Thule 480 vs 480r Review: Which One Should You Pick?

thule 480 vs 480r

Installing a rack on your naked car roof can prove to be difficult and confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.

These two-foot packs we’re reviewing today will make the process a little less complicated but will also ensure you won’t have to spend a small fortune down the road when your cheap footpacks break or fail.

The last thing you want to worry about is your Kayak flying off your roof while cruising down the highway doing 50mph.

Thule is well known for creating quality gear, so let’s get right into our Thule 480 vs 480r review.

Product Compatible Bars
#1. Thule 480
Thule Square Bars ONLY
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#2. Thule 480r
Aeroblade or other Thule bars
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Right out of the box, the Thule 480 foot packs are about as basic as you can get but that’s not a bad thing.

They come in packages of four; one for each corner of the roof of your car so you don’t have to worry about purchasing two separate packs and whether they’ll both arrive at the same time.

Installation is a breeze and should take you less than 30 minutes to put the whole thing together, but please understand that you’re only getting the footpacks and not the whole kit and kaboodle.

Since these are designed for a cross mounting system, you’ll need to pick up the crossbars separately to have the complete setup.

See Thule 480 Customer Reviews
See Thule 480R Customer Reviews

The crossbars are the bars that lay parallel to each other on top of your roof. To secure the crossbars in place, footpacks are connected to each end.  You’ll also need to pick up Thule fit kits so that your foot packs will fit your car.

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The particular Fitkits and crossbars that you purchase will depend on which foot pack you purchase.

But as a general note, the 480 foot packs are designed for square Thule load bars while the 480r will allow you to upgrade to more advanced load bars like the Aeroblade.

If you’re looking for a basic no-frills foot pack for your mounting kit, then the 480 will fit your budget.

But if you need more options or don’t mind spending an extra chunk of change, then the 480r might be your next best option.

Thule 480r

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So, what makes the 480r different from the basic 480 foot pack kit?

Considering that the 480 can only handle square mounting bars, you’re limited in terms of choices when picking your cross bars.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you want some extra features like better aerodynamics and less wind noise while traveling at high speeds, then you’re going to want to pick up the 480r’s.

They’re equipped to handle the more advanced cross bars, so you can enjoy those specific features.

In addition to better aerodynamics (better fuel economy), some of the Aeroblade bars are constructed from aluminum, so they’re durable and can withstand heavier loads.

Like the 480 kit, you’ll also need to purchase your Fitkit and mounting bars separately. The 480r foot packs only come with 4 feet and the endcaps.

Converting The Thule 480 to 480r: Is It Possible?

The Thule 480-foot packs are designed for Thule square bars.

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They cannot be converted or modified to accept the more advanced mounting bars like 480r can handle.

So, if you’re looking to install any of the Thule’s Aeroblade bars onto your car roof, you’ll need to pick up the 480r’s or they won’t be compatible with anything else.

For either option, you’ll still need to pick up the Fitkit in addition to whichever foot packs you decide on.

Should You Buy Thule Square Bar or Aeroblade?

Cross rails to consider:  Yakima Jetstream & Whispbar


So which foot pack would we pick for our own personal use?

It depends. If we’re on a budget and not looking for extra frills, then we’d probably just stick with the 480 package.

See Thule 480 Customer Reviews

However, if we were worried about fuel economy and wind noise while driving, then we’d pick up the 480r package since it’s the only mounting kit (of the two) that can accommodate Thule’s Aeroblade bars.

See Thule 480R Customer Reviews

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