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The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Car Roof Racks
Here's your ultimate guide if you're searching for the best roof rack for your car.
|6 Benefits Of Installing Roof Racks On Your Vehicle|
|4 Factors To Look For When Buying Roof Racks|
As great as your car is from the manufacturer, you can still make some modifications and add practical items to enhance it further. Add-ons help you get ready for whatever your lifestyle requires.
However, the interior cargo space is still limited, even if you drive a 4x4 or a van.
Installing roof racks is a significant alteration to enhance your car’s appearance and functionality.
Car roof racks or platform racks are cargo-carrying solutions that provide extra space and let you bring large, bulky items that would otherwise overflow your car.
It can be confusing when deciding which roof rack is best for your needs and suitable for your rig.
If you’re an off-roader planning your next adventure, an outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for a more convenient way to transport large items, read on to know which is the best roof rack to buy.
The Ultimate Guide To Buying The Best Car Roof Racks
What Is Roof Rack?
A roof rack is a frame mounted on the roof that can be either two bars going horizontally from side to side, a full platform rack, or a basket.
Roof racks securely hold and conveniently transport camping gear, sports equipment, snow skis, heavy luggage, and other items, making them ideal for overlanding or off-roading.
They come in different designs, shapes, sizes, and structures to accommodate various car models and the user’s goals.
Roof racks are usually made of aluminum or steel, although a combination of both and even plastics are also available.
Depending on your vehicle model or roof type, roof racks can be installed on the existing roof rails that run from front to back. They can be mounted to a bare roof, bolted onto the existing factory mounting points, or drilled onto the top after removing the roof channels.
Roof Rails Vs. Roof Bars
Most cars usually have pre-fitted roof rails. They run from the front to the back of the roof. They can be one of the attachment points for roof racks.
Unlike the roof rails, roof bars run from side to side. They can be rounded, square, or aerodynamic. They are great for carrying large items such as canoes, surfboards, or sleds. Roof bars are essentially crossbars, a type of roof rack. Roof rails are not roof racks and are not suitable for carrying anything unless paired with a rack.
Factors To consider When Choosing A Car Roof Rack
Saving money may be your priority. Still, you should also evaluate a few other things before buying a roof rack to avoid hassles.
- What material should you choose?
- What is your vehicle’s weight limit?
- What will you use it for?
- What is your budget?
What Materials Are Roof Racks Made Of?
Material is a fundamental factor to consider when purchasing a roof rack. It will determine how sturdy the rack will be and how much weight you can carry.
Car roof racks are typically made of aluminum, steel, or a combination thereof.
Car roof racks made of aluminum are lightweight and resistant to corrosion.
Though not as durable as steel, aluminum can carry oversized gear, equipment, and valuable items.
Aluminum is usually a bit more expensive, but the benefit of a lighter rack can be a great one for some overlanders.
Roof Racks Made Of Aluminum:The Prinsu Roof Rack 4Runner 5th Gen Full Rack Non-Drill 2010-2022 has an additional powder-coated black finish to protect it from harsh elements.
Stainless steel roof racks are solid and long-lasting. Although more prone to corrosion than aluminum, they are typically zinc-plated to protect them from rusting.
The stainless-steel roof rack is ideal for long and winding trips because it is sturdy.
They are heavier than aluminum, so they could add to the aerodynamic drag of your car, which means burning more fuel.
However, solutions can be implemented, such as buying a roof rack with an aluminum plate wind deflector to help with aerodynamics and prevent wind noise.
Stainless steel is generally less pricey compared to aluminum.
Roof Racks Made Of Steel:The GOBI Stealth Roof Rack for Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen w/ LED Lightbar Set Up is one of the most durable racks. They are 100% fully welded, using only the screws to secure the racks to the vehicle, making the rack noise and rattle-free.
Alloy Roof Racks (Aluminum And Steel)
There are also roof racks that are a combination of aluminum and steel. This alloy has the durable strength of steel and the lightness of aluminum.
Roof Racks Made Of Aluminum And Steel:
Slimline II platform roof racks by Front Runner get the best of aluminum and steel.
Another notable feature of this particular rack is that it can be installed with drill and non-drill options.
Your Vehicle’s Weight Limit
The roof of the car can only take a certain amount of weight, and the weight of the cargo you can carry will depend on the model of the vehicle.
You can find your car’s load limit in the manufacturer’s specifications or manual.
Knowing the roof weight capacity is crucial because it can affect the driving dynamics and determines how much weight you can bring.
Dynamic Weight Capacity VS Static Weight Capacity
The dynamic weight capacity is the weight your car can support when in motion or driving.
The static weight capacity is the load the vehicle can carry when stationary.
Most vehicles have a 165 lb. dynamic roof capacity, but it can either be lower or higher in some.
The static load rating is usually 4x–5x more than the dynamic weight capacity.
Avoid exceeding the vehicle's maximum load weight and height when transporting heavy items to prevent accidents.
For instance, if your car has a 200-pound roof weight rating and the roof rack is 50 pounds, you should limit the items you load to 150 pounds.
Important Note: Roof racks are built to withstand heavy loads. The loading capacity restriction is primarily due to the limitations of your truck’s loading capacity.
What Will You Use The Roof Racks For?
Roof racks are versatile.
They’re great for families who love to explore, thrill-seekers who are always on the lookout for their next expedition, and are beneficial when moving stuff or going on a long road trip.
If you need to go places off the paved or gravel surface to camp, trek, ski, surf, go water-rafting, or just want to get away from the city and be somewhere quiet, you will need a roof rack for the equipment you’re bringing.
Installing a platform rack allows you to carry items too large, dirty, or wet to keep inside your car, such as
- Suitcases or heavy luggage
- Prams or strollers
- Camping gear
- Sports gear and boards
- Sports bags
- Winter gear, and equipment
- A roof box (a large storage box that can be safely attached to the roof)
- Roof top tents
Think about the purpose the roof rack will serve before buying.
Do you need it to carry your bike, water sports tools, and equipment?
Does your family like to go on picnics or quick weekend getaways?
Consider buying accessories that will suit the purpose of your roof rack.
For example, a mesh roof rack serves as a tray for carrying smaller items and boxes and large items like kayaks.
For riders, removing the wheels after three hours of biking on backbreaking trails to mount them on the rack is just too much work.
Carry your bikes securely and keep them stable even on extreme terrain with the Power Edition Fork Mount Bike Carrier.
You don’t have to remove the wheels on this type of roof rack, so you save time and effort.
Whatever application you need it for, there is a roof rack for you at Offroad Tents.
What Is Your Budget For Roof Racks?
The cost of the roof rack depends on the material used.
The mounting type or installation (removable or permanent, and if permanent, if it is drilled on the roof or not) will also affect the pricing.
What items you need to bring and whether you need additional accessories to load them can add to the expense.
Shop around and compare the prices and features of different roof rack brands. It is necessary to get a good deal on a quality product.
Different Types Of Car Roofs
Before heading to the store or adding a roof rack to your cart, you need to understand what kind of roof your vehicle has.
Depending on the type, you'll know what type of roof rack you can get, or if there is more than one option.
In this section we'll mention the main car roof types, so you can determine yours and select the preferred roof rack option from there.
Common Roof Types:
- Naked or Bare roof
- Roof with rain gutters
- Factory-installed raised sidebars
- Factory-installed flush side rails
- Factory track or fixed-point
Naked Or Bare Roof
Naked roofs, or bare roofs, are those without pre-installed attachment points at the top of the car.
You can still install a platform rack on this roof type.
There are clip or clamp-mount roof racks. Clip-fit racks consist of the tower and the clip-or-fit kit. They can be easily attached and removed, so no drilling is required.
They fit snugly on the outer edge of the roof or into the car door.
Some racks can also be permanently fixed or installed by drilling them onto the roof.
Drilling is not necessarily dangerous; if done correctly, it is actually safer, sturdier, and can handle more weight.
Roofs With Rain Gutters
Rain gutters are usually found in full-sized cargo, passenger, commercial vans, and some Jeeps.
There are many racks available that can be installed on the rain gutter roof type.
Factory-Installed Raised Sidebars
Raised rails are elevated off the roof and are good attachment points for installing platform racks.
Factory-Installed Flush Side Rails
Some manufacturer-installed bars sit directly against the roof.
They are where the roof rails are connected, but since there are no spaces between the roof and the rails, they usually have grooves where the cross bars are installed.
They have channels or pinholes that the towers fit into.
A clip kit, leg kit, and crossbars are needed to install roof racks on this rail.
Factory Track Or Fixed-Point
Some cars come with factory-fastened connector points located on the outer edge of the roof, with two points for each side.
If you don't have this, it can be drilled into your vehicle's roof.
Fixed points serve as the mounting points for roof racks.
They can either be a Crossbar Overhang or Crossbar Terminating, also called the Flush style.
Most overlanders use the overhang because it gives them an extra surface for mounting their cargo. As a matter of fact, if you have overhang cross bar systems, you can easily mount an awning to them.
The flush crossbars look seamless and clean as they do not extend outside the bar.
3 Types Of Roof Racks
There are three common types of roof racks. The crossbars, platform racks, and basket racks.
Crossbars run perpendicularly from the driver’s side window to the passenger’s side window.
They consist of two to three bars made of steel, aluminum, plastic, or a combination.
The crossbar roof rack is ideal for mounting almost any type of equipment, such as bicycles, snowboards, or kayaks, because its dynamic load rating ranges from around 65 lbs. to up to 220 lbs.
Its feature allows an even distribution of weight across the bar itself.
Crossbars have three different mounting options:
Gutter-mounted crossbars are installed in the rain gutter of the vehicle.
The extended legs of the crossbars make them easy to distinguish.
For this type of roof, a durable platform gutter mounted rack will also be used where kayaks, boards, fishing rods, tents, and other overlanding essentials can be securely placed.
Why We Like It
- These are very safe and sturdy types of bars.
- They attach to the vehicle's gutter, making them stronger and capable of carrying heavier weights than, say, a clip-on or grab-on crossbar system.
In this image, the gutter-mounted crossbar attaches to the gutter next to the vehicle's roof. The Front Runner Load Bar Kit is a great example if you want a better idea of how they work.
- Front Runner Load Bar Kit / Gutter Mount For Toyota Land Cruiser 70 is made of strong, corrosion free aluminum slats and comes with all the components necessary to mount the Front Runner Load Bars to a vehicle with gutters.
- Rhino-Rack 2 Bar Roof Rack For Jeep Gladiator JT 2020-2022 is easy to install (only 3 steps!) and built to last so you can be on the road in no time.
Also, here’s an example of a gutter mounted roof rack for your reference.
- Front Runner Jeep Cherokee Sport XJ Slimline II Roof Rack Kit contains 6 Gutter Mount legs for mounting the Tray to the vehicle’s roof and has 660 lbs load rating.
Bolt-On Crossbars are attached to the rig’s factory mounting points or to a track, which can be sometimes provided by the rack manufacturer or bought separately. This feature makes them very well attached and secured and fixed.
Why We Like It
- They are secure and durable but easy to install and remove.
- They are perhaps the strongest crossbar rack systems available.
- The weight distribution across the roof of the car and across the entire body of it enables heavier weight loading.
The bolt-on roof rack securely grabs onto the rig’s roof. It’s extremely easy to attach and detach, and two people can install it without a problem. Here are three bolt-on racks worth checking:
- Eezi Awn K9 Load Bar Kit For Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen is lightweight but durable. It’s easy to attach and adjustable along full length of rail.
- Rhino-Rack Vortex RLT600 Trackmount Roof Rack for Toyota Tundra is easy to install and remove and comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Rhino-Rack Heavy Duty RLTF Black 2 Bar Roof Rack is, as the name suggests, is strongly built to carry heavy objects you need for offroading or overlanding.
Clip On Crossbar
The crossbars are clipped on the car roof’s side rails or directly to the bare roof. These crossbars are not meant to carry heavy weights. Use them only for lighter items.
Why We Like It
- Efficient and stable.
- It can be easily installed and detached at home. Mounting and taking them off can be done in literally just 5 minutes.
The Clip-on crossbar clamps on effortlessly to the rig’s roof but can securely and efficiently carry your gear on top. Here are great examples of clip-on crossbars:
- Rhino-Rack Vortex 2500 Roof Rack 2 Bar for HONDA Ridgeline Gen 2 is easy to install and has 165 lbs load rating with a lifetime warranty.
- Rhino-Rack Vortex SX Black 2 Bar Roof Rack For Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen may be simple to clip on, but it comes with security hardware to protect your racks against theft.
- Rhino-Rack Vortex SX 2 Bar Roof Rack has a trouble-free clamp mechanism and security measures in place that prevent others from stealing your rack.
2. Platform Racks
Like a tray on the rooftop, platform racks are sturdy carrying solutions compatible with different accessories.
Thanks to its loading capacity of sometimes even 1000+ lbs. and modular design, these platform racks are versatile and can hold different items.
Loads of gear on them are distributed better across the whole platform and the entire roof.
Why We Like It
- Have the highest weight capacity from all racks.
- Have the best weight distribution
Basically, the weight is distributed across all the slats that go from side to side of the platform and around its frame. So not only is it easier to mount larger items onto a platform rack, but they distribute the weight evenly.
Yes, they tend to be more expensive, require a longer installation process, are heavier, and make some noise due to wind resistance, but these are the best overlanding roof rack options.
Platform racks can be grab-on mounted, bolt-on, gutter-mounted, or even attached to other car parts.
However, they are generally bolted to the existing factory mounting points.
The platform rack provides stable and even support, especially for long items such as canoes or kayaks.
- Prinsu Roof Rack 4Runner 5th Gen Full Rack Non-Drill 2010-2022 is a durable and lightweight rack that easily bolts onto the roof.
- Prinsu Toyota Tacoma Cab Rack - 2nd & 3rd Gen - 2005-2022 can be bolted into the factory mounting holes on each roof side and carry large items from kayaks, boards, and rooftop tents.
- Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack For Toyota 4Runner (5th Gen) has drilling and drill-free options that can carry equipment and accessories up to 660 lbs weight capacity.
3. Basket Racks
They are very similar to platform racks but with high railings on four sides, creating the appearance of a basket. Some of them can, in fact, be turned into a basket by adding removable side rails.
Why We Like It
- Like platform racks, basket racks give extra security to your cargo
- They help carry heavy, bulky items with more points to tie up straps
- The raised sides act as a boundary to keep things in place even on a rough ride.
If platform racks are designed to carry long items, basket racks are best for securing and organizing stuff because of their surrounding rails. Their side rails can fit awnings, tents, and lights.
- ARB Base Rack Roof Rack Kit For Toyota Tacoma 2016-2022 allows adding, removing, and repositioning equipment fast. The Base Rack dovetail entity doesn’t gather dust and debris.
- BajaRack Standard Roof Basket For Toyota 4Runner 2010+ requires no drilling with around 4 factory mounting positions on the roof.
- BajaRack Standard Roof Basket For Subaru Crosstrek 2018+ can transport anything from groceries to your bike or kayak with four mounting methods.
Parts Of The Roof Rack System
1. The mount
The part of the roof rack system that attaches directly to your roof.
2. The Foot Set Or Tower
The tower connects the mount to the actual crossbar and bears the weight.
3. The Cross Bars
Usually, two bars run from the front to the back of the roof. It is an attachment point where you place items like kayaks, boxes, or bike racks.
The roof bars can be mounted to the vehicle with the help of an adapter. Some roof racks work well with crossbars alone, while others require an adapter.
Aftermarket roof racks sometimes come in kits. Other times, you need to buy the parts individually, which allows you to mix and match.
5. Surrounding Frame
The surrounding frame gives the platform roof rack structure and helps keep the rack together.
Since the frame is solid and strong, it helps resist lateral and gravity loads or forces. >
This enables the whole roof rack structure to support more weight and sustain a more extensive beating when off-roading.
The platform where the gears are placed is called the slat. You can add more slats to create a full platform or change an old, damaged slat with a new one.
7. Wind Deflector
The wind deflector is the part that helps reduce the noise produced by the wind and tones down the wind resistance while your rig is in motion.
Best Overlanding Roof Racks
Overlanding is a vehicle-supported self-reliant trip over land. It’s an expedition where you discover and explore new or pre-existing terrains, but the main objective of overlanding is the journey itself.
Because it can take days, weeks, or months, you must bring gear, travel necessities, and essential outdoor tools.
For this reason, a roof rack is crucial for overlanders.
Roof racks maximize the rig's storage capacity and provide space for mounting tents, travel equipment, and additional lighting.
The roads you drive on overlanding trips are usually tortuous and wretched. The bumps and twists could be harsh to your vehicle and items.
Hence, it's best to install a high-quality roof rack because of its security and durability compared to standard crossbars or commercial racks.
Here are some of our recommended specific brands and vehicle models for overlanding and the best racks for them.
Prinsu Roof Rack 4Runner 5th Gen Full Rack Non-Drill 2010-2022
This roof rack can be easily installed without drilling required, has a low profile that’s wind-resistant and helps reduce noise. It is proudly USA made..
With overlanding, anything can happen. So a roof rack that can carry your adventure essentials such as kayaks, surfboards, and even rooftop tents is necessary to have. And that’s what Prinsu Roof Rack 4Runner 5th Gen Full Rack Non-Drill offers.
Its powder-coated black anodized aluminum cross-bar extrusions don’t only give it a versatile and posh look but also help protect it from harsh elements while you’re outdoors seeking a thrill.
This roof rack can be easily installed on your 4Runner 5th gen. You can even add a light bar to it so you have better illumination on the path you’re treading.
- No drilling required
- Installation in less than 60 minutes
- 500+ lbs. of static load rating (when the vehicle is parked)
- Ideal for rooftop tents, RotoPax, MaxTrax, water tanks, cargo boxes, fishing rods, and more.
- Low profile
- Hard to reach straps or hardware under the rack
- 2 laser cut side rails constructed of 1/4″ 5052 aluminum plate
- These rails have 3 mounting tabs each allowing you to bolt the rack into the 4 factory mounting holes and 3m Industrial Adhesive on each side of the roof
- No drilling required
- Crossbars made from a 1" x 2" aluminum extrusion that has 2 top facing T-slot channel, a fore and aft channel and 2 bottom face channels
- Powder coated in a satin black texture with black anodized aluminum cross-bar extrusions
- One cross bar will not be anodized - it is intended to sit behind the wind deflector
- All product comes in black
- All assembly hardware comes in a black zinc finish to match a black paint, or powder coat finish
- All mounting hardware is either stainless steel or high-quality zn plated
- The rack also includes a 1/8″ 5052 aluminum plate wind deflector to help with aerodynamics and prevent wind noise
- Comes standard with 9 cross bars for cƒargo and 1 additional for mounting of a wind deflector, lightbar or combination of the two.
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack for Toyota 4Runner (5th Gen)
This is the best full-sized roof rack for your 5th Generation Toyota 4Runner. This platform roof rack is designed to carry loads up to 660 lbs. capacity.
Most overlanding trails are challenging, even for the experienced driver. Hence, it’s helpful to have smooth aerodynamics, which the Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack wind deflector provides.
It’s engineered to carry heavy items with reliable and durable foot railings that can be installed in no time. That cuts your hour of preparation so you can get on the adventure that awaits you.
- Can conveniently mount your bike and bike racks, kayaks, fishing rods, and even your comfortable rooftop tent
- Matches easily with the existing factory mounts of Toyota 4Runner 2010-2022
- Available with a drill and no drill mounting options
- Gives enough space for the sunroof to operate normally
- Not a slow profile as it could be
- Not as aerodynamic as other models
- Comes with a set of durable foot rails for mounting
- Has a Wind Deflector for smooth aerodynamics
- Heavy-duty and durable roof rack with T6 aluminum and 3CR12 stainless steel
- Compatible to Toyota 4Runner G5 2010-2021 model
- Drilling and DRILL-FREE install options available. All racks come with both options for you to choose.
- Extra storage capacity between the Slimline II tray and Toyota 4Runner's roof.
- 660 lbs weight capacity
Prinsu Toyota Tacoma Cab Rack - 2nd & 3rd Gen - 2005-2022
One of Prinsu's breakthrough overlanding products, this platform rack is an excellent, dependable, and completely bolt-together platform roof rack for Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 2nd/3rd Gen (2005-2022).
Whatever items you wish to bring for your overlanding trip can be arranged conveniently on top of the Prinsu Toyota Tacoma Cab Rack, because it’s completely modular. The 500+ lbs. load rating can carry virtually anything, from kayaks and boards to rooftop tents.
It comes with a noise-reducing trim for better airflow and less noise while driving so you can focus on the road and the fun ahead.
- Backed With Lifetime Warranty
- Powder-coated in a black satin texture to make it long-lasting
- No drilling is required
- Can be easily configured depending on your needs
- Very low profile
- Can be hard sometimes to mount items and try to reach straps or hardware under the rack.
- Designed and Manufactured 100% in the USA
- Backed With Lifetime Warranty
- Powder-coated in a satin black texture to make it long-lasting
- No drilling is required
- 500+ lbs load rating
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack For Subaru Forester 2013-Current
This virtually indestructible roof rack is the best match for your Subaru Forester from 2013 to the current model. With a 660 lbs. load rating, this roof rack can carry almost anything over it, like kayaks and boards.
Items can be mounted with ease on it. Once the rack kit is removed, it leaves your vehicle’s roof and roof rails in their original condition.
- Easy to install
- No drilling required
- With wind deflector for improved aerodynamics
- Clamps onto side rails so must make sure it's clamped securely.
- Black epoxy powder-coated T6 aluminium
- 3CR12 Stainless Steel
- Easy to install
- 660 lbs load rating
GOBI Sky One Touch Stealth Roof Rack Jeep JL 4Door
One of the best overlanding roof racks for your Jeep Wrangler JL 4Door (2018 – Present) is this USA-made rack with a LED Lightbar Set Up. It can support rooftop tents, ladders, cargo boxes, bikes & kayaks.
The LED or multi-LED lightbar feature will help you stay safe even when driving without daylight or on gloomy days. It will also make camping more convenient.
This roof rack complements perfectly with your Jeep giving it a tougher look and extending its functionality essential for your overlanding trips. Durability and efficiency has never looked this good.
- Beautifully designed
- No drilling required
- With a static load capacity of 800lbs that can carry your most demanding cargo
- Made on order so there could be a long waiting time to get it
- Two Removable Inserts (x1 Slim Insert + x1 Wide Insert)
- Black powder coated with anti-rust undercoat
- Safe driving load capacity of 300lbs
- Static load capacity of 800lbs
- Includes bolt-on GOBI Rear Ladder
- No vehicle drilling – bolts into the existing vehicle’s mounting points
- Includes stainless hardware & install
Eezi-Awn K9 Roof Rack Kit For Lexus GX
This excellent South-African made rack has 5 different lengths and will quickly adapt to the needs of your Lexus GX460 and GX470. It is also the ONLY overlanding rack on the market that is easily compatible with your existing Thule or Yakima sports bar mounts for bikes, kayaks, and other gear.
It has 5 different lengths that will work seamlessly with your Lexus GX460 and GX470. The modular feature can be configured in endless ways making overlanding packing easy and fast.
- No drilling required
- With easy-to-follow installation instructions
- Dynamic capacity in the range of 500 pounds and static capacity of 1000 pounds is possible
- Comes with a complete array of bolt-on accessories for your convenience
- Fully welded (large and heavy) so it’s tougher to mount over roof
- Fully Welded 1-3/8"H Low-Profile Platform
- Light Weight All Aluminum Construction
- All Components Are Anodized And Powder Coated Matte Black
- 5-1/8" Wide M8 T-Slot Slats, Running Front to Back
- Semi-Elliptical Bottom Cross Braces To Reduce Wind Noise
- M6 T-Slot Around Top Perimeter With Rounded Top Edge
- 5 Lengths and 3 Widths Of Platform Available
- Multiple Mounting Configurations Including Gutterless/Gutter/OEM Rack Mounts
- Full Compliment of K9 Roof Rack Accessories For Top/Bottom/Side Mount
- Infinite Gear Organization Configurations
- Includes All Installation Components & Hardware
Important note: This list is based only on what we know are the most popular vehicles for off-roading and overlanding. Other vehicle models are also excellent for overlanding.
The same brands manufacture almost the same rack for different car types, which are not mentioned in this article.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to assist you.
6 Benefits Of Installing Roof Racks On Your Vehicle
Long car rides could be uncomfortable. And the limited space in your vehicle restricts what you can do and bring.
That’s why a roof rack is valuable. Here are ways roof racks can benefit you:
1. Vamps Up Your Vehicle’s Look.
Improving the look of your car may not be the main reason for getting a car rack, but it is a big plus.
It gives it a tough, rugged appearance, reflecting your personality and passion for the outdoors.
Cars with roof racks just look cooler than those that don’t have them.
2. Maximizes The Car’s Functionality.
Roof racks provide the perfect platform or base for rooftop tents.
You’ll sleep better when camping, as these tents are safer, more comfortable, and better for changing climates. You don’t have to worry about pests on the ground, either.
Your car becomes an efficient cargo-carrying vehicle with roof racks.
3. Expands Your Car’s Storage Capacity.
Large, bulky objects might damage your interior. For example, hooks in your fishing gear can tear your seats. But you don’t have to worry about these problems with roof racks.
You can bring prams and strollers and not cram them with your baby’s car seat at the back.
Your golf clubs, bags, winter and water sports equipment will have a better and safer storage place.
You don't have to leave some essential items behind because you can simply load them on your roof rack.
4. Roof Racks Keep You And Your Car Safe.
Overloading your car can cause a dangerous imbalance, especially when driving on rough terrain or zigzagging roads.
Roof racks enable you to evenly distribute the weight of your cargo to remedy this problem.
Platform racks can help protect the car from damage, such as scratching and denting, because they carry the weight of your items away from the roof.
The drag due to the roof rack’s effect on the aerodynamics would help you slow down to a safer speed, especially on the highway or slippery roads.
Going back from surfing or doing watersports? No need to wipe your gears clean to avoid getting water or mud inside the car. Just load them on top of your rig’s rack.
Placing your things securely on the roof racks will prevent constant movement, protecting your cargo from scraping, falling off, or leaving dents.
5. Provides Additional Comfort.
Imagine going for a long ride and having people, and things packed like sardines inside the car.
That will be uncomfortable.
You will all be complaining about muscle pain and cramps. You'll ruin the trip before you even arrive.
More space inside the car means better ventilation for everyone. It also provides extra legroom for a more relaxing ride.
The journey should be pleasant from the drive to the destination.
Don’t let luggage and outing gear get in the way of fun.
6. Roof Racks Help You Save Money.
Going camping, trekking, or off-roading could get expensive if you don’t bring your own gear, especially if you do it regularly.
With roof racks, you don’t need to rent equipment like kayaks, sleeping bags, or surfboards when you travel. You can just bring your own.
No need to rent a trailer or van for overlanding or long trips.
Premium-quality roof racks installed correctly can last for many years because of their durability.
4 Factors To Look For When Buying Roof Racks
If you need roof racks, you are more likely passionate about on-road or off-road adventures.
It means your car is exposed to harsh, damaging elements, such as rain, dirt, and even salty air.
Look for roof racks that can withstand extreme conditions.
Corrosion will damage your car and equipment and could lead to accidents.
Remember that the primary purpose of the roof rack is to carry large, dense items that will otherwise crowd the inside of your car.
Look for roof racks made with durable and premium-quality materials that can hold a heavy load without breaking, bending, or damaging your car.
It may be tempting to settle for the cheapest option, but remember you get what you pay for.
Inferior quality roof racks for your rig can easily rust or break, and you may have to replace them more frequently.
Invest in high-quality roof racks that are reasonably priced instead.
Make sure the rack you purchase is appropriate for your car, as they come in various sizes.
Look up the make and model of your vehicle and see which style, size, and weight of roof rack is compatible with it.
There are roof racks that will fit only specific car models.
If your platform rack is not the right fit for your rig, it will not be securely fastened, which could pose a danger to you and your valuables.
Roof racks can be either single, in pairs, or on rails.
In addition, some can be equipped with a mesh floor for transporting large items. This type of roof rack is called a utility.
Mesh floor roof racks, such as the BajaRack Utility Roof Rack W/ Mesh Floor Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen, are ideal for carrying canoes and lumber.
Before buying, assess which rack type is compatible with your lifestyle and which would not compromise your vehicle’s look.
Find car roof racks that can keep up with your enthusiasm for off-road adventures.
4. Dynamic And Static Weight Rating
Check out the roof rack’s dynamic weight rating and static weight rating.
Dynamic weight rating is the weight the roof rack can carry while in motion. It is always lower than the static weight rating, which refers to the weight the roof rack can support while stationary.
The dynamic weight rating of your roof rack should match or exceed the weight of the item you're loading.
So if you have cargo that weighs 200 lbs., the roof rack should have at least 200 lbs. dynamic weight rating.
The weight ratings are usually listed on the product specifications. You can ask the seller or contact the manufacturer for more details.
The static weight rating tends to be at least three to four times as much as the dynamic weight rating.
As a result, if your dynamic weight capacity (DWC) is 200 lbs., the rack can support items weighing as much as 200 lbs. when driving.
The static weight capacity (SWC) will be around 650 lbs. Meaning when you are parked, your racks will be able to hold a weight of 650 lbs.
Therefore, even if you have a rooftop tent and you are sleeping in it with two more people, your racks will be able to support all the weight since you are parked.
Are Roof Racks Expensive?
You may think they are, but once you realize that roof racks are indestructible and can last you a lifetime, you know you’re getting a good deal.
Installing roof racks enhance the resale value of your vehicle.
Most importantly, roof racks improve your life by carrying overlanding items and roof cargo boxes, luggage, or virtually anything you cannot fit inside your car.
You cannot put a price tag on the convenience it offers.
What Is A Clamp Mount System, And What Does It Do?
A clamp mount system is fastened to the inside of the door frame to secure the roof racks in vehicles without rails or fixpoints.
Is There A One-Size-Fits-All Roof Rack?
Roof racks are not universal, one size fits all, or generic. They are car model-specific and even year-specific, especially high-quality ones.
For example, if you have a Toyota 4Runner 5th gen from 2020, look at a roof rack specifically for that car model and year.
Platform racks will depend on your vehicle's size, roof type, or where it will be mounted. Since cars come in different sizes and roof types, racks will also vary.
You have the option to clip them or drill them on the roof. Some racks cover the whole top of your car, while others cover only half.
Broader rack types, such as crossbars, can fit a few different brands, models, and years of cars, but not all.
Do I Need To Drill Holes In The Roof?
There are removable roof racks, but you have the option to buy one that can be permanently installed. For the latter, you will need to drill holes.
Do I Need To Buy Additional Accessories For My Roof Rack?
Depending on what you need to load on your roof rack, you may need to buy some accessories.
For example, if you're kayaking or skiing, you can use the Rhino-Rack Kayak/Ski Bow Strap Bonnet Tie Down. It has a durable rubber coating that protects your high-end kayaks and life-saving ski watercraft.
For those who like to keep their cargo extra secure, straps like the Stratchits by Front Runner will keep your gear from rattling loose on rugged terrains.
The Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack For Toyota 4Runner (5th Gen) lets you load enormous cargo and can even mount your rooftop tent without drilling.
Some accessories, such as the Quick Release Roof Top Tent Mount Kit specifically for Front Runner, are easy to install and detach.
An awning mounting bracket is another accessory great for installing awnings and other side-mounted items. All car brands make specific awning brackets for their roof racks, mostly platform racks.
The Awning Mounting Brackets by Prinsu Design Studio are specially made for your Prinsu. It is designed with a "lock-in" system, making them remarkably strong and ideal for various awnings, including Tepui, Eezi Awn, CVT, Foxwing, and ARB.
These are brackets used to mount gear, such as bicycles, snowboards, gear plastic boxes, and kayaks.
Water-resistant storage boxes are accessories that can be easily attached to the platform rack. You can keep your sleeping bags, towels, and food in these containers without worrying about rain, splashes of water, or other elements ruining them.
Buy pass-through straps and lockable cables. Add an extra lock if you like.
Sometimes, LED light bars are attached to the rack for added illumination. The lights are helpful, especially when going down off-roads at night or in extreme weather conditions when the headlights are not enough.
There are gears specific to particular car models and usage (for kayaks, snowboards, etc.). If in doubt about which accessories to buy, ask the experts.
What Is The Best Roof Rack For My Kayak?
Here’s a list of perfect roof racks for carrying your kayak:
- Sprinter Modular Roof Rack For Mercedes 2007-2022 - by Aluminess
- BADASS Tents Low Mount Roof Rail Crossbar System For Land Rover New Defender 2020-22
- Baja Rack Utility 51" Small Flat Rack for Toyota FJ Cruiser 2007-2017
- BajaRack Roof Rack Accessory Mounts For Yakima & Thule (4 pcs)
- BajaRack Standard Roof Basket - Long - For Toyota 4Runner 2010+
Who Installs Roof Racks?
Some platform racks are easy to attach and do not need a professional to install them.
You can install the roof racks on your own if you have the knowledge, skills, and tools.
Read the instructions thoroughly. A properly fitted roof rack can save you a lot of trouble.
If it is not specified in the instruction manual, the distance between roof bars should be between 24 and 36 inches apart.
Roofs with factory-installed rails or bars only need some adapters to carry gear. The installation takes only a few minutes using essential tools.
There are clamp-on roof rack options that are easier to mount.
Drilling will be required for bolt-on aftermarket options, so if you want to make things easy for yourself, bring your car to a trusted service center.
Roof racks are safe as long as they are properly attached.
Contrary to what most people think, drilling will not damage the car. It is the safest way to install roof racks.
Where To Buy Roof Racks?
Head to www.offroadtents.com for a wide selection of roof racks and accessories and superb customer service.
Can Roof Racks Go Through A Carwash?
Most car washes allow you to keep the roof rack.
However, removing them before the car wash is recommended because brushes can get tangled and detach them. It’s better to ask for a brushless system if you cannot remove the roof rack.
Ensure that the racks are secured or not fitted loosely.
Remove any items on top of the car before getting a car wash.
Do Roof Racks Damage Your Car?
Roof racks help prevent damage to the roof of your car when loading heavy equipment.
It provides a secure place to attach large and hefty items without coming into contact with, scraping, or denting the roof.
Roof racks can damage your car if they are under-torqued, over-torqued, poorly fitted, and overloaded.
Tie your gears securely to your roof rack so they do not fly off the roof while you are driving.
Remember to remove them from the rack after your trip, especially if you have a tall vehicle.
Be wary of low-hanging obstacles. You would not want to drive into a low-ceiling, multi-story covered car park or low-hanging bridge and rip your entire roof off.
Do a routine check before and after your trip. Try tugging on different parts to ensure everything is in place.
Do Roof Racks Make Noise?
Whenever wind passes over a surface with a consistent shape, it develops a tone and creates noise. This sound is technically called "aeolian noise" or "aeolian tone."
Some roof racks make a high whistling noise, especially when you reach a higher speed.
Loose racks can also produce irritating noises, so have your roof racks checked. If not fixed, loose racks can lead to more severe issues.
To solve the noise problem, you must disrupt the airflow or make the roof more aerodynamic.
Buy roof racks with designs and features that reduce noise and even vibrations.
Most rack products have noise-reducing trim for better flow of air and less noise while driving.
The Prinsu Toyota Tacoma Cab Rack - 2nd & 3rd Gen - 2005-2022 has an aluminum plate wind deflector to help with aerodynamics and prevent wind noise.
The AeroBlade Edge Rack for the Toyota 4Runner (2010) has WindDiffuser technology that disturbs airflow to reduce sound.
Other methods to reduce the noise include wrapping the roof racks with bungee cords, fitting a wind fairing, or padding the cross bars.
Do Roof Racks Affect Fuel Economy?
Roof racks increase the aerodynamic drag on vehicles, increasing fuel consumption or miles per gallon (mpg).
Choose roof racks that have been aerodynamically designed to minimize wind drag and noise on the road, like the Sherpa The Snowmass Roof Rack For RAV4 2019-2022.
The AeroBlade Edge Rack for the Toyota 4Runner allows clean air separation from the bar, reducing the aerodynamic drag, thus reducing the mpg.
How Heavy Are Roof Racks?
Depending on the structure and size of the roof rack, it can weigh more or less 50 lbs.
Should I Get Crossbars Instead?
If your car does not have a pre-installed crossbar, it is recommended that you add a pair, as they help support and secure your cargo. They also function as attachment points for car roof racks.
Can I Install A Rack Even With Side Rails Already On My Roof?
Yes, you can. You may either install the roof racks over them or remove them before the installation.
Can Roof Racks Be Stolen?
The permanent rack solution that bolts onto your roof or drills into it is highly secure.
For clamp-on crossbars, choose the lockable ones.
Are Roof Racks Exclusive To Big Trucks Or 4x4 Vehicles?
Roof racks are not limited to use in the 4Runner or the Dodge RAM.
Overlanding can be done on almost any vehicle, even a Volkswagen Atlas if you have the right gear.
There are roof racks for every type of vehicle, from your cute and classic Volkswagen beetle to the longest and most vast Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Can Roof Racks Leak?
Some aftermarket platform racks can cause leaks on the roof. Waterproof the holes using adhesives or sealants to prevent damage to the car’s interior.
Can You Put A Roof Rack On If You Have A Sunroof?
Yes, you can. You have the option to install it permanently or use clamps.
Check with your manufacturer or service center on how to safely install a roof rack on your sunroof car.
Which Roof Rack Is Best For Your Car?
Whichever fits your vehicle securely, suits your lifestyle or needs, and is within your target price range. Check out our list of recommendations for specific car models above.
Whether you need them for work, off-roading, overlanding, or general outdoor trips, car roof racks are essential in maximizing your rig’s space capacity and in storing and securing your valuables.
Roof racks are probably one of, if not the best, investments for your truck. They can enhance the look of your car, are highly functional and beneficial, and can even last a lifetime with proper care.
Don’t limit your adventures because of your limited car space. Find the right roof rack for you and bring everything you need as you pursue your love and passion for the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will this work on a 2021 TRD Off-road with Prinsu Roof rack?
Yes, absolutely. This tent is compatible with a Prinsu roof rack!
Will this work on a 2021 TRD Off-road with Prinsu Roof rack?
By standard bars, do you mean the side rails the 5th gen includes? Or the factory crossbars going from left to right? Our recommendation is that you aftermarket crossbars or a full roof rack, because they are much stronger and can handle much more weight. Here are some options: https://offroadtents.com/collections/toyota-4runner-roof-racks
I have a 4th gen 4runner would it fit with that?
Yes, it'll work just fine. Just make sure you need a roof rack. Here are some options: https://offroadtents.com/search?type=product&q=4runner+4th+gen+rack
Does it have the hole for the A/C unit?
It has space to put in a hose to cool the tent. But a specific hole for an A/C unit not really. Depending on the circumference of what you need, yes.
We have a ram 1500 short bed. How do I know what tent will fit my truck? Or is it based on the rack you buy to put on the top of the truck?
It's based a bit more on the rack. Well, if you want the tent on your bed, then one like this one will be perfect. It has the right dimensions to fit a short bed. Still, I recommend you look at racks at the same time. You can search on our site for Bed Racks for Ram 1500.
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