How Do Roof Cargo Carriers Work?

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In today's world, you can purchase an abundance of different roof cargo carriers that'll enhance your vehicles' storage space. These primary styles are cargo boxes, bags, baskets, or sports-specific, such as a ski rack. But how do roof cargo carriers work?

Roof cargo carriers work with or without roof rails (depending on the model), and they're an innovative way of storing goods on the rooftop of your vehicle. They come in four standard styles: cargo boxes, bags, baskets, and sport-specific carriers, and each can benefit you differently depending on your requirements.

As you can see, a roof cargo carrier is an additional piece of equipment that can be installed on your vehicle to increase its storage space. The great thing about these is that they come in an array of different styles and sizes to ensure all vehicle owners can benefit. To find out more about the different types of cargo carriers and which is more suitable for your situation, I suggest you become knowledgeable on the below.

What type of roof cargo carriers are there?

Roof cargo carriers are superb, and below will showcase the different styles you can invest in. Each has its pros and cons, depending on your application. Here's what you need to know:


The most popular and well-known cargo carrier you can purchase is the box type, commonly known as a Rocketbox. These are the most innovative, streamline, and secure cargo carriers you can opt-in for. This is because they're often hard-sided, aerodynamic, and waterproof straight from the manufacture.

A box, along with many other cargo carriers, will need to be attached to crossbars. Typically, crossbars attach to pre-existing roof rails. However, don't worry if your vehicle doesn't have these installed. You can purchase roof rails that connect themselves to your door's arch, which doesn't require you to make any modifications to your vehicle.

If you're interested in rooftop cargo boxes, you'll want to read through our top 5 guide here. Throughout this post, we detail the best cargo boxes that are currently available on the market.



Aerodynamic to allow for a much more seamless transportation

Due to its size and weight, it affects the gas mileage of your vehicle significantly more than other cargo carries

Highly secure to ensure optimal safety for your goods, vehicle, and other road users

Their also expensive considering the other options available and are priced anywhere between $50 to $700


Another excellent cargo carrier is a bag. For most, a cargo bag is a favorable option. This is because you can install a cargo bag with or without a roof rack, meaning it's open to a larger target audience. As you can tell by the name, it's a bag. But it isn't like any old school bag, as it's much more remarkable.

With a cargo bag, you'll receive something waterproof, durable, secure, easily accessible, and inexpensive. Most cargo bags range anywhere between $30 to $200, which is relatively reasonable considering the prices of other cargo carriers.

If you'd like a more detailed look at the best waterproof cargo bags, why not check out this post? Here we've investigated the top 6 cargo bags within the market to ensure you purchase quality.  



A much more affordable option than other cargo carriers available

They're made from a fabric-like material that can easily be ripped

It doesn't require you to install a roof rack

The longevity of cargo bags is much shorter than other styles


Additionally to the other cargo carriers, you can also equip a cargo basket onto your vehicle. This will require you to have roof rails and possibly crossbars as well. People adore the concept of cargo baskets because you have a more significant amount of storage space. However, this does come with some negatives.

Cargo baskets don't have anything sheltering the goods, so you'll need to ensure they stay safe and secure. When storing goods in a cargo basket, many people invest in dry bags ( on amazon ). These are used to guarantee your load stays dry and doesn't become damaged due to harsh rainy conditions. Including this, you'll also need your own solution for tying the goods onto the basket. For this, people tend to opt-in for endless ratchet straps or also rope.



Possibly provides the most amount of additional storage room

You'll need to supply your own weather protection solutions for your load

Allows you to store and remove items from your vehicle's rooftop easily

With a basket, you get minimal protection from thieves as you cannot lock your goods


The above are the main types of "traditional" cargo carriers. However, you can also purchase sport-specific cargo carriers (for example, winter sports carriers that help transport skis and snowboards, etc.). These only benefit an individual that has a particular purpose. However, if you need to transport certain goods and there's a rooftop cargo carrier specially created for that purpose, it may be worth checking out.



It can benefit someone that's transporting specific goods like skis, fishing poles, kayaks, or a bike

They're not versatile, as you can typically only use them for one primary purpose

It's the most secure way of traveling with longer goods that cannot fit in a cargo bag, box, or basket

Typically, there more expensive than standard cargo options available on the market

As you can see, there are various cargo carriers you can select depending on your initial goals and requirements. If you're going to purchase a carrier, be sure to check the market for all solutions. After all, you genuinely don't know what's available until you've conducted some thorough research. Trust me, it'll be more than worth it, and you'll be surprised with what type of innovative cargo carriers are available.

winter sports roof cargo carriers ( skis and snowboards )

What equipment do you need for cargo carriers?

Knowing what cargo carriers are available on the market is extremely important. But something even more crucial to understand is the equipment needed to use them. Some vehicles will have these automatically installed within their design, others not. Here's what you need to know:

  • Roof rail – Before you purchase a cargo carrier (unless it's a bag that doesn't require one), you'll need a roof rail for installation. But this isn't the only thing you'll need to install a cargo carrier. Including a roof rail, you'll also need the below crossbars. However, not all vehicles will require the same style of roof rails. For example, if you have a Chevy Express, you'll need a roof rack, as this post suggests.
  • Crossbars – These are pretty self-explanatory; crossbars are cross-sections that attach both the roof rails together. With them, you're able to connect boxes, baskets, and other sport-specific cargo carriers.
  • Ratchet straps – It's prevalent for cargo carrier lovers to use ratchet straps. These secure the load even further and are used primarily with cargo baskets or bags. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't use ratchet straps for sport-related and boxed cargo carriers. It doesn't cause them any harm as it just tightens the load more securely to your vehicle.

After reading, you should have a solidified idea of what cargo carriers are currently available on the market, along with the equipment needed to install them. So, what are you waiting for? Get transporting.

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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