Roof Rack or Hitch Rack: Which One Should I Get?

Roof Rack and Hitch Rack Cargo Carriers

BY Emelie S.

When you’re traveling with a big group, storage space is usually an issue. If your vehicle is already full and you haven’t finished packing, a great solution is a cargo rack. Providing ample room for storing luggage, kayaks, canoes, surfboards and more, a cargo carrier keeps your items steady so that you can enjoy the entire confines of your vehicle comfortably. But, before you buy the first cargo rack you see, take a look at the differences and benefits between the two rack options that exist – hitch carriers and roof carriers – and find the one that is right for you.


Some vehicles already come with a pre-installed stock receiver hitch and/or a roof rack, which makes installation of any carrier extremely easy. If you’re not sure if you have a roof rack installed, read our article about different roof setups for your vehicle and discover the next steps you need to take in order to install a roof carrier onto your car, truck, SUV or van. If you don’t have a factory installed hitch or roof rack, it’s also very easy and affordable to install an aftermarket style, which will work great with a  carrier.

Ease of Access

If you’re carrying luggage that needs to be within reach at the next pit stop, a hitch rack might be right for you – and if you’re worried about keeping your items exposed to potential thieves, you can always choose a lockable hitch cargo box. A roof box, although harder to reach, is often larger, keeps your gear up and out of the way with total security and keeps it sturdy throughout the ride.

Oversized Gear

You can easily carry a lawnmower and even a scooter with the right hitch carrier, but when it comes to packing for an adventure-filled road trip that includes surfing, cycling or other extreme sports, a roof rack might be the best option for you. If you’re only looking for extra space to place a cooler, some firewood or a couple footballs, a hitch carrier provides plenty of space.

Fuel Economy

Some vehicles already pose the potential of gaining lower fuel economy during long drives. If that’s one of your main concerns you might want to invest in an aerodynamic roof cargo bag or carrier – or stick to a hitch rack. With a hitch rack, wind resistance becomes less of a threat since your items stay behind and close to your vehicle.

Now that you’ve evaluated all the benefits and differences between hitch and roof carriers, go forth and maximize your storage space. Tell us which of these features helped you the most during your decision by leaving a comment below!