Yakima FullBack vs. HalfBack: Which Bike Rack Beats the Other?

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I was always very finicky when it came to choosing a bike rack. I don’t close my eyes and get a carrier out of the blue unless it is recommended by my friends or has a good review.

I think everyone should think this way because, with a poor rack, you don’t only lose the carrier but also your precious bicycles.

With that said, I’ve searched high and low and found these two, the Yakima FullBack and Halfback, worth reviewing. Much to my surprise, I’ve seen that many of my friends and even my colleagues are curious about the difference between the Yakima FullBack vs. Halfback.

I kept giving each of them the same answer, but it seemed like every day, there was someone new who asked me the same question. Today I’m here to remove the confusion once and for all. So, if you’re here to know which one is better between the two, then it’s your lucky day.

Comparing Features of Both Yakima FullBack & HalfBack

Yakima FullBackYakima HalfBack
TypeTrunk-mounted RackTrunk-mounted Rack
Bike Capacity2 & 32 & 3
Load Capacity35 lbs per bike35 lbs per bike
Item Weight23.5 lbs23.5 lbs
Integrated LockYesNo
Cinch StrapIncludedNo
Safety LeashYesNo
PriceBuy From AmazonBuy From Amazon

My Run with the Two Trunk Mounted Racks

Before I start rambling about the similarities or the differences between the two racks, I think it will be wise if you take a little time to know more about the carriers.

Hopefully, it will help you better understand how these racks work. So, what are we waiting for? Let me give a tour inside my mind and show you guys my experience with the carriers.

Yakima FullBack Trunk Strap Bike Rack

Yakima FullBack

More often than not, you prefer to keep your vehicle exactly how it is. You wouldn’t want to change a single thing, and that is what happened to me as well. It happened a few years back; I bought a new hatchback— the 2020 Hyundai Veloster.

I had installed roof crossbars on my old 2017 Lexus NX300 to use racks such as the Thule UpRide and Yakima HighRoad. On my Subaru XV Crosstrek, I attached a hitch to use carriers like the Yakima Holdup and HoldUp EVO.

In a way, I have defiled all my old SUVs and cars, so this time I didn’t want to put anything on my hatchback. However, this had put me in a pickle.

I wanted to take my bikes with me, but at the same time, I didn’t want to ruin the ingenuity of my hatchback. So, there was only one option left for me, and it was to get a trunk-mounted rack.

Honestly, I bought the Yakima HalfBack first, but I will describe it later. For now, let me stick to the FullBack. Spoiler Alert: after using and being satisfied with the HalfBack, I got to know about the newer model named Yakima FullBack.

I couldn’t stop myself and ended up having both the HalfBack and FullBack. Okay, enough with the story, let me come to the matter at hand. The Yakima FullBack is a compact, trunk-mounted bike rack. It weighs only 23.5 pounds, so moving it around was not even a challenge.

I got the FullBack 2, so there were two bike slots on the carrier. There is a Fullback 3 model, and if you need to carry more bicycles, then you can always get that.

The installation process was a little tricky, but with a little bit of practice, it became easier. There are a total of 4 strap attachments and an interlocking HUB.

Two of these attachments will go on top of the hatchback door, and the remaining two will attach to the bottom. The straps have rubber padding, and they are labeled, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to figure out which ones stick to the top and which ones go at the bottom.

The base and the hand that connects to the bottom of your vehicle and the rear window have rubber padding on them. Thus, I never had to worry about the rack scratching up my new hatchback.

So, as I’ve mentioned before, there are a total of two arms on the carrier. Each of them has a bike weight capacity of 35lbs. I took two bikes with me on my first ride, the Yeti SB130 and the Giant Contend SL 1.

As the former has a slanted top tube, I had to use a TubeTop adapter for it. The adapter didn’t come with the package, and I had to buy it separately.

Now, let’s come to the cradles. The bike slots feature rubber padding, so it doesn’t scratch the frame of your precious bicycle. The padding is on both the upside and downside of the cradle.

These cradles feature ZipStrips and no ratcheting straps; therefore, it’s pretty easy to load and secure on the rack. The bike slots also come with an anti-sway, which is something you always want to see on your carrier.

I really love the stylish black color and design of the Yakima FullBack. The rack also features an integrated SKS locking system to keep the bikes safe from robbery.

The FullBack also has a few extra things, like the safety leash and the cinch strap. Overall, it’s a great bike rack, plus it can be folded for safe and easy storage.

Things I Like About the Rack

  • It has an amazing black paint finish
  • The carrier is foldable, and it weighs only 23.5lbs
  • Securing the bikes to the carrier was effortless due to the Zip Strips
  • The cradles came with rubber padding to keep my bicycles safe from scratches
  • The integrated locking system kept me from worrying about bike theft

What I Think Could be Better

  • The rack covers up the rear license plate, and in some areas, it’s a problem

Yakima HalfBack Trunk Strap Bike Rack

yakima halfback

So, let’s continue from where we left off. I bought a new hatchback— didn’t want to ruin its natural design with a crossbar, so I started looking into trunk-mounted bike racks. So, why did I begin with the Yakima Halfback? Well, that’s an interesting story.

I wasn’t sure what I would get, so I went to one of my friends for advice. At that time, he was using a trunk strap carrier by Thule; sorry in advance because I forgot the specific name of the model. While we were chatting, he told me about the rack he was using and about the carrier he was planning to buy next.

As you guess, the rack he planned on getting was the Yakima HalfBack. I told him— why don’t I get it for myself, and then I can tell you how good or bad it is. So, we decided I would get the HalfBack first, and if I found it worthy, it would help him make his decision later.

So, in a span of a few days, I had the Yakima HalfBack sitting inside my garage. My first impression of the carrier was great. I liked the sleek gray color and the durable outlook it had. The carrier weighs the same as the FullBack.

Thus, it’s safe to say that carrying it or lifting it up on the trunk won’t be a difficult task.

The Halfback comes in two models— one with two bike slots and the other with three. I haven’t actually tried out the Halfback 3, but from what I heard, it’s the same and only has an extra cradle.

There are two gray dials on the rack, which rotate to fold and unfold the carrying arms. Once the arms are unfolded, you can start to place bikes on them. Similar to FullBack, the cradles have rubber padding on the top and the bottom.

There is no need to worry about your bicycles getting scratches or streaks.

The cradles feature Zip Trips, which I think are quite convenient. They are easy to use, and even a beginner can use them without having any difficulty. Apart from that, you will see anti-sway on the cradles to keep your bicycles from smacking into each other.

The rubber pads are not limited to the cradles only. You will also find them at the base and on the arm that sticks to the rear window. This feature was included to keep your vehicles safe from accidental scratches.

Usually, when you take a trunk-mounted rack for a spin and go through a bumpy road, it tends to move a little. In such cases, you need to stay aware of scratches or streaks on the window or even on the bottom of your vehicle.

However, you will be the last person to worry about it with the Yakima HalfBack.

Similar to the FullBack, there are four strap attachments with rubber padding and labels on them. The padding protects the pain of your vehicle while the labels assist you in installing the attachments to the proper places.

The Yakima Halfback is a compact, lightweight carrier. It also comes with the ability to be folded. So, whenever you’re not using it, you can easily fold the rack and store it inside the trunk.

The downside to the carrier is that it doesn’t come with an integrated locking system. Therefore, you need to be extra careful while driving or keeping the rack unchecked.

With that said, the rack is still one of a kind and outperforms most trunk-mounted carriers. And before I forget to mention, there is a bottle opener included in the bike arms, which you can use to have a drink whenever you feel like it.

Things I Like About the Rack

  • The carrier is durable and long-lasting
  • It is lightweight and compact, plus it can be folded for easy storage
  • The rubber pads on the bottom and secure arm keep the paint and rear window safe
  • I really like the integrated bottle opener
  • It is cheaper compared to the FullBack

What I Think Could Be Better

  • There is no integrated locking system, so I had to be very careful with the rack and my bikes

Things in Common Between the Two Trunk Strap Bike Racks

Now that we have the necessary information let’s go and start connecting the dots. If you’ve gone through the details, then you should know that both racks are almost the same. There are only a handful of differences between the two.

Yakima Fullback
Yakima Fullback

So, the first thing I found to be similar between them is their design. They practically look the same but with a different color. There are a total of four strap attachments on the FullBack, and guess what, it’s the same on the HalfBack as well.

Both racks have two arms that can be folded and unfolded using two gray dials. There are four cradles (six if you get the other model), and all of them feature rubber padding. There are two anti-sway (one on each arm), and it’s the same for both carriers.

These racks weigh the same and have a similar weight capacity. Both of these carriers have integrated bottle openers and rubber padding on the secure arm and at the base.

You can fold and unfold both of these racks in the same manner

You can fold and unfold both of these racks in the same manner. The way you have to install these carriers to the hatchback or the trunk of a car is also identical; even the way you mount a bicycle on both racks is similar.

While testing out the racks, I’ve noticed that there isn’t much difference between the two of them. Usually, when you use two individual racks, there is a great deal of difference between them. To be honest, even I was surprised to see how much these carriers resemble each other.

The Differences Between the Yakima FullBack and HalfBack

Yakima FullBack vs. HalfBack

It is time to address the elephant in the room— the different aspects between the two carriers. With the details and the similarities out of the picture, we can finally focus on what matters the most.

Before starting, I must admit that there are only a handful of differences between the Yakima FullBack and the HalfBack.

However, I think they are still worth noticing, and before making any decision, you should have a look at them.

Integrated Locking System

Integrated Locking

The biggest difference between the FullBack and HalfBack is that the former comes with integrated locking cables and cores. It works like an anti-theft device and ensures your bicycles remain safe and secured on the rack.

The latter, on the other hand, doesn’t feature a locking system. Your bikes will be susceptible to stealing if you don’t do anything about it. However, it’s not the end of the world. You have the option to buy external locks for the Halfback and use them to keep your bicycles secured.

Nevertheless, it’s annoying to shop over and over again for small things. This is why many people prefer an integrated locking system over external locks.

Basically, with the FullBack, you can keep your bikes safe from robbery right out of the box. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t do the same with the HalfBack. You can keep your bicycles safe with the latter, provided you get external locks before heading on to your journey.

A Cinch Strap

With the FullBack, you get a cinch strap which is included with the purchase. You won’t get it with the Halfback, so that’s a bummer.

If you don’t know what cinch straps are used for, then let me enlighten you. It’s a strap that you can wrap around the bicycles to keep them tight and secured to the rack. Such straps are usually used when people plan to go on long journeys or drive at high speed. It ensures your bikes remain close and tight to the carrier, preventing them from falling off during long journeys.

When you are traveling at high speed, there is a very good chance your bicycles will start to lose their grip, which can cause them to fall down from the rack. With a cinch strap, you don’t have to worry about the problem.

Safety Leash

Afterward, the FullBack comes with a safety leash that the HalfBack doesn’t feature. It is a backup system that keeps your rack secured to your vehicle in case you forget or are unable to install the four attachment straps properly.

A safety leash is very handy for beginners or people who have difficulty setting up a trunk-mounted carrier. I also prefer a safety leash because the last thing I would want to see is my rack and bikes on the ground biting the dust.

Black or Gray

Yakima FullBack is Black

You should remember that these racks come in only one color. You don’t have the option to choose from multiple colors. So, what color do you prefer, black or gray?

The Yakima FullBack comes with a black painted finish, whereas the HalfBack features a gray color. So, it’s up to you to decide which color you want for your carrier.

Yakima HalfBack is Gray


It’s pretty clear that Yakima FullBack includes more features than HalfBack. The latter doesn’t come with an integrated locking system, a cinch strap, or a safety leash.

So, why would anyone choose the latter over the former? Well, it’s because of the price. As the HalfBack has fewer features compared to the FullBack, it also costs a little less.

If you already have an external lock and don’t want to spend the extra cash, then the Yakima HalfBack is a great choice.

Wrapping Up!

The Yakima FullBack and HalfBack both are great bike racks; however, if you want me to choose one of them, then I will probably lean a little towards the former.

See, I don’t have a budget problem, and frankly, I enjoy the extra features. However, it may not be the same for you. You might not need the additional stuff, and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it. So, if you’re running low on cash and don’t need the extra features, then it’s obvious that you will opt for the latter.

I believe I was able to satisfy your curiosity. Now that you know the differences between the Yakima FullBack vs. Halfback, what’s your next move? GO!

Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of RackTutor.com. In his professional life, he has been offering Paintless Dent Repair and Hail Repair services in North Texas since 1990. He is the owner of DentMasters. He is still passionate about outdoor adventures with his family, bikes and cars. So he has first-hand experience on bike racks. He is regularly testing suitable racks for his upcoming trip. His aim is to create a user-friendly free website where bikers can easily read bike rack informations without any hassle.

3 thoughts on “Yakima FullBack vs. HalfBack: Which Bike Rack Beats the Other?”

  1. Thank you for your review. You mentioned using a tube top adapter. I have a woman’s electra townie step through bicycle that will need a tube top adapter.
    Does the locking mechanism still work as an anti theft device with the adapter or would someone just need to disconnect the bike from the adapter to steal it?
    Do you recommend a tube top adapter? My bike from the handle bars to the seat base is 28 inches.


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