The 10 Best Roof Cargo Carriers of 2020
Best Roof Cargo Carriers
If you’re got a long drive or road trip coming up, you might not be able to fit everything in the trunk of your car. While putting it on wheels and holding out the window would look incredibly cool, it’s probably not the safest idea.
That’s why you should look into checking out roof cargo carries. Not only do they help keep your trunk clear and give you extra space in your car, but they also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes that are easily adjustable and can fit on top of just about any car.
We know that making such a purchase may seem a bit cumbersome and it’s not nearly as exciting as upgrading your sound system or adding new rims. There are plenty of options out there and we wanted to make sure you had a few of our favorites listed here.
Below, we’re going to preview 10 different roof carriers that you can easily attach to the top of your vehicle for your next big vacation. We hope this guide helps you find the ideal carrier and please let us know if you do attach wheels to your luggage and hold it out the window. We’d love to see a video.
Take one look at the Thule cargo box and it’s hard not to think of a spaceship. This sleek design is incredibly well-manufactured and is incredibly sturdy as well. Thule regularly does a spectacular job with their cargo boxes which is why we have two on this list (you’ll see the other one later).
The Force cargo box is definitely a premium, higher-end product. It comes with a whole set of various features but it does cost a pretty penny. In terms of higher-end cargo boxes, it’s actually a pretty fair price so you know that Thule isn’t pulling a fast one on you.
The size is important here, as you can get a cargo box that’s anywhere from 13-21 cubic feet. That extra storage space is going to come in super useful. It has a diamond textured aero skin that helps make sure it’s as aerodynamic as possible, doing the most for your fuel economy.
It has a quick-grip mounting system that’s entirely tool-free and incredibly easy to set up and use. After a few rounds with the Thule, you’ll be able to get the box on and off in just a few minutes.
When you leave the car, don’t worry about anyone stealing something as it has a secure lock.
Overall, this cargo box comes loaded with more features than the competition but the price tag may set people off a little bit.
- Easy mounting system
- Secure lock to protect valuables
- Design is fuel-efficient
- Brand: Thule
- Model: 623-parent
- Weight: 40 pounds
**Editors Choice** Sportrack Vista XL Cargo Box
This sturdy box isn’t nearly as expensive as some of its counterparts. It’s got great storage space and is loaded with a few useful features that make it worth taking a look.
It’s not going to have every feature as some others might, but it’s got an aerodynamic build that won’t chew up your gas mileage. It’s not the best looking box either, but choosing a cargo box based on its look probably isn’t your biggest concern.
The plastic body is incredibly durable and provides both UV and waterproof protection to make sure your luggage and valuables stay protected no matter what the weather is outside (except maybe a tornado, but in that case everything in is danger).
You can fit it on just about any vehicle rack and has a quick-release system that is incredibly easy to manage and figure out. It doesn’t weight nearly as much as other boxes either, coming in at a lightweight 28 pounds.
The biggest downside is that it only comes in one size, so you should triple check to make sure it goes with your vehicle before purchase.
- Easy to mount on most vehicles
- Rear opening
- Lightweight and easy to move
- Brand: SportRack
- Model: SR7018
- Weight: 28 pounds
This is a soft-sided cargo box and comes at a much cheaper price.
Even though you might be put off by the lack of protection, you shouldn’t just cast this option off to the side. First off, this bag is huge, holding an impressive 15 cubic feet of storage. That’s a lot of space for your luggage.
To secure itself to your vehicle, it has 8 built-in tie straps and two separate vertical compression straps that make sure the bag is held on to the roof and making sure nothings shifts around too much while you’re driving.
With double-wall vinyl construction and welded seams, it’s going to protect your luggage from the majority of weather-related incidents. Don’t expect it to hold up as well as some of the more expensive models, but it can hold its own.
At the end of the day, this is a basic and sturdy cargo carrier that will get the job done easily.
- Bargain price
- Tons of storage space
- Durable and lightweight
- Brand: Shield Jacket
- Model: CG03
- Weight: 7 pounds
Another softbox option, it comes with some pretty standard features that are going to ensure your items stay protected and fastened well.
Made out of semi-coated PVC and built with welding stitching, this softbox is going to bring you 100% waterproof protection. We also like the zipper, which is covered with a pair of flaps that will ensure no water or other elements come creeping in to ruin what you have inside.
Many softboxes don’t cover their zippers, which can be an easy invitation for all rain or debris to get inside.
It’s not as big as other boxes, having just nine cubic feet of space but that does make it optimal for smaller cars. There is also an 18 cubic feet version which is ideal for those who drive minivans and SUVs around.
18 cubic feet is a lot of space, more than you’ll probably need but it pays to be safe!
We also like that you don’t need a roof rack to attach the softbox, which is incredibly useful for many. It’s going to save you the hassle of trying to install roof racks or stuff everything into your trunk.
- Can be used with or without roof racks
- 100% waterproof
- Simple attachment
- Brand: Rightline Gear
- Model: 100250
- Weight: 6.1 pounds
Another cargo box with a sleek design built with top-quality materials, this unit from Sportrack is a trusty cargo box that has plenty of features and offers a bit of a discount from the premium models like Yakima and Thule.
Installation can be a bit tricky, as the shape and size of this cargo box made it a bit tough to handle. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easier but it definitely has a bit of a learning curve.
This is another box that was made with the outdoors-men in mind, as it’s plenty long enough to accommodate skis and other equipment you might be packing with you. It’s also a bit lighter weight than other premium boxes. You can’t really go wrong with it.
Praises aside, it does lack some features which point to how the price is a bit lower. The lid only opens on one way and there are no straps to make sure your items don’t move around inside the box. It has to be mounted on roof racks and as we mentioned earlier, the initial installation can be a bit tricky.
But, you are going to be getting a premium roof rack without paying top dollar. If you need a roof rack such as this one but don’t want to spend tons of money, then you won’t be able to find a better option around.
- Long design is made for outdoors-men
- Durable materials
- Aerodynamic design
- Brand: Sportrack
- Model: SR7011
- Weight: 33 pounds
We’re on a roll with our softboxes, so why not continue on with this version from RoofBag?
The first thing we have to point out with this one is the price. It’s definitely made to fit your budget and is not going to cost nearly as much as some other hard box options around.
It uses high-grade materials in order to give the best protection possible to the luggage you’re carrying around inside. With an extremely thick canvas, that’s also double-coated, with abrasion-proof vinyl this softbox was made be completely waterproof.
The straps are rated to be 3,000 pounds strong so it’s more than equipped to handle your luggage and other vacation materials. It can easily be hooked up to just about any racking system and some models are even able to be placed on cars that don’t have roof racks.
- Bargain deal
- Can be mounted on almost any vehicle
- Brand: RoofBag
- Model: Ex-r-11-bx-amz-P
- 7 pounds
Another item on our list that could easily slide in as an extra on Star Wars or Star Trek, this cargo box is definitely going to be on the premium list of cargo boxes, coming with a high price and quality materials.
This product is designed with a number of fantastic features. It’s aerodynamic, meaning you’re easily going to be maximizing your fuel economy while you’re out driving around. Not only that, but the box simply looks great.
Installation is simple and can fit well with just about any type of roof rack that adorns the top of your car. That being said, this is definitely a more specialized buy as it is aimed towards those who enjoy sports and the outdoors more.
It seems ideal for packing snow equipment or hiking gear, offering you top protection while making sure that everything stays secure and stable. The nice and then design means that you can also place other items on top, such as skis or bikes.
It is quite heavy, so make sure you have someone with you to be able to lift this cargo box on top of your vehicle.
- Extra-long and thin design
- Carbonite construction makes it sturdy
- Designed to be fuel-efficient
- Brand: Yakima
- Model: 8007334
- Weight: 50 pounds
As promised, here is the second Thule on our list. Compared to its brethren, this is a smaller, more compact cargo box that comes with a much cheaper price tag.
It has a much more basic design and does not offer the same aerodynamic features as the previous Thule model did. It also carries much less weight, up to 75 pounds, and only has eight cubic feet of space. It’s a lot less than other premium models as well, but the cheaper price makes up for it.
You’re still going to get great quality and materials, with a heavy-duty plastic construction and secure lock to keep everything safe from when you’re on the road until you make a quick pit stop.
The Sidekick, as its name would suggest, does come with a side-loading option which makes it quite easy to get your luggage in and out. It also fits with the majority of roof racks out there.
You’re going to be sacrificing carrying capacity, but you still get a solid cargo box with great features and durable materials.
- Side opening for easy loading
- Mounts to many rack systems
- Easy to use
- Brand: Thule
- Model: 682
- Weight: 16 pounds
Two Thules and two Yakimas make our list. Although this Yakima gets the award for the coolest name out of all the cargo boxes on our list.
This box was designed for those with smaller, compact cars. It can easily hook up to almost all roof racks, making it a solid choice for those who don’t have much space, to begin with. This box is a bit wider than others you might be used to and isn’t super tall. It’s also not very long.
But you might be surprised to know that this box has 12 cubic feet of space, more than enough for your vacation needs and basic luggage. It also comes with an incredibly high-quality design, so it looks sleek and is optimal for your gas mileage.
It also comes with security locks so you can leave your items on top of your car and not think twice about it. The quick-release connectors make installing and removing the box a breeze.
It is a bit heavier than you might expect, weighing in at just under 45 pounds.
- Aerodynamic design, high-quality materials
- Side opening for luggage access
- Designed for smaller cars
- Brand: Yakima
- Model: 8007191
- Weight: 44 pounds
This softbox has tons of space, able to hold up to 15 cubic feet which is more than enough for anything you might be hauling around.
This box can also be added to vehicles that don’t have a roof rack, making them an easy and simple installation for just about anyone. It’s got mounting attachments on all four sides which is plenty to keep it from flying off into the abyss and making sure your personal items aren’t shifting around.
It’s also ideal to fit bulky items into, being a bit more flexible than other boxes. Being a softbox, it’s also pretty light so you can install it just by yourself. It was designed to fit loads that are odd-shaped and maybe not the norm.
The materials on the outside make sure that your items will stay protected from the water, as the entire box is waterproof.
To top it off, it comes at a bargain price, under $50, so you won’t have to break the bank in order to protect your belongings.
- Waterproof protection
- Easy to install
- Bargain deal
- Brand: Keeper
- Model: 07203-1
- Weight: 8 pounds
Things to Know Before You Buy
When it comes to choosing the right cargo box for you, there is no one-size-fits-all option. For those people that are looking to stay in the outdoors more, there are certainly better options.
For those just looking for something that will get them from point A to point B, you have your own range of choices as well. As you saw by reading above, they come in a wide range of sizes, weight, designs, materials, and features.
Below, we’re going to go over some of the features you should be looking at and questions you should be asking yourself before committing to a purchase.
Why do you need a box?
You could also phrase this question as who doesn’t need a box. If you’ve ever had a moment where your trunk wouldn’t shut, you’re having trouble seeing out the back of your vehicle, or you’re just too cramped in your car, then it might be time for you to get a box.
Tetris can be fun but exhausting and having some extra space is going to remove the need for Tetris and make your whole drive easier.
If you’re someone that goes on sports or outdoor adventures on a regular basis, then you might also need to invest in a box. These are great ways to move your items while keeping them protected. Plus, it’s a great way to protect the interior of your car. A set of skis being flung around a curve at top speed can easily break your rear window.
The Different Types of Boxes
Essentially, you’re going to find two different types of boxes: hard and soft. They both come with their own list of pros and cons and deciding which one is optimal for you largely depends on your needs and wants.
A hard box is the more traditional type and is a box made of hard plastic. It’s no secret that a hard box is, overall, going to offer better protection for your luggage and items. Even the best softbox options won’t be able to realistically compete with the protection of the cheapest hard box options.
Plus, they’re easier to lock so you don’t have to worry about wayward travelers trying to steal your items when you’re parked and stopped on the road.
A softbox, on the other hand, are much easier to install and can be mounted on cars that don’t have a roof rack. They are usually made with thin plastic, like PVC or Vinyl and give basic waterproof protection for your items.
They are much, much cheaper than hard boxes. They weigh less and can be stored easier. They can bend and flex to irregularly shaped luggage and in some cases can hold more items. Security is an issue and some people have to unload them at every stop.
What Qualities Should You Look For
Just like browsing through online dating profiles, there are certain qualities that you want to have in mind when shopping. Obviously, some of these qualities are going to be more important than others so make sure you adjust your value system accordingly.
You don’t have to be an expert engineer to know that cars are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. You want great gas mileage to get the most out of your tank and not have to burn through your wallet every time you go to a pump.
So putting something on top of the car is surely going to mess up that perfect design. Cargo boxes are certainly not going to help your fuel efficiency and you’re likely to see a drop over time. Softboxes are going to do more harm than hard boxes will. That does, of course, come at a price but if you’re planning on driving with your box many times it could be beneficial.
Boxes can come in all different shapes and sizes. If you’re looking to haul longer items around, such as hiking gear, golf bags, or snow equipment, then you might want to make sure your box is long enough to accommodate your gear.
But if you’re not carrying around super-long equipment, then width might be more important to you. If you’ve got a smaller vehicle, then width is going to play into your decision more because of the greater options it has.
Plus, softboxes are typically wider and can be more flexible when trying to stuff luggage in.
You can’t simply drive forever, can you? After awhile you’re going to have to stop. When you do stop, you’re going to want to be able to move away from your vehicle and not worry about it.
Hard boxes offer much more security with the fact that they can add locks on easily, offering you much more security than a softbox would. That’s not to say that softboxes are just waiting to be ripped open by any passersby, but they’re definitely not as secure as their hard box counterparts.
In the end, it’s always about money, isn’t it? You can find one with the perfect features and dimensions but it could be out of your price range.
And boy howdy, is there a big range when it comes to prices of these boxes. For some hard boxes, you might find yourself shelling out $1000. Softboxes can be purchased for less than $50 in many cases.
How Do I Install It?
You might be worried about making everything is lined up correctly, but installation on many models is straight forward. The most difficult part is being able to lift the heavier models over your head and on top of your car.
If you don’t have a roof rack, it’s imperative that you buy a box that will work without one. These come with straps that can usually by using the car.
Take a few times to install it and it will be a breeze. Many of them have a feature that allows you to take it off and put it back on in a number of minutes.
When it comes to finding the ideal box to haul your cargo, there is no right answer. It all depends on your type of car, budget, and what you’re going to use it for.
It’s important to read other customer reviews online so you can an idea of the further pros and cons that each item brings. That way, you can make an informed decision that won’t put you at risk.
Good luck finding your perfect cargo carrier and don’t forget to checkout our 10 best hitch cargo carriers if you didn’t find what you were looking for here.