In this article, we will be recommending our top picks for the best roof racks.
In our testing, we considered things like utility, construction, durability, and of course the value each roof rack provides. Our review even factors in the look of each roof rack on your car.
As such, we have concluded that Brightlines’ Crossbar Roof Racks deliver the best balance of durable construction, utility, and price.
The aluminum build is sturdy and robust, allowing for a higher load capacity. It also features a secure fit that reduces the chances of your cargo shifting in transit.
We have been testing automotive parts and accessories for over a decade. That means we can help you make a better buying decision when it comes to roof racks and other accessories.
Keep reading for more information on the best roof racks out there.
Brightlines Crossbar Roof Racks
Brightlines makes a really well built roof rack that features aluminium construction, a secure fit for added confidence at speed, and one of the highest load capacities of any roof rack. It also features a sleek design that accentuates your car’s roofline.
Starting off with the construction of this roof rack, we have an all aluminium build which is lighter and more structurally rigid than steel, which is why the best roof racks use it.
The lightweight build means less weight added to your vehicle, and an easier time installing the rack. Aluminium is also more resistant to rusting, which has always been a major concern for roof racks, especially in wetter climates.
The aluminium build is especially useful for drivers living closer to the sea, where saltier air wreaks havoc on metal parts.
Don’t let the lightweight build fool you, though; this roof rack is built like a tank. The actual crossbar is ¾ inch thick. It fits securely using hook on style mounting and does not shift or creak in even the sharpest turns.
Mounting is precise and does not require drilling or any other major modification. We loved the sturdy build and fit which kept both roof rack and cargo secure.
The Brightlines Roof Rack should fit most vehicles with grooved side rails. Installation was a piece of cake and all mounting hardware is included in the package, along with detailed instructions. The attention to detail here is also worthy of praise, as the front crossbar is a bit longer than the rear to match vehicle shape.
All said and done, it took us less than 20 minutes to get the rack installed and ready to go.
Moving on to the usability of this setup, Brightlines’ roof rack boasts a load capacity of 150 lbs. That is one of the highest we’ve seen in this category and allows you to carry objects like surfboards, kayaks, and other heavier cargo as well.
Overall, we do not have any complaints as far as the load capacity of this roof rack is concerned. It will hold everything from suitcases to fishing rods and keep them securely in place.
It is evident that aerodynamics were given special consideration while designing this roof rack. The design is lower profile than other options, so you won’t have to put up with wind buffeting, drag, or wind resistance. We did not encounter any significant drops in mileage either.
- Bolt on installation
- No drilling required
- Aerodynamic design
- Minimal wind noise
- A bit more expensive than other options
CargoLoc 2-Piece Aluminium Roof Rack
If you need a high quality roof rack and don’t have a lot of cash to spare, CargoLoc’s 2 piece roof rack features durable construction, a high load capacity, and a secure fit, all for a price that undercuts most of the competition.
CargoLoc’s roof rack is surprisingly well built for the price. It uses aluminium throughout the construction, with only a little plastic here and there. That said, we found this to be a sturdy and robust roof rack. It bolts right on, no modifications necessary.
Furthermore, the fit and finish gives even the most premium priced roof racks a run for their money. Heavy duty clamps keep the roof rack firmly in place, keeping your luggage secure.
The rack is unfazed by headwinds and high speed cruising thanks to the aerodynamic styling and low profile design. Our testing found that with correct installation, the whole rack stays nice and rigid even at higher speeds.
These roof racks are universally compatible and fit onto a wide variety of vehicles. The adjustable fit is also great for carrying more cargo. The ergonomic design enables you to store even irregular shaped objects with ease.
Also included in the package is a nylon cargo net that keeps everything in place. The 5mm thick bungee cords are also a nice addition and really useful for tying down cargo so it doesn’t shift around in transit.
This roof rack is rated for a good 150 lbs of cargo, putting CargoLoc’s roof rack on par with others that cost twice as much. However, in our experience, you might not want to load it all the way as it does tend to start showing signs of strain with very high loads; ideally, you should load it up to around 135 lbs.
However, you also get other goodies that make up for the compromised load capacity.
An anti theft key lock design deters would-be thieves from making off with your luggage, roof rack and all! A limited lifetime warranty gives you more confidence while purchasing this roof rack. The included mounting hardware saves you a drive to the hardware store and the bolt on installation saves your car from having holes drilled into it.
- Universal fit design
- Aluminium used throughout the build
- Rated for 150 lbs load capacity
- Budget friendly option
- Some plastic bits are used here and there to make it adjustable
- We would only recommend loading up to about 135 lbs
Thule AeroBlade Edge Raised Rail Roof Rack System
Thule’s AeroBlade brings more than just a cool sounding name to the table. It combines durable build quality with a sexy design and impressive load capacity.
This roof rack is made of high quality aluminium. The build is nice and rigid, keeping your cargo in place. One huge advantage this roof rack has over others is in terms of the weight. At a mere 5.5 lbs, It is significantly lighter than the competition, making installation easier. The relatively compact design also frees up more space for your cargo.
True to its name, the AeroBlade features an aerodynamic design that reduces wind noise, drag, and buffeting at higher speeds. This is thanks to a clever design that integrates the feet with the bar itself. That means there is less area for the wind to resist your car’s motion.
Thule used wind tunnels to design this roof rack, allowing them to have the most aerodynamic design of any roof rack. WindDiffuser technology is really useful as it allows the ‘Blade to cut through the air without negatively impacting fuel mileage.
Besides the awesome design, this is a seriously useful roof rack. The Boxbeam load bar structure allows you to load more weight onto the bars without them bending. Here again, integrating the feet with the bar itself gives it more sturdiness.
Despite their minimalist look, these bars are really well built. They can hold up to 175 lbs with ease, putting them head and shoulders above the other roof racks on this list. We were able to load snowboards, kayaks, surfboards, coolers, and suitcases without any issues.
Finally, we have to talk about the look of these racks. If design was the only consideration, these racks would be heading our list. The subtle curve complements your car’s roofline, and the black powder coated aluminium not only resists corrosion, but also makes for a cooler look.
One slight niggle with this roof rack is the price. It is significantly more expensive than other options on this list. Moreover, the fact that you have to buy the two bars separately makes it even pricier.
However, if you want the highest load capacity, combined with the most appealing look of any roof rack, Thule’s AeroBlade stands alone.
- Aluminium build
- finish looks great
- 175 lbs load capacity
- Lightest roof rack
- Most expensive option
- 2 bars sold separately
Maxxhaul Steel Roof Rack
Maxxhaul’s Steel Roof Rack is another competitive offering. It has good build quality and delivers tons of space for your luggage. It is also a little easier on the wallet.
This roof rack opts for tubed alloy steel instead of aluminium for the build. While that may seem like a downgrade, Maxxhaul have addressed the most common concerns. A black powder coating resists rusting and corrosion.
As for the weight, it is still reasonably lightweight thanks to the tubed construction. Compared to the bikini model AeroBlade, Maxxhaul’s roof rack is a Mr.Olympia bodybuilder.
But this bodybuilder isn’t all muscles and no strength. It does not disappoint in the load capacity department. It is rated for 150 lbs of luggage and other items. That is more than enough for most use cases and in line with other more expensive roof racks.
U-bolts make the installation process a breeze. Rubber caps cover the U-bolts to protect the cargo. Overall, the fit is secure and does not shift or move around at all. It is very confidence inspiring at speed and we did not have to mess around with the mounting while driving.
The aerodynamic design helps reduce drag and wind resistance. That means better fuel mileage, and a less clunky feel at highway speed.
This roof rack is also universally compatible and will fit onto most any car, SUV, or truck you want it to. It comes fully assembled with all the hardware you’ll need included in the box. The instructions are clear and precise, without being too wordy or hard to follow.
Maxxhaul’s roof rack provides a lot of utility and high quality construction, without being too expensive. This combination of value and performance is why we think you’ll like this roof rack quite a bit.
If we had to pick one thing we didn’t like about this roof rack, it is the rather large branding on the front of the rack. It is a bit distracting and we would have preferred a more restrained design. But really, that comes down to personal preference.
- Tubed alloy steel construction
- U-bolts provide a secure fit
- Two different sizes offered
- Easy installation with cross bars
- Branding on the front is a bit loud
Why Use A Roof Rack?
When it comes to storing cargo, your car/SUV’s trunk is good for little more than the weekly grocery haul or a couple overnight bags and full sized suitcases. So when you and your family need to plan a cross country trip with snowboards, fishing equipment, surfboards, or a couple mountain bikes in tow, you’ll need a lot more space.
Ideally, you get a full size trailer and just put everything in there. But with trailers being so expensive, and the fact that smaller engines won’t pull anything that large, what else can you do to get some extra square footage for all of your gear and luggage?
Enter, roof racks. These make good use of one of the most underutilised spaces on your car: the roof. Here, you have a large, more or less flat space that isn’t being used for much of anything except providing shelter.
Roof racks come in all shapes and sizes, with different load capacities that can handle everything from a couple skis to all of your suitcases and luggage. Most new ones offer bolt on installation, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your car in the process.
Plus, they’re lightweight and do not add much bulk to the car. Furthermore, most roof racks have special features like cargo nets, clamps and tie downs, ensuring you won’t see your favourite pair of jeans flying onto the highway in the rearview mirror.
Is A Roof Rack Dangerous?
So now the million dollar question: are roof racks dangerous? After all, you’re making a pretty major modification to your vehicle. Could it have any drawbacks?
As far as the safety of adding a roof rack is concerned, you won’t damage your car. Most new roof racks are designed for the car they’ll be going on, or are universally compatible. The vast majority also don’t require any drilling or cutting.
Another common concern is the added height of roof racks and crossbars. Not only could that cause a lot of buffeting at highway speeds, it could also make the vehicle too tall to clear low ceilings, garage doors, etc.
As for the buffeting, most roof racks take into account the shape of the car and are made to complement its lines. So you get a roof rack that is more aerodynamic and produces less air resistance.
Furthermore, the latest roof racks have low profile constructions that add only a few inches to the vehicle’s height, so you can still park the car in garages just fine.
Some people are concerned about theft of items placed in the roof rack. A lot of the roof racks nowadays offer covers that are lockable for storing valuable items. Anti-theft designs have become more and more common, requiring a key to actually take the roof rack off.
Your cargo can easily be shielded from the elements with a waterproof cover, which are often included with the roof rack itself.
Finally, another concern is that the roof might cave in with the load of your cargo. This is simply not true since most car roofs are made of thick sheet metal and supported by the pillars of the car.
Moreover, higher quality roof racks feature load capacities in the hundreds of pounds, so you won’t damage anything with a couple suitcases loaded onto the rack. Just don’t try to mount a roof rack onto your convertible for…obvious reasons.
How to Pick A Roof Rack That Fits
Finding a roof rack that fits is hardly rocket science. So sit back and allow us to give you some tips on how to find the best fitting roof rack.
The easiest way to find a good roof rack that fits your car is to check out the ones offered by your car’s manufacturer. These will often be the best option, as they are specifically made to fit your car. You won’t have to fiddle around with mounting and you can be sure that the roof rack fits like a glove. The downside here is that these racks can be a bit expensive.
If you want an aftermarket roof rack solution, the first step is to see how much roof area you have to work with. That means breaking out the tape measure and figuring out how wide and how long your roof is. This will give you an idea of how big your roof rack can be. Then, it’s a simple matter of browsing available options and picking one that fits your car.
One important consideration is the type of roof rails your car has. Some cars come with built in rails that you can just add a rack to. Others use grooved rails that you will have to buy an attachment for.
Another vital factor is load capacity. How much load capacity you opt for depends on the type of cargo you plan on carrying. Load capacity for roof racks ranges from under 100 pounds to a couple hundred pounds.
If you plan on using it to carry a couple suitcases for the occasional out of town trip, you don’t need the heavy duty stuff. But if you plan on hauling heavier items like bikes, professional equipment, or lots of luggage, pick out a roof rack with a higher load capacity.
There are plenty of companies that make universal roof racks. These can be adjusted to fit most any vehicle and come with a lot of useful features. However, universal roof racks tend to have lower load capacities because of their adjustable design.
Read our more in depth articles on the best roof racks!
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