Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Choosing a roof-mounted cargo carrier can be daunting, especially if you can't load all of your gear and throw it on your vehicle before making a purchase. This is where we come in. We have the hands-on experience and industry professionals that can help with any situation.


There are three different types of rooftop cargo carriers designed to mount to your roof or roof rack




For the most part, choosing between the different types of rooftop carriers depends on your gear and personal preference. For example, if you are carrying luggage, golf clubs or skis that you want to remain secure, dry and clean, a cargo box is your best bet. If, however, you have camping supplies that aren't particularly valuable or fragile, you can use a cargo bag. And if you don't have a specific application in mind - you just know that you need more cargo space - try a basket - it's relatively low profile and you can add accessories, tie-downs and even a cargo bag to it.


Our Top Picks


# 1 # 2 # 3 # 4 # 5
Inno Wedge 624 Rooftop Cargo Box Thule Hyper XL Cargo Box Yakima ShowCase 20 Cargo Box Thule Motion XXL Cargo Box Black Rhino Rack Rooftop Cargo Basket
Inno Wedge 624 Thule Hyper XL Yakima ShowCase Thule Motion XT - 22 cu ft Rhino-Rack Roof Basket
Storage Capacity 13 cu ft 17 cu ft 20 cu ft 22 cu ft See internal dimensions below
Internal Dimensions 66 x 25.5 x 11 81 x 32.5 x 14.5 82 x 35 x 16.5 91.5 x 37.5 x 18 50.75 x 38 x 5
Snowboard and Ski Capacity 4 to 6 ski 4 to 6 ski 6 to 8 ski 10 to 14 ski Roof basket cargo
Expert's Rating 5 stars 5 stars 4 1/2 stars 5 stars 4 stars
Expert's Opinion The easy-to-use memory mount hardware and the rigid lid and base caught our attention first.
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The "X" design stands out from the solid black, white and silver lids of traditional boxes.
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This box loses a little ground with the lack of rigidness in the lid, but...
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This is one big box. You can pack a week of supplies for a family of 8 and have plenty of room to sprawl out in the car.
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This basket challenges common designs of roof baskets. The sliding mounting clamps are not limited to specific crossbar spreads and...
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Access Dual Side Opening Dual Side Opening Dual Side Opening Dual Side Opening Open
Ease of Use Memory mount hardware – No-tools required AcuTight mounting hardware – No overtightening, no-tools required Push button opening, Quick-release cam-action levers – No-tools required PowerClick quick-release clamps – No overtightening, no-tools required Universal u-bolt brackets, tool included
Construction 3-Layer ABS Plastic w/ SPM Injection Molded Base 5-Layer ABS Plastic w/ Acrylic Cap 3-Layer ABS Plastic 5-Layer ABS Plastic w/ Acrylic Cap Steel
Finish Gloss Two-Tone High-Gloss w/ X-design High-Gloss Automotive Finish High-Gloss Automotive Finish Black Powder Coat
Weight 41 lbs. 53 lbs. 60 lbs. 55 lbs. 38 lbs.
Crossbar Compatibility Round, Square, Aero and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars Round, Square, Aero/Elliptical and Most Factory Bars
Locks Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes No




How to Choose the Best Rooftop Carrier

Whether your family of seven is going on a vacation or you're just planning a weekend camping trip with some friends, cargo space can be a premium in any vehicle. Adding a cargo box, bag or basket is a popular option for most adventurers. With so many options on the market, how do you know which one is best for your situation? Hopefully this guide will help. We broke down the three types of carriers for you below.


Cargo Boxes

Cargo boxes are the total package. They offer security, storage capacity and weather protection. Most cargo boxes include locks to keep your gear secure during bathroom breaks or over-night rest stops. The hard shell design deflects the elements and debris that can go flying over your roof. Although they aren't waterproof, they are weatherproof. Everything will stay dry for the most part, but if you are carrying electronics, paper or something that absolutely cannot get wet, it would be a good idea to pack it in sealed plastic bags. Hard rain or dust in a windy climate can leave a small surprise in any exterior carrier.


Yakima ShowCase 20 Cargo Box Lid Opening

Storage

Skis, snowboards, suitcases, and sleeping bags are a few examples of gear you may want to carry in a cargo box. These rooftop catchalls can hold anything from golf bags to golf balls and they come in a variety of sizes. Many cargo boxes have dual-side-opening lids and models with single-side-opening lids open to the passenger side for safe loading and unloading on the side of the road.


Yakima ShowCase 20 Cargo Box Lid Opening Rhino Rack Master Fit Cargo Box

Extra-long cargo boxes such as the Thule Sonic XXL or the Yakima SkyBox Lo are great for winter trips to the slopes. They can hold up to 6 snowboards and 8 pairs of skis. If you are going on a road trip or camping, then you may prefer more volume instead of length. Our extra-large capacity cargo boxes can hold 15 to 22 cu ft of cargo.


Mounting

Rhino Rack roof box mounting clamp

A roof rack is required for a cargo box. The good news is cargo box manufacturers designed their own unique versions of universal mounting clamps to fit all types of crossbars.



Since the mounting clamps remain protected, manufacturers have made them extremely easy to use. Thule's AcuTight hardware prevents over-tightening and Inno's Memory Mount hardware allows you to set the clamps once and never worry about them again.



Rear Hatch Clearance

Rear Hatch Clearance hatch open

Rear hatch clearance is another factor that most don't think about until they open their rear door and it hits the cargo box. The mounting clamps on these boxes can be adjusted so that the box is positioned more toward the front of your vehicle, leaving enough room in the rear for your hatch to open fully. In addition to the adjustable clamps, a box designed specifically to ensure clearance will be sloped or contoured in the rear to provide a little extra space.


Click here to see rear hatch clearance dimensions for our cargo boxes


Here are a few cargo boxes to consider


Economy Value Premium
Skiing/Snowboarding Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 Cargo Box Thule Pulse Alpine Cargo Box Thule Motion XT Alpine
Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 –
11 cu ft
Thule Pulse Alpine –
11 cu ft
Thule Motion XT Alpine –
16 cu ft
Camping/Roadtrip Car Top Cargo Box Economy Thule Force L Cargo Box Value Thule Motion XT Roof Cargo Box
Car Top Cargo Box –
18 cu ft
Thule Force L –
16 cu ft
Thule Motion XT –
22 cu ft




Rooftop Cargo Baskets

If you need extra space, but you aren't ready for the expense of a cargo box or you just don't like the look, a cargo basket might be the way to go. Cargo baskets don't offer the same level of protection as a cargo box, but they will get your items from point A to point B. Their open design won't limit the height of your cargo, so they are great for coolers, suitcases and spare tires. They can also give you a rugged look that is popular in the off-road and 4-wheeling communities.


Pro Series Cargo Basket with gear Yakima MegaWarrior Cargo Basket with gear

Cargo baskets come in different sizes and styles. Among Rhino-Rack's many offerings you'll find basic steel mesh baskets. And Thule carries stylish contoured tubular steel baskets. You can choose from lightweight rustproof aluminum construction or more economically priced heavy-duty steel construction depending on your needs.


Mounting

Like cargo boxes, rooftop baskets require a roof rack on the vehicle. Cargo basket mounting brackets are mostly universal, fitting round, square, factory and aftermarket aero style crossbars. The simple u-bolt and bolt and strap designs make the installation pretty straight forward.


Cargo basket mounting clamp Curt Cargo Basket Mounting Clamp

Accessories

Cargo baskets do not come with lids or locks, but you can use tie-downs, cargo nets and cargo bags to keep everything from flying away.


Here are a few cargo baskets to consider


Economy Value Premium
Curt Roof Basket Economy Rhino-Rack Roof Basket Value Kuat Vagabond X Roof Basket Premium
Curt Roof Cargo Basket –
41.5 x 37 x 4
Rhino-Rack Roof Basket –
47 x 35 x 5.5
Kuat Vagabond X –
73 x 41 x 7


Cargo Bags

Cargo bags usually aren't the first choice when it comes to a rooftop cargo carrier, but it is hard to beat the savings compared to a cargo box or basket. Most bags do not require a roof rack. They are extremely lightweight and do not take up too much room in the garage or basement when you aren't traveling. They collapse, roll and fold for easy storage. The overall weight capacity will be lower if the bag is not supported by a roof rack and cargo basket because a vehicle's roof cannot support as much weight as a roof rack.


Roof-Rack Compatibility

Cargo bags can attach to almost any style roof, whether it has a roof rack or not. Typically, a bag will attach to your roof with integrated tie-downs and can mount to the following roof configurations.


Rightline PackRight Sport Jr

Naked Roof

Installation may vary depending on the model of the cargo bag that you choose. Cargo bags designed for naked roofs will attach in one of the following ways.




Yakima Y07188

Roof Rack

Bags designed for use with roof racks have integrated tie-downs that can be attached to either of the following configurations.




Rhino Rack Rooftop Cargo Bag

Roof-Mounted Baskets

A cargo bag can be used with a rooftop cargo basket to better contain your gear.



Note: If you are concerned about the bag scuffing your vehicle's roof, you can use a protection pad. Simply place the pad beneath your cargo bag when it sits on your roof to keep any sharp objects within your bag from scratching the roof as well as to prevent wear on the paint that could occur from shifting the bag around.


Weather Protection

Yakima Waterproof Fabric

Most cargo bags on the market provide some sort of weather protection for your gear. The construction of these bags varies. Nylon is typically water resistant and will offer sufficient protection in light rain or fog.


For more intensive weather protection, choose a bag with a PVc undercoat or one that employs a more environmentally friendly weatherproofing process that is aimed at creating waterproof fabric. These bags will keep water out even in driving rain.



SportRack Rooftop Cargo Bag Zipper

Note: No cargo bag is entirely waterproof. It is possible for moisture to seep into the bag through zippers and seams. Some of the features that are available to help keep this from happening include:



Here are a few cargo bags to consider


Economy Value Premium
Rightline Ace Cargo Bag Economy Thule Outbound Cargo Bag Value Rhino-Rack XL Cargo Bag Premium
Rightline Ace Cargo Bag –
15 cu ft
Thule Outbound Cargo Bag –
13 cu ft
Rhino-Rack XL Rooftop Cargo Bag –
21 cu ft




Rear Hatch Clearance Dimensions for Cargo Boxes


Roof box clearance

*Note: Inno measures from the rear crossbar to the rear edge of the cargo box.


Inno Logo

Part # Name Rear Clearance*
INBRA220R-BK Ridge Box 11 3/8"
INBRA766BK Stream Box 12"
INBRM660 Wedge 660 12"
INBRM624 Wedge 624 12"
INBRA1170CA Shadow Carbo Fiber 12"
INBRA585BK Low Down Cruiser 20 1/2"

Thule Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
TH682 Sidekick 35"
TH624 Force M 47 7/8"
TH614 Pulse M 42 5/8"
TH634 Sonic M 43 7/8"
TH615 Pulse L 46 3/8"
TH628 Force L 47 1/2"
TH612 Hyper XL 50 5/8"
TH635 Sonic XL 50 7/8"
TH606 Flow 51 7/8"
TH623 Force Alpine 52 1/4"
TH633 Sonic Alpine 52 7/8"
TH625 Force XL 53 5/8"
TH636 Sonic XXL 54 3/4"
TH613 Pulse Alpine 55 1/4"
TH626 Force XXL 58 1/8"

Yakima Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
Y07191 RocketBox Pro 12 40"
Y07193/Y07192 RocketBox Pro 11 & 14 45"
Y07335 SkyBox 16 52"
Y07328/Y07329 ShowCase 20 54"
Y07334/Y07336/Y07337 SkyBox 12, 18 & 21 57"
Y07338 SkyBox Lo 57"

Whispbar Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
WB-700S/WB-700B Aero Compact 47"
WB-701S Aero Mid-Size 51"

Rhino Rack Logo

Part # Name Front Clearance
RRRMFZ66 Zenith Master Fit 14 cu ft 49 1/4"
RMF440/RMFB440 Master Fit 16 cu ft Silver & Black 49 1/4"
RRRMFZ86 Zenith Master Fit 17.5 cu ft 54"
RMF550/RRRMFB550 Master Fit 19.5 cu ft Silver & Black 54"




Questions and Comments about this Article

Scott

I am a returning customer and would like to know if the aluminum cargo basket #288-09200 would work with y 2020 Subaru Crosstrek. I am looking for a lightweight cargo basket. 105932

Reply from Jon G.

@Scott Thanks for the extra info! Yeah, in your case you definitely want to go with aluminum. The Trail XT # TH864XT or # TH865XT would be a much better option since they are compatible with a wider variety of crossbar spreads. Another option that I like is the Inno Roof Deck # INA510 or # INA520 . This is the easiest roof basket to install and remove but the drawback is that it doesn't have the raised rails like the styles you're looking at. I'm going to link our selection of aluminum cargo baskets for you to check out but I think the Trail XT and Roof Deck are your best options as far as pricing vs features go. 76535

Reply from Scott

@JonG Thank you for the all the help, I am going with the INA510 for my Crosstrek, it will work with what I need to do. 76543

Reply from Scott

@JonG I ordered the INA510 today, should arrive next week and will work for my vehicle, thanks for all the help 76557

Reply from Jon G.

@Scott Awesome! Glad to hear that you found something that you like! 76562

Reply from Jon G.

The Cargo Basket # 288-09200 is compatible if the crossbars on your 2020 Crosstrek have a spread of 17-3/4" - 24-3/4". If your roof rack is adjustable front and back then you might be able to get this to work but you'll want to confirm with your roof rack instructions that it will be okay top place them 24-3/4" together (which is pretty close). You might end up needing to go with something like the LoadWarrior # Y07070 which fits a crossbar spread between 24" - 32". 76476

Reply from Scott

@JonG I live in the salt belt of the country and still looking for something in aluminum, the steel ones look nice, had a Yakima in steel and it rusted. Also looking at the Thule Trail XT all aluminum rack. 76498

Angd

I have a 1995 class c camper therefore no gutter channels and therefore not sure how I'll be able to attach a roof basket. It is 16 ft. long and mainly used for camping/light off-roading. Any suggestions? 105835

Reply from Jon G.

You might be able to use a roof rack like the Rhino-Rack Kit # Y02-480B which is designed to install on a flat surface like a truck camper. You just need to make sure that you have the space on your Class C for this to work. 76475

Derek A.

The gutter mount racks have weight capacities to them. Could I essentially add additional cross bars using gutter mounts to increase the capacity of the cargo platform or basket? Or am I going to run into issues with how much the gutters can hold? 105525

Reply from Jon G.

You will run into issues with how much the gutters can hold. Whenever we are looking at weight capacities we are always limited by the least rated component. For example, the gutter mount roof racks that fit a 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited at the most have a weight capacity of 165 lbs. Your cargo box/basket weight alone will start to cut into that rating which is natural. Weight ratings do depend on the vehicle and the roof rack type though so you might be able to find something with a higher weight rating if you check out our fitguide. 76290

Greg

Toyota4Runner 2021 question. If I opt to purchase a cargo basket and want to put a canoe on top, do I need to remove the basket to have the proper load balance for the canoe or can I tie it down on top of the basket? 103742

Reply from Jon G.

You don't necessarily need to remove the basket when loading your canoe, but there are a few things to consider for this type of application. The first is weight capacity; you want to make sure that you aren't overloading your roof (weight of basket plus weight of canoe) or your cargo basket. The second thing to look at is the construction of the basket; some baskets are designed to accommodate loads being placed on top of the rails while others are designed so that the load needs to sit inside the rails. For your application I'd either go with the Yakima OffGrid # Y07138 or the Inno Deck Platform which comes in small # INA510 and large # INA520 . 75979

Reply from Greg

@JonG Thanks Jon for sharing you insights! You guys rock! 75986

Reply from Jon G.

@Greg Happy to help! 75987

Dan A.

Wondering what the best cargo box is for a 2020 Subaru Forester. Traveling with 4 adults and 2 dogs. I have Yakima low rider with round bars. Thanks! 103682

Reply from Jon G.

I really like the Thule Force XT XXL Rooftop Cargo Box # TH6359B . It has a nice size, a nice finish, and from what I'm seeing it will fit great. All you have to do to verify is measure from your front crossbar to the line where you roof and your rear hatch meets. As long as that measures at least 54-3/4" then you're good to go! 75968

Dawn H.

We are driving a 2003 Chevy Suburban from MN to CA with our 80# dog (and back). Need roof storage so we can sleep in the vehicle if needed. No skis or boards. Just luggage. What do you recommend? 103222

Reply from Jon G.

I'll be happy to help you out! If you have smaller luggage then the absolute best option is a cargo box because it will offer the most protection both against the elements and against would-be thieves if you'll be parked in a public place while you're sleeping. If you have bigger luggage then a cargo basket would be better and you can add a cargo bag if you want to help keep the elements away from your stuff. I only recommend going with just the bag on your bare roof if your luggage is smaller and lightweight as the weight of the luggage will be directly placed on your roof. If you can give me an idea of the size of luggage as well as which of these options you'd prefer I can look into this a little more for you. 75731

Reply from Dawn H.

@JonG We can pack in either duffels or regular suitcases. There will be one or two small suitcases. We also have to bring our tent/camping gear. And, at least a 50 lb bag of dog food. Definitely need something that locks. 75737

Reply from Jon G.

@DawnH Thank you for the info! For your application I recommend going with the Malone AirFlow2 # MPG216 for the crossbars and then the Yakima GrandTour Cargo Box # YA84FR because it gives you 18 cu ft of storage space and you can remove the knob used for tightening the clamp feet which gives you a little more internal space than most other boxes. This box weighs in at 58 lbs so combined with the dog food is 108 lbs. This leaves you with 57 lbs (from the roof rack 165 lb rating) for all of your other cargo. 75747

Dan H.

We are driving from Michigan to Key Largo, FL. What is the best cargo carrier and roof rack combo for a ‘21 Ford Explorer Limited? We want to take two sets of golf clubs and suitcases. 101845

Reply from Jon G.

For your application I recommend going with the Yakima 60" JetStream Crossbars # Y00426 with the TimberLine Towers # Y00147 . Then for a roof carrier I really like the Inno Roof Deck Platform Rack # INA520 because it is pretty light and extremely easy to use. 75106

Lisa

Hello! I am driving/moving across country (CA-FL) and am looking for a cargo bag to put on my 2020 Toyota Corolla. Question....Does the material (straps, bag against the roof) ever cause any damage to the paint? and how much weight is recommended? I will probably be loading my clothes and light items but want to make sure I am not going to damage my vehicle. Thank you :) 101704

Reply from Jon G.

Most roof cargo bags have a type of protection on the bottom to help protect your roof, but we still recommend making sure that your roof is clean from any debris and then using the Rightline Protection Pad # RL100650 which helps to keep the bag from shifting and it helps to further protect your roof. As far as weight capacity goes you'll want to keep the cargo lightweight. Tossing some clothes and light items will probably be just fine. I wasn't able to find a specific weight rating in the online version of your owner's manual so I would definitely keep it under 100 lbs and be sure to spread the weight evenly so there isn't just one spot that's taking the brunt of the weight. 75056

Louis

Which cargo roof rack and bag combos work for an acura 2020 mdx with OEM installed roof rack and crossbars? 97062

Reply from Chris R.

For the OEM roof rack on your 2020 Acura MDX I really like the etrailer Cargo Basket # e99032 paired with the Rightline # RL100S50 that features an excellent waterproof construction. 71107

Allan S.

I have a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500. I want to install a roof rack/basket. There are no gutters and I do not trust suction cups. I would be looking for a permanent installation, measure, drill, bolt, and so forth. I saw a model available somewhere, can't recall where though. What can you recommend? 95330

Reply from Chris R.

The best solution for this I can offer is something like the Rhino-Rack # Y02-500B . This setup features channels that would be permanently bolted to the roof that the crossbars mount to. It does provide a nice adjustable system since the bars can slide along the length of the rails. 70444

Camille P.

Hi, I’m having a hard time finding a cargo basket that will fit my Honda CRV 2005. I own a Yakama basket that I had on my Volvo CrossCountry but it doesn’t fit the Honda. And the cross bars are not adjustable. Thanks 85906

Reply from Chris R.

Do you have the factory roof rack on your CR-V? If so, can you tell me its crossbar spread (center of front crossbar to center of rear crossbar)? I wasn't able to track this information down. 67981

Randy L.

Hi: I have a 2016 Pleasure Lexor TS. I is on a Ram Promaster 3500 high roof van. It came with a Care Free awning. I have some space above drivers cab area. I am thinking about adding some roof cargo storage. Is there a product(rack) and cargo carrier which is made for such an application? Thank you 78589

Reply from Chris R.

Is there room on the roof for crossbars that go all the across - or do you only have space on the driver's side? 63783

Richard B.

I have a 2018 TRD PRO and I seen a roof rack combo with a roll out canopy. 75855

Reply from Chris R.

We do have components to make this happen on your Tacoma. I specifically recommend the Thule WingBar Roof Rack setup that consists of parts # TH711420 , # TH710501 , and # TH145107 , along with the roll-out awning # TH8002AW604 . 61994

Russ K.

I just purchased a 2019 Ford Ecosport. It has the roof rack installed including the cross bars. I am confused as to which cargo box would fit best on it since it s a small SUV. We are looking to put a couple of suitcases for travel in it and perhaps a couple of other smaller items. Can you please give me some information about which models I should be looking at? Thanks.. 70883

Reply from Chris R.

I actually reached out to my contact at Yakima because I noticed that both them and Thule didn't list any boxes for the EcoSport with the factory roof rack - which is odd. I was able to find that the reason for this is that Ford lists a weight capacity of just 55 pounds for the factory bars, so a cargo box just wouldn't be a practical accessory(once you factor in the weight of the box itself you don't have much room at all for cargo...). I know this isn't the best news but your only option for mounting a box would be to replace the factory bars with an aftermarket system that sports a higher capacity. 57897

Ryan S.

Hi, checking to see what cargo box would be best for a Toyota Highlander..? Family of 3 with 2 dogs and 3 cats. Thanks, Ryan *Best price and quality. 64725

Reply from Jacob H.

We have many different cargo boxes that will work great with your Toyota Highlander. I really like the build and looks of the Thule Roof boxes. They can be a little pricier but you are getting an extremely well built box that will last you for a very long time. As far as fitment for your vehicle and family, you will have have to take some measurements to see what will fit your roof best. I have provided a link in which you will find all of the Thule boxes that we carry. You will want to keep the weight capacity of your roofbars and roof in mind when looking into getting a box to make sure you do not exceed the weight that it can hold. 54982



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