How to find the best car roof box in 2019 | finder.com
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Car roof storage buying guide

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Hit the road without leaving anything behind.

Car roof storage boxes, also known as cargo boxes, are storage spaces that are mounted to your car’s built-in or installed roof racks. The extra storage space can make it easy to transport bicycles, ski gear, fishing equipment and other large items. Use our guide to help you compare different sizes and features of car roof boxes so you can choose the right one to meet your travel needs.

Compare some of the best car roof boxes

Name Avg. price
(USD)
Type Capacity Dimensions Purchase
Thule Sidekick Cargo Box $299 Hard 75 lbs 54″ x 25″ x 15.5″ Buy now
Yakima Skybox Lo Carbonite Cargo Box $599 Hard 15 cu. ft. 92″ x 36″ x 11.5″ Buy now
Seattle Sports Sherpak Go!15 Waterproof Cartop Storage Cargo Bag $86 Soft 15 cu. ft. 15.5″ x 37″ x 45″ Buy now
Rhino-Rack MasterFit RMFT550 $588.93 Hard 14 cu. ft. Buy now
RoofBag Waterproof Car Rooftop Storage Bag $69 Soft 15 cu. ft. 48″ x 38″ x 18″ Buy now
J*EGS Performance Products 90098* $179.99 Hard 18 cu. ft. 57″ x 39″ x 19″ Buy now
Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier XL $749.95 Soft 18 cu. ft. 84.5″ x 36″ x 17″ Buy now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What size and shape do I need?

When choosing a roof storage box, the most important factor to consider is its size and shape. Roof boxes are usually rectangular, but their dimensions vary. It’s more helpful to compare the dimensions of the roof box, rather than its stated capacity. Check the dimensions of the roof box against the dimensions of your car — you’ll want to be able to open your car’s tailgate completely without the spoiler hitting your box.

Roof storage boxes come in half-, medium- and full-widths, in both long and short options. With a half-width box, you can carry additional gear on your roof, such as a bike or canoe. Medium-width boxes typically suit a family of four. A long, full-width roof box that covers your whole roof offers more storage space but requires two people to maneuver it. A long roof box would suit those carrying skis.

Standard roof box sizes

Type Specifications Features
Narrow-width 20 inches wide or less
  • Gives you extra space on the roof for other gear such as bikes.
  • Long narrow-width boxes are suitable for carrying skis.
Medium-width 20 to 30 inches wide
  • Most popular width for families, as they are easier than full-width boxes to lift and move, but still provide adequate storage space.
Full-width 30 to 40 inches wide
  • Allows you to maximize roof storage space.
  • Requires two people to lift and move.
Short Less than 5 feet long
  • Suitable for smaller hatchbacks.
  • Can be stored more easily than long boxes when not in use.
Long Over 6.5 feet long
  • For those who want the biggest box.
  • Should provide adequate storage for a family of 4 to 5.
  • Can be difficult to lift and store.

Height restrictions

When adding a roof box, check the increased height of your car and be aware of height restrictions for tunnels, parking lots and other height-restricted spaces. Height restrictions in the US depend on the location and the road.

Before buying a roof box, check the following heights:

  • Car
  • Roof box
  • Roof rack

Add the three heights together to get the total height of your vehicle with the roof box, then add an extra margin of at least a few centimeters just to be safe. To find out the height of your car, check your car manual. If you’re storing anything additional on your car, such as an upright bicycle, measure from the highest point.

Once you’re on the road, keep an eye out for low-clearance roads, tunnels, underpasses and parking lot entrances.

How to compare car roof boxes

A car roof box can cost you from around $499 up to $2,000, depending on the size of the box, the material used and the brand. To work out which roof box is right for you, consider these features:

Alternate storage options

If you don’t want to shell out the money for a roof storage box, soft-sided roof bags or roof baskets can give you additional storage for a lower cost. If you only want to transport your bicycles, you could also opt to get a tow bar or trunk-mounted bike rack instead of investing in a roof box.

Description Pros Cons
Soft-sided roof bags Soft fabric bags that can be strapped to roof racks or directly to your car’s roof.
  • Usually cheaper than roof boxes.
  • Can be folded up for easy storage.
  • Not as secure as hard shell roof boxes.
  • Won’t keep your items fully dry.
Roof baskets Open-air container that requires contents to be strapped into place or covered by a net.
  • Cheaper than roof boxes.
  • Can be used for oversized and irregularly shaped items that can’t fit into a roof box.
  • Can’t be locked.
  • Not weather-proof.
  • May not keep bugs out.

Bottom line

Adding a storage box to your vehicle’s roof can be an easy way to make sure nothing gets left behind on your trip. These products range in price and quality, so compare a few models before settling on the best fit for your on-the-go storage needs.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best car roof storage boxes, we conducted online research to determine some of the most popular models currently available. We considered features such as size, type and security.

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