Finding the Right Roof Box

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Great for camping trips or storing practically anything, car roof boxes are the essential car accessory for anyone looking to expand the limited space at the back of the car. Whether you are looking to store your skis for the next big ski trip or preparing to travel across the country, roof boxes store it all. But because roof boxes come in a bunch of different shapes and sizes, it can often be a chore deciding among all the roof boxes. In our short guide, we will give you insight into the most important factors to take into account when searching for the perfect roof box.

Dimensions and Volume

Thule Cargo Box perfect for all your sledding or skiing needs

Depending on what you are planning to store in your roof box, you may opt for a rather long or short roof box. That is why you want to be certain that the roof box you are looking at is equal to or larger than the object you are planning on storing. So for the avid skiers and cyclists, you may want to choose the half-width roof boxes to ensure that your equipment fits snugly in the container. We personally recommend the Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 or the SportsRack Horizon for all your skiing needs, as they can fit skis up to 210 cm in length. The Thule Force – XXL is another one of our favorite’s, storing your items up to 220 cm in length, though it is a good chunk more expensive than the RocketBox Pro 11.

However, if you’re just looking for some extra space to store jackets, sports gear, and duffel bags, then you should consider choosing a rooftop basket along with a cargo net. Because of the weather, that is not always an option. So when you are choosing a roof box solely for the reason of storing more items, then I recommend sorting through all these roof boxes by volume. Roof boxes can range from just 10 cubic feet to up to 20+ cubic feet, so again you should keep in mind what you are trying to store.

Length of Travel

Dual-side opening car roof box

Standard roof boxes are designed to open up from one side only. Though this design fits the needs of most, a dual opening roof box makes life much easier. Imagine you are on the side of the road with vehicles going 60 mph your way. Now, if your roof box only opened up to the side with cars passing, then it might get pretty difficult to open it up if you wanted to get something from it. Now, imagine that you have a roof box capable of opening from both sides. You can easily prop it open from the other side. This aspect is just one of the small things you should take into account when buying a roof box, not a complete deal breaker but definitely makes life a bit easier.

The Thule Force Boxes all come with a dual-side opening capacity, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Other roof boxes open from the rear, such as the SportsRack Vista XL, so that is an alternative to the dual-side opening roof boxes.

Compatibility with Car

Bird's eye view of a car top roof box

Make sure to check your car’s maximum roof load capability in your vehicle’s handbook when deciding among roof boxes. You do not want to choose a roof box that will crush the roof of your vehicle, making the cost of the roof box even more expensive. Most roof boxes are capable of holding up to 100 pounds or more with the actual weight of the roof box is about 30-50 pounds, depending on the size of the roof box.

Additionally, you want to find the right roof bars that are compatible with your vehicle as well as your roof box. There are plenty of universal-fit and easy mounting roof racks in the market, so finding one that fits your cargo rooftop box shouldn’t be too difficult.

You also don’t want to have a roof box that will break the rear window of your car when opening the trunk, so double check your vehicle’s handbook to make sure that you won’t have any issues. If you have a smaller car, then it probably wouldn’t be best to choose one of the super long and thin roof boxes. Likewise, you probably shouldn’t choose a short and thick roof box for your car if you have a particularly big car because it may be hard to access from the top.


Locking mechanism found in roof boxes to ensure security

If you worry about leaving your rooftop cargo basket or box unattended, then it will probably be best to choose the roof box, most of which come with locks to secure the contents inside. You don’t have to worry about someone sneaking off with a hundred-pound roof box. Rooftop cargo baskets do not have locking capabilities, so you will always have to keep an eye out for suspicious individuals. Additionally, if you live in a place with inclement weather, then you should definitely choose a roof box to protect any items from rain or snow.

Frequency of Use for Your Roof Box

Like all things, your decision to buy something depends on the price, and roof boxes are no exception. Given the high prices that these roof boxes go for, you really want to ask yourself how much am I going to use this carrier? Is it just for that one camping trip you are planning to go on next year? Or do you regularly tail-gate at football games and watch your kids’ soccer and football games? Roof boxes aren’t meant to be stored at the top of your vehicle with nothing in them, so you would have to keep storing them in the garage and propping it back if you don’t plan on using them often.

Buyer’s Guide to Finding the Best Roof Box for You

In short, if you’re looking for an affordable roof box that will get you and your skis and skateboard to where you need to go, then we recommend the SportRack Horizon Roof Box. It is one of the cheapest on the market, has passenger side opening for access away from traffic, and can hold 3-5 skis or 2-3 snowboards that are up to 210 cm in length. But I wouldn’t bet on being able to store much else in there as its capacity stands at only 11 cubic feet.

Now, if you’re looking for a roof box with all the bells and whistles, I’ll direct you to the Thule Force – XXL. Storing up to 21 cubic feet of your miscellaneous items, this roof box will be able to store nearly everything. You can store up to 7 skis or 5 snowboards with this roof box that is one of the largest on the market. If you decide to choose this one, just make sure to put it to good use. Whether you choose the SportsRack or Thule, the right roof box will free up space in your car for a more comfortable ride and help you transport everything you need.

If you’re still not sure if a roof box is the right fit for you, check out our article here for an in-depth guide to finding the right car top storage method for you.

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