Car roof racks become an important part of providing extra space for many of today’s travelers. They provide a fix for extra space for luggage, sports and camping equipment and even for transporting boxes for business, moving or for transporting furniture as vehicle base rack systems. You could haul a bulky trailer with a hitch, but reduce parking availability, maneuverability, and ease of driving.
The racks are either installed on vehicles as permanent railings or in many cases as temporary carriers for sporting trips and vacation needs. Traveling with family often makes space a concern for everyone’s gear and equipment. Selecting a roof rack for your vehicle can remove some of the stress of planning knowing that space is not an issue. You can include camping gear, bicycles, kayaks, water gear and other equipment without over concern about space needs, especially when the seats are filled.
Best Cargo Roof Racks For Cars Reviews
There are many types of vehicles and many types of roof racks. Care needs to be taken when selecting a roof rack to assure that it is well-fitted for your car and will carry the weight, volume and amount of baggage and equipment you will need. Below are several types of roofs you may find and examples of racks that will work for that car with links to pictures and information about each rack.
Roof Racks For Bare Roof Vehicles
Bare roofs are found on many car designs making it difficult to attach roof racks because there are no gutters, ridges or attachment points to clip the roof rack securely. These type vehicles need universal cross-bar racks to secure the rack to the frame. Unless you have a rack professionally installed and permanently attached the rooftop carriers will attach temporarily with straps that secure through the doors and attach and tighten inside the car.
- Seah Hardware universal roof bar
Comes with 2 piece 48″ cross-bars that work well with all 4-door cars without rails or with railings less than 6.4 cm height and is maybe the best universal roof rack available according to roof rack reviews for an automotive roof rack . They attach from left to right, are adjustable for precise measurement as you need them, and eliminate the need for permanent installation. The padded feet prevent scratches to your car paint and securely hold the racks in place with waterproof 1800 lbs ratchet tie downs. These car roof bars are very economical, sturdy and ready for use when you are ready to travel.
- Tirol auto air inflatable roof rack cargo carrier pads
Perfect for carrying freight, luggage, furniture, sports equipment, kayaks, canoes, ladders, luggage boxes, snowboards, skis, boxes and other items and is an effective cheap roofrack. The inflatable racks are made of nylon and EVA foam with rubber protectors are easy to install, prevent scratches on the car and items carried, are sized to most vehicles, self inflate, easily store when not in use and support up to 165 lbs of luggage.
For roof rack mounting for installation simply open the doors of the car or truck, let the air roof rack body lie on the roof. Then use the strap through the car door to fix with the zinc-buckle, tighten the strap and then make sure it is tight. Afterwards unscrew the valve until the air roof rack body expands (around 5 minutes) and then screw down the valve. The unit even comes with the extra straps for additional merchandise needs. The patented new system is an awesome new addition for transporting items that won’t fit inside the car trunk and interior.
Roof Racks For Factory Installed Guide Railings
Many vans, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles come pre-equipped with factory-installed guide railings that run from the front-to-back on the roof. These are normally engineered into the cars design and construction to provide strong attachment points to support a roof rack system and are great roof racks for a SUV. The guide railings more often than not come with pre-selected points to add cross-bars and towers for additional luggage needs such as bicycle racks and sporting equipment.
- The CargoLoc 2-Piece 52″ Aluminum Rooftop Cross-Bar Set
Made of high quality low-weight high-strength aluminum construction with a carrying of 150 lbs and is perfect for all your carrying needs including kayaks, your ski, a mountain bike. The the car luggage rack received good reviews from users and is safe and secure with a heavy duty clamping mechanism that ensures the cross-bars will remain firmly fastened to the existing railings, and the keyed locking mechanism will make sure they stay put! The system measure 52” end to end and easily attaches to existing ails
- The Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System
A car rack system that is designed to be attached to the hidden rail on many newer cars. Installation is more permanent and the lightweight rack can be a little pricey depending on options you select. The aerofoil shape is based on an airplane wing, which won’t make your car fly, but it will cut through the wind. This flush model is designed for vehicles with no running railings, includes two crossbars, four towers with SKS locks, four SmartFoot mounting components with mounting pads. This system has been reviewed by users as a quality, reliable unit and the car rack is highly recommended.
- Apex universal rail mounted aluminum roof cross-bars
Designed for autos, SUVs and trucks with guide rail roof mounts up to 1½ inches tall and 1¾ inches wide. The railings clamp onto the railings and tighten in place with a few turns of the provided knobs. The railings are available for for up to 50 inch widths and come with key locks for theft prevention. They are able to carry up to 150 lbs of weight making them perfect for your travel luggage or equipment carrying needs a great for a roof racks for SUV.
The clamps include a ribbed rubber insert for increased traction and stability during travel, providing a lightweight, rust-proof accessory for your next road trip or merchandise carrying needs and work perfectly with merchandise boxes, merchandise bags and roof rooftop carriers. The design allows rust free, scratch free, no tools needed installation with locking anti-theft key locks on the adjustable installation knobs making this a good choice for your luggage and merchandise carrying needs.
- Vault 54” inches universal locking roof rack cross-bars
Designed to correctly size to vehicles with existing guide railings approximately 47 inches apart. These cross-bars allow you to support up to 150 lbs of merchandise and sports equipment from skis, snowboards, camping gear, fishing poles, kayaks, canoes, merchandise boxes and luggage.
The padded non-scratch clamps allow the cross-bars to size securely adjusting to most vehicles with manufacturer provided existing guide railings. A rubber strip on each bar to prevent slipping, one tool removable bar keys and durability are included in the design to make these car merchandise racks perfect for carrying outdoor equipment and merchandise for your travels for adventure.
The manufacturer provides a customer service call line and video to help you to determine suitability for your car before purchase to insure proper size for your needs.
Roof Racks For Door Lip Roof Grooves
These designs are found on many modern popular vehicles such as Honda Accord, Ford Focus, and many sedans. They have a large lip under the roof where the roof railings may be securely attached and easily removed. Typically no special tools are required and the closed door provides extra security to the system. These type luggage carriers are becoming popular for travelers and sports enthusiasts as they are easy to install and remove when not in use on popular vehicles.
- SportsRack roof rack system
Made of high grade steel and is designed to be installed securely with no tools on most popular vehicles, including Honda Accord, Ford Focus and many other vehicles. Designed for carrying up to 130 pounds of sports equipment such as skis, snowboards, bicycles, kayaks and camping gear. The system receives great reviews for its functionality once installed and placed into use. These racks are removable but most people tend to keep them attached once installed for continued use.
Roof Racks For Factory Installed Flush Railings Cross- bars
These vehicles have flush roof rack railings that are pre-installed in the car design running from front to back on the sides of the roof. The railings are securely attached to the car as part of the design and engineering and make excellent attachment points for cross-bars for the baggage rack. Other flush roof rack systems are actually flush into the metal of the car and do not extrude upwards providing a more aerodynamic design.
- Modula universal size roof rack cross-bars for cars with flush roof guide railings
Have an indent on the outer edge, can be adjusted from 31 inches to 48 inches and carry over 150 lbs of merchandise. The railings are made of aluminum, have high strength extruded feet, are easy to install and remove, come with all necessary hardware and will size to most vehicles with closed flush guide railings so long as there is an indent or grove on the outside of the factory guide roof railings. The manufacturer provides assistance with determining if this is the best size for your car to install for use for your luggage carrying needs.
- The Yakima Whispbars Flush Bar Roof-Rack System
A car rack system that is designed to be attached to the hidden rail on many newer cars. Installation is more permanent and the lightweight rack can be a little pricey depending on options you select. The aerofoil shape is based on an airplane wing, which won’t make your car fly, but it will cut through the wind. This flush model is designed for vehicles with no running railings, includes two crossbars, four towers with SKS locks, four SmartFoot mounting parts with mounting pads. Reviewed by users as a quality, reliable unit the car rack is highly recommended.
Roof Rack Carriers For Vans
Many vans, especially merchandise and modern passenger vans, come with a pre-designed rain gutter which make for excellent attachment points for cross-bars and installing merchandise racks. This adds additional storage to the vans and works great for families and groups traveling by van. There are luggage racks systems specifically designed for this type of roof set-up that provide secure efficient storage space for transport and travel.
The van roof rack carrier measures 50″ W x 72″ L (nearly 25 square feet of extra merchandise space), is manufactured in the USA and clamps to the van rain gutters with no drilling required. The storage rack was designed with the Ford Econoline van in mind but may be used on other brands as well. The roof rack provides increased storage for luggage, gear bags, tools and more, is built in the USA utilizing heavy-duty aluminum tubing that is black powder-coated for durability and attractive appearance.
Aerodynamic cross-bars allow the specialized adapters to join to easily install to your existing factory railings, integrate into roof channels, clamp on to rain gutters or drill into roof when no mounting areas currently exist. Everything you need with the Surco roof rack package has combined the merchandise rack, the cross-bars and the adapters so it is ready to install and it is backed by a Surco 1-Year Warranty! It is 5″ deep, made with 3/4″ aluminum square tubing, is easily assembled, requires no drilling on most vehicles and has cross-bars included to size to most factory roof racks and includes all roof rack mounts.
Roof Racks Accessories And Specialty Attachments
There are a number of specialty attachments that can be attached to a car roof rack to simplify transport of equipment and sporting goods or to simply increase the storage space or more securely keep luggage in place. These include cross-bars for attaching large equipment like kayaks and canoes, skis, bicycles, merchandise baskets and nets.
- Leader Accessories Double Rack 4 piece set kayak rack
Saves you merchandise space and keeps your kayaks safe during long drives on the way to the destination. They are made of heavy duty steel construction with power coating that makes the rack stronger and rust resistant. The maximum system ocks tightly on your up to 8 foot kayaks or canoes, is tested for 250 Lbs and provides easy and safe transport. They are extra foam padded to reduce any scratch to the car and equipment and prevent rubbing. They are easy to Install and this car rack system can be used to transport kayaks, canoes, surf boards, snow boards, skis and other equipment. The system has a one year warranty and includes extra ratchet straps making this an affordable add-on to your roof rack system for transporting sports equipment.
- Tyger merchandise carrier
Attaches to your traditional roof rack cross-bars providing extra storage availability and more aerodynamic space to transport your luggage or merchandise saving fuel on your trip from wind resistance. The merchandise rack frame dimensions are L47.25″ x W36.6″ x H5.9″, mount to any existing roof rail cross-bars and add stylish design to your car while on the road.
It comes with a heavy duty 1″ steel frame tube with black E-Coating for rust resistance, is capable of carrying a 150 lb load and provides many tie-down point locations, great for securing gear with merchandise nets. It has an easy two-piece assembly with all mounting hardware included and TYGER offers a no-hassle quality warranty! For car and rack safety the unit must be removed before entering an auto car wash!
- Yescom car roof rack basket carrier
Attaches to an existing cross-rack rail car rack and is extendable to 39 inches in width and 64 inches in length and includes a 48 inch x 36 inch stretchable merchandise net with multiple contact points for securing your luggage. It holds up to 250 pounds of merchandise or luggage and mounts to the cross-bars with 4 universal U-bolts. This unit is not intended for removal once installed and the manufacturer recommends professional installation that then negates the ability to safely use auto car washes.
- Grit Performance Utility merchandise net
Made of 5 mm thick bungee material, has 2” x 2” mesh, measures 24” x 38” and stretches to 44″ x 76″ (4½ft x 6ft). It has 12 guaranteed replacement adjustable ABS Plastic Hooks with extra attachment points above each hook to secure onto existing attachment points that are movable to be fixed to your particular merchandise control needs and attaches to existing car racks for optimum usage. The warrantied netting provides extra support to expand the luggage storage of your car merchandise and comes with a convenient storage bag to reduce tangling when not in use.
- Thule UpRide Roof Bicycle Rack
Is 6” high, 14” wide and attaches directly to your existing cross rail roof racks with ease. The unit is adjustable from one side of the car to the other or several bicycle racks can be attached for carrying multiple bicycles. No frame contact is made as the hook securely grabs the front wheel and each rack has a versatile design that accommodates bicycles with non-traditional frame designs, rear suspension, and bottle cages.
The bicycle rack fits most 20-29″ wheel bicycles with tires up to 3″ wide (up to 5″ with Thule UpRide Fat bicycle Adapter) and allows you to lock the bicycle to the bicycle rack and the bicycle rack to the car (locks sold separately). Each rack will hold up to a 44 pound bicycle for safe transport.
How To Choose A Car Roof Rack
When you purchase a new car rack there are many things to consider to choose the best roof racks and the best roof rack system. As discussed previously not all car racks are equal. The first consideration is finding a rack that works for your car. Manufacturers do not operate the same and only recently have they seriously started considering the extra storage needs of car owners.
As more space requirements are needed they are branching beyond trucks, vans, wagons and SUVs to include more passenger vehicles and how they may adapt designs to offer the use of automobile roof racks more easily. Some add railings in engineering designs and make it easier to adapt. The guides earlier in this article are intended to assist you determine the type system you need and give options with links to additional information.
You will lose some fuel economy when you add a roof rack. Look for more aerodynamic designs and systems that will reduce that loss. Also look for strength in your roof rack – preferably a full metal system made of lightweight aluminum with good carrying ability up to 150 lbs. This added weight will affect mileage as well.
Consider how much weight your car will safely carry, ramps needed, what your baggage requirements and needs entail and what you will be carrying in capacity. You need adaptations if you will be carrying odd-shaped or bulky equipment such as canoes, kayaks, bicycles and skis.
Safety is an important issue when considering your transportation needs. Equipment needs to be strong and capable of fulfilling the task and installation needs to attach securely and be secure so your rack doesn’t suddenly fly off in the middle of your travels. Consider the height restrictions and how much taller your car will become, be sure to center the weight for stability and make concessions for any tie-downs that may affect viability.
The best rack is one you’ll use for multiple purposes. Having the widest range of accessories creates endless adventure possibilities. Be sure your car rack can accommodate mounts for water and fuel cans, roof top tents, bikes, skis, surfboards, axes, canoes/ or kayaks, and whatever else you may need. Companies make it difficult to put competitor’s accessories on their racks so be sure to make sure you’re not locking yourself out of options you really want. There are plenty of choices out there to choose from so you put together a roof rack system that can expand to your growing needs.