Best Car Top Carrier

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Car top carriers, otherwise known as cargo carriers, are essentially large-scale bags or boxes that allow you to transport certain items on top of your car roof.

This is a great transportation system for those road trips where you have more luggage to carry than you can fit inside your car.

There are plenty of car top carriers available on the market which, on the surface, is a good thing because it means you have plenty of products to choose from. This, in turn, translates to more flexibility in terms of construction, design, and vehicle compatibility.

However, the downside to the extensive range of available car top carriers is that it makes it much harder to narrow down the best, most reliable models.

Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of the top 5 best car top carriers. Our buyer’s guide also features a factor-by-factor breakdown of all the most important things to consider before you make your final purchase.

Need to get going? No worries – here’s our top choice:

Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag

  • 15 cubic feet of storage space
  • Stretchy and durable nylon construction
  • PVC coating
  • Adjustable straps
  • Widely compatible
  • Foldable for storage
  • Affordable pricing
Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag
Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag
  • 15 cubic feet
  • Compatible with all roof racks
  • Durable nylon material for stretch
AmazonBasics ZH1705156 Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag
AmazonBasics ZH1705156 Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag
  • 15 cubic feet
  • 100% waterproof, durable vinyl
  • Thick, adjustable straps 
Rightline Gear Sport 2 Car Top Carrier
Rightline Gear Sport 2 Car Top Carrier
  • Available in 11, 15, or 18 cubic feet
  • Usable with or without roof rack
  • Waterproof PVC mesh XT material 

1. Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag

No. 1
1. Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag
9.4/10 Our Score

Keeper’s 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag ranks consistently amongst the best car top carriers on the market.

This rooftop carrier measures in at 15 cubic feet, providing a generous amount of room for plenty of luggage on top of your car.

The soft, durable nylon material allows for a certain amount of stretch to accommodate irregularly shaped objects.

Meanwhile, the tri-layered waterproof PVC coating is sure to keep all your luggage safe and dry, no matter the weather.

The Keeper 07203-1 is designed for full compatibility with all roof racks, with adjustable straps on all 4 sides of the bag for secure fastening.

Once you’ve finished using this car top carrier bag, you can easily fold it up into a small square for convenient storage.

The most significant selling point of this car top carrier is how affordable it is, considering the high quality of its construction.

If you’re looking for a car top carrier that will provide you with durability, spaciousness, and convenience for a great price, we definitely recommend this model.

  • Includes an all-purpose cleaner
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Three height adjustments
  • Possible corrosion risk
  • Bulky

2. AmazonBasics ZH1705156 Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag, Black, 15 cu. ft.

No. 2
2. AmazonBasics ZH1705156 Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag, Black, 15 cu. ft.
9.4/10 Our Score

AmazonBasics can usually be trusted to provide high-quality products for affordable prices, and this Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag definitely proves this point.

At 15 cubic feet, this bag is large enough to carry a significant amount of luggage or individual items.

The ZH1705156 is made of 100% waterproof vinyl material that will keep the contents of the bag perfectly dry in the event of rain and is durable enough to withstand heavy loads.

The 1-inch thick, adjustable polypropylene straps cross over the bag, coming down on all 4 sides for optimal security.

Meanwhile, the heavy-duty zipper closure extends halfway around the bag, leaving more than enough room for efficient loading.

This bag can also be compactly folded for easy storage and placed inside the included storage bag.

  • 15 cubic feet
  • 100% waterproof, durable vinyl
  • Thick, adjustable straps
  • Heavy-duty zipper closure
  • Compact folding for easy storage
  • Included storage bag 
  • A few reports of defective construction 

3. Rightline Gear Sport 2 Car Top Carrier

No. 3
Rightline Gear Sport 2 Car Top Carrier, 15 cu ft, 100% Waterproof, Attaches With or Without Roof Rack
9.4/10 Our Score

Rightline Gear is a trusted manufacturer of automotive accessories and has been producing quality products since 1997.

The Sport 2 Car Top Carrier comes in a range of sizes, including 11 cubic feet, 15 cubic feet, and 18 cubic feet, so you can select the size that is most compatible with your vehicle, roof rack, and luggage load.

The waterproof PVC coated mesh material is durable and resistant to most weather conditions due to the incorporated UV protection, so neither ran nor shine will damage the contents of your car top carrier.

The SZIP zipper is also fully waterproof, so there’s nowhere for rain to creep in.

This is a very versatile car top carrier that can be used with or without a roof rack.

Either use the included attachment straps (see below) to attach the bag to your roof rack or use the clips (see below) to attach it to your door frames.

Even better, the Sport 2 comes with all the additional features required for immediate use, including 4 straps, 4 clips, and a storage stuff sack that has set-up instructions stitched into it for easy access.

  • Available in 11, 15, or 18 cubic feet
  • Usable with or without roof rack
  • Waterproof PVC mesh XT material
  • Waterproof SZIP zipper closure
  • UV protection
  • Includes 4 straps, 4 clips, and stuff sack 
  • Relatively little structural support

4. SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box

No. 4
4. SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box
9.4/10 Our Score

So far, we’ve reviewed 3 car top carrier bags. However, car top carriers are also manufactured in box form, so it’s time to give these carrier box models some attention. 

SportRack’s Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box measures 19 x 63 x 38 inches with a total storage capacity of 18 cubic feet and a weight limit of 100 lbs.

This allows for the transport of a significant load, so you’re unlikely to encounter any spatial or weight-related limitations with this car top carrier box. 

This is an extremely durable car top carrier model thanks to the heavy-duty ABS construction with built-in UV resistance. 

The rear-opening system means you can access the contents of your carrier easily at any point (within reason, of course) during your journey, without putting yourself in the way of traffic. 

The box attaches to compatible roof racks using quick-release mounting hardware that fastens to crossbars using U-bolts. 

Mounting hardware has also been included for a quick, tool-free installation process, as well as a lock to keep your luggage safe and secure during your journey. 

The only real limitation to this cargo box is that it’s only compatible with roof racks of certain dimensions.

This carrier box is only usable in conjunction with crossbars measuring between 23 ⅝ inches and 29 ¾ inches. 

  • 18 cubic feet
  • 100 lbs weight limit
  • Durable ABS construction
  • Quick-release U-bolt attachment
  • Convenient rear-opening system
  • Tool-free installation
  • Mounting hardware included 
  • Only compatible with crossbars measuring 23 ⅝ – 29 ¾ inches

5. Thule SideKick Rooftop Cargo Box

No. 5
5. Thule SideKick Rooftop Cargo Box
9.4/10 Our Score

Thule’s SideKick Rooftop Cargo Box is another superior car top carrier that combines durability with ease-of-use. 

The durable, UV protected, and impact-resistant ABS plastic construction promises to keep your possessions protected through wind, rain, and direct sunlight. 

This car top carrier box offers 8 cubic feet of storage space, which is less than the other models on our list, but if you only have a small amount of excess luggage, it should work perfectly.

Moreover, the weight limitation of 75 lbs is high for the smaller storage space. 

All the mounting hardware required for installation is included with the purchase of this box, so you can quickly attach the box to the top of your vehicle using the durable U-bolt attachments.

2 locks have also been included so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your items are safe from theft. 

However, the high price point of this car top carrier means that it won’t be affordable enough for most customers, which is unsurprising, but a shame considering what a good quality product it is. 

Additionally, this cargo box is only compatible with crossbars with a minimum spacing of 23 ⅝ inches and a maximum spacing of 32 1/16 inches.

If your crossbars fall outside of these measurements, then this cargo box is unlikely to work for you. 

  • 75 lbs weight limit
  • Durable ABS construction
  • UV protected
  • Strong U-bolt attachments
  • 2 locks included
  • Installation hardware included 
  • Very expensive
  • Only compatible with 23 ⅝ – 32 1/16 inch crossbars 

Best Car Top Carrier Buyer’s Guide

If you’ve read the above reviews all the way through, you’ll probably have realized, if you didn’t know already, that car top carriers come in many different shapes, sizes, structures, and materials.

Our buyer’s guide is here to help you select the perfect car top carrier for your individual vehicle and rooftop storage needs!

Bag or Box?

Car top carriers are available in either bag or box designs, so the first step in the decision process when choosing a carrier should be determining which construction suits you best.

There are several different perspectives from which to approach this decision since both car top carrier bags and boxes have benefits and drawbacks.

For one thing, logic dictates that a box is likely to be more durable than a bag, simply owing to the fact that a bag will have a fabric-based construction while a car top carrier box will be made of plastic.

Plastic, of course, is more impact-resistant than most fabrics and isn’t subject to the same tearing risks.

However, the main issues with car top carrier boxes are that they are less easy to store in terms of space, are usually only compatible with certain crossbar measurements (more on this below), and are heavier and more cumbersome to handle. They also tend to be less affordable.

Bag-style car top carriers, on the other hand, may have less structural support as rule. However, when made from durable materials (see ‘material’ section), these bags can be very long-lasting.

Car top bags also have the advantage of being easier to store due to foldability, compatible with almost any vehicle with (and sometimes without) a roof rack due to extendable strap attachments, and less expensive on average. 


Having just touched on the advantages and drawbacks of fabric vs plastic construction, it’s worth delving a little deeper into the specifics of the different materials in car top carrier construction.

If you’ve opted for a box-style car top carrier, we recommend looking for an ABS plastic build like the ones featured in our review section.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a highly durable plastic material with superior impact, scratch, shock, and heat resistance. For such a durable material, it’s also very low-cost.

In the case of a bag-style carrier, we would advise selecting one that is made from either nylon or vinyl material with an additional PVC coating.

Nylon is a very stretchy material, so if you need to fit any awkwardly-shaped items in your carrier but don’t want to risk tearing the bag, nylon is the best choice.

Other benefits of nylon are that it’s resistant to abrasion boasts a high tensile strength, making it perfect for transporting heavy loads while exposed to the elements.

Vinyl, meanwhile, is also extremely wear-resistant and has the additional benefit of being very easy to clean, so any dirt or debris that ends up on your carrier during your road trip can be cleaned off at the end of your journey without too much fuss.

Neither nylon nor vinyl is fully waterproof or water-resistant on its own, but a PVC coating will help to keep rain and moisture out of your carrier, protecting your luggage from damage.


Of course, you’ll also need to consider the dimensions of your desired car top carrier to make sure that it will be large enough to store everything you need it to.

The easiest way to measure car top carrier dimensions and storage capacity is in cubic feet. This is because dealing with capacity in this way saves you the effort of doing calculations based on length, width, and height measurements.

Thankfully, the vast majority of car top carrier manufacturers provide dimensions in this format somewhere in their product instructions to make this process as easy as possible.

The carriers reviewed above have size options that range from 8 cubic feet to 18 cubic feet, so no matter how much luggage you need to carry, you’ll find a car top carrier on our list to suit you!

Attachment System

The attachment system of a car top carrier will largely depend on whether you’re dealing with a carrier bag or box.

Where bag-style carriers are concerned, straps are the usual form of attachment. The great thing about strap attachments is that they’re normally adjustable, so you can fit your fastenings to work with any vehicle or roof rack.

The security of a strap system can be enhanced by prioritizing thicker straps or purchasing additional straps for backup.

If you prefer to use a box-style car top carrier, you’ll need to be prepared for a little more effort in the way of installation.

In most cases, car top carrier boxes attach to crossbars and roof racks using U-bolts, which need to be assembled along with other pieces of hardware to construct a secure attachment system.

The upside of this is that most manufacturers will include the necessary hardware with their product, so you won’t need to make these purchases separately.


Compatibility, for the most part, is only an issue that needs to be considered when purchasing a car top carrier box. This is because, while straps can often be extended or adjusted, the U-bolt attachment systems used by box carriers are size-specific to a certain extent.

Therefore, before you purchase a car top carrier box, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your crossbars. This information should be available in your vehicle owner manual.

Alternatively, you can take the measurements yourself using a long ruler or tape measure: all you need to know is the spacing between the crossbars.

If you don’t feel like taking these measurements, or don’t have the tools or information available to do so, has a ‘check fit’ function for automotive parts and accessories where you can enter the model of your vehicle to check compatibility.

However, please bear in mind that there is some potential for error with this system, so we only recommend relying on it if you can’t use another method.

Additional Features

Most of the additional features included with car top carriers concern either storage or security.

If you want to keep your carrier bag as safe as possible when it’s not in use, some manufacturers will include a storage or stuff bag that you can keep your carrier in between trips. This will help to protect it from moisture damage, tearing, and other forms of damage while in storage.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of theft while on the road, we recommend prioritizing car top carrier models that include some form of lock.

You’ll be amazed at what a locking system can do to reassure you during those long hours in the car when you can’t check on your rooftop luggage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are car top carriers safe?

If you’ve never used a car top carrier before, we totally understand that the idea of trusting a bag on top of your car roof to carry your belongings from destination to destination can be daunting.

However, we can confidently reassure you that, when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions with due care and attention, car top carriers are perfectly safe.

If you’re concerned about security, either in terms of attachment or theft-proofing, there are steps you can take to increase your peace of mind. For example, you could purchase additional straps to ensure that your carrier is securely fastened to your car roof.

Additionally, some carriers include 1 or more locks to prevent anyone else from gaining access to your luggage while it’s stored on your roof.

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