Eight Factors to Consider Before Buying a Rooftop Cargo Carrier for Your Summer Road Trip

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With summer in full swing it is the perfect time to hit the road and create your own adventure. Planning on what to bring along may be a daunting task, but luckily, roof top cargo carriers give you the luxury of extra cargo space. These cargo carrier will keep your car’s interior free from luggage which will be more comfortable for you and your family.

Choosing the Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Rooftop cargo carriers are more than just storage devices. If not carefully considered, they can alter certain characteristics of your vehicle such as increased wind noise and added drag. But if you take time to choose wisely, a rooftop cargo carrier can make a big difference during long, out-of-town trips making sure the journey as fun as the destination.

Roof top cargo carriers give you the luxury of extra cargo space.

1. Cargo

Consider what you will be carrying with you on your trip. This will dictate the size of the rooftop cargo carrier. If you want to haul oddly shaped items like a wakeboard, for example, there are larger cargo carriers that can accommodate it. If what you’re hauling  are only suitcases and duffel bags, a small to medium cargo carrier can be used. A good gauge is to make sure your stuff fit in the compartment without obstructing the cargo carrier compartment cover.

Different Types of Carriers

Soft Cargo Carrier

A soft cargo carrier is basically a duffel bag made of lightweight flexible material that you place on top of your car. It is perfect for those who are looking for something flexible, lightweight, and easily stowed away when not in use. A soft rooftop cargo carrier is perfect for vehicles without a roof rack or crossbars because it can be secured directly on your roof via straps. Though some products are not rated to keep your cargo dry during heavy rain, the soft material makes it perfect for irregularly shaped items.

Hard Cargo Carrier

This is typically the choice of roof top cargo carrier buyers because of its rigid shape and security capabilities. Hard rooftop cargo carriers have a toughened exoskeleton which can withstand both highway debris such as rocks as well as extreme weather changes. Its defined shape makes the hard cargo carrier more aerodynamic, cutting wind drag even if your cruising down the highway.

2. Getting the Right Fit

Cargo carriers on the roof need to be mounted in a was so it does not obstruct the trunk lid or tailgate when they are open. It should also not pass the windshield so it does not obstruct the driver’s vision. Remember that roof top cargo carriers add to your overall vehicle height so you need to be more mindful of low head clearance areas. Take your vehicle to a professional installer or use the many sizing resources available online to get the perfect fit.

Securing your cargo is important, especially if you are leaving your vehicle in an unfamiliar area.

3. Roof Rails and Crossbars

Some vehicles are sold with roof rails installed as standard. Consult your owner’s manual if the roof rails on your vehicle is rated for weight or is purely aesthetic. Check the mounting device of the rooftop cargo carrier you would like to purchase and match its compatibility to your roof rails or crossbars. This will ensure that the cargo carrier will be securely fastened to the vehicle. Having a “naked roof,” or a roof with no rails or crossbars installed doesn’t mean you cannot install a rooftop cargo carrier. There are different types of cargo carriers which can be installed to a naked roof.

4. Weight Limit

Rooftop cargo carriers are rated for certain weights. Even if your cargo fits securely into the carrier’s compartment, its weight may be beyond the carrier’s limit. Heavier items can potentially break your rooftop cargo carrier in transit.

5. How Safe is Your Cargo?

Securing your cargo is important, especially if you are leaving to your vehicle in an unfamiliar area. Most roof top cargo carriers come with a key and lock which secures the carrier lid shut. There are also lots of accessories you can purchase separately that are compatible to your rooftop cargo carrier if you’re looking for something that provides a little more security than the default lock and key.  

6. Accessing Your locked Away Cargo

Not all cargo carrier openings are the same. Some open only at the passenger side while others open only at the driver’s side. Make sure to choose the rooftop cargo carrier that goes best with how you plan to load and unload your cargo during trips.

Make sure to choose the rooftop cargo carrier that goes best with the cargo you plan to bring in your trips.

7. How Often will You be Using the Cargo Carrier?

Mounting and unmounting a rooftop cargo carrier is a fairly easy job. Some vehicle owners opt to remove it after every road trip because of the added drag, wind noise, and added height restriction. Looking at how easy it is to remove and fasten the mounting brackets is an important factor to consider before you buy your roof top cargo carrier.

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In the Garage with is an online blog dedicated to bringing DIYers and devoted car enthusiasts up to date with topical automotive news and lifestyle content. Our writers live and breathe automotive, taking the guess work out of car repairs with how-to content that helps owners get back on the road and keep driving.

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