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Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier in 2018

Are you planning to go on a long trip with your family or friends?

These 5 rooftop cargo carriers are the most durable and affordable picks in 2018

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a ski trip on the mountains, or a camping trip by the lake, if you’re traveling with family and friends you are going to need a lot of space in your car to pack up all your equipment.

However big your car is, it surely doesn’t have enough space to fit your skies in it along with everything else you’re bringing with you. Because of that, the best solution for storage space in your car is an exterior rooftop cargo carrier.

Picking the right rooftop cargo carrier may be a daunting task because of the large selection of said products.

So, to make your choice a little bit easier, we spent hours on a long search for some of the best rooftop cargo carriers on the market. Dive in!

Last updated 2/18/2018.

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best rooftop cargo carrier 2017

Jump to this filter review (editor’s pick)

Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers 2018

Model (link jumps to our review)Dimensions (inches)TypeRatingPriceOrder Online
1. Thule Force Cargo Box67 x 17 x 37Box
(366 Reviews reviews)
$519.95Buy on Amazon
2. RoofBag 100% Waterproof Carrier with Side Rails40 x 36.5 x 17Bag
(650 Reviews reviews)
$72.00Buy on Amazon
3. Rightline Gear 100S10 Sport 1 Car Top Carrier14 x 12 x 6Bag
(359 Reviews reviews)
$84.95Buy on Amazon
4. Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag44 x 34 x 17Bag
(3156 Reviews reviews)
$49.99Buy on Amazon
5. Yakima SkyBox Carbonite Cargo Box75 x 36 x 22Box
(333 Reviews reviews)
$529.00Buy on Amazon

Prices are last updated on %last_update%

Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers 2018

ModelPriceOrder Online
Thule 624 Force Cargo Box , Medium,Black,Medium (13 Cubic Feet)$519.95Buy Now
RoofBag - Made in USA, 100% Waterproof Car Top Carrier (Works on ALL Cars - No Rack Needed) - Includes Heavy Duty Straps$72.00Buy Now
Rightline Gear 100S10 Sport 1 Car Top Carrier, 12 cu ft, Waterproof, Attaches With or Without Roof Rack$84.95Buy Now
Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag (15 Cubic Feet)$49.99Buy Now
Yakima Skybox 16 Carbonite Cargo Box$529.00Buy Now

Prices are last updated on %last_update%

FAQ

Yes. Without roof rack you won’t be able to carry your rooftop cargo carrier. More about roof racks you can find here.

There are three types of rooftop cargo carrier: cargo bags, cargo boxes and cargo basket. If you want to read more about them, click here

Here's Our List of 5 Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier:

We’ve compiled a hand-picked list of top 5 rooftop cargo carrier of 2018. The list is based on our author’s objective review and combination of various opinions from users all over the world. Continue reading to see all of our rooftop cargo carrier reviews:

1. Thule Force Cargo Box

1. Thule Force Cargo Box

Ranked #1 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 366 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Aerodynamic shape
  • Different cargo sizes
  • Dual- side opening
  • Quick-grip mounting system
  • Thule Force Cargo Box has lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Water flow can be slower
  • A bit on the expensive side

Editor’s Review: 

The first thing that you will notice with this model is its aerodynamic shape. When having a big cargo box on the top of your car, the main problem is the drag and the noise that it’s making. But with Thule Force Cargo Box noise and drag won’t pose a problem due tosuch an easy and smooth surface made of durable five layer ABS plastic. This diamond-textured AeroSkin Shell will hold up even in the toughest weather conditions.

Thule Force Cargo box is available in five different sizes – M, L, XL, XXL, and Alpine. This means that you can choose the size that will suit you, your car, and your needs the most. Depending on the size, Thule Force Cargo Box’s volume can vary from 12 cu ft. to 21 cu ft. and it can weigh between 35 and 56 lbs. Due to its low weight, it can be installed by one person, using no tools because of the Quick-grip mounting system.

Thule Force Cargo Box has a dual-side opening which makes it more accessible, meaning that you don’t have to walk around your car in order to open the cargo box.SecureLockisoversized for easy opening, even with winter gloves on you’re going to be able to easily open, close, and lock the box.

Thule Force Cargo Box has a dual-side opening which makes it more accessible, meaning that you don’t have to walk around your car in order to open the cargo box.SecureLockisoversized for easy opening, even with winter gloves on you’re going to be able to easily open, close, and lock the box.

This cargo box fits on most of Thule rack systems, round bars and it fits on most pre-installed factory racks. Thanks to its big volume, Thule Force Cargo Box also allows you to fit skis and boards that are up to 86 inches long.

If anything on this cargo box gets broken you don’t have to worry because you are covered with a lifetime warranty on any part of the product.

As for the downsides, the biggest one is that this cargo box is not weather proof. Also, the use of plastic material makes it lightweight, but because of that Thule Force Cargo Box happens to seem unsafe and low quality. In some cases because of the plastic parts locks would get stuck, or even broken.

2. RoofBag 100% Waterproof Carrier with Side Rails

2. RoofBag 100% Waterproof Carrier with Side Rails

Ranked #2 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 650 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Good, quality bag
  • Offers a lot of space
  • Easy installation
  • Comes with side rails
  • Two year warranty

Cons:

  • Some parts are low quality
  • Needs extra straps

Editor’s Review: 

Product made in the USA only means one thing – good quality for a fair price.

This roof bag comes in two sizes, 11 cubic feet which fits almost all types of cars, with or without a roof rack. And there is an option for a bit bigger sized bag with 15 cubic feet, which is made for bigger vehicles such as SUVs, vans, and full-size sedans.

Roof bag is available in two colors – black and gray. Although, black looks sharp and classy, gray is better for the summer trips. It stays cooler in the sun, so your stuff won’t be heated when you take it out.

Its front side is a little lower than the rear of the bag. It gives the bag aerodynamic shape, which lessens the wind drag and the noise. The only catch is that your bag has to be fully loaded, at least in the front. Because of the wind at high speeds, the bag could flap around and make a terrible noise. So be sure to put all the big and bulky stuff in the front, and you will not hear a thing.

Installation of the bag on the roof can be a bit tricky because it has to be loaded on the ground and just then put on the roof. If you have a big car, you are going to need some help with installing it, and you’ll probably going to be using a stool. The RoofBag can be used without a roof rack, but you should at least havea rubber roof mat, to prevent it from moving due to vibration during your trip. Also, a roof mat prevents your car top from getting scratched.

This bag is attached to the roof racks, or roof itself with straps. Our recommendation is to buy two extra straps, due to the low quality of the given ones. The plastic parts of the straps are really weak and will break over the time, especially when tightened a lot and often.

The bag is said to be waterproof. Zippers are protected with flaps, and the rain shouldn’t be able to come inside of the bag. But, as the customer reviews state, zipper pulls are not strong enough, and in some cases,theybroke after few pulls. So bring something with you that can be used as a replacement pull, just in case.

The manufacturer offers two year warranty, but only for the parts. Which is not so bad, because the bag is really good and strong, except for the parts (zippers, plastic parts on the straps).

Considering the quality and price this is a great deal, if you don’t have a space or money for hard shell cargo.

3. Rightline Gear 100S10 Sport 1 Car Top Carrier

3. Rightline Gear 100S10 Sport 1 Car Top Carrier

Ranked #3 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 359 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • High quality bag
  • Waterproof
  • Worth the price

Cons:

  • Straps look unsafe
  • A lot of wind noise if it is not fully loaded
  • You must purchase car slips that are sold separately

Editor’s Review:

Rightline is relatively cheap and economic top carrier. It is a soft shell carrier which can hold up to 12 cu ft. of luggage.

The Rightline Gear Sport 1 Car Top Carrier can be set on the bare roof. If you don’t want to damage your car roof, it is recommended to buy a roof pad or a mat for a soft shell carrier, as it will protect your car from being scratched or damaged by your stuff in the bag.

The Rightline Gear bag is made of polyester that’s strengthened with PVC inner layer and nylon grid. This combination is made in order to keep the bag dry and clean, but it also protects it from fading that can be causedby UV radiation (98% UV protection).

The zippers are made of a corrosion-resistant material for durability, and they are hidden under a flap to protect them from getting wet, and from leakage. Slots on the zipper pulls are designed so that you can lock up the bags. You can also secure it to your roof, and lock it. This way you have double protection for your luggage.

Like the other car top bags, you’ll have to load Rightline Gear bag while it’s on the ground, and then install it on the top of your car. The bag can be attached to cargo basket, roof-rack side rails or crossbars. If you don’t have any of these, the Rightline bag can be installed on the bare roof, but you will need to pull straps through your car interior and then out and around the bag. In this case, you will need car clips that will prevent the water (if it rains) to get inside of the car.

Customers often complained about the low quality of the straps, but it’s mostly because they generally look unsafe. You can always buy new straps, apart from custom made straps you get with the bag.

Fully loading your bag will reduce wind drag and noise. That way, it will be easier to mount it and tighten the straps around the Rightline Gear Car Top Carrier.

The overall impression is that Rightline Car Top Carrier is the right choice for everyone who is looking for high quality soft shell carrier, and everyone whois ready to pay a slightly higher price for a rooftop bag. We consider it is worth the price, since you have a 1-year warranty on all the parts except the bag itself.

4. Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag – Our Budget Pick

4. Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag – Our Budget Pick

Ranked #4 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 3156 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Solid quality
  • Offers a lot of space
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Needs to be fully loaded
  • May tear if you load some sharp materials

Editor’s Review:

If you are on a low budget because of all that places you’re going to visit on your trip, but still need more space in your car, Keeper Cargo Bag is the right choice for you.

Having 15 cu ft. of space inside of it, it is a perfect cargo bar for long trips or shorter trips but with more people. It weighs only 5.2 pounds, and it is very easy to set up on your car.

For the best install, you are going toneed roof racks with attachment capabilities on all four sides. But if you don’t have all four, it could be done with less but with some slight changes, just to secure the bag. Also, it is important to point out that you are going to need to load the bag before you put it up on the roof. Otherwise, you won’t be able to attach the straps as the instruction recommend.

Keeper 07203-1 Cargo Bag is waterproof, and as the customer reviews show,there shouldn’t be any trouble with it as long as you follow the instructions just as they said. It could leak on the zipper area, but if you protect it with the covering flap, your stuff should stay dry no matter the weather conditions.

Because it has soft sides, Keeper 07203-1 can change shape a little bit, depending on what you put in the bag. It is recommended to load it fully, so that it won’t clap on the wind during your trip. This is recommended so because clapping may cause tearing, which if not noticed on time may cause spilling of your stuff on the road. Also, it is not recommended to put sharp objects inside of it without some protection over the object, as that can tear up the bag.

If you are wearing some things that are plastic, or have some parts that may cause damage on the top of your car, you should buy a roof cargo carrier mat. It comes in one size, but you can cut it, or just fold it to fit the size of your cargo carrier.

Since Keeper 7203-1 Cargo Bag is not made of plastic hard shell, there are no locks to secure your luggage. When you zip it with two small zipper pulls, you get a small lock that you pull through the pulls. But, since it is not high quality lock, it can be broken easily. We recommend unloading your luggage if you are staying somewhere over the night.

For such a low price, Keeper 07203-1 Cargo Bag is a perfect solution for people who often travel with family or friends. The bag is made of quality materials that will keep your luggage safe and dry, whatever the weather conditions. Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag has almost 3000 reviews on Amazon.com with a rating of 4.2 stars, which only tells you about the quality and the customers’ satisfaction with the product.

5. Yakima SkyBox Carbonite Cargo Box – Our Top Pick

5. Yakima SkyBox Carbonite Cargo Box – Our Top Pick

Ranked #5 by the editor
Amazon rating:
(based on 333 Reviews reviews)

Pros:

  • Different sizes
  • Aerodynamic shape
  • Carbonite top

Cons:

  • Low quality locks
  • Makes noise at high speed

Editor’s Review:

Having kids and going on a trip always requires extra space in your car. Even when you drive SUV, if you are going away for a few days you will need a rooftop cargo carrier for all that extra luggage.

The most important feature of this product are the different sizes that it offers. It comes in five sizes, depending on its volume. It could have 12, 16, 18, 21 cubic ft, and it comes in Lo size that offers 15 cubic ft and which is a little longer (it can hold longer skis and boards, up to 215 cm). Yakima SkyBox weighs 55 pounds, meaning that you are going to need the second pair of hands to help you with the installation process.

Yakima SkyBox’s aerodynamic shape is supposed to make less noise and less vibrancy, but it is reported that it actually makes a lot of noise, because of the big empty space between the top of the car and bottom side of the cargo. To resolve this problem, you can put something like Styrofoam between the top and the bottom, making your driving experience smooth and quiet no matter the speed you’re going at.

Yakima SkyBox’s top is carbonite and has a fine texture, which gives it a beautiful and sharp look. Sometimes it happens on hot days thatthe SkyBox gets really heated. Because of that, we don’t recommend putting something that can melt intothis cargo carrier.

Like the Thule Forcecargo carrier, Yakima SkyBox too has a dual side opening, which is great if you want to pull out something from one of the sides. The locks on this particular cargo carrier are made to hold the key inside until you fully close it. But the problem with that is that they are made from a low quality material, and they often get stuck, which results in not fully closing the carrier on one side. So, be careful when you’re closing the Yakima SkyBox, and always double-check it.

All in all, this product has a very high rating on Amazon with 4.6 out of 5 stars, and according to customers who bought it and use it, it is worth its price. So, in the opinion of many customers who own this particular cargo carrier, and the sea of positive reviews and satisfaction all around, Yakima SkyBox is for sure our top pick for the best cargo carrier.

How to Choose the Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier - Buyer's Guide

When you’re buying a cargo carrier, there are a lot of points you need to cover before you decide on one.

This is the first question you should ask yourself, and the answer to this question will tell you what type of cargo carrier you are going to need. If you love camping trips and you only require more space for your tents, sleeping bags, and usual luggage, you will be completely satisfied with a cargo bag. But on the other hand, if you’re planning a trip to the mountains for some winter fun, a cargo box is the right solution for transporting all your equipment.

If you don’t need a lot of space, but you still need a bit more space than your car can hold, a good cargo bag is a right choice for you. When you’re choosing the right cargo bag, there are a few thing you should check first. The most important feature of a cargo bag is the material it’s made of. Always look for a cargo bag that’s waterproof. Weather conditions are never certain, one minute it’s sunny and clear, and in the next one, there’s a downpour of rain. Waterproof cargo bag will keep your luggage dry and safe. The next things you should check are the zippers because flimsy zippers can cost you losing your stuff along the way. So, look for a cargo bag that features urethane coated zippers and a strong, waterproof material. With these features, a cargo bag will help you safely transport your luggage wherever you may go.

If cargo bag is too small for you, and you need a lot more space for transporting equipment like skis and snowboards, buying a cargo box will surely solve all your car space problems. Choosing a cargo box is more complicated than choosing a cargo bag. There are some factors you should consider before you start making a decision on a cargo box, and we’ll cover those factors below.

Cargo boxes come in four main sizes – Alpine, L, XL, and XXL. An alpine sized box is great for transporting skis and snowboards because of their long and lean construction. The L sized cargo box can store duffel bags, carry on suitcase, and everyday items that are taking up a bit more space. The XL and XXL sized cargo boxes are a great choice if you and your family often go on road trips with a lot of luggage that needs to be packed. These boxes can store oversize luggage, baby gear, kids’ toys, and a lot more depending on what you’re bringing with you. In addition to the size of the box, always check its load capacity. And another thing, if you’re choosing a larger cargo box, you are going to need some help with installation process as these boxes are pretty heavy.

Design of the cargo box is something that should complement the overall look of your car. It should look sleek and beautiful on all sides. Luckily, today’s cargo boxes are designed to keep your luggage safe, while complementing the look of your vehicle. So when you’re choosing a cargo box, look for the newer models, as they are both better and they look good.

Aerodynamics design is extremely important when you’re choosing a cargo box. Aerodynamic design means that there will be less wind noise because they feature a sleek design that cuts right through the wind. The aerodynamic design of the cargo box will also help you travel smoothly, and it will save you some money on fuel.

How often do you plan on using the cargo box? This is an important question because cargo boxes are not meant to be driven around empty, and that is especially true when you’re traveling at high speed. If you plan on using the cargo box from time to time, you are going to need to take it off your car in between use. In this case, you should find a cargo box that is easily installed, or otherwise, you’re going to have a problem each time you want to install it or take it off. On the other hand, if you want a cargo box to be a long-term storage, the ease of installation process won’t be a factor for your decision making.

Ease of use when we’re talking about cargo boxes, comes down to the locking system, and to the opening system. When you’re choosing a cargo box, look for one that offers dual side opening. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time and hassle because it is much easier and faster to load and unload the box from both sides of the car. And when it comes to locks, you should find the box that has big locks that are easily manipulated, you don’t want flimsy, little locks that are hard to control.

Lastly, maybe the most important factor you have to consider when you’re buying a cargo box is your vehicle. You have to find a cargo box that will be compatible with you vehicle. Have in mind that smaller cargo boxes on top of a big vehicle like SUV, are very hard to access, and bigger cargo boxes on top of a smaller car may extrude to the windshield which is very dangerous. So, look for a cargo box that will suit your car.

With these factors in mind, you are well equipped to make the best choice for your rooftop cargo carrier.

Different Types of Rooftop Cargo Carriers

There are a few types of rooftop cargo carriers, and we’ll cover them below, but before we do that, we need to talk about roof racks.

Without roof racks, you won’t be able to carry your rooftop cargo carrier. The roof rack is a platform consisting of a set of bars that are secured to the roof of your car, and on which you can mount your cargo carrier or any type of luggage.

Some vehicles come pre-installed with a factory roof luggage rack, but with some vehicles, you are going to have to install complete rack system or only base rack system and crossbars.

Complete rack systems and base rack system are totally customizable for the exact model of your vehicle, and you don’t have to worry about that.

Rack systems, whether you installed them, or they came pre-installed, can be accessorized with different add-ons. Here are some add-on racks you can install on your vehicle:

For winter sports enthusiasts there’s nothing like going up to the mountains to get your adrenaline fix. And everyone who loves skiing knows that it’s not easy transferring your skis and snowboard with your car. Because of this, manufacturers developed special racks that can hold up to four snowboards and up to six pairs of skis.

If you thought that transferring skis and snowboard was hard and complicated, what do you think about transferring kayak or canoe? If you don’t have the proper racks, you won’t be able to transport your canoe or kayak yourself. Specialized kayak racks adjust to the curve of your boat which keeps it safely mounted on the roof of your car. Canoes are bigger, and you might think that because of their size they might pose a problem when transferring. But there is no need for that type of thinking because canoe carriers are available in various sizes, and transferring canoe with the right racks on top of your car won’t be a problem.

If you’re more interested in surfing on some big waves, but you’re not exactly close to the seaside, you don’t have to worry about transporting your surfboard. There are also specialized surfboard carriers that can transport a variety of surfboards on top of your car. They are usually easily installed and very reliable when it comes to safety.

Different Types of Rooftop Cargo Carriers

After you install the roof bars, you can then look for some type of cargo carrier to mount it on top of your car. There are various shapes and sizes of cargo carriers, but they come in three different types. Here are the three types of cargo carriers:

Cargo bags are the cheapest way for you to gain extra space for your car. They are extremely easy to install. Cargo bags can be mounted on the bare roof of your car, meaning that you don’t need any type of roof racks. However, mounting a cargo bag on the bare roof will probably scratch the roof of your car. If you feel that roof racks are too much for you, but you still wish to protect your roof from scratches, you can purchase a roof mat. With roof mat, your cargo bag won’t inflict any damage to your car, but it will stay secured in place. There are various cargo bags you can choose from, and if you want a quality bag, you should consider the material the bag is made of. Nylon is not really a good choice, as it will break down under the sun. You could go with a bag made of a polyester material which is UV resistant, but the best choice would be a bag with dual-layered material that offers vinyl backing which makes is water-resistant. I think everyone can agree that water-resistance is a must when you’re buying a cargo bag. Also, a good quality cargo bag should have urethane coated zippers that will keep your stuff secured in the cargo bag. The most important thing you have to know about cargo bags is that they need to be fully loaded. If they’re not fully loaded, the material will flap around in the wind, and eventually tear up. Also, with cargo bags, you don’t have a lot of security. There are some bags that come with locks that can lock the zippers together, but that would be it. So if you go with cargo bag, you should always unload it from your car if you’re staying the night at the motel for example.

Cargo boxes are the most secure way for you to transport your luggage and equipment. The cargo box is like an additional trunk for your car. They are usually weather proof, hard, durable boxes that are mounted on the roof racks on your car. Unlike cargo bags, cargo boxes don’t have to be fully loaded in order to keep the box in one piece. However, if it is not fully loaded be sure wrap your stuff with a net or with extra straps because if you don’t do so, your luggage will bounce around the box. These boxes are easily installed, but because of their weight, you might need some help with the installation. Cargo boxes come with their key, meaning that your equipment and luggage are completely safe from theft. Cargo boxes are the most expensive cargo carriers on the market, because they are easy to mount and easy to load up, and they are safe. When you’re picking a cargo box, be careful not to choose the one that extends over the windshield.

Cargo baskets are made out of metal, and they clamp onto your roof rack bars. They are usually used for luggage that won’t fit in cargo bags or cargo boxes. They offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to loading your luggage because everything can be easily strapped down to these baskets. Also, they are not only meant to go on your roof. You can also get a cargo basket that goes on the rear of your vehicle.

Customer's Opinions - See What Other Users Say:

Camping is my favorite thing to do, and I try do go camping as much as possible. I assume that everyone who at least once went camping, knows how much stuff you actually need on this kind of trip. Another thing about camping – it costs a lot if you’re traveling far as I do. So to save up some money, and gain some much needed space in my car, I decided to buy Keeper Cargo Bag. This bag is waterproff and spacios enough to pack up all the things I need on my trip. It’s been about 7 or 8 months since I got this bag, and I’ve travelled more times than I could count, and Keeper cargo bag hasn’t tore up. It holds its shape well, even after thousands of miles travelled. If you’re on a budget but in great need for space in your car, go with this bag and you won’t regret it!
custoemrs-testimonials
David
Using the Keeper 07203-1
Yakima SkyBox is amazing! It was very easy for me to install it, because it features adjustable sliders that were easy to mount on my car’s cross bars. The dual side opening is also a great feature to have. I know that opening is not something people are overly concerned about, but for me that is a big plus. I got this carrier last year, my friends and I planned a big ski trip to the mountains and we needed space to store all of our equipment. We managed to store two snowboards, two pairs of skiis with four helmets and all additional equipment and luggage. If that is not a lot of space I don’t know what is... There were some noise, I must admit that, but it wasn’t too much. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with Yakima SkyBox, and I would recommend it to everyone!
customers-testimonials
Lynne
Using the Yakima SkyBox

Conclusion

There are many options for transporting your gear and luggage. But each person has its preferences and needs. Choosing between racks, baskets, boxes, and bags comes down to your traveling habits and to the volume of luggage and equipment you’re taking with you on a trip.

Someone who travels to the mountains with a couple of friends, for some skiing fun, is not going to transport the same equipment that would transport a family that’s traveling to the seaside.

Wherever you go, transporting your luggage and equipment, however big or small, won’t pose a problem if you’re equipped with the right gear.

I hope our article helped you make the best choice. Happy traveling!

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Milica

Milica

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