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If you’re looking to get more overall functionality out of your vehicle, the best aftermarket add-on you can invest in is a roof rack system. 

No matter what you drive, there is likely an option configurable to fit your specific make and model. And, having a roof rack system installed, means you have substantial extra space to bring along more gear, toys, or even regular old essentials when you head out. Essentially, your car just became a lot more useful.

Common Rooftop Storage Options

There are three main styles of rooftop storage you see on the market today. However, with a rooftop mount installed, there is a wide range of available sport-specific racks that can be added based on your requirements.

Roof Top Box

A hard-shell box that mounts to installed cross-bars and functions very much like an extra trunk.

Roof Baskets

An open-air container that allows you to secure coolers, boxes, tents, or any number of accessories with straps or mesh nets. 

Roof Baskets

A water-resistant soft bag that can be secured to the roof of any vehicle, and folded away in the trunk when not in use.

How do you go about selecting the roof rack that’s right for you? 

The first thing we recommend to all of our customers when thinking about adding any variety of roof-load capacity is to identify their specific cargo pain-point. 

Situation:

You regularly need to fit multiple bikes into the back of a small SUV for weekend trail rides, making it too tight to bring along the additional gear that you need. 

This problem could mean a rooftop mount, or it may be better solved with a trunk or spare tire rack. 

Situation:

You have acquired a canoe that you would like to be able to introduce to a lake somewhere in cottage country. And there is no way it’s going to fit in your trunk. 

This challenge will require a rooftop mount.

Situation:

You’ve decided that this is the year to take up stand up paddleboarding on the Ottawa river, and you need a way to get your gear to and from the launch site securely. Again, you’re going to have to go up top to solve this particular cargo problem. 

Situation:

You’re sending your child off to university, and they have a one-time need to take a bunch of extra clothing, linens, towels, and more on the drive up. 

A roof bag is probably all you need.

Situation:

Your family is growing up, and the amount of stuff they need to bring on vacation is expanding. And, no matter how much you compress, there is no more room in the car. 

Rooftop Box, Cargo Pack, Cargo Rack, there are a few options for this one depending on your situation. Usually, it’s decided by whether or not you also need to bring bikes, canoes, or paddleboards.

So, assuming you have your particular cargo pain-point in mind, we’re going to go through some general considerations for selecting a rooftop system. 

Consider the Weight of the Rack

While there are many different rooftop racking options out there, you want to consider how much extra weight the structure itself is adding to your vehicle. A lot of lower-cost options use heavier steel construction in their racks. While steel does provide a durable frame, it also takes away from your load capacity and can negatively affect your fuel mileage. By opting for well-engineered aluminum, your rooftop frame will be up to 30 percent lighter than the steel variety, with more strength and increased carrying capacity. 

Think Modular

While we asked you to consider your specific pain-point off the top, we realize that your immediate need is just a jumping-off place. The truth is that people require extra storage for all sorts of toys, tools, and accessories. When you purchase a rooftop rack for your car, you want to be sure that it can be modified easily as your family’s demands change, which could be from week to week. For this reason, you want to be sure that the rooftop racking you select is modular and easily adaptable without a technician’s assistance.

Go for a Complete System

When deciding on a roof rack for your vehicle, you want to be sure you look at the entire line up of products offered by each brand you’re considering. While you may only need a configuration that will transport a canoe at the moment, down the road, you might get other ideas. With most manufacturers, you don’t have a lot of flexibility to mix components between brands. So making sure the brand you buy has an extensive lineup of options to expand your rack functionality is bound to save you all sorts of frustration. At Sipan Tire and Rims, we quite often recommend Yakima products for our customers. Not only are they good quality, but Yakima systems allow you to adjust your roof rack based on your needs. Bikes, canoes, cargo boxes, no problem. Want to add a rooftop tent to keep you off the ground on an extended camping trip? Their SkyRise Tents are perfect on safari or in a parking lot. 

Ease of Use

When selecting a roof rack system, another primary consideration is how difficult it is to take the components on or off. It’s especially important to consider this when it comes to rooftop containers, as they are not meant to be driven empty. If you plan to use the box as regular storage, this isn’t a problem. However, if you only need it a couple of times a year for road trips, you want to be able to take it on and off the mounting brackets quite easily. Another consideration for rooftop boxes is how they open. Selecting a box that opens on either side means you can access the contents from whichever side is more accessible at the time. This feature may not sound important now, but trust us, there will come a time you’ll be thankful for this suggestion.

Security

When thinking about roof rack options, we very often focus on the extra carrying capacity we’re going to add. However, it’s important to remember that extra storage creates an additional target for thieves. Whether your car is parked in your driveway, a hotel parking lot, or at the bottom of a ski hill, you want to be sure you’ve protected your gear. The first step is to have your roof rack professionally installed, so you know it’s bolted on correctly and will present a challenge to anyone hoping to pull it off. Of course, the next thing is to ensure the system you select is lockable. A good roof rack for skis, snowboards, or surfboards, will have a key-locked closure. Rooftop boxes should also come with a key. And, if you’re opting for a roof bag, be sure it allows for a padlock to connect the two zippers. 

Thinking About Fuel Consumption

Any rooftop system is going to create additional drag on your vehicle, which will mean your fuel consumption is going to increase. That said, there are a wide array of roof rack options that work to mitigate this problem. By selecting an aerodynamic rooftop box, instead of a soft bag, the design allows you to cut down drag as much as possible. When it comes to roof baskets, they are never going to be quite as aerodynamic when loaded with coolers or other rectangular containers. Be sure to check the manufacture’s recommended speed adjustments. Sometimes lowering your cruising speed while loaded can help off-set the drag.

Getting the Right Advice

When it comes to getting the right roof rack for your vehicle, the specialists at Sipan Tire and Rims are here to help. Our team can assist you in determining which system and features are going to best suit your needs and vehicle. And, when we have the right product for your situation, we can professionally install it to ensure everything that goes up top stays securely in place.