Outdoor fun requires a lot of bulky gear this is best carried in a car roof box. A roof box is the ideal storage space for your camping gear. It is the perfect spot to carry your tent, sleeping bags, pillows and other bulky items. A rooftop cargo box is the quickest way to expand the storage capacity of your vehicle.

Roof Box Buyer Guide

Before you buy a roof box for your car, you should consider the following:

How much do I have to spend on a roof box?

Price is generally one of the most important factor when buying a rooftop carrier for your car. And even if you have a larger budget, it’s feels great to get a deal on a great roof box.

The price of the roof box depends on several factors:

  • If you buy new, you will pay more than if you buy used. But there are some risks when buying a used roof box.
  • Buying the newest models will also generally cost you more money. You can normally find better deals if you are ok with buying last year’s model.
  • The materials your roof box is made of will have a big impact on the price. For example, a carbon fiber rooftop will have a much higher price than a plastic roof box. More modern and lighter materials cost more than traditional materials like plastic.
  • The size of the roof box will also influence the price. A larger box requires more raw materials to make which drives up the cost.

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So, considering all of the above information, how much do I need to pay for a roof box?

Although you can buy a well-made rooftop carrier for around $300. But realistically, a high-quality roof box will cost you closer to about $600. The more expensive roof boxes will include high-end features like dual side opening or waterproofing.

What will you carry in the roof box?

If you want to buy a roof box, you probably have specific requirements. The requirements have to do with the items you want to carry in the roof box. A roof box is ideal for bulky lightweight items. Think of things that are fairly large yet moderately light weight. If you go camping, you will need a tent or multiple tents, chairs, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and similar items. All of this would be perfect to carry in a car roof box.

If you want to carry longer items, a compact roof box will not work for you.

Can I carry longer items in a roof box?

There are longer roof boxes designed specifically for longer items. Skis and snowboards would fit in a longer roof box. Before you buy a roof box, make sure you know the measurements of the items you want to carry to make sure everything will fit.

What items should not be carried in roof boxes?

When you buy a roof box, make sure you check its weight capacity. A rooftop carrier generally has a weight capacity of 150 pounds or around there.  Don’t assume anything about weight capacity. Check with the manufacturer to get the exact number to avoid reaching the maximum weight. You should keep the heavy items inside your car.

What are the most important dimensions of a car roof box?

Height – Height gives you more storage space. But a taller roof box may limit you access to certain places. A very large roof box may not allow you to park in your garage, enter a drive-through restaurant or park your vehicle in a parking structure. This is an even bigger concern if you have a tall vehicle already like a van or an SUV. Extra height also adds extra weight to your car.

Length – Generally, roof cargo boxes are six feet long. The average roof box will fit downhill skis, but not cross country skis. But if you don’t plan on carrying longer items a smaller roof top box might work for you too.

Width – If you want more storage space, a wide roof box may be a great option for you. More width provides more storage capacity than a narrow roof box. The biggest drawback of a wider roof box is that it doesn’t leave you with a lot of space on the rack’s crossbar. The result is that you may not be able to carry a surf board, kayak or bike on the roof with a wider roof box. If carrying addition items on the crossbars, you will need a narrower roof box.

Is a bigger roof box better?

It’s wrong to think that you need to get a rooftop carrier as big as your roof rack will fit. A bigger box is not always better. Buying a giant roof box, just in case you need more storage space is not a good idea. There are several reasons you should not buy a bigger roof box than you really need:

  • A larger car roof box will cost you more money. As expected, a bigger box requires more raw materials to make, resulting in a higher price.
  • Large cargo boxes are cumbersome. Storing a large roof box may be more difficult. It will require more storage space, space you don’t have in your garage. And every time you have to remove it from your roof rack, it will require more effort. Bigger boxes are heavier, and they may require multiple people to install or remove.
  • Bigger boxes will cost you more money in the long run. Not only that you will spend more money on a larger cargo box, but it will cost you more during the life of the cargo box. A large box will decrease the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. So, if you don’t need more storage, don’t buy a large carrier. You will save money when you buy the roof box and you continue to save every time you are at the gas pump.
  • A bigger roof box will also be noisier than a smaller one. The greater surface area results in greater resistance while on the road, resulting in more noise.

Will the roof box fit my car?

Before you make a decision on which roof box to buy, you need to make sure it will fit your car.

Hatch clearance and the roof box

Hatch clearance is a critical consideration before you click the “Buy” button. A rear door, for example, will limit what type of roof box will fit on the roof of your car. If your cargo box will prevent you from opening the back door of your SUV or hatchback, the rooftop carrier will not work for your car. Check with the manufacturer if the roof box will fit your make and model of car.

If the manufacturer is unable to confirm that the cargo box will fit your car, you can:

  • Get the exact measurements from the manufacturer and check if the box will fit your vehicle.
  • Measure the roof of your car to verify that it will fit the box you want.

How secure are cargo boxes?

Regardless of cost, size, and design, security is an important feature for all rooftop cargo boxes. Look for a rooftop carrier with a high quality lock to keep your possessions secure. A hard roof box is inherently more secure than a soft cargo bag.

How to maximize roof box security?

  • Only buy a roof box with a lock. Never buy a cargo box without a built-in lock. If you have roof box with a lock, thieves don’t have easy access to your stuff.
  • Install an alarm lock between the roof box and the roof rack bar. This is a handy deterrent, especially when you are parking your vehicle somewhere. The alarm will sound off when it’s moved. So if a thief starts to move the cargo box, the alarm will sound off and scare the thief away. At the same time, it will get the attention of people around.
  • One of the most effective way to secure a rooftop carrier is to remove it when you don’t use it. It’s unlikely that you need to use the roof rack every day. Remove it to keep it safe from thieves. This makes a lot of sense, especially if you only need to roof box when you take your family camping.
  • Lock the roof box and roof rack together. With a strong cable lock, you can easily lock your roof box and roof rack together for greater security.
  • A simple yet effective way to discourage thieves from stealing your roof box is by marking it. You could even paint it an unusual color or get your children involve and make it an art project. Alternatively, you could print something like “NOT FOR SALE” on the roof cargo to make it unappealing. With such a mark thieves won’t be able resell your roof box, making it less likely to be stolen.
  • If you own one of the more expensive roof boxes, you might want to install a tracking device. Make sure you install the device in a way that a thief wouldn’t immediately see it even if he opened the box. Once you contact the police, the tracking device should help locating and retrieving your roof box.

If you don’t use your roof rack every day, it’s best to detach it from your car. It’s much safer to store it inside your garage. Statistically, your roof cargo box is much more likely to be stolen when your vehicle is parked in a public space.

Make sure you purchase a rooftop carrier with a built-in lock. Even if your roof box has a built-in lock, you should also lock it together with the roof rack. You can easily lock the two together with a cable lock. It will help you secure the cargo box to the roof rack bars.

Marking your roof box with “NOT FOR SALE” to deter criminals. If a criminal sees such a mark, it’s less likely that he will be interested in stealing it. A marked roof box is more trouble to sell.

A great way to stop someone from moving your roof box is by attaching an alarm lock. It will serve as an effective deterrent, and it will stop anyone from moving the roof box. Don’t use the alarm while you’re driving, only attach it when your car is parked.

The alarm is engineered to go off if there is movement. That’s why you shouldn’t have the lock attached and armed while driving. Having the alarm attached while driving will make a rattling noise. Therefore only attach the alarm lock to the roof cargo box while your car is parked.

Install a hidden tracking device on your rooftop carrier. It will help you track down your property if it’s been stolen. Don’t try to confront the thief without the police. Always ask the authorities for assistance.

What materials are used for roof boxes?

Car rooftop cargo boxes are generally made of plastic. Vinyl, for example, is an excellent material for waterproofing. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, this is an important feature. Carrying oddly shaped items – such as musical instruments – might require a softer material.

Some roof boxes are made out of recycled materials for a lower impact on the environment.

Does a roof box impact gas mileage?

The rooftop carrier will have an impact on the gas mileage of your vehicle. Without a question, with a rooftop box your car will use more fuel. A larger roof box could slow your vehicle by more than 30 percent or about 10 miles per gallon. The best approach is to remove the box from the car roof when you don’t use it. There is no need to drive around with an empty rooftop carrier, hurting your fuel economy.

Closing thoughts about buying a roof box for your car

If you need to increase the cargo carrying capacity of your vehicle, the best place to start is to install a roof box. When searching for the best rooftop carrier, you should know what kind of items you’re going to be carrying.

Not all rooftop boxes are the same. There are different products on the market designed for different purposes. You can buy rooftop baskets, boxes and travel bags. Each has its pros and cons. But they all share one feature. They are all mounted on the roof or roof racks. Make sure you pick the right roof box for your specific requirements.