Why should I buy a roof rack or cargo carrier?
Like baseball, apple pie or bluegrass music, the road trip is an essential part of American culture. From college students in their rusted-out jalopies to retirees in their massive motor homes, the freedom of an open stretch of road beckons people of all ages and all backgrounds.Whether embarking on a cross-country trek or heading out on a holiday getaway, we always have plenty of stuff of bring along. From duffle bags and coolers, to portable televisions and mountain bikes, the list of essential travel gear can get mighty long. Unfortunately, vehicles only have a limited amount of space, and no one likes spending long hours packed like a sardine in a backseat. Break free from the confines of your vehicle’s conventional storage space with a roof rack or roof bag. These mobile storage units are designed to:
- Boost your vehicle’s storage capacity by transforming your roof into a second trunk
- Free-up additional leg room inside your cockpit for greater comfort and relaxation for you and your passengers
- Provide a sturdy platform for transporting your extreme sports equipment, like kayaks and mountain bikes
Which is right for me and my vehicle: a roof rack or a roof bag?
At AutoAnything, we go to great lengths to give you a vast selection of roof racks and roof bags to choose from. That way, you can set out on your next big adventure with just the right storage unit for your cache of equipment. Find the right unit for your vehicle fast by answering these 5 questions.
- Is your vehicle set up for a roof rack or roof bag?
- What do you plan on carrying?
- How much storage space do you need?
- Where do you plan on using your roof rack or roof bag?
- How often will you use it?
Is your vehicle set up for a roof rack or roof bag?
Sure, duct tape works great for patching leaky plumbing, but you need something with greater strength to hold down a roof rack or roof bag. They attach onto roof rails—those black ribs spanning across the top of your vehicle.
While many SUV’s, station wagons and mini vans come with factory-installed roof rails, they may not have all the necessary components. Similarly, some vehicles do not come with any roof rails at all. Check to see which category your vehicle falls into:
If your vehicle did not come with factory-installed roof rails, you still have options. AutoAnything has a set of Surco Roof Rails that you can bolt right onto your roof. They come in three sizes (36″, 52″ and 62″) to fit everything from the compact to the colossal. With these rails, the crossbars and the additional mounting adaptor, you’re roof will be open for business.
Some vehicles only come with the two side rails. These two bars run parallel on the sides of your roof. If your vehicle falls into this category, then you are halfway to having a fully-functional roof mounting system. The only thing that’s missing is the crossbars. These bars are the all important foundation for your roof rack or roof bag to connect to. Take a look at the crossbars in our Roof Rack Mounting Hardware to get your roof storage system up and running.
When your vehicle already has a stock set of rails and crossbars, then you are ready to roll. The only thing you’re missing is the perfect roof rac or roof bag to ride with pride atop your set of wheels. Roof racks will require some additional mounting hardware or clamps to ensure a secure fit, but nothing major.
A quick word to truck owners
I know what you’re thinking: why do I need a roof rack or roof bag when I already have a complete cargo bay? To be blunt, you don’t need anything on your roof! However, you can maximize your rig’s versatility and hauling capacity with a truck rack. This ingenious set of bars transforms your truck bed into a double-decker storage unit. With two level of freight space, you can pack away the camping gear below and still have room for your kayak or mountain bike on top.
What do you plan on carrying?
The type of trip you’re taking determines the kind of stuff you need to bring along. When you head out on a vacation, naturally you pack along your hoard of toys and relaxation items. Likewise, an extended driving tour of the United States will require plenty of extra clothes and lots of electronic gadgetry to help while away the time. Consider what you are going to be bringing along, and check out these suggestions:
- When you’re going to be hauling standard luggage items, then either a roof rack or a roof bag will work well. It just depends on how much space you need. The roof bag will keep the elements out, yet the roof rack will give you virtually unrestricted space.
- When you plan on packing away oddly-shaped or over-sized cargo (e.g. fishing poles, skis or statuary), then a roof rack is the best option. Its open design does not set spatial limitations on your freight.
- When you’re hauling weather-sensitive stuff (e.g. clothes or fine works of art), you’re better off with a roof bag. It completely covers your storage with water-resistant materials to block out Mother Nature’s fury.
- When you’re an extreme sports junky who’s preparing to set out on a whitewater expedition down the Cahulawassee River in your canoe, then paddle over to the selection of kayak carriers in our roof racks department. These sturdy carriers will keep a sturdy grip on your kayak—it’s up to you to do the same when you’re barrel-rolling over a craggy stretch of Class-V rapids.
How much storage space do you need?
Whether you’re toting a few extra duffle bags or hauling your complete collection of camping gear, there’s a perfect-sized roof rack or roof bag for you. Think about how much stuff you might need tagging along on your trips, and use these suggestions as a guide.
- When you only need a little extra storage space, then a roof bag is an excellent choice. We have sizes that range all the way from 8 cubic feet to a whopping 15 cubic feet.
- When you practically need a trailer to carry all your cargo, then a roof rack is the way to go. They give you the greatest capacity and most versatility.
- When your volume needs vary, you’re probably better off going with the roof rack. It’s always better to have a little extra space than not enough.
Where do you plan on using your roof rack or roof bag?
We wear different clothes in different climates–Bermuda shorts and muscle shirts are right for sunny Florida. But, a sopping-wet resident of the Pacific Northwest needs rain slickers and long johns just about 300 days of the year. When you’re choosing a roof rack or roof bag for your vehicle, take the geography into consideration.
- If you plan on doing your hauling in a temperate region, then a roof rack is an excellent option for you. You can always throw on a tarp when the dark cumulonimbus clouds start to gather.
- When you’re going to be passing through stormy weather, you are better off with a roof bag. Their weather-resistant design will keep your cargo safe and dry.
- When you plan on heading out onto the dusty trails of America’s backcountry, look into a roof rack. Not only are they incredibly rugged, they also have great outdoor accessories, like light mounts, spare tire tie downs and even a special ax and shovel holder.
How often will you use it?
Whether you’ve never ventured past your zip code or you’ve logged more miles than Magellan, we have a roof unit for you. Think about how often you might need the space, and see where you fall on the frequency spectrum.
- If you are an infrequent traveler or are taking a 1-time trek, then a roof bag is the right choice for you. You can easily put it on and take it down, and it stores away compactly.
- When you make an occasional jaunt beyond your city limits, then you should consider either a roof rack or a roof bag. The rack’s advantage is its larger capacity, but the bag is weather proof. The choice is yours.
- When your life is one big safari (either in the wilds or in the concrete jungle) and you need all the storage space you can muster, then equip your vehicle with a roof rack. It’s convenient, adaptable and always on your vehicle when you need it.
Roof Racks vs. Roof Bags: A Comparison Guide
While roof racks and roof bags perform the same function of giving you extra storage space, they do so in different ways. Let’s take a moment to compare apples with oranges and learn about the main advantages of each type.
The Advantages of a Roof Rack:
Whether you’re trekking across the Gobi Desert in search of black-tailed gazelle or navigating your way over the Golden Gate Bridge with a load of soccer equipment, a roof rack is the perfect storage companion. Here’s an overview of its key features:
- Capacity: Roof racks are essentially open storage platforms for your vehicle. You can pile as much or as little onto them as you want. Got odd-sized or extra large items? They pose no problem to a rugged roof rack. Just make sure you strap everything down tightly, or else your favorite set of golf clubs may bounce off and become road kill.
- Versatility: More than just a cargo hold, a roof rack can be modified and personalized to fit your particular needs. For those who enjoy escaping from civilization and heading out into the wild backcountry, there are a number of accessories for your roof rack. Bolt on a couple of light brackets to light up the trail. Or, mount the ax and shovel carrier, so you always have the tools you need to safely build a fire pit or cut kindling. You can even add a heavy duty spare tire carrier, just in case you get a flat from driving over some brier.
- Sport Ready: If your idea of a fun weekend is hurtling down Moab’s Porcupine Rim on your Cannondale, a roof rack is right for you. You can get an optional bike rack to bring your rugged two-wheeler along for the trip. Likewise, if you enjoy paddling your arms off down the Colorado River on your “canoe,” we have sturdy kayak carriers that will get right into the action. Roof racks are designed with the great outdoors in mind.
The Advantages of a Roof Bag
Whether you’re taking the family on a cross country trip to visit Wally World or heading out on an extended business trip, you don’t want your vehicle full of clutter. Roof bags give you plenty of extra space for all your travel gear. Check out these great benefits:
Weather-Proofing: You can’t control the weather, but you can protect your cargo from it. Nearly all of our roof bags are specially treated to keep the harsh elements off of your stuff. Other features, such as taped seams and storm flaps, stop moisture and road grime from leeching in. Just stuff your stuff into the bag, zip up and head out. Even if you’re passing through stormy Seattle, your luggage will be safe.
Aerodynamics: Wind resistance forces your motor to work harder, and the only way it can generate more energy is by guzzling more gas. To reduce power-robbing drag, vehicles usually have rounded surfaces. The same aerodynamic design is applied most roof bags. Their front edge is sloped backwards like a pompadour, letting the airflow breeze right over. Not only will this save you at the pump, but it also adds a sleek, streamlined appearance to your vehicle.
Ease of Use: The great thing about roof bags is that they are not permanent attachments to your vehicle. When it’s trip time, just strap it to your roof and head out on the highway. Once you return home, simply unhook it, fold it up and tuck it away in your garage. The bag attaches to your roof rails with a series of straps, and installation takes mere minutes. Once the bag is on your roof, it’s easy to get into your luggage. You don’t have to untie any sheepshanks or fumble with cargo nets—just give the zipper a yank, and you’re in.
Security: Theft is a crime of opportunity. When you keep your stuff inside a roof bag and out of sight, then it will be out of the crook’s mind. Whether you fill your roof bag with jackets or jewelry, your cargo will be hidden from the jealous gaze of would-be burglars.