Is My Vehicle Set up for a Roof Rack?

Yakima Roof Rack System

BY Emelie S.

There are a couple of things you need to consider before taking your vehicle storage space to the next level (literally). Whether you’re running out of space inside your vehicle or need a place to carry your oversized gear, installing a roof rack is the first step towards expanding your loading capabilities.

Before purchasing a rack, you need to know what type of roof you have. This will indicate what parts are required with your base rack system. Fortunately, all roof types can accommodate a rack. Use the tips below to determine your roof style.


Bare or naked roofs are just as they sound – there’s nothing on them. That means no side rails, no cross rails and no channels running down the sides of your roof. If that’s your case, you will need a complete base rack system with everything from feet to crossbars. Fortunately, they’re simple to install so you can easily get your roof ready for cargo carriers, accessory racks or roof bags.

SHOP roof racks & cargo carriers

Bare Roof on Car
Half Rails


If your vehicle came with factory half rails or side rails, you are halfway through a successful roof mounting system. These two rails run parallel to the sides of your roof – with nothing going across your roof. All you need now are crossbars – the foundation that connects to your roof rack or roof bag. This foundation is known as a crossbar. Once you add crossbars, you can get your roof storage system up and running.



If your vehicle already has a set of rails and crossbars, you’re ready to install all the roof rack accessories you’d like. Some cargo bags might need additional mounting hardware or clamps to keep your load tight and secure, but most come included with your accessory or bag of choice.


Full Rails Roof Rack SUV
Channel Roof on SUV


Some vehicles come with a channel system that has anchors for a roof rack. They sit in the same place as side rails would and make for easy installation of a complete roof rack kit. From afar, your roof may look the same as a naked roof, so be sure to inspect your roof closely before making that call.


Still having issues determining which type of roof you have? Let us know – we’re happy to help!