Whether you’re going on a long distance road trip and you want some more storage space for your vehicle or you just want a little bit more extra space overall then a rooftop cargo carrier is something you should definitely consider adding to the roof of your car.
Rooftop cargo carriers, also known as cargo boxes, roof boxes, or just cargo carriers, are designed to carry your luggage, gear, tools, or just about anything else you want to bring with you in the car by taking advantage of the space that you have on the roof.
These carriers are aerodynamic so they don’t have as much of a bad impact on fuel economy is if you just stuck a big old square box up there and these days they can be found quite lightweight as well which makes them easy to handle and install.
For something being stuck on the roof of your car many of these boxes are designed to last a long time while offering a safe and convenient way to store your things regardless of the distance you’re driving.
Today I want to talk about some of my recommendations when it comes to the best rooftop cargo carrier for your car as well as go into detail on which ones I believe are the best cargo boxes for the roof.
The Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier
I began my search for the best cargo carrier because I found that I was always running out of space in the backseat and trunk of my car and I just needed a little bit more extra storage for carting around the stuff I was bringing with me.
Not only does it allow me to bring some more things along on a road trip or if I’m heading up to the cottage but I can also use it for things such as groceries when the car is fully packed with a wide range of different supplies that my family needs for the week
It was also a lifesaver when I drop my daughter off at college since I was able to completely pack it full of her stuff and I only had to make one trip one extra trip instead of two or more.
Now that you’ve learned more about my opinion and why I think that these rooftop carriers are such a good idea let’s take a look at some of my recommendations on what I think are the best ones available.
Thule Force Cargo Box
In my mind Thule is known for their roof top carriers, among many other things, and one of my top recommendations for a hard one is the Thule Force Cargo Box.
Depending on how much you need to carry there are a few different sizes available and all of them have the capability to hold snowboards with many of them being able to hold skis as well.
The weight of these boxes is also quite reasonable with the heaviest one weighing in at around 56 pounds and the lightest one weighing only 35 pounds.
You might need some help getting the heaviest one up onto your roof but the lightest one is quite manageable.
These rooftop boxes boast a large interior space for storage and they take advantage of a special technology that makes them quite durable as well as aerodynamic in shape.
As for into your storage space you’re able to use, depending on the size of box you pick up, anywhere between 340L and 595L in space.
This is plenty of extra room and it’s especially great to have all this extra space for long road trips, moving, and just general use when extra space is needed and welcomed.
The Thule Force can be quickly and easily attached to a roof rack thanks to the Quick-Grip knob hardware that allows for simple mounting and there’s also the possibility to access the interior from both sides so that either the passenger or the driver can open the lid and grab something when needed.
When it comes to security there’s a built-in lock that makes sure that all of the edges of the lid are closed completely when it’s used and the lock can be accessed at the driver’s side.
As for the exterior, it’s designed using a durable plastic material that is suitable to use in all weather conditions and is aerodynamic which helps to encourage a smooth flow of air and reduce the impact on fuel economy.
When it comes to the best hard rooftop case it’s the Thule Force Cargo Box that I would definitely recommend checking out, especially if you’re looking for a range of options when it comes to size, ease of setup, and storage capabilities.
Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite Cargo Box
The Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite Cargo Box is what I would recommend checking out if you’re traveling with a lot of gear and you’re looking for all the space you can get when it comes to a rooftop carrier.
This one offers 21 cubic feet of storage, or approximately 595L of interior space, and this is ample space for a wide range of outdoor camping gear, cottage gear, snowboard, skis, winter gear, or anything else you want to fill up the box with.
As for the exterior, it features an aerodynamic textured lid made from carbonite And for installation it’s meant to be installed onto the square, factory, round, or aerodynamic bars by Yakima.
On the inside are internal lid stiffeners that help keep it durable while making it easy to open and close and it’s possible to access the interior from both sides.
To make it more aerodynamic and to reduce any interference that the carrier may have with the trunk hatch it boasts a tapered design and has been designed to reduce both wind noise and drag so that there isn’t as much of an impact on fuel economy.
For security, there’s a locking mechanism that makes sure that the lid is secured to the base and also helps to keep anything stored inside safe from anyone that doesn’t have access to the key.
When it comes to installation, there aren’t any tools needed to install or remove this to the roof rack and it weighs 62 pounds so while one could do it on their own it might require two people to set it up and get it installed on the roof.
The Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite Cargo Box is another great hard shell cargo carrier and it comes with plenty of interior storage space for those looking to take advantage of all the extra room they can get for traveling with a wide range of gear.
Keeper Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag
It’s the Keeper Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag that I would recommend taking a look at if you’re looking for a soft rooftop cargo carrier.
The hard shell carries can be heavy, hard to manage, and maybe you just don’t needed the added protection that the hard carriers offer.
This one offers about 15 cubic feet, or about 425L of interior storage space, and it’s well suited for storing things like luggage, travel gear, cottage supplies, groceries, etc.
Although it’s a soft carrier it’s still designed to be waterproof so the contents are able to enjoy protection against the rain and other wet weather elements along with being protected from the sun and dust kicked up from the road.
Attaching the carrier to the roof racks is done by a series of buckles (it can fit almost every rack) and tightening the straps keeps it in place even while you’re cruising down the highway.
Due to its soft sided design it can be used to carry oddly-shaped items and because it’s easy to remove it can also be taken down and put away when not in use.
I would definitely recommend checking out the Keeper Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag if you’re looking for a soft rooftop cargo carrier that’s easy to remove, set up, and has plenty of interior storage space for all your gear.
Thule 682 Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box
The Thule 682 Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box is a great carrier for those that just need a little bit of extra storage and don’t need some 500L monstrosity sitting on the roof.
This cargo box offers 8 cubic feet, or about 226L of interior storage space, and it’s well-suited for camping gear, cottage supplies, travel gear, and even things like sporting goods.
It’s quite small so you won’t be able to fit in your snowboard or skis but you’re still able to enjoy the durability and quality that Thule is known for.
At roughly 16 pounds in weight it’s easy to get up onto the roof of your car and with the included U-Bolt mounting system there are very few tools needed to mount it and it’s possible to attach it to just about any roof rack (if the spacing and bar size meet the requirements).
The box itself is made out of an ABS plastic material that’s both impact-resistant as well as resistant to harmful UV rays that can break down or damage lesser quality plastics.
Once it is installed access to the interior can be done from the passenger side so that there’s no need to access it with the driver standing near to the road and it also comes equipped with two locks to keep whatever is kept inside secure.
Although the Thule 682 Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box is a bit smaller than some of the other recommendations I’ve made here today I would still recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a roof top carrier that is a reasonable size and can be used to store any additional gear or things that you might be traveling with that don’t fit in the trunk.
RoofBag Explorer Waterproof Soft Car Top Carrier
The RoofBag Explorer Waterproof Soft Car Top Carrier is another suitable soft sided rooftop carrier and there are actually two options available to choose from whether you have a car that comes equipped with or without a rack.
Not having a rack means you’re not able to add cargo boxes to the top but with this soft car top carrier you can take advantage of the extra storage without having a dedicated rack on the rooftop.
There are two different sizes to choose from depending on your preferences and you can pick either 11 cubic feet (311L) or 15 cubic feet (424L).
The carrier itself is made from a heavy-duty polyester canvas that offers 99% waterproof ability and comes coated with an abrasion resistant and waterproof vinyl material to help with weather protection.
It can be attached using a series of straps that either attach to the roof rack or through the inside of the car if there isn’t a rack available to use.
The soft carriers like this one are well-suited for those that sometimes need some additional storage but don’t want to set up a dedicated hard-sided roof rack and that also want the ability to remove the rack and easily store it away until it’s needed.
Sherpak SuperMat Roof Mat
For those using a soft cargo carrier that comes into contact directly with the roof I would definitely recommend checking out the Sherpak SuperMat Roof Mat.
This is basically a roof mat that helps to prevent a carrier from sitting directly on the roof and scratching the paint through its continuous motion while you’re driving.
It offers extra padding for the storage carrier and the non-slip matting also offers a little bit more grip that helps to keep it in place during motion.
Personally I don’t like looking at any scratches or damage on the roof of my car and whenever I’m using a soft cargo bag I always put the mat underneath just to protect the paint and finish.
Curt Roof Mounted Cargo Rack
The Curt Roof Mounted Cargo Rack isn’t a covered rooftop carrier but still offers the capability for carrying larger items that can be strapped or tied down on the roof of a vehicle.
It offers about 10⅝ square feet of roof storage area and the carrier itself comes equipped with a windshield that not only makes it more aerodynamic but also helps to protect any cargo that it’s being used to transport.
Attaching it is done with the universal mounting brackets that are able to attach to most standard roof racks.
As for keeping anything you’re storing secure the basket comes with 4-inch high walls made from a construction of tubular steel and the design of them makes it possible to secure things using rope, straps, or a cargo net.