The BIG 5 for Buying a Roof Rack

| January 17, 2016 | 1 Reply

roof racksThere are many reasons to buy a roof rack, from wanting to look cool to actually needing one for your work or travel. If you just want to look cool go on-line and find a pretty one but if you NEED a roof rack then consider the following and do lots of research.

1.What do you Want to Carry ?

What will you be carrying on the roof rack i.e. will it be sports equipment, workmen’s gear (ladders, pipes, timber etc.) camping or 4wd drive goodies like roof top tents, spare tyre, Jerry cans all the other necessities. This will be a major factor when deciding the style of rack you require.

2.Design Types

Once you know the gear you want to put on your roof you can start sifting through the styles to suit your needs. There are so many options in the market, however, you can pretty much narrow it down to

– A flat deck (becoming very popular now) with or with out mesh- good for tradies,
– Just good old bars (2 or 3 depending on size of car and length and weight of load),
– Full cage – where everything is just going to be tied down and you just want space,
– Half cage/half flat- designed primarily for roof top tents and spare tyres, jerries, tool boxes etc.

3.Strength and Durability

Load and style done, this leads to the next criteria. If you are only carrying a few swags, chairs etc. or a kayak then you wont need hard core heavy duty and can go for a cheaper option. If, however you need to carry large amounts of and or heavy equipment you will need to pony up some more dollars and get your self a reputable brand in either aluminum or steel. (REMEMBER always to check your vehicles roof load carrying capacity, and that of the rack and include the weight of the roof rack in your calculations).

There is much debate about whether aluminum racks are up to the task for heavy loads. Modern touring big name aluminum racks are used all over the world for serious expedition trips, as are steel racks. The way I see if you spend the money on a purpose built touring rack you will get value.

If you do have a crack or break and you are BUSH then steel is probably easier to repair as most country garages or farms will have a welder to help you out but if you are close to larger towns or cities then aluminum repairs are easily accessible as well. If fuel consumption is a concern then the lighter weight aluminum racks will save you $$ but not huge amounts.

4.Accessories and Tie Down Points

For the camping, 4wding and touring nuts this can narrow down your decision making very fast as we all like to have a bunch of varying shape and weight stuff on our roof and believe me they are all necessary, well at least that’s what we tell the wife. Hi lift Jacks, gas bottles, jerry cans, shovels, led bars (check for legal requirements in your country), tool boxes etc. all need to be secured safely and easily. Roof racks that have a great range of easy to use accessories or can be fitted with various clamps, holders, brackets etc. make life so much easier and safer on the road. The need for all the toys and gadgets is more than enough justification to buy a great roof rack.


This should be the most obvious, however to my dismay I still see vehicles doing serious damage to roof racks, equipment and their vehicles because they forget that the car, truck, van, 4wd is now a lot bloody higher than it used to be.

So if considering a roof rack and I guess you are if you are reading this, then PLEASE REMEMBER you need to give serious thought to whether you can still fit through your favorite fast food drive thru, the undercover car park at work or shopping center, bridges, trees, power lines, service/ petrol/gas stations and surprisingly your own carport or garage. If you need to put a sign on your visor or dash or windscreen with your new height when you are loaded up then do so, so you can always reference it.

To Rack Things Up

Roof racks and bars can make a great difference to what you can carry with your vehicle which depending on your use can make for more efficiency if it is for work or just a load more fun if your playing. I see a roof rack as a long term investment so don’t skimp on $$$ and get the best one you can justify as it will pay you back no end over time. Do your research, buy what you need and enjoy it.

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Category: Off Road

About the Author ()

Garry Cooper is the resident OFF ROAD holiday specialist. He's already driven from one end of Australia to the other, taking every back road and goat track he can. He gives the best tips, tricks and information that he can about going off road for holidays.

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  1. Williamoi says:

    Very good article post.Really thank you! Cool. Suen

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