your make and model of vehicle. Be aware that if you make your own roof rack for your Honda Pilot it probably won’t be covered by insurance.
- Purchase a rackless kayak and boat transportation system. These systems can range from devices that look like pool noodles, to rigid foam blocks and a system of straps, ropes, and ways to secure your boat(s). The strap systems either run through open windows so they don’t go flying through the windshield of the car behind you, or attach to a rain gutter if you have one.
What is a Roof Rack?
The term “roof rack” generally refers to a framework of metal, plastic, or wood used for carrying luggage or equipment on the roof of a vehicle. Roof racks come in different configurations, sizes, and materials and are designed to hold a designated weight, when that weight is evenly distributed.
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Most roof racks will hold from 80 to 160 pounds of gear safely. Every roof rack should have the maximum weight listed in its description, so check before you buy. While “roof rack” refers to an entire structure including the towers, rails, and crossbars, some people refer to a rack’s cross bars, or the rails, as a “roof-rack” as well. This isn’t a problem unless you’re ordering or dealing with someone who is selling the rack, or parts of it.
Learning the basic parts of a roof rack can save you disappointment when you go to order so you get the cross bars, not the rails, if that’s what you want.
What is a Cross Bar?
Cross Bars, often referred to as “load bars” as well, attach to your rack’s rails and run from driver-side window to passenger-side window to create a mounting point for your accessories.
What are Roof Rails?
Roof rails run along the length of the vehicle’s roof, from front-to-back rather than side-to-side. Roof rails are a common sight on modern vehicles such as SUVs and minivans. If you look at any SUV on the road today, you can see them. Their purpose is to provide an attachment point for crossbars and other devices designed to secure loads carried on the roof of the vehicle.
Roof rails are attached to the vehicle’s roof by feet or other mounts. This is one attribute that distinguishes roof rails from other attachment devices, such as tracks, which are typically built directly into the roof of the vehicle.
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Aftermarket roof rails are available if your Honda Pilot did not come with rails. Just make sure the rails you order were made for your year and model Honda Pilot. Some manufacturers offer a sizing guide to ensure a good fit. Some aftermarket manufacturers also offer roof rails designed to mimic the roof rails produced by the original equipment manufacturer.
What is a Fix Point?
Fix points: Fix points can be found on any almost any car body style. Often called “concealed racks,” a fix point is a designed point on a car roof or inside the door jamb, specifically for mounting a roof rack to. There will be from four to six of these points, usually four. They’re hidden under a plastic cap or cover that you pry up with a screwdriver. Once you pry the cap off you’ll see a small, one to three-inch-long point for attaching a separate railing system.
 Illustration showing just a few of the different types of fix point mounting system on the market
These are great systems and very secure, despite their small footprint. But they’re not really fast or easy if you want to install or remove a roof rack each time you go out, unless you enjoy spending 30 minutes or more every time you want to attach or detach your rack.
As we said earlier, some cars have rain gutters, but no rails. There are roof rack systems that have clamps or “feet” that fit into these gutters, which allow you to attach different kinds of roof rack.
Then there are cars that have no rain gutters, no concealed system, and no way to attach anything to the roof without drilling into the roof or running ropes through open windows: not the most practical option, especially if you need to enter and exit your vehicle along the way. Plus, even if you are okay about running ropes through your car windows, some cars have side windows which don’t open. This can be a safety hazard as well, tying doors closed that might need to be opened quickly in an accident or emergency.
What are Towers or Feet?
Towers, which are also referred to as feet, sit on each of the four corners of your roof directly across from each other. They attach to either your bare roof (with the addition of a specific kit/clip), or to your existing factory roof rails or factory mount track/fixed points. Some racks, like inflatable racks, do not have towers or rails, but simply stretch across your vehicle roof.
Fit Kits or Landing Pads
Fit Kits or Landing Pads are vehicle specific parts which mount the tower/feet to your vehicle. Some vehicles, such as a vehicle with factory installed raised rails, do not need these.
A track system attaches permanently to your roof in existing groves. Bars then slide along the tracks with different heights and spacers allowing you to match the bars already on your vehicle. Tracks for your vehicle are sold as a pair, come in different lengths and include rivets and end caps.
OEM and Aftermarket
OEM means Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). These rails come from your car’s dealership and are designed specifically for your make and model. Aftermarket rails can come from a variety of manufacturers and will fit your car, but not as well as the rails designed for it. The difference for most people however, is so small as to be undetectable. Aftermarket parts are generally less expensive than OEM parts and the quality is generally the same.
A Lock Cylinder is a locking device, almost always ordered separately, that is used to lock your roof rack to your rails and roof so your rack system isn’t stolen. Locking devices can still be disabled or removed, but usually only with greater effort than most thieves like to expend.
As they say, “locks keep honest people honest.” Destroying the roof rack’s locking system usually destroys the rack as well, so you generally won’t have to worry about your rack “walking away” as long as it’s locked.
Accessories for Your Honda Pilot Cross Bars
Many of the cross bars for Honda Pilots will also accept a variety of accessory carriers especially designed to carry things like multiple sets of snow skis, kayaks, car top carriers, cargo carriers, and bicycles. Before buying cross bars for your particular rails, check to see what other carriers also fit onto the cross bars. You may want to carry a bicycle and a kayak, or several kayaks. Remember to check the weight of the loads you anticipate against the load capacity of the cross bars and the carrier.
Cargo Box, Bag, or Carrier?
Sometimes there’s just not enough room inside your Honda Pilot for everything you’re taking with you. With the right cross bar system you can add enough storage to take all those extra clothes, or the added gear. But which is best, a cargo box, cargo bag, or cargo basket? Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, but here are the basics.
- Cargo boxes are best for anything you need to keep dry. They come in various sizes and finishes, and are lockable so you can feel secure leaving them unattended. They are ideal for skis, snowboards, backpacks, suitcases, bags, camping supplies, strollers, and other necessities that need to be protected from the elements. Roof mount cargo boxes don’t interfere with trunk or hatch access either. And they feature unique locking mechanisms that prevent you from locking your keys inside by accident. Most have organizers available to help keep your gear in check. Carrying capacity varies, usually from 14 to 18 cubic feet: more than enough for most family vacations.
- Cargo baskets are ideal for off road vehicles, and for carrying odd-sized or shaped equipment, coolers, and other items and gear that doesn’t need to be protected from the elements. A cargo basket is just what it sounds like, a metal basket, usually made of a few bars of metal, which holds your gear on top of your rack. All gear should be secured in your basket with a stretchy cargo net that comes with easily attached, impact-resistant hooks.
- Cargo bags give you the capacity you need to haul your stuff without the cost of a hardshell box. Cargo bags are soft-sided, zippered bags in square, rectangular, or other configurations. They generally come with Velcro straps to cinch the bag tightly so it doesn’t bellow in the wind. They’re generally made with thick, durable PVC coated nylon, are waterproof or highly water resistant, have soft sides, sturdy zippers, and expandable tops.
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Popular Honda Pilot J Hook or J Cradle Accessory
The “J” hook or cradle gets its name because it looks like the letter “J.” It’s a very popular Honda Pilot accessory for carrying kayaks. The inside portion of the J is a sort of scoop designed to hold a kayak on its side. This allows you to load four-to-six kayaks (depending on the width of your vehicle) on your roof. They’re very popular devices as they keep your boat(s) from moving around on top of the vehicle and give you more security.
They have other advantages as well, including making it easier for women, children, those without upper body strength strong enough to manhandle a 50 pound kayak, and the elderly to load their boats unaided. It’s simple enough to attach a bully system that allows the user to easily and safely pull their boat into the “J” rack quickly. Other advantages of a J hook:
- If positioned on the outside of the rack, there is room in between the J hooks to have a storage unit or more boats in between the two J hooks.
- Kayaks and canoes are easier to secure using locks and cables threaded through the J.
- Boats are more secure and less likely to move around or become loose in a J hook.
- You can load more boats, more securely with J hooks.
- J hooks allow you to attach your straps before you load your kayak.
Things to Consider When Selecting Honda Pilot Roof Rack Cross Bars
You’re not just selecting crossbars for your Honda Pilot. You’re selecting a vehicle accessory that will carry your expensive skis, kayak, surfboard, Thule or other car top carrier. You want crossbars that will not fail under pressure, wind, or weight or send your load flying off of your car.
When buying a roof rack, cross-bars, or a carrier, be sure to check the weight limits and follow installation instructions regarding the amount of torque needed to secure the screws. Most of these crossbars come with Torx screws, making your rack more secure. By design, Torx screws are less likely to strip out and are easier to remove, but even better: you’re less likely to slip and mar your car’s roof when installing the racks.
Before buying any roof rack or crossbars check with your owner’s manual or your Honda dealer to ensure the racks you’re buying are compatible with your model and year Honda Pilot. Some racks and crossbars were only made for a particular year model.
What kind of roof does your Honda Pilot have? Does it lack any existing rails or crossbars? Does it have flush mount rails that run front to back? Or does it have raised rails that run front to back?
Determine what you will use the racks for. Kayaks? Luggage? A cargo carrier? Determine the use, then check the maximum load limit of the racks to ensure they will hold the items you plan to load. Most kayaks weigh between 40 and 60 pounds, more for a fishing kayak or a tandem boat. Two kayaks and gear could easily weigh 120 pounds or more, while many of these racks have a weight capacity of 100-130 pounds.
Don’t overload your rack. A car top carrier may only weigh 40-50 pounds, but it’s easy to load that carrier with more than 100 pounds; again, exceeding the weight capacity of your carrier.
While you may buy your roof rack or crossbars with one purpose in mind, maybe transporting a kayak, or for a cargo carrier, some racks and designs will accommodate other accessories, like a bike rack. If there’s ever a chance that you’d want to use the crossbars or racks for something else, it’s good to know what accessories are available for each model before you buy.
Insurance and Your Roof Rack
No one likes to think about whether insurance will cover your roof rack or not, but it’s important to find out before you decide to install it yourself, or hire a professional to do it. A quick call to your auto insurance agent should clear things up for you, but in general some of the things they’ll want to know in case of an accident or damage to your car or someone else’s:
- Did the rack fail?
- Was it OEM or aftermarket?
- Was it installed or mounted properly?
- Who installed it?
- Was it overloaded? Too top heavy?
- Were you doing the speed limit?
Some insurance agencies consider a roof rack a “modification” and may or may not cover you under your current insurance policy.
Tips for Assembling and Installing your Roof Rack and Crossbars
Once you unpack your racks and/or crossbars, check the items against your instruction list, if one is included. Many roof racks and crossbar kits do not come with any instructions, although instructions can be downloaded from the Internet. It’s a good idea to find and review the instructions online before ordering your crossbars to ensure you have the tools and skills needed to install it yourself (usually just a Torx 30 screwdriver bit available for a few dollars on Amazon or your local hardware store).
Top Honda Pilot Roof Rack Cross Bars
Item Weight: 10.5 pounds
Product Dimensions: 52 x 8 x 6 inches
Load Capacity: 100 pounds
The ROLA 59760 features a custom fit for superior styling on the Honda Pilot. With anodized aluminum cross bars, high strength molded nylon and stainless steel hardware, these racks were made for a long life of service. There are anti-theft features, including lockable covers and lockable accessory channel for T-bolt applications. Fits Honda Pilot without side rails. The Rola GTX series bare roof mount system offers a fully detachable design incorporating molded rubber pads and stainless steel specific hardware. Racks are fully lockable and the crossbar features a universal T slot allowing you to use a wide variety of accessories from Rola and other roof rack manufactures. Custom fit vehicle applications for superior style.
Item Weight: 15 pounds
Product Dimensions: 50 x 15 x 5 inches
Load Capacity: 160 pounds
These Honda genuine cross bars were only made to fit the Honda Pilot 2016. They are the highest load bearing crossbars for the Honda Pilot. They’re easy to install: just unscrew four screws already in the rails and screw in four that come with the crossbar. These bars hold 165 pounds, plenty for the average kayaker, surfer, or Thule cargo carrier. Best installed with the one-pack Honda 08L02-TG7-100 Roof Rails.
You’ll need a T-30 Torx driver bit to install these crossbars. Instructions aren’t included with the crossbars, but you can watch Honda’s YouTube instructions here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trxQoAIpM4I
Model Number: BL674160
Item Weight: 13.8 pounds
Product Dimensions: 46.7 x 12 x 4.1 inches
Load Capacity: 154 pounds when the load is evenly distributed.
Brightlines Honda Pilot Crossbars for Honda Pilots 2016-2018 are constructed from high-grade aluminum. They won’t rust. They’re lightweight and durable. Their aerodynamic design minimizes wind noise and the whistling often associated with roof rack cross bars. These crossbars are bolted directly to the roof’s preset rails and can be installed in minutes. The package comes with a pair of crossbars, four mounting towers, and instructions. These are among the most popular crossbars among Honda Pilot owners.
AUXMART Roof Rack Cross Bars for Honda Pilot 2016-2018 with Factory Roof Side Rails – 60KG/132LBS (Pack of 2)
Model Number: 70025716
Item Weight: 7.75 pounds
Product Dimensions: None given
Load Capacity: 132 pounds
The Auxmart Roof Rack cross bars and factory roof side rails are among the lightest, most durable racks available for the Honda Pilot. Professional installation is strongly encouraged as instructions for installation aren’t included. Before you purchase these racks please verify they will fit your Honda Pilot vehicle (2016-2018 year model). Made from an aluminum alloy + ABS plastic these racks have a very lightweight, durable aluminum body. The feet/towers for these racks are made of ABS plastic. The racks have a streamline water drop design which effectively reduces wind resistance and noise. The racks have a glossy black surface with smooth touch, water-proof and anti-corrosion
Please note, if you install the foot shelf in reverse, you will hear loud noises. The curved upward design will fit your car roof arc, and will not impede normal skylight opening. The aluminum feet are attached using rubber pads, so the racks will not hurt or scratch your car paint. These racks will allow you to securely store and transport bulky items on your roof as well as kayaks, snowboards, luggage, and other roof accessories like a cargo basket carrier, snowboard/bike rack, or luggage box.
These racks are a direct bolt-in type for your vehicles mounting points. No modifications to your vehicle are required. The cross bars mount to your Honda Pilot’s factory side rails and are easy to install and disassemble in minutes.
ALAVENTE Roof Rack Cross Bars Luggage Cargo Carrier For Honda Pilot 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 (Pair, Black)
Model Number: 97A12L56A51
Item Weight: 5 pounds
Product Dimensions: 46.5 x 5.5 x 3.9 inches
Load Capacity: 100LBS
The Alavente Roof Rack Cross Bars are aftermarket high strength roof rack cross bars for the Honda Pilot Years: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
These black powder-coated surface, water-proof and anti-corrosion models will last the life of your Honda Pilot. Their streamline water drop design effectively reduces wind resistance and noise.
The racks are easy to install and remove in minutes, and no drilling, cutting or changes to your vehicle are required. However, professional installation is recommended as there are no instructions included with the racks.
They’re the perfect solution for Honda Pilot owners who want to carry luggage, cargo carriers, bikes, kayaks, canoes, skis, surfboards or snowboards on the roof. Soft rubber gaskets on both ends of the roof rack crossbar help to avoid damaging your vehicle’s paint. The package includes 2x Roof Rack Cross Bars and all necessary hardware.