Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Choosing a roof-mounted cargo carrier can be daunting, especially if you can't load all of your gear and throw it on your vehicle before making a purchase. This is where we come in. We have the hands-on experience and industry professionals that can help with any situation.


There are three different types of rooftop cargo carriers designed to mount to your roof or roof rack




For the most part, choosing between the different types of rooftop carriers depends on your gear and personal preference. For example, if you are carrying luggage, golf clubs or skis that you want to remain secure, dry and clean, a cargo box is your best bet. If, however, you have camping supplies that aren't particularly valuable or fragile, you can use a cargo bag. And if you don't have a specific application in mind - you just know that you need more cargo space - try a basket - it's relatively low profile and you can add accessories, tie-downs and even a cargo bag to it.


Our Top Picks


# 1 # 2 # 3 # 4 # 5
Inno Wedge 624 Rooftop Cargo Box Thule Hyper XL Cargo Box Yakima ShowCase 20 Cargo Box Thule Motion XXL Cargo Box Black Rhino Rack Rooftop Cargo Basket
Inno Wedge 624 Thule Hyper XL Yakima ShowCase Thule Motion XT - 22 cu ft Rhino-Rack Roof Basket
Storage Capacity 13 cu ft 17 cu ft 20 cu ft 22 cu ft See internal dimensions below
Internal Dimensions 66 x 25.5 x 11 81 x 32.5 x 14.5 82 x 35 x 16.5 91.5 x 37.5 x 18 50.75 x 38 x 5
Snowboard and Ski Capacity 4 to 6 ski 4 to 6 ski 6 to 8 ski 10 to 14 ski Roof basket cargo
Expert's Rating 5 stars 5 stars 4 1/2 stars 5 stars 4 stars
Expert's Opinion The easy-to-use memory mount hardware and the rigid lid and base caught our attention first.
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The "X" design stands out from the solid black, white and silver lids of traditional boxes.
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This box loses a little ground with the lack of rigidness in the lid, but...
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This is one big box. You can pack a week of supplies for a family of 8 and have plenty of room to sprawl out in the car.
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This basket challenges common designs of roof baskets. The sliding mounting clamps are not limited to specific crossbar spreads and...
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Access Dual Side Opening Dual Side Opening Dual Side Opening Dual Side Opening Open
Ease of Use Memory mount hardware – No-tools required AcuTight mounting hardware – No overtightening, no-tools required Push button opening, Quick-release cam-action levers – No-tools required PowerClick quick-release clamps – No overtightening, no-tools required Universal u-bolt brackets, tool included
Construction 3-Layer ABS Plastic w/ SPM Injection Molded Base 5-Layer ABS Plastic w/ Acrylic Cap 3-Layer ABS Plastic 5-Layer ABS Plastic w/ Acrylic Cap Steel
Finish Gloss Two-Tone High-Gloss w/ X-design High-Gloss Automotive Finish High-Gloss Automotive Finish Black Powder Coat
Weight 41 lbs. 53 lbs. 60 lbs. 55 lbs. 38 lbs.
Crossbar Compatibility Round, Square, Aero and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars
Locks Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes No




How to Choose the Best Rooftop Carrier

Whether your family of seven is going on a vacation or you're just planning a weekend camping trip with some friends, cargo space can be a premium in any vehicle. Adding a cargo box, bag or basket is a popular option for most adventurers. With so many options on the market, how do you know which one is best for your situation? Hopefully this guide will help. We broke down the three types of carriers for you below.


Cargo Boxes

Cargo boxes are the total package. They offer security, storage capacity and weather protection. Most cargo boxes include locks to keep your gear secure during bathroom breaks or over-night rest stops. The hard shell design deflects the elements and debris that can go flying over your roof. Although they aren't waterproof, they are weatherproof. Everything will stay dry for the most part, but if you are carrying electronics, paper or something that absolutely cannot get wet, it would be a good idea to pack it in sealed plastic bags. Hard rain or dust in a windy climate can leave a small surprise in any exterior carrier.


Yakima ShowCase 20 Cargo Box Lid Opening

Storage

Skis, snowboards, suitcases, and sleeping bags are a few examples of gear you may want to carry in a cargo box. These rooftop catchalls can hold anything from golf bags to golf balls and they come in a variety of sizes. Many cargo boxes have dual-side-opening lids and models with single-side-opening lids open to the passenger side for safe loading and unloading on the side of the road.


Yakima ShowCase 20 Cargo Box Lid Opening Rhino Rack Master Fit Cargo Box

Extra-long cargo boxes such as the Thule Sonic XXL or the Yakima SkyBox Lo are great for winter trips to the slopes. They can hold up to 6 snowboards and 8 pairs of skis. If you are going on a road trip or camping, then you may prefer more volume instead of length. Our extra-large capacity cargo boxes can hold 15 to 22 cu ft of cargo.


Mounting

Rhino Rack roof box mounting clamp

A roof rack is required for a cargo box. The good news is cargo box manufacturers designed their own unique versions of universal mounting clamps to fit all types of crossbars.



Since the mounting clamps remain protected, manufacturers have made them extremely easy to use. Thule's AcuTight hardware prevents over-tightening and Inno's Memory Mount hardware allows you to set the clamps once and never worry about them again.



Rear Hatch Clearance

Rear Hatch Clearance hatch open

Rear hatch clearance is another factor that most don't think about until they open their rear door and it hits the cargo box. The mounting clamps on these boxes can be adjusted so that the box is positioned more toward the front of your vehicle, leaving enough room in the rear for your hatch to open fully. In addition to the adjustable clamps, a box designed specifically to ensure clearance will be sloped or contoured in the rear to provide a little extra space.


Click here to see rear hatch clearance dimensions for our cargo boxes


Here are a few cargo boxes to consider


Economy Value Premium
Skiing/Snowboarding Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 Cargo Box Thule Pulse Alpine Cargo Box Thule Motion XT Alpine
Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 –
11 cu ft
Thule Pulse Alpine –
11 cu ft
Thule Motion XT Alpine –
16 cu ft
Camping/Roadtrip Car Top Cargo Box Economy Thule Force L Cargo Box Value Thule Motion XT Roof Cargo Box
Car Top Cargo Box –
18 cu ft
Thule Force L –
16 cu ft
Thule Motion XT –
22 cu ft




Rooftop Cargo Baskets

If you need extra space, but you aren't ready for the expense of a cargo box or you just don't like the look, a cargo basket might be the way to go. Cargo baskets don't offer the same level of protection as a cargo box, but they will get your items from point A to point B. Their open design won't limit the height of your cargo, so they are great for coolers, suitcases and spare tires. They can also give you a rugged look that is popular in the off-road and 4-wheeling communities.


Pro Series Cargo Basket with gear Yakima MegaWarrior Cargo Basket with gear

Cargo baskets come in different sizes and styles. Among Rhino-Rack's many offerings you'll find basic steel mesh baskets. And Thule carries stylish contoured tubular steel baskets. You can choose from lightweight rustproof aluminum construction or more economically priced heavy-duty steel construction depending on your needs.


Mounting

Like cargo boxes, rooftop baskets require a roof rack on the vehicle. Cargo basket mounting brackets are mostly universal, fitting round, square, factory and aftermarket aero style crossbars. The simple u-bolt and bolt and strap designs make the installation pretty straight forward.


Cargo basket mounting clamp Curt Cargo Basket Mounting Clamp

Accessories

Cargo baskets do not come with lids or locks, but you can use tie-downs, cargo nets and cargo bags to keep everything from flying away.


Here are a few cargo baskets to consider


Economy Value Premium
Curt Roof Basket Economy Rhino-Rack Roof Basket Value Kuat Vagabond X Roof Basket Premium
Curt Roof Cargo Basket –
41.5 x 37 x 4
Rhino-Rack Roof Basket –
47 x 35 x 5.5
Kuat Vagabond X –
73 x 41 x 7


Cargo Bags

Cargo bags usually aren't the first choice when it comes to a rooftop cargo carrier, but it is hard to beat the savings compared to a cargo box or basket. Most bags do not require a roof rack. They are extremely lightweight and do not take up too much room in the garage or basement when you aren't traveling. They collapse, roll and fold for easy storage. The overall weight capacity will be lower if the bag is not supported by a roof rack and cargo basket because a vehicle's roof cannot support as much weight as a roof rack.


Roof-Rack Compatibility

Cargo bags can attach to almost any style roof, whether it has a roof rack or not. Typically, a bag will attach to your roof with integrated tie-downs and can mount to the following roof configurations.


Rightline PackRight Sport Jr

Naked Roof

Installation may vary depending on the model of the cargo bag that you choose. Cargo bags designed for naked roofs will attach in one of the following ways.




Yakima Y07188

Roof Rack

Bags designed for use with roof racks have integrated tie-downs that can be attached to either of the following configurations.




Rhino Rack Rooftop Cargo Bag

Roof-Mounted Baskets

A cargo bag can be used with a rooftop cargo basket to better contain your gear.



Note: If you are concerned about the bag scuffing your vehicle's roof, you can use a protection pad. Simply place the pad beneath your cargo bag when it sits on your roof to keep any sharp objects within your bag from scratching the roof as well as to prevent wear on the paint that could occur from shifting the bag around.


Weather Protection

Yakima Waterproof Fabric

Most cargo bags on the market provide some sort of weather protection for your gear. The construction of these bags varies. Nylon is typically water resistant and will offer sufficient protection in light rain or fog.


For more intensive weather protection, choose a bag with a PVc undercoat or one that employs a more environmentally friendly weatherproofing process that is aimed at creating waterproof fabric. These bags will keep water out even in driving rain.



SportRack Rooftop Cargo Bag Zipper

Note: No cargo bag is entirely waterproof. It is possible for moisture to seep into the bag through zippers and seams. Some of the features that are available to help keep this from happening include:



Here are a few cargo bags to consider


Economy Value Premium
Rightline Ace Cargo Bag Economy Thule Outbound Cargo Bag Value Rhino-Rack XL Cargo Bag Premium
Rightline Ace Cargo Bag –
15 cu ft
Thule Outbound Cargo Bag –
13 cu ft
Rhino-Rack XL Rooftop Cargo Bag –
21 cu ft




Rear Hatch Clearance Dimensions for Cargo Boxes


Roof box clearance

*Note: Inno measures from the rear crossbar to the rear edge of the cargo box.


Inno Logo

Part # Name Rear Clearance*
INBRA220R-BK Ridge Box 11 3/8"
INBRA766BK Stream Box 12"
INBRM660 Wedge 660 12"
INBRM624 Wedge 624 12"
INBRA1170CA Shadow Carbo Fiber 12"
INBRA585BK Low Down Cruiser 20 1/2"

Thule Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
TH682 Sidekick 35"
TH624 Force M 47 7/8"
TH614 Pulse M 42 5/8"
TH634 Sonic M 43 7/8"
TH615 Pulse L 46 3/8"
TH628 Force L 47 1/2"
TH612 Hyper XL 50 5/8"
TH635 Sonic XL 50 7/8"
TH606 Flow 51 7/8"
TH623 Force Alpine 52 1/4"
TH633 Sonic Alpine 52 7/8"
TH625 Force XL 53 5/8"
TH636 Sonic XXL 54 3/4"
TH613 Pulse Alpine 55 1/4"
TH626 Force XXL 58 1/8"

Yakima Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
Y07191 RocketBox Pro 12 40"
Y07193/Y07192 RocketBox Pro 11 & 14 45"
Y07335 SkyBox 16 52"
Y07328/Y07329 ShowCase 20 54"
Y07334/Y07336/Y07337 SkyBox 12, 18 & 21 57"
Y07338 SkyBox Lo 57"

Whispbar Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
WB-700S/WB-700B Aero Compact 47"
WB-701S Aero Mid-Size 51"

Rhino Rack Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
RRRMFZ66 Zenith Master Fit 14 cu ft 49 1/4"
RMF440/RMFB440 Master Fit 16 cu ft Silver & Black 49 1/4"
RRRMFZ86 Zenith Master Fit 17.5 cu ft 54"
RMF550/RRRMFB550 Master Fit 19.5 cu ft Silver & Black 54"




Questions and Comments about this Article

Dan H.

We are driving from Michigan to Key Largo, FL. What is the best cargo carrier and roof rack combo for a ‘21 Ford Explorer Limited? We want to take two sets of golf clubs and suitcases. 101845

Reply from Jon G.

For your application I recommend going with the Yakima 60" JetStream Crossbars # Y00426 with the TimberLine Towers # Y00147 . Then for a roof carrier I really like the Inno Roof Deck Platform Rack # INA520 because it is pretty light and extremely easy to use. 75106

Lisa

Hello! I am driving/moving across country (CA-FL) and am looking for a cargo bag to put on my 2020 Toyota Corolla. Question....Does the material (straps, bag against the roof) ever cause any damage to the paint? and how much weight is recommended? I will probably be loading my clothes and light items but want to make sure I am not going to damage my vehicle. Thank you :) 101704

Reply from Jon G.

Most roof cargo bags have a type of protection on the bottom to help protect your roof, but we still recommend making sure that your roof is clean from any debris and then using the Rightline Protection Pad # RL100650 which helps to keep the bag from shifting and it helps to further protect your roof. As far as weight capacity goes you'll want to keep the cargo lightweight. Tossing some clothes and light items will probably be just fine. I wasn't able to find a specific weight rating in the online version of your owner's manual so I would definitely keep it under 100 lbs and be sure to spread the weight evenly so there isn't just one spot that's taking the brunt of the weight. 75056

Louis

Which cargo roof rack and bag combos work for an acura 2020 mdx with OEM installed roof rack and crossbars? 97062

Reply from Chris R.

For the OEM roof rack on your 2020 Acura MDX I really like the etrailer Cargo Basket # e99032 paired with the Rightline # RL100S50 that features an excellent waterproof construction. 71107

Allan S.

I have a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500. I want to install a roof rack/basket. There are no gutters and I do not trust suction cups. I would be looking for a permanent installation, measure, drill, bolt, and so forth. I saw a model available somewhere, can't recall where though. What can you recommend? 95330

Reply from Chris R.

The best solution for this I can offer is something like the Rhino-Rack # Y02-500B . This setup features channels that would be permanently bolted to the roof that the crossbars mount to. It does provide a nice adjustable system since the bars can slide along the length of the rails. 70444

Camille P.

Hi, I’m having a hard time finding a cargo basket that will fit my Honda CRV 2005. I own a Yakama basket that I had on my Volvo CrossCountry but it doesn’t fit the Honda. And the cross bars are not adjustable. Thanks 85906

Reply from Chris R.

Do you have the factory roof rack on your CR-V? If so, can you tell me its crossbar spread (center of front crossbar to center of rear crossbar)? I wasn't able to track this information down. 67981

Randy L.

Hi: I have a 2016 Pleasure Lexor TS. I is on a Ram Promaster 3500 high roof van. It came with a Care Free awning. I have some space above drivers cab area. I am thinking about adding some roof cargo storage. Is there a product(rack) and cargo carrier which is made for such an application? Thank you 78589

Reply from Chris R.

Is there room on the roof for crossbars that go all the across - or do you only have space on the driver's side? 63783

Richard B.

I have a 2018 TRD PRO and I seen a roof rack combo with a roll out canopy. 75855

Reply from Chris R.

We do have components to make this happen on your Tacoma. I specifically recommend the Thule WingBar Roof Rack setup that consists of parts # TH711420 , # TH710501 , and # TH145107 , along with the roll-out awning # TH8002AW604 . 61994

Russ K.

I just purchased a 2019 Ford Ecosport. It has the roof rack installed including the cross bars. I am confused as to which cargo box would fit best on it since it s a small SUV. We are looking to put a couple of suitcases for travel in it and perhaps a couple of other smaller items. Can you please give me some information about which models I should be looking at? Thanks.. 70883

Reply from Chris R.

I actually reached out to my contact at Yakima because I noticed that both them and Thule didn't list any boxes for the EcoSport with the factory roof rack - which is odd. I was able to find that the reason for this is that Ford lists a weight capacity of just 55 pounds for the factory bars, so a cargo box just wouldn't be a practical accessory(once you factor in the weight of the box itself you don't have much room at all for cargo...). I know this isn't the best news but your only option for mounting a box would be to replace the factory bars with an aftermarket system that sports a higher capacity. 57897

Ryan S.

Hi, checking to see what cargo box would be best for a Toyota Highlander..? Family of 3 with 2 dogs and 3 cats. Thanks, Ryan *Best price and quality. 64725

Reply from Jacob H.

We have many different cargo boxes that will work great with your Toyota Highlander. I really like the build and looks of the Thule Roof boxes. They can be a little pricier but you are getting an extremely well built box that will last you for a very long time. As far as fitment for your vehicle and family, you will have have to take some measurements to see what will fit your roof best. I have provided a link in which you will find all of the Thule boxes that we carry. You will want to keep the weight capacity of your roofbars and roof in mind when looking into getting a box to make sure you do not exceed the weight that it can hold. 54982



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