The Yakima JetStream and Thule Aeroblade are copy cat products that differ only at the smallest details. On the surface these two wildly popular crossbars appear identical and your buying decision may come down to brand loyalty. These crossbars will be with you for years, so you should know which is best.
Article at a Glance
Bottom Line: Our test reveal the Jetstream just barely edges out the Aeroblade due to slightly better aerodynamics, ease of installation, and value. Put simply, the JetStream is cheaper and easier to adapt to different carrier systems. Both are top-tier crossbars and if you prefer Thule products, you'll be equally as happy.
Check out our comparison of the Thule Aeroblade vs. Whispbar
- Dimensions: (32, 35.25, 38.25, 42.375)"L x 3.1"W x 1.1"H
- Material: Aluminum
- Compatible with Rapid or Podium series towers
- Colors: Silver/Black
Pros & Cons
The Aeroblade is Thule's newest premium crossbar available on the market today. As its name suggests, the wing shaped design allows the crossbar to quietly slice through the air. The bar's shape coupled with aerodynamic t-slot covers called WindDiffuser technology creates a quiet driving experience.
The Aeroblade is an improvement upon Thule's other crossbars by simultaneously reducing drag and reducing overall crossbar weight. Aluminum is weaker than steel so Thule invented a unique internal bar structure called BoxBeam. With the help of this new architecture, the Aeroblade can carry up to 165lbs. in weight.
Hopping along with the industry trend of adding T-Slot channels, makes this bar compatible with almost every accessory on the market. QuickAccess upper T-slot technology allows smooth installing and removing of accessories.
Available in four different variations (7601, 7602, 7603, and 7604) and two colors (Black/Silver), the Aeroblade can fit almost any vehicle with style and functionality. The Thule Podium and Rapid Foot Packs come in wide range sizes to fit the car no matter the roof type. Combine these foot packs with Thule's One-Key locks (sold separately) and your investment is safe forever.
- Dimensions: (50, 60, 70)"L x 2.75"W x 1.1"H
- Material: Aluminum
- Compatible with all StreamLine System towers
- Colors: Black or Silver
Pros & Cons
The Yakima Jetstream headlines the StreamLine System of roof racks launched in 2016. The JetFlow (teardrop shaped) aerobar silently cuts through the air with almost zero drag, improving fuel efficiency for its owners. The lightweight all aluminum construction features multiple inner chambers coined JetStruss technology to withstand loads up to 165 pounds. Offered in two colors (silver or black), this stylish crossbar set boosts the appeal of most modern vehicles while adding functionality to boot.
Along the top and bottom of the JetStream runs T-Slot channels manufactured to accommodate lightning fast attachment and removal of accessories like kayak racks, bike racks, and cargo boxes. To maintain the aerodynamics of the bar, the T-Slots are covered by a rubber stripping that slips down into the channel when in use and pops back into place when not. Known as SmartFill, this seamless transition is adored by consumers for removing the need to custom trim the rubber stripping for each new accessory.
The JetStream is compatible with any of the towers available in the SteamLine System: The BaseLine, TimberLine, SkyLine, or RidgeLine tower means any roof style can be fitted for a pair of JetStreams. The three sizes of, 50, 60, and 70 inches length will fit the majority of popular manufacturer's vehicles on the market today.
Here are Kayamping.net, we do the hard work of zooming in on every tiny detail and feature to determine to answer the question. "Which product is best and why?" Our goal is then to zoom back out and provide the high level, important details to our readers. However, if you're interested like we are, we make this information available so you can what we see.
For a premium crossbar, aerodynamics should be a key consideration point. Reducing drags creates a quieter driving experience and improves gas mileage. The overall aerodynamics is primarily determined by the shape of the crossbar.
The Aeroblade and JetStream have very similar wing or teardrop shapes as seen below. With minimal differences it in overall shape, the performance of the two bars is going to be very similar. To judge which bar is quieter will take a closer examination of the bar's surfaces.
Crossbar Shape Matters
Close examination of the bars' cross-sections reveals they are not perfectly the same. The Aeroblade has two channels on the underside that run the length of the bar. These indentions interrupt the smooth flow of air underneath the bar, creating additional turbulence and more drag.
The difference may equate to only a few decibels, but it does make the Aeroblade louder than the JetStream.
Ease of Installation
Installing either of these crossbars is not complicated, but it will take some time and patience. Instructions for both setups are easy to read, and we included a pair of Youtube videos to help you follow along.
We cannot cover every installation process however. Depending on your vehicle's roof, you will need to buy different foot packs for Thule or different towers for Yakima. For example, a roof with raised rails will have a tower that clings to it. If you have a naked roof, your tower will need to cling to do your roof in a different manner.
Which Towers Work with each Crossbar?
Thule Aeroblade works with the following foot packs
1. Rapid Traverse - Best for naked roof
2. Podium - Best for fixed points or tracks
3. Rapid Crossroad - Best for flush mounted roof rails
4. Aeroblade Edge (Not a tower) - Best for raised roof rails
Yakima JetStream works with the entire Streamline System of towers:
1. BaseLine - Best for naked roof
2. SkyLine - Best for fixed points or tracks
3. RidgeLine - Best for flush mounted roof rails
4. TimberLine - Best for raised roof rails
Prior to Installation
Both systems require a few of your own tools (scissors, measuring tape, and screw drivers). You will also need to wash your roof prior to ensure the best grip between crossbar and roof.
Installation times will very between 30 minutes and one hour depending on experience level/general handiness. The good news is that you will likely only have to do this once so maybe ask a family to help out in exchange for dinner.
Thule Aeroblade Installation
Yakima JetStream Installation
It is important understand two things about the value of a crossbar:
1. Crossbars are an investment in your and everyone else's safety.
2. They will last longer than the vehicle.
With these two things in mind, spending a little extra on crossbars is a good idea. Both of these crossbars are their respective manufacturers premium product.
The JetStream and Aeroblade are both great values for the quality and features they offer. While priced accordingly, the bars are made from high quality alluminum, which will not rust. Capable of handling 165lbs. of weight will match the weight capacity of most modern roofs, meaning exceeding it would not be a smart choice. The aero-shape is an improvement upon square or round bars so you can expect a quite commute everyday.
All of these things aside, we find the JetStream to be a comparatively better value. It is roughly 10-20% cheaper than the Aeroblade, and has all of the same features.
Aluminum is known to be a flimsy material compared to similar structural metal like steel. However, it is lighter and does not rust which makes it more desirable for crossbar construction. To address the material weaknesses, Yakima and Thule invented internal structure systems to add strength and increase carrying capacity.
The maximum carrying capacity for each bar is 165lbs., but this is thanks to differing technologies. Yakima created JetTruss, internal chambers that add "support beams" throughout the bar. They also make room for T-Slots.
Not to be outdone, Thule showcases BoxBeam technology, which is functionally the same thing, but with fewer support beams. They seem to have found a way to do more with less.
In comparison, neither is better or worse at carrying loads because they have the same weight capacity. Both bars also weigh almost exactly the same so there is nearly zero difference in this category.
Carrier Accessory Compatibility
Crossbars by themselves, are not entirely useful but they are a necessary building block to begin transporting items on top of your car. Accessories like kayak racks, cargo boxes, or baskets do the physical carrying of your belongings. The crossbar is merely a point to attach these accessories.
As a result, it is necessary that the crossbars play nice with others. Accessories use a variety different attachment methods like clamps, rings, or t-slot inserts. I am here to say that these crossbars will play nicely with all of those attachments.
The industry roof carrier industry is shifting from clamps and brackets that require constant tightening to t-slot connections. T-Slots allow an attachment to be inserted into the bar and locked in position. This connection is more secure and quicker to remove/attach.
The process of removing and adding accessories via the T-Slot is where the JetStream and Aeroblade really differ.
JetStream with SmartFill vs. Aeroblade with QuickAccess
The Yakima Jetstream takes the cake on compatibility with accessories. Their T-Slot technology is less hassle than the Aeroblade. To explain, on each crossbar the T-slot channel is covered by a rubber stripping. To insert something into the T-slot requires the rubber stripping to be moved out of the way. Geniusly, Yakima designed their rubber stripping to be easily pressed into the channel. When the accessory is removed Yakima's SmartFill stripping pops back out of the channel. This require no cutting or altering of the stripping no matter the accessory. No additional work is required on the users part to switch from one accessory to the next.
Thule's QuickAccess stripping is less robust than Yakima's. Their stripping must be removed in order to insert an accessory into the T-Slot. The only way to do this, is to trim the stripping to create space for accessory insertion. This process is tedious for users and creates problems when you have multiple accessories trying to go no the same bar.
Locks - Yakima SKS vs. Thule One-Key
For an additional price you can protect your investment by purchasing a locking system for either crossbar. Thule calls their lock "One-Key Locks" because you only need a single key for all four lock cores. Yakima offers a remarkably simliar system named SKS Locks that are functionally the same thing. You will need a lock for each tower of the crossbar so 4 in total.
Installing locking cores in a crossbar is incredibly simple and easy. Pop out the place holder cylinder and insert the locking core. Boom Done! These locks work by preventing the face covers of the towers from being removed.
In comparison there is no difference between the two lock core systems. Both use a single key for all for locks and they are installed in the method. In our in opinion, both companies are trying to make an extra cheap buck by forcing customers to purchase these separately. For a premium bar, you would expect locks to come standard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thule Aeroblade Edge vs Aeroblade EVO
These two bars can appear quite similar.. because they are the same crossbar. They have different foot packs though. The Aeroblade Edge attaches to raised roof rails ONLY. The Aeroblade EVO can use a variety of foot packs to attach to naked roofs, roofs with fixed points, or roofs with rain gutters.
Same crossbar, different foot packs.