Imagine if you travelled cross-country with bags and expensive sports gear stowed on the roof of your car. Then it rains, and everything gets wet or even damaged. That would be a nightmare! Avoid this mishap by getting the best car top carrier.
This has a sturdy, water-proof cover and firmly attaches to the roof of your car. This extends your vehicle’s storage capacity without reducing legroom or seating space. Choose the model that best suits the structure of your car.
Car Top Carrier Reviews
RoofBag Explorer Waterproof Soft Car Top Carrier for Any Car Van or SUV
You can strap the RoofBag Explorer down to most cars. It is strong enough to stay secure even at high speed. It’s made in the USA with heavy-duty materials and ideal for people who need a reliable carrier for regular use.
SportRack SR7018 Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box
The SR7018 Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box by SportRack is a tough, hard, UV-resistant carrier. You can securely lock it during travel. You can also easily open it because it’s design does not come with any complicated zippers or straps.
Reese Explore 1391800 Rainproof Expandable Car Top Carrier
This car top carrier by Reese Explore has 12 cubic feet of space. It can expand to 16 cubic feet to fit your needs without having too much or too little space. It’s perfect for both long and short trips.
RoofBag 100% Waterproof Carrier Bundle
This RoofBag Bundle comes with 3,000 lbs-strong straps to secure it, a non-slip roofmat, and three carrier liner bags for more convenient and organized packing. It is waterproof and weather-resistant. You can use it in any kind of car.
Highland 1039600 Rainproof Car Top Luggage with Wheels
The Highland 1039600 is a car top carrier, which doubles as a duffel bag. You can attach it to cars for road trips or take it on planes as luggage. It also folds flat for easy and compact storage.
Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag
The Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag by Keeper is waterproof. It can withstand various weather conditions. Its flexible sides also make it ideal for those who need to transport odd-shaped items that don’t fit into other car top carriers.
Rightline Gear 100S30 Sport 3 Car Top Carrier, 18 cu ft, Waterproof, Works With or Without Roof Rack
With 18 cubic feet of storage, the Sports 3 Car Top Carrier by Rightlight Gear is perfect for long road trips or large families. It is designed for SUVs and minivans. You can attach it with or without roof racks.
Cargo Roof Bag – Water Resistant Car Top Carrier – Easy to Install Soft Rooftop Luggage Carriers
The Cargo Roof Bag by BD Covers gives you 15 cubic feet of extra space, and it’s soft, waterproof material is flexible enough to accommodate oddly-shaped items. It is easy also easy to pack away and transport when not needed.
Rightline Gear 100S50 Sport Jr. Car Top Carrier
The Rightlight Gear 100S50 Jr. is a waterproof carrier, which you can use with or without roof racks. It offers 9 cubic feet of extra space, making it suitable for smaller cars or those who don’t need large carriers.
Reese Explore 1041100 15 cu. ft. Rainproof Car Top Carrier
The Reese Explore 1041100 offers ample space to keep all your belongings clean and dry on top of your cars. It attaches to any vehicles with roof racks. It is suitable for camping, road trips, or vacations.
Types of Car Top Carrier
For cars with factory racks, car top carrier bags are common choices. These will be secured by attaching to the raised bars of the racks.
Rooftop boxes and car top baskets are other common choices. These work with luggage racks with crossbars that run the entire width of the car.
Car top bags: easy to install and store. These are foldable for storage. Choose UV-resistant polyester material with urethane-coated zippers. Dual materials and vinyl backing are good additional features.
Car top baskets: These lift cargo off the car rooftop. These have rigid bases with sidewalls. Securing to the roof is easy, with just a simple strap on system.
Rooftop boxes: These are among the expensive options, but it protects the cargo more effectively. However, you need to make sure that you pack the contents tightly to prevent them from rattling about while the car is moving.
For those without racks or receivers, some bags do come with car clips (hooked to the ledge of the car roof) or straps (secured inside the car and over the carrier).
Things to consider when choosing a car top carrier
Total vehicle height: Check how high the carrier will be and after you load it. Will it pass most clearance requirements of parking garages, bridges, etc.
Rooftop features: Does the car rooftop come with a receiver or factory-installed roof rack? It is easier to put car top carriers with these, which already provide secure attachments.
Weight rating: Check how much weight can the receiver accommodate safely and securely. This will determine how large the carrier will be and how much it can accommodate.
Hauling: It is good to have so much space in the carrier. However, hauling should not require expensive or specialized equipment to place all that gear inside the carrier.
Aerodynamics: As you travel, the car top carrier should be able to stay put. It should be aerodynamically stable and designed to cut through the wind.
Effect on mileage: The car top carrier should not make the car engine work harder; it should not be too heavy, nor produce too much drag.
Advantages of having car top carriers
Bring more items: Bring large gear and multiple cargo on a trip without compromising cabin space. Place all your stuff on the carrier and everybody sits comfortably inside the car.
Easy to load: Simply haul items on top of the car and arrange inside the carrier. You can have 2 people hauling things on the carrier or step on the side of the car to load items.
Secure: Large items won’t easily roll away with the secure locking system. The carrier itself can be locked onto the car roof even overnight without fear of getting stolen.
Easy to install: Whether the car has a factory rack or receiver, these carriers are easy to strap on and install. Even car roofs without racks or receivers can easily install these carriers.
Easy storage: Most of these carriers can be folded into smaller, compact sizes for storage. You may even bring these folded and simply unfold and install when need arises.
Relatively inexpensive: Compare with the cost of a hauling service or the discomfort of sitting in the cabin with boxes and large gear, car top carriers are easily cheaper to obtain.
How to install a car top carrier
Clean the rooftop: Dust and dirt can cause scratches on the roof surface. It is recommended to use a protective mat for cushion and protective barrier.
Insert top strap: This is inside the bag, labelled “Top Strap”. Slide this under the front strap guides of the carrier (top part) in a left-to-right direction.
Position the car top carrier: The zippered side should face the front of the car and the logo usually faces the back- to maintain aerodynamic shape.
Place carrier on top of the car: The front edge of the carrier should be at least 8 inches from the front edge of the car roof.
The distance of the carrier from the front affects how much wind noise there will be. This distance will have minimal wind noise and will help improve gas mileage.
Fill the bag: It is better to have the carrier filled to capacity for smoother ride. Heavier items are placed at the rear area to keep the carrier aerodynamic.