How to Pack a Rooftop Cargo Bag In 7 Simple Steps?

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If you've purchased a cargo bag, I'm sure you're eager to pack it for your next adventure. However, there is a right and wrong way of successfully packing your cargo bag. Failing this could result in catastrophic events such as your bag ripping or your goods moving inside the bag and damaging each other. But how do you pack a rooftop cargo bag? Here's what you need to know.

To pack a rooftop cargo bag appropriately, you'll need to identify your heaviest items and rearrange them into a base pattern. This is typically the same shape as the bag to ensure goods above the heavy items have a solid area to be placed. When you've established this, begin packing the rooftop cargo bag in the same pattern, ensuring it's full to reduce wind noise.

Packing a rooftop cargo bag doesn't need to be complicated, and you can make it a simple process. To make it much easier, you'll want to develop a plan before lifting the goods into the bag. If you'd like to understand better how to plan the packing of your cargo bag effectively, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the detailed guide below. 

The complete guide to Pack a Rooftop Cargo Bag 

Cargo bags are superb at providing all vehicle owners with some extra packing space when needed. But, if you're transporting goods on the rooftop of your vehicle, you'll want to ensure yourself the load is entirely safe. This increases the safety of your goods, the car, and also other road users. Here's our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide to packing a rooftop cargo bag.

Pack a Rooftop Cargo Bag

1. Preparation

Before you consider anything, you'll want to set up suitable safety measurements and locate an area for your cargo bag on your rooftop. First, let's talk about safety. When packing a cargo bag, you'll need to have easy access to your roof.

If you're packing a rooftop cargo bag on a car, something like a small stepladder is perfect. For larger vehicles, you may want to consider longer ladders such as this telescopic one. Before climbing the ladder ensure the following:

  • The ground near your vehicle is level
  • If the ladder is set up correctly
  • That the ground is solid (e.g., not on stones)

Once you've checked the above, you're able to climb the ladder and install your cargo bag without worrying about falling.

When it comes to installing your cargo bag, clean the external base of the bag encase it damages your vehicle. Find a suitable location, this is simple as it's usually the middle of the roof. However, check to see if the bag is hanging off the edge or covering the roof rails.

2. Know your weight limits

Once you've prepared the cargo bag, you can almost start packing it. However, before doing this, you'll want to check the weight limits. For instance, some bags may have a manufactured recommended weight of 50kg and others 30kg. You'll want to abide by these rules because overpacking your bag could result in severe consequences.

The cargo bags have been tested under extreme circumstances to guarantee they're adequate for the job. Therefore, follow these recommended weight limits to safeguard your vehicle, people within it, and other road users.

3. Create a well-balanced base

After preparing your cargo bag and becoming knowledgeable on the recommended weight limits, it's time to start physically packing your goods. Before lifting them onto your rooftop and into the cargo bag, create a rough pattern on some ground near you. Here's how you'd create a well-balanced base:

  • First, identify all the heavy goods and square-shaped items (e.g., suitcases).
  • With these items, create a base that's like your cargo bag (for example, a square or rectangle, depending on the shape of your bag).
  • Once you've established this, you can begin removing them from your patterned base and start to pack them in your actual rooftop cargo bag.

From here, you can begin to pack upwards. However, try to keep a good base to ensure maximum stability.

4. Workaround awkwardly shaped items

Packing a well-balanced cargo bag is superb, but what about awkwardly shaped items? If you're in this situation, you'll want to try and work around them. For instance, instead of loosely laying clothes and other attire in your cargo bag, pack them tightly in duffel bags. This will provide you with a much sturdier base, which will increase the stability levels of the bag.

For extremely awkwardly shaped goods, you may want to rethink your packing strategy. If you're traveling via a car, truck, van, or anything else, you'll want to consider the other available space you have. For instance, for long items like fishing rods, place them above your parcel shelf and towards the vehicle's center.  

5. Take advantage of internal straps

Not all cargo bags come with this feature, but you'll want to check. Sometimes, they'll have internal straps which can secure your goods even further. Preferably you'll want to establish this before you start packing your cargo bag. But either way, they're not challenging to locate if your bag comes equipped with them.

An alternative option to internal straps is foam spacers. With these, you can situate them in-between goods to reduce the amount of movement in the bag during travel. This will make your cargo bag much safer and sturdier during transportation. 

Before finalizing your packing, you'll want to see how full your cargo bag currently is. Having a half-empty bag can cause some horrendous wind noises, which isn't pleasant throughout long trips. Therefore, be sure it's full before traveling.

6. Guarantee your cargo back is secure

Now you're packed and ready to go, you'll want to tighten your cargo bag onto your vehicle. Depending on which type of bag you have, they'll be different installation methods. However, assure yourself it's completely secure by performing a few pull and push tests.  

To perform these tests, you'll want to pull on each of the secured straps and look for signs of movement. Additionally, you'll also want to push your cargo bag in various locations and check for movement again. If minimal movement is presented, great, you can almost begin traveling.

7. Ensure your cargo bag has a lock on the zips

The last step of packing a rooftop cargo bag is locking it. Most cargo bags come with combi locks where you can lock the zips together. If not, you'll want to purchase one or never leave your vehicle unattended with the packed goods.  Either way is fine, but having a lock eases the stress that little bit more.

There you have it. After becoming knowledgeable on the above, you can successfully pack a rooftop cargo bag safely and securely.

Need more storage space? You may want to consider a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. If that's the case, you'll want to familiarize yourself with our blog post "The Complete Guide To Hitch-mounted Cargo Carriers". Here we detail everything you need to know about hitch-mounted cargo carriers, along with the best currently circulating on the market.

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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