Between tents, tools, chairs, tables, spare fuel, recovery gear, food and water, space in the back of your vehicle is taken up fast. Spread the load out with some roof racks to haul all your extra gear.
When travelling, life becomes so much easier with roof racks. Instead of wasting time shuffling awkwardly shaped gear around the boot and footwells of your car, you can quickly and easily load it onto the roof of your vehicle. This is especially useful for carrying more ‘dangerous goods’ such as spare fuel, axes and shovels, and large cumbersome items such as chairs, tables and tents.
4WD roof racks come in a few different styles based on what you will be using them for. If you need to haul your kayak, bicycles, skis, snowboards or surfboard, a simple U-lock roof rack system is the easiest way to carry your toys.
If you are heading on an overland expedition in your 4WD, it’s likely you’ll need something a bit more serious. Roof trays, as the name suggests, are a large metal tray that attaches to the roof of your car. They allow you to carry far more gear than a simple roof rack system and are highly durable. However, they are far heavier and are designed to be used on 4WDs only, as a normal car’s suspension can’t handle the extra weight.
If you are finding your car is overflowing with camping gear every time you head out, a car roof box is a quick way to haul all your gear. They feature an aerodynamic design and are extremely lightweight, making it possible for even the family sedan to carry the roof box.
Compatibility is key here. No matter how perfect the roof rack is if it isn’t compatible with your vehicle it won’t safely attach to your roof. Be sure to check with the manufacturer before you purchase a roof rack to be sure. Buying a roof rack that is model-specific for your vehicle is an easy way to assure that it will attach to your vehicle. Alternatively, a universal-fit style roof rack could also be used.
Load ratings are another important aspect to consider. Check with your vehicle's manufacturer or owner's manual to find it’s maximum roof load limit. You mustn’t load the roof of your vehicle over this weight, as it can damage the chassis and make the vehicle unsafe to drive. Load ratings are also found on roof racks.This tells you how much the roof rack can safely hold.
Size and shape will determine the aerodynamics and carrying capacity of the roof racks. Typically, a fully loaded roof rack decreases fuel efficiency by 12%. Choosing one that has a spoiler on the front will help reduce the drag by pushing the air over your load. Roof racks come in a variety of sizes, from those that cover only half your roof, to full-size versions. Smaller racks are lighter while larger racks allow you to carry more.
Other factors such as whether you can access your sunroof, whether your radio antenna is obstructed, whether the roof racks are fixed or removable and the number of tie down locations should also be considered.