Best Roof Boxes for a Ford Explorer

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You’ve been considering taking an extended road trip. Preparation is what separates an “ok” experience with a fantastic one.

There’s a lot you need to bring along. Having said that, there may not be enough room in your Ford Explorer to fit everything, and people, comfortably together.

Typically this happens when you can’t put down the back seat.

In some instances, while you may have your trunk fully stocked, there’s no room left in the Explorer for your luggage, or fishing rods, or snowshoes, etc.  Now you’re faced with the unsavory task of figuring out what to leave behind.

Well, there is another option: roof cargo boxes. Adding a roof box to your Ford Explorer drastically stretches your usable space. Now you really can “take it with you!”

Flexible or Hard Shell Roof Boxes?

There are basically two types of roof cargo storage. One is flexible, waterproof, and potentially laminated to resist weather changes.

The biggest asset of a flexible roof bag is, at the end of the day, you can easily remove and store it. Flexible systems are also more forgiving of odd shaped cargo. 

A hard shell roof box is heavy duty. There are plenty of choices, many of which fit easily on your Ford’s roof rack. If you plan on putting this on your Explorer with out a roof rack, you will need a protective barrier so your car’s finish doesn’t get scratched. In either case, a good roof box comes with clamps, straps, and tightening gears, keeping it secure.

Tip: the best roof boxes for your Ford Explorer can be a little awkward and heavy. So, when practicable, secure it to your roof and then pack it.

Buyer's Guide to Roof Boxes

Our recommendation in terms of value is this Sport Rack, but there are tons of options out there!

There are several considerations in play when you are shopping for a roof box. First is the shape of the box. Measure your Ford’s roof rack before you buy. Car roof boxes come in many sizes and designs and you want one that suits your vehicle. 

Second, is the roof box aerodynamic? Wind resistance (drag) causes an increase in gas usage. Overall a hard-shell has better wind resistance than a flexible one. Additionally, the aerodynamic design decreases the noise your cargo box makes on top of your car, the vast majority of which is wind hitting the box. 

Third, and a primary consideration, is storage space.  You can buy a roof box that’s between 11 cubic feet and 17 cubic feet for your Explorer. Again, however, measure first. 

Fourth-weather resistance. Both roof bags and boxes are designed to keep your belongings safe and dry no matter what Mother Nature brings. However, buy a high quality roof bag, as they have more protections than your basic models. 

Finally, how heavy is the box? You are going to be lifting it to your roof and removing it, so you need one you can comfortably (and safely) manage. 

What's the Value in Having a Roof Cargo Box

It’s obvious that a roof box for your Ford Explorer gives you more room. But let’s look a little closer at the extent of their value. If you camp frequently, you’ll love having a roof box.

They are safe and secure. Because they close tightly, you can leave them on the ground in your camp site and not worry about wandering animals getting inside. Better still, items in the box that don’t require upkeep or restocking can be store inside, placed neatly in your garage.

It’s obvious that a roof box for your Ford Explorer gives you more room. But let’s look a little closer at the extent of their value. If you camp frequently, you’ll love having a roof box.

They are safe and secure. Because they close tightly, you can leave them on the ground in your camp site and not worry about wandering animals getting inside. Better still, items in the box that don’t require upkeep or restocking can be store inside, placed neatly in your garage.

Another consideration is whether you really need a roof box. How many people travel with you? How much do you need to transport. On average, when traveling with 4 people (or more) you’ll want the roof box. It’s simply practical, and gives each passenger more room for comfort. 

Price

A flexible roof cargo bag runs around $200, the most affordable choice. The best roof boxes for your Ford Explorer start at around $400. High end roof boxes can cost a hefty $1,000. Bear in mind, you will be able to use this product for years to come. If you know what you need, you can shop smart. Pick out three you like, and watch for sales!

Roof Rack-Added Cost 

While you can use a roof bag or box without a roof rack, it is not recommended. If you don’t have a roof rack, you’ll need to head to your Ford dealer and have one installed. Ask about the amount of weight the rack can support. You will be putting the bag or box on top, along with gear. So that rating really matters.

While the extra cost of a roof rack might not have been high on your list, it’s actually a fantastic addition to your car that adds value. Even when you aren’t using the roof box on your Explorer, you can still tie down things like luggage and bikes on it. 

Safety

One of the most common questions people ask when considering a roof box for their Ford is: Are cargo boxes secure. The last thing you want to see is your bag or box sliding off the back of your car on the highway.

When you assemble the roof box on your car, you’ll see they make use of reinforcement plates, locks, and bolts to hold the box in place. The box should not move around when you drive. The locks insure that nothing will be taken from your cargo box if you’re staying at a hotel overnight. 

The flexible roof bag isn’t quite as secure. These use straps for mounting. When done correctly, you should have little movement. 

Decisions, Decisions

Now that you have all the information in front of you about buying the best roof box for your Ford Explorer, it’s time to make a choice. Obviously you need a roof box suited to your vehicle’s design. Beyond that you look to your needs and prominent names in the industry.

Some of the highly recommended roof boxes are made by Thule, G3, Inno, Malone, and Yakima. You can get up-close and personal with various styles at places like Walmart, Target, L.L. Bean, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

Another consideration is whether you really need a roof box. How many people travel with you? How much do you need to transport. On average, when traveling with 4 people (or more) you’ll want the roof box. It’s simply practical, and gives each passenger more room for comfort. 

Tip: You do not have to make your purchase at any of these stores. Online offerings might be less. However, seeing the roof systems in person helps you make the best decision for your travels and lifestyle.

As long as you have a quality roof box at the end of the day, we feel you’ll be very happy. It’s the most practical way of carrying larger items when you’re taking that road trip adventure. 

Conor

I'm the owner of Beast Auto. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I love anything automotive related, and taking road trips all across my beautiful state.