What Can You Put in A Rooftop Cargo Box? A Helpful Guide!

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The car rack market (including rooftop cargo boxes) is looking to increase by 7% between 2018 and 2026, it’s evident that more vehicle owners are becoming more adapted to the idea. But, because of the “new wave” of users, many misunderstand what you can put inside a cargo box. That being said, what can you put in a rooftop cargo box?

What you can put inside a rooftop cargo box is almost endless (depending on its overall size and weight). However, practically all cargo boxes are designed to store suitcases, camping equipment, shopping, tools, fishing gear, and much more.

Depending on what you’re purchasing a cargo box for, it will vary highly on what you put inside it. Needless to say, most cargo boxes are spacious, meaning you can transport a multitude of different goods tailored to your specific need. If you want to know how to choose the right size cargo box for you, to ensure you can successfully carry your goods, I recommend you become familiar with the below.

How to choose the right sized cargo box

As mentioned above, you can transport an array of different equipment depending if you’re a camping enthusiast, snow adventurer, or just an on-the-go traveler. Whatever your primary purpose is for using a cargo box, you’ll undoubtedly want to invest your money into something personalized to your needs. To identify this, you’ll want to consider the below how-to guide:

1. Consider what you’ll want to store in a cargo box

This sounds self-explanatory, but many newcomers fail to consider this when making the initial investment in their new cargo box. These boxes can be used for anything you can imagine, sleeping bags, backpacks, strollers, skis, tools, literally everything. To identify which cargo box you need, you’ll want to evaluate the below factors:

  • Weight – The primary factor you’ll want to consider before purchasing your cargo box is the total weight of the goods you tend to transport. There are two types of weight capacity limits you’ll want to make yourself aware of: the cargo box and rooftop. Having an idea of each of these massively narrows down what you can store, along with what box is suitable for your needs.
  • Length – Additionally, the total length of the goods you’ll want to transport is significant. When considering this factor, you’ll want to make yourself aware of the inside size of the cargo box rather than the outside. This will provide you with an accurate estimate of how much room you have to play with in terms of length. Notably, if you need to transfer longer equipment like Skis, there’s specialized equipment for this.  
  • Shape – Lastly, you’ll want to consider the overall shape of the products you’ll transport. Cargo boxes are limited with space because they don’t have a large surface area. Therefore, you’ll want to think about the shape of your goods before investing in a rooftop box to ensure they’re going to fit.  
What Can You Put in A Rooftop Cargo Box

2. Evaluate the dimensions of cargo boxes

After developing a better understanding of what you’ll transport within your cargo box, you can start doing some comprehensive research to find a box suited to your needs. Similar to the above, weight capacity, length, and shape are the main considerations. Including this, you’ll also want to find out widths and gear capacities.

Gear capacity is a vital metric because it provides the user a rough “total” of how much goods they’ll be able to store within their cargo box. To receive this figure, you’ll want to combine the total length, width, and height (in cubic inches, feet, or liters). By obtaining these, you can better understand how much a cargo box can actually carry.

But, how much gear capacity is recommended? That’s a question many people ask, and few know the answer to. However, a rough estimate of gear capacity based on a number of people can be seen below:

Number of people





Gear capacity

12 cu. ft. / 20,736 cu. in. / 340 liters

15 cu. ft. / 25,920 cu. in. / 425 liters

18 cu. ft. / 31,104 cu. in. / 510 liters

21 cu. ft. / 36,288 cu. in. / 595 liters

Note, the above are “rough” estimates, and they’re somewhat conservative. Therefore, you might want to consider a larger gear capacity than the suggested, depending on the items you’re transporting.

3. Guarantee the cargo box fits your vehicle

Lastly, you’ll want to ensure that the cargo box fits your vehicle. This seems obvious, but you can easily forget about this vital factor when you’re focusing on the above requirements. When determining if a cargo box fits your vehicle, there are two considerations you’ll want to think about. These are:

Hatch clearance – A hatch on a vehicle is where the cargo box will be fitted. However, not all hatches are built the same. Some are further back on the rooftop and others towards the front. But, wherever the connection is, you’ll want to ensure that the roof box comfortably fits onto your vehicle.

Overhang – When analyzing the hatch clearance, you’ll want to check for overhang. Ideally, you don’t want masses amount of this on the rear or front of your vehicle. Failing this, if the cargo box overhangs the rear part of your vehicle, the boot cannot open successfully. In contrast, the front can dramatically decrease aerodynamics. Considering roof boxes can increase fuel consumption up to 50%, this is undoubtedly something you don’t want to occur.

After carefully considering the above, you should have a solidified idea of what cargo box is ideal for your application and vehicle. Before making the initial purchase, considering this will save you a ton of time and money, so it’s more than worth doing.

Which cargo box should you purchase?

On the market, there are hundreds and thousands of different rooftop cargo boxes you can purchase. Within the abundance of options, it can become challenging to make a final decision. Because of this, we’ve used our professional knowledge within the industry and have developed an in-depth list of the best car boxes for under 1,000 dollars. Within this post, we explain the top 5 in the current market, their pros/cons, and the main features each carries.


After becoming knowledgeable on the above, you should have a solid understanding of what a cargo box can transport and select a box suitable to your needs. Without a doubt, figuring out which style and size are best for your application can seem complicated. However, through some further research, you’re able to purchase something much more tailored to your needs, providing you with additional advantages.

About the author 

Vieira Babeker

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

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

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