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Not all car racks need to be mounted on the car when not in use. This is why you need to ensure you have the storage space for them. If the average roof-mounted car rack does not require too much storage space, a cargo box needs to be out of your way as its plastic cover can be easily scratched.

Some people keep the roof racks on top of their cars both during the winter and during the summer to carry their needed outdoor gear. However, you need to be aware of the maximum speed regulations which apply to these racks and drive accordingly.

Are roof rails and roof racks the same?

No. Roof rails can support the roof racks. Roof rails run lengthwise on the roof of the car, whereas roof racks sit on top of and connect to roof rails. Most roof rails are factory-installed, which means you can proceed to install a roof rack on them. However, if your car doesn’t come pre-installed with roof rails, there are aftermarket options for you.

How much does a roof rack cost?

There are many types of roof racks that are now specifically made for certain loads such as skis or bikes. Prices vary according to the size, materials, and systems such as locking mechanisms.

How do I know what kind of roof rack do I need?

When looking to purchase a roof rack, you need to determine the type of cargo or equipment you plan to purchase. If you want to go skiing, you need a ski or snowboarding rack. If you want to go cycling, you need a bike rack. If you want a rack that can keep rain and snow away from your equipment, a cargo box is recommended. There are many types of racks and if you want the best solution, you always need to look for a specialized design.
Can I use crossbars with roof rails and roof racks?

Crossbars are mounted between roof rails and the roof racks. While they are not necessary for all situations, they can be recommended when it comes to better functionality. Crossbars are also usually left on the roof of the cars for longer periods of time as they are a thing and aerodynamic. Unlike roof racks which are larger, crossbars can handle increased speeds, at least up to certain point.
Can roof racks be removed?

All roof racks can be easily installed and easily removed. Modern roof racks can be installed within 15 minutes. They can be removed as quickly as well. If you don’t need the roof racks all the time, you can remove them from your car, leaving its roof with just the roof rails.
Is a roof rack dangerous?

A roof rack is not dangerous if installed correctly. At the same time, a roof rack can only be dangerous when you do not take the overhead clearance into consideration. In some cases such as driving at high speeds in windy conditions, your car can also become less stable. In order to reduce these risks, you need to read the recommended tips from the roof rack manufacturers. Since conditions can vary, all manufacturers recommend adapting the driving speed as you go.
Are all roof racks the same?

Not all roof racks are the same. They are made for different purposes. They are also made with different materials. The best roof racks come with a lifetime warranty for any manufacturing defects.
What tools do I need to install a roof rack?

There are no required tools to install a roof rack. You can do this with rubber straps and you can install a roof rack in minutes. Older designs might require fitting bolts and screws, but they are rare today.
What tools do I need to install roof rails?

Generally speaking, you need multiple tools to install roof rails. Since the process takes longer, you also need to access a large selection of tools to install the rails properly. These tools include but are not limited to: screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, T-30 Torx driver, file, drill, 3mm, and 10mm drill bits, pushpins, jigsaws or plastic trim tools.
Which roof rails do I need for an SUV?

Most SUVs come with roof rails as standard. You do not need to install roof rails on most modern SUVs and you can proceed to look for a roof rack.
I have a small car, can I fit roof rails on it?

Generally speaking, you can fit roof rails on any type of car regardless of its size. If you have a plain roof, you can even consider choosing crossbars with a door-mount design.
Can I fit roof rails on a car under warranty?

Generally speaking, you cannot fit roof rails on a car under warranty yourself. In order to be on the safe side, you will need to ask your dealer if you can install the rails or if they can be installed by a professional for you while the car is under warranty.
Does the shape of the roof rack influence car performance?

The mileage is affected by the added roof rack. Depending on the size of the car roof rack, you will find that you cannot drive with the same speeds on the highway as normal for safety purposes. There are options that claim to be more aerodynamic and thus better for fuel economy.
Roof rail installation

Once your roof rails have arrived, you can proceed to install them if your car comes with the rubber roof strips. These strips are popular with many SUVs but they can be seen on smaller cars as well. The main purpose of the installation procedure is to replace the rubber or plastic strips that come as standard on your car with the roof rails you purchase separately.
Remove the rubber strips on the roof

Removing the rubber strips on the roof should not be complicated. For most cars, this can be done by hand. Vertical pulling movements are required to raise a part of the strips which then allows you to easily remove the entire strip off the roof. When the entire strip is lifted, you will then proceed to remove it by pulling it towards the front of the car.
Remove the rear hinge bracket

One of the parts that will remain on the roof is the rear hinge bracket, especially on larger cars which come with such designs. This bracket can also be easily removed, but you will need extra force to do so. You first need to open the trunk of your car to allow the bracket to slide out unobstructed. Even if you need to add force, you don’t want to break the bracket. This is why you can use a rubber mallet for this operation.
Modify the hinge bracket

The hinge bracket will go back on the roof of the car. However, it also needs to create the space for the roof rail installation. This means that you will need to cut it into a rectangular shape. For this operation, you will use a jigsaw. You don’t need to mark the bracket for the cuts as the marks are already made by the manufacturer. To see them, you will need to flip the bracket. The cut doesn’t need to be professional as the bracket will be covered by the roof rails at the end.
Modify the roof rubber strips

The roof rubber or plastic strips that you have removed on Step 1 also need to be modified. Since you don’t need them to be as long as they are, you need to shorten them. The length required is noted in the roof rail pack. An example length would be 17.5 inches which are standard for larger vehicles. Once you measure and mark the length of the strip, you can proceed to cut it using the same jigsaw.
Install the trim piece

Installing the shortened trim piece on the roof of the car is the next step. You can begin at the front of the car. The trim piece which is made from plastic in many cases slides from the front and clips into position.

Remove the remaining plastic clips from the roof

There are a total number of 5 clips on most roofs which take rails. At this stage, the first two are covered by the trim piece you put back on at Step 5. The remaining plastic clips can be easily removed using a flat screwdriver.
Reattach the plastic hinge cover

The plastic hinge cover can now be reattached to the back of the rail. You will need to position the cover so that it fixes to two or three (depending on the model) plastic clips. The great part is that the plastic clips can be removed from the roof of the car first and they can be attached to the plastic hinge so that you can place it into position easier.
Install the mounting bracket and roof rail cover

The difficult part is already over. For the next step, you will need to line-up the bolts and drop the mounting bracket into its place. T-40 bolts will be installed to keep it in position. All roof rails come with them included in the pack. 12mm bolts are generally mounted to the old brackets as well. Once they are installed, you can place the roof rail cover into its place. It snaps into position and you can hit it lightly with your hands to snap into position. Some covers are secured with an extra screw. In most cases, it can be a T-15 small screw somewhere towards the inside of the rail’s cover.
Roof rack installation

Installing a roof rack is much simpler compared to installing roof rails. In most cases, you don’t even need tools for this operation. All modern roof racks come pre-assembled. It means that all you have to do is to mount them on the crossbars. To do this, you can follow the next steps:
Place the rack on the crossbar

Most racks come with securing straps or clamps already mounted. You can place the front piece on the crossbar towards the front of the car and the rear piece towards the rear of the car. Make sure that they are centered so there is equal spacing to the edges of the crossbars.
Lock the rack into position

To secure the rack onto the crossbars you will need to tighten the straps it comes with. Most racks come with adjustable straps which are tightened into position by turning a tightening knob.
Test for sturdiness

Since you will be driving at high speed, the wind resistance might change the position of your racks. You want to avoid this situation. This is why it is important to properly tighten the racks and test them out with skis, snowboards or other outdoor equipment.

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Top 10 Best Cargo Carriers and Roof Boxes for Your Car

Top 10 Best Cargo Carriers and Roof Boxes for Your Car

If you need more cargo carrying capacity for your car, there are a lot of practical options out there for you. We've singled out the best ones.

Jul 30, 2018

If you need more cargo carrying capacity for your car, there are a lot of practical options for you that can be installed right on your car’s roof. When looking for the best roof cargo carrier, you need to first figure out what kind of cargo you’re going to be carrying.

Not all cargo carriers are the same and there are different products out there for different purposes: there are travel bags, roof baskets, and cargo boxes. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they are all mounted on a roof rack or roof rails. The following options are among the best cargo carriers, roof boxes, and roof baskets you can buy. Make sure you pick the right one for your specific needs.

Shield Jacket Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Luggage Travel Bag
Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box
Thule Sidekick Cargo Box
RoofBag Car Top Carrier
Arksen 250LB Universal 43" Roof Rack Cargo Auto Top Luggage Carrier
Thule Force Cargo Box
JEGS Performance Products 90098 Rooftop Cargo Carrier
Ego Bike Universal Black Roof Rack Cargo with Extension
Thule Pulse Cargo Box
Leader Accessories 15 Cubic Feet Rooftop Cargo Bag
Editor's Verdict


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25,349 Posts
Top 10 Best Hitch Cargo Carriers

Top 10 Best Hitch Cargo Carriers

A hitch-mounted cargo carrier is one of the most practical solutions for extra carrying capacity. Here are the best hitch cargo carriers you can buy.

Aug 01, 2018

A hitch-mounted cargo carrier is one of the most practical solutions for extra carrying capacity. With a design orientated towards practicality, these cargo carriers are a great solution when it comes to carrying cargo that you might not want to put inside the trunk or you simply don’t have room for. Maybe it’s bags of soil, gardening and lawn maintenance supplies, bags of road salt, charcoal for your barbeque, firewood, coolers for the beach, or even sporting and camping equipment.

When looking for the best hitch cargo carriers, you need to take into consideration that its position is close to the ground, where it will be exposed to different elements. This exposure makes the durability of hitch-mounted cargo carriers very important. Manufacturers tackle this issue with protection against corrosion and against rust for the best designs.

But the practicality of a hitch cargo carrier is also important. While the foldable designs might cost more, they can come with space-saving designs that you can store easily when not in use. Some manufacturers also offer a cargo bag, which is recommended for protecting your cargo from the elements. They are also completely removable so that they are easier to clean.

Since there are only two types of hitch receivers, most cargo carriers can be mounted easily on modern SUVs. In order to mount a hitch cargo carrier, your car needs to be equipped with a hitch receiver, which most modern SUVs already have, but you can also outfit almost any car with a hitch from the aftermarket. Here are best hitch cargo carriers to choose from:

Curt 18153 Basket-Style Cargo Carrier
Reese Explore ProSeries 63153 Rambler
Editor's Pick: Arksen 60" x 20" inch Cargo Carrier
Rola 59119 Rainproof Cargo Carrier Bag
MaxxHaul 70107 Hitch Mount Compact Cargo Carrier
Rola 59102 Wallaroo Cargo Bag
MaxxHaul 70108 49" x 22.5" Hitch Mount Aluminum Cargo Carrier
Highland 1042000 Hitch Mounted Cargo Carrier
MaxxHaul 70103 Hitch Mount
Merax Foldable Hitch Cargo Carrier
Editor's Verdict


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25,349 Posts
Gobi Dodge Nitro Stealth roof rack

The all new Gobi Dodge Nitro Stealth roof rack throughs tradition to the wind and has designed a roof rack with envy to all who sees holding true to the lines of the vehicle. The tough appearance goes hand in hand with its ability to stand strong with 600 lbs. static load capacity for roof top tent occupants and 300 lbs. driving cargo load capacity for safe off and on road handling. The 1" heavy gauge tubing surrounds 16 sq.ft. (1.49m2) of accessible and traversable cargo space by the available bolt on 250 lbs. capacity ladder. All this without drilling, bolts on to existing vehicle mounting points. Black powder coated with an anti-rust undercoat which will provide years of off and on road utility.

Black powder coated with an anti-rust undercoat which will provide years of off and on road utility.
Comes standard with wind deflector and built in cross bars compatible with Yakima and Thule after market ski, boat, cargo box, you name it attachments.
Includes stainless hardware, mounting brackets and easy to follow instructions.
Download Specifications.
Made to order.

Product Code: GDNSRI

Model Year

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Product Code: GDNLAD



1 Posts
Anyone here have the crossmembers for the top?
Yes, I purchased a set of BRIGHTLINES Cross Bars Crossbars Roof Racks FOR 2007-2012 Dodge Nitro OE Style from ebay. they are well made, adjustable, aero design and were less than$200.00
I purchased them to be able to mount bike racks on, but they can fit many different attachments.

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I think a 50 cal on the roof with the sunroof access would work, just hate to mess up the roof paint from the brass shells though.
I just saw the other day a Gobi roof rack system that you could modify and add a .50 cal mount ahead of the sun roof, 😁GOBI Dodge Nitro Roof Rack


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The Best Cargo Carriers and Roof Boxes for Your Car
If you need more cargo carrying capacity for your car, there are a lot of practical options out there for you. We've singled out the best ones.
By Avery Anderson Aug 20, 2021

Best Cargo Carriers and Roof Boxes
Photo Credit: BlackSnake /

If you need more cargo carrying capacity for your car, there are a lot of practical options for you that can be installed right on your car’s roof. When looking for the best roof cargo carrier, you need to first figure out what kind of cargo you’re going to be carrying.

Not all cargo carriers are the same and there are different products out there for different purposes: there are travel bags, roof baskets, and cargo boxes. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they are all mounted on a roof rack or roof rails. The following options are among the best cargo carriers, roof boxes, and roof baskets you can buy. Make sure you pick the right one for your specific needs.

Table of contents

1. Editor's Pick: SportRack Vista XL Cargo Box

sportrack vista xl rear opening cargo box

Our top recommendation is a heavy duty cargo box from SportRack. The Vista XL is designed to fit on SportRack roof rack systems, as well as square, round, and most factory racks. Of course we recommend checking the guide to make sure it’ll fit your specific vehicle prior to purchasing. If it does, you’re getting a rear-opening cargo box that offers up to 18 cubic feet of storage. It’s constructed from durable and UV-resistant ABS and has a maximum weight capacity of 100 pounds.
SportRack includes all the mounting hardware necessary for installation and removal, and no tools are needed to get this cargo box installed onto your roof for your next trip. Another nice feature is that it includes a key lock to secure the contents of the box if you’re taking a rest spot or grabbing a bite to eat. Best of all, once your trip is all done, simply clean it off with mild soap and water so it’ll last you for many more journeys ahead.
  • Pros/ABS construction, rear opening lid, built-in lock, easy to install and remove, 18 cubic feet of storage
  • Cons/Some buyers say the hinges feel weak, box doesn't open very wide
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Promoted Product: Fivklemnz Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag
Fivklemnz Car Roof Bag Cargo Carrier
The Fivklemnz rooftop cargo carrier has proven to be incredibly popular with consumers looking for extra storage space. It offers up to 15 cubic feet of additional storage space, enough room to carry four to six suitcases.
Unlike hard shell carriers, when you aren’t using the Fivklemnz, it can be folded up and stored in the carry bag that comes with it. Once folded, it’s about the same size as a smaller backpack, so it’s easy to store.
The bag is made of 600D Oxford cloth and sports a waterproof zipper protected by a double flap that keeps the weather outside. The manufacturer boasts this is 100% waterproof and rainproof, so your stuff will stay dry.
When it comes time to install, the Fivklemnz cargo carrier comes with a non-slip protective mat, so you can use it even without a roof rack system and not have to worry about scratching up the roof of your vehicle. It also locks down with eight adjustable straps so everything stays safe and secure even at highway speeds.
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  • Pros/100% waterproof, simple installation, packs up small
  • Cons/No lock comes with the zipper. Some users report that the straps can rip from the bag under stress
2. Best Storage Bag: RoofBag Cargo Carrier Bag
roofbag rooftop cargo carrier bag

The RoofBag Cargo Carrier Bag has a simple, yet effective design. Manufactured in the U.S., these roof cargo carriers are 100-percent waterproof and feature Triple-Seal technology for maximum protection in extreme weather. Offering 15 cubic feet of storage, this option works on any vehicle with side rails, cross bars, or even without a roof rack. It uses a secure waterproof strap system with buckles for easy access.
Constructed from heavy duty polyester that has been liquid-coated with vinyl on both sides, this cargo carrier does a fantastic job at resisting heat and cold. Easy and quick installation with plenty of storage, this is a versatile option for those on a budget.
  • Pros/Made with soft covers with waterproofing, easy to secure to the roof rack, made with heavy-duty straps which resist forces of up to 3000lbs
  • Cons/Not best for aerodynamics
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3. Most Versatile: ROOF MASTER Rooftop Cargo Carrier
roofmaster rooftop cargo carrier

We understand not everyone has a roof rack on their vehicle, and if you’re one of those people, consider this rooftop cargo carrier from ROOF MASTER. We named it our most versatile pick for its ability to be used on vehicles with or without roof racks, although you’ll have to purchase the door hooks separately if you want to use it on a vehicle without a roof rack.
It offers up to 16 cubic feet of storage and uses extra wide straps with Duraflex buckles and a high friction mat to ensure it stays on your roof once it’s secured to your vehicle. This option is a soft-shell cargo carrier that is manufactured from military-grade Nylon Cordura fabric, which the company claims has five times the strength and wear resistance of high-grade PVC, which is often used on other cargo bags. Naturally it’s waterproof and is equipped with a waterproof zipper.
  • Pros/Can be used with or without roof racks, Nylon Cordura construction, Duraflex buckles, 16 cubic feet of storage
  • Cons/Door hooks sold separately, provided straps may not be good enough

4. Best for Storage: Thule Sidekick Cargo Box
thule sidekick rooftop cargo box

If you are looking for a compact cargo carrier, the Sidekick comes as a practical solution. Made to meet the needs of travelers who want to avoid larger designs without sacrificing practicality, the cargo carrier is a top solution with its eight-cubic feet capacity. With a length of 48 inches, it will not cover the entire surface of the roof on most mid-sized cars and it also won’t create too much wind resistance.
The carrier comes with a self-standing top lid (so you can load it easily) and a simple locking mechanism to keep your belongings safe. It is also durable and it represents a solution that can be used in all seasons. With a weight of 18 lbs, you should also be able to install it yourself.
  • Pros/Made with a compact design, comes with an 8-cubic feet storage capacity, recommended for its lower weight at 19lbs, self-standing top design
  • Cons/Small for sporting equipment
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5. Best on a Budget: Amazon Basics Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag
amazon basics rooftop cargo carrier bag

In the past few years, Amazon’s own brand, Amazon Basics, has entered several markets by offering quality products at an affordable price. Its rooftop cargo carrier bag gets our nod if you’re shopping on a budget, offering up to 15 cubic feet of space. It’s a fairly basic offering, but is constructed from 100-percent waterproof material with a design that protects the carrier against grit, sun, rain, and wind.
With this option, you’ll find a zip closure (wraps halfway around the bag) with hook-and-loop flap to keep the inside contents completely dry, and the company says the zipper is waterproof. It features one-inch wide polypropylene straps to keep the bag attached to your carrier for safe transport. And since you’re not always using a cargo carrier bag, it’s nice to know Amazon Basics’ option folds compact for easy storage.
  • Pros/Waterproof design, protects against the environment, 15 cubic feet of space, affordable price
  • Cons/Fairly basic option, isn't made from heavy duty materials
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6. Most Premium: Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box
yakima skybox rooftop cargo box
The cargo carrier is one of the most versatile solutions from Yakima. It is available in various sizes: 12-, 15-, 16-, 18-, and 21-cubic feet options. One of the best parts is that this Yakima roof box doesn’t require tools to install.
Made with a practical design, the Skybox offers a design that can open on each side. Made with the Superlatch system, the carrier also protects against theft with a lockable top.
In its longest length, the carrier is truly versatile and it represents a solution both for summertime and wintertime needs. This roof box can even fit full-size snowboards. But Yakima is always taking their products a step further and this can be seen with the environmental approach of the cargo carrier. It is made with mostly recycled materials for a lower impact on the environment.
  • Pros/Available in different sizes to fit all cars, recommended for large amount or cargo or sports gear, comes with an included SKS lock, opens on both sides, made with mostly recycled materials
  • Cons/Keys aren't the most durable
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7. Best for Camping Gear: EGO BIKE Universal Roof Rack
ego bike universal roof rack

If you are a fan of roof baskets but you need an extended design, the EGO BIKE rack can be one of the leading solutions. With a durable metal construction and a simple mounting system using only four bolts, it is a practical solution for hauling different types of cargo. Still, you will need a cargo net and straps to secure your cargo.
Since there are no moving parts, it is highly durable when compared to other similar roof cargo carriers. With a height of just 6-1/2 inches, the cargo carrier can be rigged up to hold luggage or even bikes and skiing equipment.
  • Pros/Durable metal construction, extended design for extra carrying capacity, easy to mount with just 4 locks for the crossbars, good aerodynamic performance
  • Cons/Works best with a cargo net
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8. Best for Sporting Equipment: Thule Pulse Cargo Box
thule 614 pulse rack

With a taller profile compared to the Force Cargo, the Pulse Cargo offers one of the best solutions for extra carrying space. It is available in 11, 14, and 15 cubic feet. It is made to handle weights of up to 110 lbs in all versions and can even hold ski equipment. Depending on the size of your Cargo Box, you can fit between four and eight pairs of skis in the box.
With a self-standing lid design and an integrated anti-theft locking mechanism with keys, it is a practical solution for the adventurous drivers who need a safe place to store their ski equipment. Made from ABS plastic, the Pulse Cargo Box is also a durable solution to be considered during harsh weather conditions as well.
  • Pros/Great solution for skis or snowboards, available in 11, 14 and 15 cubic feet options, made with an anti-theft lock, durable ABS plastic construction, stand-up lid
  • Cons/The locking mechanism can be improved
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9. ARKSEN Universal Roof Rack
arksen roof rack

With a universal design and a metal construction, this luggage carrier is one of the simplest and most durable designs on the market. It represents a solution that is easy to use and even looks a bit retro. Made with a metal frame with a length of 43 inches and a width of 39 inches, the carrier is easy to store when not in use due to its compact size. This roof basket is a great option for carrying cargo, but it requires additional straps and cargo nets to make sure your cargo is secure. This is a great option for drivers who don’t experience too much rain or snow.
  • Pros/Made with a compact design, good aerodynamic performance, only 43” in length, full metal construction for added durability
  • Cons/Cargo nets and straps sold separately
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10. Thule Force Cargo Box
thule force cargo box

Thule’s Cargo Box is one of the most versatile premium designs for cargo loading. It comes in various sizes from 13 cubic feet and beyond 21 cubic feet with its Alpine version for winter sports equipment. Like all modern Thule products, it’s intuitive to use with the Quick-Grip mounting hardware.
Made with a design that opens on both sides, it represents a great solution for active people who need to transport camping gear or sporting equipment. To mount the box, you don’t need a Thule roof rack, as it can be used on all types of roof racks from any manufacturer. The cargo carrier is easy to install and it maintains the same built-in lock from the manufacturer to protect your belongings against theft.
  • Pros/Designed with a modern profile with better aerodynamics, made in different sizes, recommended for anti-theft protection, made with the Quick-Grip mounting system
  • Cons/Impacts mpg performance

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Everything You Need to Know About Cargo Carriers
cargo carriers roof boxes for cars

Photo Credit: Dmitry Galaganov/Shutterstock
Cargo carriers are a practical method to transport your luggage and sporting goods and increase the cargo capacity of your car. They are installed on roof racks or hitches and they come in different shapes and sizes. The main purpose of a cargo carrier is to expand the load capacity of your car for items that might not fit inside.
Depending on the type of cargo you plan to carry, you can select a carrier that is specifically made for your needs. For example, if you want to carry lightweight items that can even be larger in volume such as sleeping bags, a roof bag can be all you need.
If you want to carry larger equipment that can be secured with bungee cords, you can select a rooftop basket. If you need increased carrying capacity for various objects and sports equipment, a rooftop box will work wonders. Rooftop boxes come in various shapes and sizes and most quality options are made with a built-in lock for extra security. If you do not have a roof rack to work with, a hitch-mounted cargo carrier can be an alternative. The main types of cargo carriers include:
  • Roof bags
  • Rooftop baskets
  • Rooftop boxes
  • Hitch-mounted cargo carriers
These options are made with their own strengths and weaknesses and there is a type of cargo carrier for every need and type of vehicle.

Advantages of Roof Bags

Roof bags are typically made from heavy-duty waterproof textiles. They can be easily mounted by a single person since they are not too heavy and they can come with a carrying capacity of around 15 cubic feet. The main advantages of roof bags include:
  • A lightweight profile recommended for easy setup using securing straps
  • Around 15 cubic feet of extra carrying capacity
  • Compatible with a large number of hatchbacks, SUVs, sedans and other vehicles
  • Waterproof protection
  • Softer materials recommended for objects that might be oddly shaped, such as musical instruments
  • Can be folded easily to take up minimal space when not in use
  • Adjustable fit on many types of roof racks or rooftop baskets
  • Aerodynamic construction to reduce air friction while driving as much as possible
  • Fully compatible with multiple lockdown systems for a secure fit

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Disadvantages of Roof Bags
  • Not the best design for anti-theft protection
  • Increased wind noise at higher speeds
  • Reduced carrying capacity compared to a roof box
  • Not recommended for larger objects such as sports equipment
  • Limited long-term durability for some designs
  • Doesn’t provide the best protection for fragile or delicate items

Advantages of Rooftop Baskets
thule roof basket

Rooftop baskets first appeared in the 1970s and have largely remained unchanged, with their metal profile and good versatility for different objects that can be secured with different straps. The main advantages of roof baskets include:
  • Easy installation on any type of roof rack or roof rails
  • Increased load capacity since most of the designs are made from metal
  • Good aerodynamics
  • Increased carrying capacity for large and heavy objects that can be secured with straps or cords
  • Easy to load and unload the cargo
  • Reduced storage space requirements when unmounted from the car
  • Quick to mount and unmount on most cars
  • Recommended for oddly shaped objects
  • Cool, retro look

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Disadvantages of Roof Baskets
Rooftop baskets are very practical, but at the same time, they are among the most exposed when it comes to cargo safety while traveling at high speeds and when it comes to possible theft as well. The main disadvantages of rooftop baskets include:
  • Poor lockdown can easily go wrong at high speeds
  • No anti-theft protection
  • You need a cargo net or special straps
  • Reduced top speed for most cars
  • Cargo is directly exposed to changing weather conditions
  • Not made for large sporting equipment

Advantages of Rooftop Boxes
Best Cargo Carriers and Roof Boxes

Photo Credit: BlackSnake/Shutterstock
If you are looking for maximum carrying capacity and security, rooftop boxes are one of the leading options. They are also very popular, so you have multiple designs from many brands to choose from. Most of the rooftop boxes also come with anti-theft protection and a good aerodynamic performance for reduced drag. Here are the main reasons to consider a rooftop box:
  • Compatible with almost all vehicles using a roof rack or roof rails
  • Comes with an increased carrying capacity of up to 75 kg
  • Recommended for sporting equipment such as skis or snowboards
  • Can be opened in both direction in some cases, which is particularly useful in some parking spaces
  • Allows full trunk access so that you can store extra cargo
  • Included locks with anti-theft protection
  • Waterproof construction to protect your cargo
  • Better wind resistance designs when compared to other cargo carriers
  • UV-resistant designs for increased durability, even with plastic materials
  • Can be fitted with no special tools in many cases
  • Covered by a lifetime warranty with premium designs

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Disadvantages of Roof Boxes
Even rooftop boxes have a few disadvantages. The main issue for some people is that they need help to place them into position on the roof of the car. Another disadvantage to the system comes with the fact that you need considerable storage space when the rooftop box is not on the car. The main drawbacks to using a rooftop box include:
  • Large size design means it can be hard to install for a single person
  • Increased storage space required when not in use
  • Limited carrying capacity for taller objects
  • Increased frontal and lateral wind resistance while driving

Advantages of Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers

Hitch-mounted cargo carriers are not as popular these days, but drivers can still find them useful in certain situations. For example, if your car can’t be fitted with a roof rack or with roof rails and it has a hitch receiver, these carriers can be a solution to consider. With a design that goes behind the car, hitch-mounted cargo carriers also typically come with reduced wind resistance compared to rooftop cargo carriers. The main advantages of the hitch-mounted systems include:
  • Easy access for shorter people
  • Good weight capacity for heavier objects
  • Compatibility with many modern SUVs
  • Recommended for taller objects that won’t fit in rooftop cargo carriers
  • Doesn’t require additional overhead clearance when heading into an indoor parking

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Read More Top 10 Best Hitch Cargo Carriers
best hitch cargo carriers

Disadvantages of Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers
Even these solutions that are mounted next to the trunk of the car have a few disadvantages you will need to consider when making a purchase.
  • Possible obstruction of the license plate
  • Obstructed taillights
  • Not recommended for small items
  • Some designs come with poor anti-theft protection
  • Extra clearance needed when reversing
  • Obstructed rear parking sensors
  • Considerable storage space needed when not in use

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Top Safety Tips when Traveling with Cargo Carriers
Using a cargo carrier involves adapting your driving style. The top driving speed is reduced with each type of carrier and the car maneuverability is also impeded with some types of designs. Here is what to consider to make sure you’re traveling safely with a cargo carrier.
1. Weight Ratio
If you overload the cargo carrier, it will come with considerable problems in situations where you have to take sharp turns. The weight of the carrier is important from two perspectives.
First, the roof of your car has a weight limit that is usually found in the owner’s manual. Secondly, the weight of the load impacts car maneuverability when cornering and if the load is too heavy or unbalanced, it can lead to accidents. This is why you need to ensure that the weight of your load does not exceed the maximum allowed weight on the roof of your car.
If you are using a hitch-mounted rack, you also need to know that the extra weight can put pressure on the rear suspension and you will need to adapt the weight so that the car’s performance is not affected. Generally speaking, the weight limit is between 70 and 250 pounds, depending on the type of car you have and on the type of cargo carrier you use.
2. Equally Distributed Weight
Smart weight distribution is another important aspect of safe cargo carrier use. Instead of placing the entire load in a corner of the rack, you should try to evenly distribute it so that it will have less of an impact on car maneuverability. The more balanced your load, the more balanced the drive will be. Balanced vehicles are safer vehicles.
3. Secured Load

Another important aspect to remember when using a cargo carrier is to secure the load. Regardless of the design you use, there are different straps that can be used to keep the load in place. You want to avoid situations where the load can move when cornering, as this can lead to accidents or things falling out and posing a risk to other motorists.
If you have an open cargo basket, you will need to purchase a cargo net like the one pictured or sturdy straps to keep your items secure.
Many drivers believe that only roof baskets need to have their loads secured, but this is far from the truth. Some of the leading manufacturers offer out-of-the-box straps to secure large items such as sporting equipment even inside a rooftop box.
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4. Visibility
Visibility is often obstructed by some types of cargo carriers. For example, rear window visibility can be obstructed by hitch-mounted cargo carriers. Reverse cameras can also be blocked by these types of carriers. This is why you need to do your best to load the cargo in such a way in which the obstruction is minimal.
5. Tire Pressure Adjustments

If you are transporting heavier loads, tire pressure is even more important than usual. Make sure that the pressure of the tires is set to a level that is recommended by the manufacturer before you drive off with the cargo carrier mounted. At the same time, you need to ensure the load is as evenly distributed as possible as this will reduce the pressure on specific tires.
6. Load Height
Driving around with a rooftop cargo carrier is very different. You need to anticipate different hazards that might be in your way. For example, you might not be able to safely enter a garage when the cargo carrier is mounted. You might also have difficulty entering the parking of different buildings. It is why you need to know the minimum height clearance which is needed to safely park your car.
7. Using Extra Straps
It is often the case that the straps that come with the cargo carrier are not enough to secure your load. A simple way around this issue is to simply purchase more straps and ensure that your cargo will not move, even on sharp corners.
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