Thule Rod Vault Vs. River Quiver

Thule Rod Vault Vs. River Quiver

The Thule Rod Vault Vs. The River Quiver

As an avid fisherman, I am always looking to get out on the water. Which is why a quality fly rod holder is an essential rack accessory. Having my rods at the ready means if my girl heads out for a last minute ladies night or I get off work while the sun is setting I have my rods ready to go when I see a prime fishing spot! As a former employee of Denver Outfitters (now Thule), I have hands on experience, building the Rod Vault. But, once I heard about the River Quiver I had to check it out. Here I break down the similarities and differences so you can make the best choice for your rod storage. Thule Rod Vault vs River Smith River Quiver

So how do you know which one to choose? Hopefully, I can help make the decision a little easier. Primarily we are going to be looking at the difference between the Rod Vault by Thule and the River Quiver by River Smith. These two look almost identical when mounted onto a vehicle but have some differences when it comes to construction and the overall quality. 

At Denver Outfitters, I helped assemble and build Rod Vaults for some time. During assembly, I found some of the parts weren't as durable as I expected. While the build and concept of the Rod Vault at the time was the best on the market, I soon came to find out that there was a company called River Smith producing a very similar product. Once I got my hands on one, I was impressed with the product.

Rather than 4 separate tubes on the rod carrier there are 2 thick compartments that have spots for 2 rods on each (4 banger River Quiver). The River Quiver comes in half and has two plates (one on top, one on the bottom) that screw together to hold the River quiver together. This is in comparison to the 4 metal clamps that hold the rod vault together. (Picture below) 

Fly fishing rod Clasps

This makes it easier to assemble. When putting the 4 tubes all together I found it much more difficult to assemble. Not to mention that if you over tightened the clasps it would mess with the tubing on the rod vault. Since there were 4 different metal clasps on the Rod Vault sometime lining them up will be a little more difficult. The River Smith has 2 holes on each pole that line up and you can assembly it rather quickly. 

The Locking Mechanism on the Rod Vault Vs. The River Quiver

With fly rods being so valuable, a lock is very important to me. When putting together the Rod vault, I learned that the locking mechanism is held together by some bolts to keep the lock in place. If the bolts came loose your rod vault would not close properly. To unlock the Rod Vault, you push the button and a flap opens with the assistance of a spring. However, as I installed them, I realized that the button didn’t seem as durable as I would have liked. It seemed to get stuck on some of the Rod Vaults and didn't want to open like it was suppose to. The River Quivers' Lock system is a regular button that also has a key slot on it. The River Quiver locks easier than the Thule Rod Vault.  

Rod Vault locks


The Reel compartments 

The reel compartments open different ways. The Thule reel box opens vertically (bottom to top) and the River Quiver hinge opens horizontally (left to right). The hinges seem to open easier on the Thule Rod Vault than the River Smith. However, the Rod Vault seemed to close by itself. Not to mention, if a gust of wind came and hit it then it would fall down. I prefer the River Quiver, opening from the side as wind can't close it as easy. If the wind is strong enough however, it will shut any rod carriers reel compartment. When it comes to closing, you have to reach higher to close the Rod Vault than the River Quiver. 

Rod Vault reel Cases



The Installation

The installation for both are very similar but when it comes to the amount of parts and how it is mounted the River Smith wins. Thule’s Rod Vault has a couple extra parts for mounting (see the picture below). There are some screws for the top part of the mount for the Thule Rod Vault compared to the River Smith where you slide in a metal T bar. 


  Price Comparisons

Both the silver 4 banger and the Thule Rod Vault cost $599.99 each. The River Smith also offers color option or an option for your Euro Nymphing rod (prices vary).  Both companies have rod carriers that will fit 10ft rods. The River Smith has an extended option that will fit 11’ 4” rods. 


Overall, they both do a good job of protecting your fly rod but when it comes to quality I prefer the quality of the River Quiver. Having built Rod Vaults and owning a River Quiver, I think that the River Quiver is superior in multiple ways; build, installation and the locking mechanism. Thule makes great products but when it comes to a fly rod carrier the River Quiver is my go to! 

The River Quiver is available at Spirit of 1876

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1 comment

I have a 4runner with a Gobi rack ( installed and I want to get a hard fly rod carrier. My concern is the raise in the front of the Gobi rack. I’m afraid the gap is too small for the carrier to slip under and the mount is too short for the carrier to go over. Do you know of anyone with a Gobi rack that has a hard fly rod carrier? I also thought about mounting the carrier sideways to the rack, like a shovel might be mounted. Is that possible?

I really appreciate any advice you might be able to provide.

Best regards,

Robert Burnett

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