Traveler's Gear Box: Whispbar, A Stream-Lined Rack System For Your High-End Rig

Whispbar, a new line of roof rack owned by Yakima, is sleek and stylish for your BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, or other high-end rig on which a bulkier black rack seems unfitting.

Call it a sleek, low-profile rack system for your high-end rig. After all, do you really want to put a large, black rack atop your gleaming BMW or Mercedes? If not, Whispbar is something to consider.

A line acquired by Yakima back in 2010 and which now is being rolled out with an array of accessories for bikes, skis, and kayaks, Whispbar was designed by a Rolls Royce engineer with an eye for aeronautics. The result is obvious in the extremely low profiles of this line. Profiles that are complemented by equally sleek attachment points for your outdoor toys.

“This consumer knows that appropriately designed accessories complete a look. The Whispbar rack system and the new accessories do not compromise their desire for design aesthetics or performance, and takes their well-engineered, beautiful car to a new level of performance and style," says Bobbie Parisi, Yakima's vice president of brand management.

The rack system was on display during the Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake back in August. Though it's owned by Yakima, the Whispbar line is intended to stand on its own. The racks, company staff explained, are intended to "look like it's part of your car."

"This aims to attract larger consumer segments that might have an aversion to bulkier Yakima gear," they added.

Along with the streamlined look, wind tunnel testing shows the racks cut drag by up to 70 percent, no small number in today's gasoline market. And reduced drag means reduced noise.

The Whispbar system is available with four mounts: a rail bar (MSRP $349, fits rigs with raised rails, comes in seven lengths), a flush bar (MSRP $389, mounts flush to your roof, 11 different lengths), through bar ($389, designed to handle longer bars for more gear, such as your bike and boat, four different lengths), and HD bar (MSRP $439, heavy duty design for hefty loads up to 220 pounds, five different lengths).

To hold these bars (except for the rail bar, naturally) to your rig, you'll also need the SmartFoot base system, which runs $60.

Of course, the accessories for this sleek line will add to your total: The ski rack, which can carry six pairs of skis or four snowboards, retails for $249; the bike fork mount, which can carry one bike, runs $249; the kayak cradle, which can hold one kayak, retails for $249, and; the kayak saddle, runs also runs $249.

The bike rack does come with a mount that can handle both 9-millimeter and 15-millimeter axle forks without the need for adapters.

The accessories are just now being rolled out: The ski rack should be in retail outlets this month; the bike fork mount in February, and; the kayak saddle and mount in March.