When you need to transport cargo that won’t fit inside your vehicle, say a kayak, canoe, bicycle, or just more luggage for a road trip, utilizing the space on your vehicle’s roof is often the best solution. Luckily, Discount Ramps carries a wide array of roof racks and other car top carriers available which allow you to do just that.
We want to ensure that you not only get the best price on your rack, but that you get the best rack for your application. We’ve put together this guide to help you answer the important questions and understand the types of roof racks and their uses.
Questions to Consider
What type of cargo will you be transporting?
Knowing exactly what type of cargo you are transporting will help to narrow down which type of rooftop cargo carrier you will require. Consider the length, width and weight of your cargo before making a purchase.
How often will you be transporting your cargo?
It is important to consider how often you will be transporting your cargo and how frequently you may need to remove and reinstall your rooftop carrier. For example, roof boxes may seem superior to roof bags at a glance, but if you expect to be frequently removing your cargo carrier, a roof bag is a better choice because it is much easier to remove, fold, and store than a roof box.
Does your vehicle have a roof rack or bars already on it?
If your vehicle has factory-installed side rails and roof bars, ensure that the car-top carrier you wish to purchase is compatible. If your vehicle has a “naked roof,” or in other words, a roof without any sort of factory side rails or cross bars, you’ll need to purchase either a strap-on roof rack or find a rack system designed specifically for your vehicle’s make and model.
Types of Roof Racks
Roof Side Rails
Roof side rails run front to back along the sides of a vehicle’s roof. They provide both a mounting point for roof cross bars and a convenient tie down point to secure cargo to. Side rails are almost always a factory-installed option.
Although they can be used alone to carry long cargo such as lumber, roof bars (also called roof cross bars) are primarily used as the attachment point for all other roof racks. Roof bars themselves typically mount to side rails.
Roof baskets provide a large surface with several tie-down points for bulky items like coolers, spare tires, bumper jacks, and more. Roof baskets are a popular addition to SUVs, both for their ability to carry essential off-roading equipment, and for their rugged looks.
Roof bags offer increased protection from the weather for your luggage and are available in many different shapes and sizes to meet your needs. As opposed to roof boxes, they are more flexible and easier to transport. Should you need to remove the roof bag from your vehicle, it can be folded up easily and stored compactly.
For an added level of cargo protection, a Roof Box attaches to your vehicle’s roof bars to hold cargo in an easy-to-open hard-sided container. Thanks to their hard shell and ability to be locked, roof boxes secure your items during transportation better than a roof bag, but are more difficult to install, remove, and store elsewhere.
Roof Bike Racks
Roof bike racks are a great option for carrying your bicycle(s) if the rear of your vehicle isn’t compatible with a mounted rack, or if you just don’t want your bike rack to get in the way. Each rooftop bike rack can hold a single bike, but multiple racks can be used if necessary.
Canoe & Kayak Racks
Designed to transport your canoe or kayak on the roof of your vehicle using existing roof bars, canoe and kayak racks make transporting your boat simple. When using a rooftop canoe or kayak rack to transport your boat, make sure to properly secure your boat and stop occasionally during your trip to ensure it hasn’t come loose.
Ski & Snowboard Racks
Ski and snowboard racks easily mount to your vehicle's roof bars to hold your skis and snowboards in place. When selecting a ski or snowboard rack, bear in mind how many pairs of skis or snowboards need to be transported, whether anything else needs to be stored on the roof, and how often you will use the rack.
Designed specifically to create cargo space on the roof of vans, van racks are made of either aluminum or steel, and are typically available in two-bar or three-bar systems. They are commonly used by tradesmen to transport ladders, piping, or other materials too long for the van itself. Van racks usually install by clamping on to drip rails, although some bolt onto the roof.
If you have any more questions about car top carriers or roof racks that haven’t been answered here, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to assist you!