How To Pack a Rooftop Cargo Basket

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If you’re an avid traveler, a rooftop cargo basket is a convenient accessory you can purchase. With them, you’re able to transport cargo bags, dry bags, and sports equipment, like skis. Whatever your reason might be, you’ll need to understand the fundamentals to pack a rooftop cargo basket successfully. Here’s what you need to know:

Packing a cargo basket is relatively easy, the only rules you need to remember are not to make your load too high, ensure even weight distribution, and use endless ratchet straps. We recommend these straps because you can circle these around the basket and connect it back on themselves for optimal strength.

The above is the core information you’ll need to know to achieve a secure, safe, and well-packed cargo basket. However, for a more detailed guide, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the below. Here we detail a step-by-step guide to packing a rooftop cargo basket, no matter what you’re transporting.

1. What you’ll need

Before you invest your time in trying to pack a cargo basket, you’ll want to purchase suitable equipment. These aren’t necessarily needed for all cargo basket owners, but for most, they’ll undoubtedly make your packing process much more straight forward.

Dry bags

When transporting goods, mostly all our priorities are keeping our cargo dry. Luckily, you’re able to invest in dry bags. These bags are typically used by kayak, boats, or water sports individuals, and they’re designed to keep everything inside dry.

A prominent choice of dry bags is from Wise Owl on amazon. With these, you’ll receive three different sizes, which is perfect for packing an array of goods. They’re made from highly lightweight, durable, and waterproof material designed to protect your goods from getting wet, even when submerged underwater.

Additionally to the above, they have a simple clip closing mechanism. Therefore, using these bags correctly isn’t something that requires a lot of care and attention.

Cargo bag

Unless you’re transporting goods that cannot be damaged by water, you don’t even need dry bags or a cargo bag. However, a cargo bag is a much better alternative to dry bags if you’re transporting larger goods. A reputable choice of cargo bag is the Rightline Gear Range 3. It’s incredibly spacious, holds superb waterproofness, and can protect items in extreme snow, rain, windy, or hot conditions. For a more in-depth review of this cargo bag, we recommend you read this blog post.

Ratchet straps

It doesn’t matter if you’re using dry bags, cargo bags, or just laying goods on your cargo basket; you’ll need ratchet straps. Over the years of being heavily invested within the traveling community, we found that the best ratchet straps for this application are endless on amazon (no hooks). With these, you can make a complete loop around the entire basket, allowing for optimal strength. To understand how to utilize ratchet straps to tighten your load, we detail this in-depth below.

Step ladder

The above is all the equipment needed to appropriately tie, store, and transport goods with a cargo basket. However, during the packing process, you’ll need easy access to your vehicle’s roof. Therefore, you’ll want to consider investing in a step ladder on amazon if you haven’t got one handy. By having more accessible access to your roof, you can utilize the space much further, and you’ll reduce muscle strain.

picture showing how to Pack a Rooftop Cargo Basket

2. The loading process

Now you’ve acted on the above and have all the correct equipment needed to transport goods via a cargo carrier safely, its time to begin the loading process. Loading is pretty self-explanatory, but here are some crucial tips you’ll want to remember before packing goods onto your cargo basket.

  • Guarantee a safe loading space – When you’re about to embark on a new adventure, you can easily forget about safety. However, the last thing you want to encounter is a hospital trip. Because of this, before loading, ensure you have a safe loading space. If you’re using a ladder, look out for the following factors: even ground, ladders condition, and what the ladder is situated on (for example, stay away from loose stones, etc.).
  • Create a plan – Before lifting heavy goods onto the rooftop of your vehicle, it’s much more advantageous to create a plan. The best way to achieve this is by placing the goods you want to pack on the floor in a position you want to store them. By doing this, you’ll have a much better visualization of how to pack your cargo basket before lifting the goods onto your vehicle’s roof.
  • Don’t make your load too high – When you’re transporting with a cargo basket, the wind is something you need to account for. The most devastating circumstances occur when strong winds push a high-loaded cargo basket. This doesn’t streamline at all, and it could result in your goods falling off your vehicle.
  • Ensure even weight distribution – This last part of the process isn’t crucial with a cargo basket. However, it’ll help with the overall weight distribution of the vehicle, making it a lot more stable. When loading your basket, check the recommended manufacturer’s weight. You’ll want to ensure you don’t over-pack your basket because it could result in breakages.

The loading process is relatively easy and something most people can achieve. But you’ll want to think logically. When loading, consider where the wind force is coming from and create a somewhat streamlined design within your cargo basket. This will dramatically decrease the amount of pressure on the load, radically reducing the occurrence of issues.

3. Strapping down your load

Now your load is packed onto your cargo basket, it’s time to tighten and secure your goods for transportation. Above we recommended that you should purchase endless ratchet straps. This is undoubtedly the best option you can choose. We suggest you use these because they’re a simple design and allow you to wrap and tighten however you want.

How you’ve packed your cargo basket may vary on how you strap your load down. For this example, we’ll explain tying down dry bags. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Once your dry bags are packed and loaded, you’ll want to place them next to each other.
  • With the endless ratchet strap, grab the buckle and place it on the top center point of the load.
  • Now you’ve done this, grab the excess strap and wrap it to the nearest support beam that can securely hold your cargo.
  • Afterward, use the same strap and follow it through the bottom of the cargo basket to the opposite side.
  • Again, wrap it around a support beam that can securely hold your cargo.
  • Lastly, feed it through the ratchet buckle and tighten it until secure.
  • Remember, one ratchet strap is never enough. Always use two to safeguard yourself from any issues.  

After reading the above, you should have a clear idea of how to pack a rooftop cargo basket. It isn’t challenging, and the hardest part is finding the appropriate support beams to secure your load. But after some trial and error, you should be able to find the sweet spot.

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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