If you’ve been following the trends and recently bought a new car that’s small and economical, you’ve probably noticed that you’re not really able to transport a lot of gear or luggage in it. This may be okay for daily use, but if you want to go on a road trip or simply visit the relatives in a different state, you’ll quickly run out of cargo space inside your vehicle.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for your problem: a roof rack for your car. With a roof rack, you can easily transport things that wouldn’t have fit inside your car anyway, such as bikes, canoes, and many other pieces of sports equipment. In this review, we are going to help you choose a fitting roof rack for your car that will definitely come in handy on your next adventure.
Here are the top 10 roof rack models that we found to be the easiest to install, the most durable, and the most reliable.
This roof rack is very minimalistic, yet surprisingly versatile and efficient. It can be attached to a number of Yakima towers (sold separately) and is very easy to install. As long as you follow the instructions, you should be able to install this roof rack in less than an hour.
The Yakima Jetstream comes with two crossbars and four caps to attach to the crossbar ends. The crossbars are made of aluminum, which makes them very lightweight, yet reasonably durable so that you can safely transport large, heavy objects without damaging the rack itself or the roof of your car. The aerodynamic shape of the crossbars helps reduce noise and drag when driving. The T-slot on the crossbars is compatible with different mounts for bikes, skis, and even boats, making the Yakima Jetstream system really versatile.
Last but not least, Yakima Jetstream is not a one-for-all solution, so you can choose from three different lengths and two colors (black and silver) to find the roof rack that best suits your vehicle type and color. This way, you won’t have to deal with crossbars that are too long for your car and thus not very convenient to use.
If you’re looking for something more solid than a couple of crossbars attached to the roof of your car, you could be interested in the Front Runner Slimline II roof rack. This is a complete kit that comes with the rack itself, six feet to secure the rack on the roof of your car, and a wind deflector to minimize noise and drag. In addition, you will also find an installation manual and a lifetime warranty inside the box.
Front Runner has a range of accessories available for their roof racks, so you can always expand the functionality of the Slimline II model if you need to transport a new kind of cargo on it. The rack itself is low-profile and lightweight, so it doesn’t add much pressure to the roof of your vehicle.
This roof rack is a great solution for SUVs, as it was designed with these vehicles in mind. It has to be attached to rails along the roof of your car, so it may not be the best option for a smaller car that comes without rails. However, if you own a car with railing and need a reliable rack that can help you transport all kinds of cargo, you can’t go wrong with the Front Runner Slimline II model.
If you’re a cycling enthusiast, you’re probably not content with cycling in urban environments even if you live in a small town. Fortunately, you can always get a bike carrier roof rack for your car and drive up to your favorite cycling spots on the weekends. Naturally, you’ll want a roof rack that’s stable and secure so that your bike won’t get damaged during transportation.
We find the Rhino Rack Hybrid roof rack one of the best roof racks for transporting bikes. It is suitable for bikes with wheels ranging from 20 to 29 inches, covering all bikes from small ones for pre-teens to powerful mountain bikes. The locking system is very secure and makes sure that your bike stays in place and doesn’t wobble around during transportation. Even so, it is still assisted by additional straps that fasten the bike wheels to the rack to make sure that the bike remains absolutely stationary.
The Rhino Rack bike rack can be installed on either side of your car’s roof, so you can always purchase a second unit if you need to transport two bikes. When not in use, the hybrid rack can be folded so that it doesn’t interfere with the ergonomics of your car. When you need to take your bike somewhere, you can unfold the rack in a matter of seconds, fasten the bike to it, and drive on toward your next adventure.
If your vehicle is equipped with roof rails and you need a simple rack to occasionally transport relatively lightweight objects, you can’t go wrong with this product from CargoLoc. Despite its very affordable price, this crossbar set does not compromise on quality, so you can expect to use this roof rack a lot before it gets damaged or replaced by a more advanced system.
You can load this rack with up to 150 pounds of cargo, including mountain bikes, skis, or even kayaks for your fishing trip. Of course, this rack is better suited to occasional rather than regular transportation of sports gear. If you frequently transport large items for sports or hiking, you’ll probably be better off with a dedicated roof rack that offers more stability and special locking systems for your gear.
That being said, the CargoLoc crossbar set is still going to do a great job if you need to transport your bike when moving to a new home or go on an occasional skiing trip with your own gear. The aluminum body of this rack is very lightweight, yet provides enough support to safely transport items that weigh around 150 pounds or less. Make sure that the distance between the rails on the roof of your car is not more than 46 inches; otherwise, you won’t be able to fit this rack on the roof of your car.
If you need to transport a lot of cargo, you may want to invest in this Vantech Transit Connect roof rack. This model can be loaded with up to 400 pounds of cargo, as long as you make sure that it’s evenly distributed. All this weight is supported by four aluminum cross bars.
Given that you’ll need a fixed mounting system in place or be ready to install one on your car, this may not be the best roof rack for smaller cars or even SUVs. However, if you own a van, you can seriously expand its cargo transportation capacities by going for this roof rack from Vantech. The roof rack can be used to transport furniture, boxed items, sports or hiking gear, and basically anything else that fits the weight limit and can be secured on the rack.
If you intend to use your new roof rack on a regular basis, going for an expensive, yet very secure and reliable system from a reputable manufacturer is a very good idea. You won’t have to worry about your new roof rack getting damaged from all the weight transported on it, and there won’t be any need to replace it with a new system for years, maybe even decades to come. The Thule CrossRoad roof rack is one of those products that costs you a pretty penny when you buy it but ends up saving you a lot of money in the long run because it doesn’t break or malfunction easily.
This roof rack is designed for vehicles that have factory-mounted rails on their roof, as the rack has to be secured to them. Inside the box, you’ll find not only the pre-assembled roof rack system but also a set of Thule locks so that you can be sure the rack won’t accidentally fall off or get stolen.
This set may not be the cheapest option available for purchase, but it is backed by a prominent company that stands by its products. Thule also offers a number of accessories for their roof racks (you’ll be seeing one of them as the next item on our list), so if you’re all for uniformity and ease of use, Thule products should be right up your alley. This particular set is durable and extremely easy to mount and unmount. In fact, you can install it onto the rails in a matter of some 10 minutes.
Granted, this is a very specific product that might not be useful for all our readers. However, this Thule kayak rack does an amazing job when it comes to hauling kayaks, which is why believe it deserves a spot on our list.
If you’re into kayaking, you’ll definitely appreciate the ease of use offered by the Hullavator model. There are numerous racks available on the market that can help you transport a kayak on top of your vehicle, but trying to lift a kayak above your head after an active day spent kayaking is not very pleasant. In some cases, you might even need somebody else to help you get your kayak onto the rack and secure it in place.
Fortunately, you can avoid all that hassle with the Thule Hullavator kayak rack. It is attached to your Thule roof rack (or really, most other roof racks) and offers you a unique possibility to transport your kayak on the side of your car. Of course, this means you have to be more careful when driving, but on the plus side, you won’t have to lift the kayak as high when mounting it to the rack. You’ll be able to load and unload your kayak easily using this unique rack system that’s only waist-high.
Sometimes, the round crossbars are a lot more convenient than those with sharp angles and lots of edges. These round crossbars produced by Yakima are a high-quality product that will help you get significant amounts of cargo from A to B without any problems.
The crossbars come in several different lengths, so they can be installed not only on car roofs but also in other spots, such as on the bed of a truck. If you’re adventurous enough, you can even try to transport multiple bikes secured to the crossbars, but we must warn you it’s not the most secure system for bikes or other large sports gear.
The crossbars themselves are very well-made and won’t cause you any trouble, but we find it weird that Yakima decided to not include the end caps with the bars. They are available as a separate purchase or as part of the package with Yakima roof rack installation systems. This is not a problem if you already own or plan to purchase a Yakima installation system, but you’ll have to purchase the caps separately otherwise, which is a little annoying. Still, these round crossbars are a solid product that’s going to serve you for years before it needs to be replaced.
Rhino Rack is a company that produces high-quality racks for a variety of cars and purposes, so we had to include another Rhino Rack product on our list. The Pioneer roof racks are great solutions that cost like a premium product but also look and perform like one.
Depending on your vehicle and cargo hauling needs, you may want to go for a smaller platform or go all the way and get one of those large racks that are fortified by additional rows of bars. Either way, you’ll be getting an excellent roof rack that’s easy to install, reliable, and extremely durable. Made from high-quality materials, Rhino Rack products are not susceptible to corrosion and will not get deformed or damaged, even if you use them on a daily basis.
The Pioneer Elevation model even comes with additional rails on the sides, which can be useful if you need to fasten your cargo with ropes. They will also prevent your stuff from sliding to the sides, even without additional tie-downs.
All Pioneer roof racks can be expanded and fortified with additional rail kits, which is something to consider if you suddenly realize you want more from your roof rack. In addition to rail kits, there are numerous other Rhino Rack accessories available for the racks to make them more functional and convenient.
The wonderful thing about this roof rack is that it is the only product on our list that doesn’t require any power tools for installation or need existing roof rails in place to be attached to them. The hooks are secured to your car doors (of course, you can still enter and exit the vehicle) and, once safely latched, provide a secure base for the rack itself. The rack is attached to the hooks through a special locking system, so you can be sure that it stays in place, no matter what.
The roof rack set comes with an installation manual that is detailed enough that even those least experienced with tools and performing DIY jobs should have no trouble installing the rack. If you’re good with tools, you’ll probably find the installation manual unnecessary, as it is so easy to install the rack.
Overall, this roof rack is a great product that won’t break the bank yet delivers excellent performance, even compared with more expensive roof racks. It can be installed on just about any car, which is another huge advantage over most other models. Admittedly, it’s pretty noisy when you’re driving at higher speeds, but we think that’s tolerable given the overall performance of this roof rack.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Roof Rack
The most important thing to know when choosing your new roof rack is that roof racks are not universal. The kind of roof rack that’s going to work with your vehicle depends on a number of factors.
First of all, there’s the availability of rails that go along the roof of your car. If your car doesn’t have those rails, you’ll have to pass on roof rack models that are designed to attach to them. In that case, you may prefer a roof rack model that doesn’t even need permanent attachments, although it’s worth knowing that such models are less secure than the fixed ones.
Second, you need to think about out what you’re going to want to haul on top of your vehicle. People who frequently transport large sports gear items will benefit from a solid roof rack system a lot more than those who only need it for road trips or even that one-time moving occasion. At the same time, it is always better to invest in a good product that will allow secure transportation of your belongings rather than go with a cheaper system that might break and damage your possessions, as well as the car itself.
Finally, once you’re interested in a particular roof rack model, be sure to learn as much as you can about its limitations. How much weight can be transported on top of it? How much weight does it add to your car’s roof? Can cargo boxes be attached to it? All these factors are very important when it comes to using your new roof rack safely and effectively. You don’t want to overload a rack or find out that it’s unsuitable for transporting your camping gear after you’ve already purchased and installed it.