Do You Need a Roof Rack for a Roof Basket? The Ultimate Guide

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Roof baskets are widely considered an accessory to roof rack systems. Once you have your crossbars installed and fitted correctly on your vehicle rails, you can now put the roof basket quickly, following simple steps that anyone can do.

But what if you did not have a roof rack on your car?

Installing a roof basket without a roof rack is possible, but not recommended as it could potentially damage the roof of your vehicle. Roof baskets need a roof rack for safety and stability, not just for your cargo and carrier but for your car too.  

Fortunately, you can buy roof racks and roof baskets together online. On the other hand, if you don’t want to get a roof rack, you can still have extra storage on your roof through other safer alternatives. So just read on as we dive deeper into this topic.

Can You Install a Roof Basket Without Crossbars?

It’s possible to put a roof basket without crossbars, but you will be going against its natural design. Some people use staps and hook to attach the basket to the rails or to the car’s interior edges (in the case of a bare roof). However, this can jeopardize your safety. 

So, I highly recommend using a roof rack for your roof basket base.. 

You can install a roof basket without crossbars, but you shouldn’t if it is not intended that way. Otherwise, you should just go for a better alternative that still ensures security, like using other types of storage accessories like a hitch cargo carrier. 

Why Should You Get a Roof Rack for a Roof Cargo Basket?

Why Should You Get a Roof Rack for a Roof Cargo Basket?

If you look at the structure as made of a roof basket, the need for a roof rack becomes almost self-explanatory. 

Roof baskets have flat bases and most cars maintain a curved roof with rails on both sides. With this incompatible structure alone, it’s pretty clear that roof baskets may not fit perfectly on some vehicles. While anyone can argue that a bit of overlap is okay, this could affect your car’s wind resistance, impacting performance and mileage.

Furthermore, roof racks provide safety and security for the roof cargo basket keeping you worry-free that some accidental displacement may occur as you drive on the road. 

The crossbars allow your roof basket and its load to become stable which offers not only protection but also lesser noise and vibrations. 

Simply put, roof baskets are designed to be attached to roof racks. Therefore, the ways it should be fitted through clamps and bolts are intended for crossbar mount.

Best Roof Racks for Roof Baskets and Other Solid Carriers

You can get roof racks online or through your local automotive stores. However, before deciding which one to buy, consider its compatibility with your vehicle. 

When choosing racks for roof cargo baskets, roof boxes, and other solid carriers, the first thing you have to consider should be the sturdiness of the crossbars and their distance from the roof surface. 

Although adaptable roof racks are available, it’s still better to go for a roof rack system designed for your vehicle’s type, model, and make. Likewise, consider the kind of rails you got for perfect fitting. 

Here are some options you can look into.

1. MOSTPLUS Roof Rack Cross Bar Rail

Compatible with: Honda CRV (2012-2022) 

With a capacity of up to 150 lbs of cargo, you can rely on this roof rack to hold your roof cargo basket. Its heavy-duty design ensures durability and long-term use. Plus, the crossbars are made of aluminum, and the clamps are designed to fasten perfectly on the rails of Honda CRV. you can check the latest price on amazon here.

2. YITAMOTOR roof rack crossbars

Compatible with: Toyota Rav4 (2019-2022)

If you are hauling about 176 lbs of load with your roof basket on your RAV4, this is the roof rack for you. It’s easy to install, and you simply attach the wench and bolts on the rails. Likewise, it’s perfect for a roof basket since the crossbars provide high clearance. you can check the latest price on amazon here.

3. ECCPP rooftop crossbar set roof rack

Compatible with: (2015- 2022) - Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL 

This roof rack can haul up to 220lbs of cargo. Hence, mounting a roof basket would not put additional strain on your vehicle. You can also expect durability, corrosion resistance, and reduced noise. you can check the latest price on amazon here

4. Amazon Basics universal cross rail roof rack

Compatible with: passenger cars, SUVs, and crossovers with raised longitudinal rails with 1.2 inches car roof

Suppose you can’t find a roof rack system designed specifically for your car. In that case, you can go for universal roof racks as long as it’s compatible with your vehicle type, like the Amazon Basics universal roof rack. 

You can install this roof rack within minutes, seconds even, as its rubber-coated steel clamps allow the rack to grip tightly on the rails. The crossbars are also lightweight but durable, considering they are made of aluminum which reduces the likelihood of corrosion. you can check the latest price on amazon here.

Alternative to the Roof Basket

One great alternative to roof baskets, especially in the absence of a roof rack, is a roof bag. Roof bags are considered soft cargo carriers which means their light materials can come in close contact with the vehicle’s roof as they won’t cause any scratch or substantial damage.

Most roof bags in the market same basic features such as weather and fade resistance and safe design with an average of 15 to 20 cubic feet capacity. However, you may want to gear your favor towards the following options.

1. Fivklemnz car rooftop cargo carrier

This crowd-favorite roof bag boasts extra safety attributes. With military-grade materials, it’s not just waterproof but tearproof and well-protected from the damage of constant sun exposure.

Plus, you can install it quickly and easily without needing a roof rack and it has a protective mat that keeps the bag stable and your roof protected from abrasions. you can check the latest price on amazon here.

2. RoofPax car rooftop bag

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty, high-capacity roof bag, consider the RoofPax roof bag. It comes with a protective anti-slip mat and safety door hooks for when you attach the straps on the interior edges. In addition, it’s made of coated PVC materials, ensuring high quality and durability can be sustained for years. 

Roof baskets are great for hauling large solid items, but you can still get the same benefit with roof bags, especially if you don’t have crossbars on your car roof. you can check the latest price on amazon here.

Nonetheless, because of roof bags' lightweight and enclosed nature, you may be limited to specific items compared to when you use a roof basket. 

For example, you’ll certainly not be able to haul extra-large cargo and sports equipment. In these cases, you will have to learn more about getting a roof rack and roof basket.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to installing car accessories such as cargo carriers, safety should always be on top of your priorities. That said, it’s imperative to understand that roof racks need to be mounted first before you can place a roof basket. 

The crossbars on the roof rack provide a stable holder for the roof basket. Likewise, it prevents direct contact between the sturdy metal frame of the basket and the roof surface. 

So, if you’re set to getting a roof cargo basket, check out the most suitable roof rack first for your car - or you can always buy them together. 

About the author 

Vieira Babeker

Hi! I'm Vieira. I've always been interested in different Auto Accessories

My passion here at is to provide helpful straight forward clear advice and tips for Automotive Accessories.

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