Rugged Roof Rack Systems for Trucks and 4x4s

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Your 4×4 may be exactly what you were looking for. That is, until you start getting ready to go on your next outdoor adventure. When you pack for any longer camping trip, the already limited space can be a struggle to deal with on your own.

Plus, it can be hard to find what you need when you need it when you have crammed everything in your truck. Fortunately, you can invest in a rugged roof rack system for your truck or 4×4 to get the storage that you need for your next big adventure.

Rooftop Baskets and Bags

Cargo baskets attach to the roof to hold items that may not fit in a bag. The problem is that there no covering for these items, so they won’t be protected from the elements.


Cargo bags are pretty much just backpacks for your 4×4 or truck, holding items that you can’t fit in your truck while offering protection from any bad weather.

Rooftop Cargo Carrier Boxes

Cargo carrier boxes are containers that you attach to the top of your roof, giving you a durable storage solution for your next trip.

best cargo carriers box review - guide 1

These can come in different sizes so that you can find the perfect hard-case carrier to hold your items, protecting them from the elements and people who may potentially want to steal your items.

Hitch Cargo Carriers

Hitch cargo carriers attach to the back of your vehicle, offering you another storage solution, especially to carry items like bikes. These can be great to use in addition to another storage solution to maximize your cargo capacity.


Choosing the Roof Rack System for Your Needs

There are quite a few things to consider when choosing a roof rack system for your vehicle. One thing that you should do is to check the weight of the cargo carrier.

You want something strong, but you don’t necessarily want something heavy as this can add even more weight to your load.

You also want to choose a rack system that is versatile, something that you can use for a variety of needs instead of buying multiple options. For instance, if you like biking or kayaking, there are versatile racks that will carry bikes, kayaks and skis/snowboards.

Another important consideration is the strength and durability. You don’t want to go through your trip only to find out that your cargo system failed. You want to keep your items protected during your trip, not have your cargo system fall apart in harsh weather conditions.

Lastly, you want something with a low profile. If you don’t choose a low-profile option, this could have a significant impact on your fuel economy. A low-profile rack gives you much better fuel economy for your trip.

When you are planning your next adventure, make sure that you have plenty of space to carry everything that you need for your trip.

These are some of the best options that you can choose from to give you the cargo space that you need for your truck and 4×4. Be sure that you get a roof rack system that works for your vehicle and your travelling needs.

Issues with a Roof Rack System

There are some issues that you need to be concerned with when it comes to purchasing the roof rack system. For one thing, there is a weight limit to what you can have on the roof to begin with.

If you put too much weight on your roof, you can run into some potentially hazardous situations when you exceed this weight limit on the roof. This can negatively impact the center of gravity on your vehicle, which can affect how safely you can take corners (especially when you may be going a little faster than you should be).

This can also negatively affect how safely you can brake when driving and dealing with crosswinds. And that only discusses how it negatively impacts your driving when you are on the road.

Sometimes you like to take your truck or 4×4 off the road, which can be even more difficult when you mess with your vehicle’s center of gravity. When off-roading, carrying too much of a load on your roof can lead to rollovers and overtaxing your vehicle’s suspension.

As previously mentioned, when you purchase a roof rack system you need to be concerned about the aerodynamics of your vehicle. When you carry too much weight on roof, this can have such a significant effect on your fuel economy. Gas isn’t exactly cheap so you don’t want to waste it.

There is also the problem of the noise. The loud noises may not be too annoying when you are making short trips, but it may get on your nerves as you drive long distances.

Another issue that you may come across is the difficulty in accessing your roof rack storage. If you are buy yourself, it can be difficult to remove the items from your top rack. This could mean that the hitch cargo carrier may be the better choice for you.

It can be hard to climb up to the top of the vehicle and grab bulkier items like a bike by yourself. However, if you have multiple people joining you, this won’t be as big of a deal.

While these are some problems with roof rack systems, that doesn’t mean roof racks aren’t great options for you. By understanding some cons to the roof rack systems, you can better pick the best roof rack system for you.

Buying Guide for Roof Rack Systems

Aside from the weight of the roof rack system, you also need to know what size roof rack you can get for your vehicle. By measuring the crossbars on your roof, you can get a good idea of what size your roof rack can be. You will also need to think about the type of roof that your vehicle has.

You can look at your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see this information to help you with picking the right size for your needs.

There are different components of the rack system that you should be aware of. One of these things is the fit kit, which is custom-designed to fit your vehicle. This component is what will fasten the foot packs to the roof of your vehicle.

The foot packs are what offers points of attachment on the rack crossbars when the fit kit is installed. Crossbars are the foundation layer of the roof rack, which is the last part to be installed. This is where the gear and accessories are mounted. Lock cylinders offer a security system for your gear, preventing people from stealing your items.

Think about what your budget for a roof rack system is, then find something that works for your car and your needs. There are quite a few options there for you to choose from, so it can be very helpful to read reviews to ensure that you are purchasing a quality roof rack system.

Buying Guide for Hitch Cargo Carriers

You have several things to consider when you are buying a hitch cargo carrier. One important thing to consider is the size of the carrier. First of all, you want something that will carry everything that you need. But you need something that will fit on your vehicle.

These shouldn’t be too long or too wide for your vehicle, so if you need something bigger you may want to consider getting a roof rack system as well. The capacity is also very important, as you want to make sure that you have something that can carry the load that you want to carry.

You should never exceed the weight capacity limit. It can be a good idea to weigh your items before you place them on the rack.

There are a few different types of hitch cargo carriers. The most common choices are the basket, box, and tray. The basket hitch cargo carrier is the most popular choice, as they are one of the most versatile options. The are durable choices, with sides that can range between 6” and 19” in size.

Tray carriers are great because they either don’t have sides or have sides that are removable, so that you are able to put bigger items on it as long as they are securely attached to the carrier. The box option is an enclosed carrier that is similar to the rooftop cargo carriers.

These will protect the items inside of the box from the elements and prevent theft. The problem with box carriers is that it may be difficult to fit items in these as you may want to, plus they can be a little pricier.

It’s also a good idea to use a form of hitch lock to secure the carrier to your vehicle to deter theft of the carrier.

Roof Rack System or Hitch Cargo Carrier?

Roof rack systems may be the more common choice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best choice for your needs. There are some advantages over the other option. Here’s a quick summary of the advantages for each.

Roof Rack System

  • You don’t need a hitch to use a roof rack system.
  • Roof rack systems are lighter than hitch cargo carriers.
  • Can have cheaper options than hitch cargo carriers.

Hitch Cargo Carriers

  • More aerodynamic
  • Can carry more weight
  • Can be easier to install
  • More versatile
  • Better option for pickup trucks
  • Easier to pack stuff on for your vacation

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Richard Moore

Richard is a co-founder of and major contributor to Outside Pursuits. He has trekking and survival experience throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Richard contributes his extensive travel and outdoor experience to the editorial topics and content on Outside Pursuits including outdoor gear, motorcycle accessories, auto/4x4 accessories, and tools. In 1998, he survived in the wilderness for over a week without food or specialist equipment. He was stranded on the northern coast of Honduras following Category 5 Hurricane Mitch.

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