TRAVELING

Best Car Top Carrier: Don’t Overstuff Your Trunk

Best car top carrier
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Are you and a group going on a long road trip? Are you lugging a bunch of luggage and gear that won’t fit inside of your vehicle? Looking for a solution that will hold all your stuff securely in one place and not take away precious passenger space in the car? The best car top carrier the market has to offer, can be your answer!

Whether you are going on a road trip or if you are just looking for something to hold the extra cargo you have, a car top carrier is sure to change your roof into a second trunk. These carriers are great for holding any cargo, from the added luggage, to outdoor accessories. Finding the best roof cargo box can be quite a daunting task and not every box will fit every need. But worry no more, we are here to help!

This article is designed to help you find the right car top carrier. First, you are going to look at the important features of a car top carrier and then review some of them later so you can opt for the one that works for you! Now, let’s load up – on information that is!

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightDimensionsCubic FeetSpecific FeaturesPrice
Yakima Skybox62 lb38 x 74 x 20 in21Integrated locking system, tool-free installationCheck price on Amazon
Keeper Waterproof5.2 lb44 x 34 x 17 in15Waterproof, soft side flexCheck price on Amazon
SpotRack Vista30 lb64 x 39 x 19 in18ABS construction, UV resistantCheck price on Amazon
Thule Force36 lb81.5 x 24.5 x 17 in21Dual side opening, durableCheck price on Amazon
Yakima RocketBox Pro53 lb34 x 75 x 17 in14Dual side opening, SKS lockCheck price on Amazon
Thule Atlantis42 lb74 x 36 x 16.3 in16Aerodynamic, easy to mountCheck price on Amazon
RoofBag Explorer10 lb40 x 36.5 x 17 in15Waterproof, softCheck price on Amazon
WeatherTech RackSack5 lb39 x 32 x 18 in13Durable, water repellentCheck price on Amazon
Rightline Gear Sport Jr8 lb14 x 12 x 6 in9Water resistant, PVC meshCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider Before Buying

You’d think that a top carrier is just a box to put your camping gear in, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Lower prices mean cheaper material, and you can quickly make up those costs if your box breaks and your belongings get destroyed.

Car top carriers on the cars

Estimate a budget for your top carrier and see what features and functionality you can get in that price range. You may need to go over it in order to find something that will last a long time.

With that said, here are a few features you should keep in mind when you’re shopping for a roof cargo box.

Size

The size of the box is probably the most important feature you should look for. Many people tend to lean towards something that is bigger because they can carry more.

The advantage of having a big box is also beneficial for your car, as the weight will be more evenly distributed among the suspension and the strain will be less at the back.

Weight

The weight is very important: a heavier cargo box will make the car heavier, which will result in higher fuel consumption. This will result in your road trip becoming more expensive.

Car top carrier features

However, the fuel cost should not be your only concern. There is also the changed center of balance of the car if you add more weight on the top of your car. The balance center can move higher, which will result in the car not being so stable in turns.

Durability

The box must be able to withstand all weather conditions without damaging your cargo. Not only must it withstand the weather conditions on the drive, it also has to survive your camping destination weather situations.

Furthermore, you will want a model that will serve you as long as it can, right. You don’t need one that will fall apart after just a few seasons on the road! When looking for the ideal car top carrier, look for those that are made of highly durable materials that are water and corrosion resistant.

Security

You should invest in a box that you’re able to lock securely. Security is especially important if you plan on dining somewhere or sleeping over at a motel on your road trip, as without a great locking system, it will be easy to steal your valuable items.

Secured top carriers

Also, you need to make sure that the lock it comes equipped with, is a tough, durable one as you don’t want it to be possible to open with a piece of wire or a hair clip.

Bag or Box

Boxes are much bigger, but they are also a little more expensive. Bags, on the other hand, provide quality for their cheaper prices, but they cannot necessarily keep the same amount of luggage as boxes.

These five features are all extremely important and need to be taken into consideration when buying the ultimate roof box, they will not only keep your valuable items safe, but they will also keep your car safe and the weather will not be able to damage your items.

Best Products on Today’s Market

You are now at the part where you will review several car top carriers. Look at the similarities and differences to decide what features you like and what will work for you. Happy shopping!

Yakima Skybox 21 Cargo BoxYakima Skybox 21 Cargo Box

Price: Approx. $580

Weight: 62 lb

Dimensions: 38 x 74 x 20 in

Specific features: 215 cm worth of space in length, extremely big, 21 cubic feet inside, integrated SKS locking system, tool-free installation, easy access from either side of your vehicle

Best use: Storage, camping

Description: The Yakima Skybox 21 Cargo Box is one of the best cargo boxes available in terms of size and functionality. The Yakima Company has integrated a state of the art locking system, making sure your cargo will always be safe and secured.

This mega box features 21 feet of cubic size on the inside, perfect for folded tents and sleeping bags for about five people.

The box usually takes two people to strap on, but it can be done by one person as well. The box is easily fitted using a few clamps on each side, giving the added benefit of no cables to be in the way.

Lengthwise, the box is made for things like skis of up to 215 cm, making this box not only perfect in the US, but all over the world in places like France and Switzerland as well.

The Yakima Skybox has also been tested through a variety of weather conditions and this box is sure to protect all your cargo and even your roof from hailstorms.

Finally the box is made to fit perfectly on the roof of any car and SUV and will definitely be something you do not constantly need to remove. Once it is on it will stay on and can serve as a second trunk during everyday activities.

PROS:

  • Plenty of space
  • Integrated SKS lock system
  • Comes in various sizes

CONS:

  • Wind can tear the lid off
  • Key can break in the lock
  • Feels flimsy

Related: The Vogek Car Charger is great for charging 4 phones at once while you travel in the car. It fits right in the lighter port of your car and costs under $10.

Check the price on Amazon

Keeper Waterproof Cargo BagKeeper Waterproof Cargo Bag

Price: Approx. $50

Weight: 5.2 lb

Dimensions: 44 x 34 x 17 in

Specific features: Soft side flex to fit odd-shaped loads, waterproof design to protect cargo against all types’ weather conditions, 15 cubic foot space of storage, fits any car or SUV

Best use: Wet weather, camping gear, luggage

Description: The Keeper Waterproof Cargo Bag is great for traveling long distances and not having to worry about the added fuel consumption. At just 5.2 pounds the bag can easily be strapped on by both man and woman and it can easily be loaded with cargo as well

A great benefit to using the bag is the ability to mold and shape according to the cargo inside.

The bag will shape perfectly to any odd-shaped cargo and the very high quality materials are extremely durable. Not only will this bag keep your cargo safe from all weather conditions, but sharp edged objects will not pierce the side of the bag.

The cargo bag is able to keep 15 cubic feet worth of cargo, allowing you to fit all of your family’s luggage without even using the trunk. The materials are also tested to withstand scorching heat and blistering colds without any damage coming to your cargo.

The Keeper waterproof cargo bag is made to fit any vehicle and it can easily be strapped on and removed. We do not suggest leaving the bag when no one is watching as it is possible to open and steal your cargo.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Soft sides

CONS:

  • Easy to break into
  • Can get wear and tear over time
  • Can affect gas mileage

Related: The Reteck Car Vacuum is great for car trips, when you snack or eat dinner in the car. It fits into the lighter port and has a 14 ft cord and carrying bag.

Check the price on Amazon

SportRack Vista Cargo BoxSportRack Vista Cargo Box

Price: Approx. $320

Weight: 30 lb

Dimensions: 64 x 39 x 19 in

Specific features: ABS construction that is durable and UV resistant, rear opening provides easy access away from traffic, includes secure lock, quick release hardware mounting systems

Best use: Sporting, camping, extra cargo

Description: Comfort and style are some of the main things that come to mind when we explore the SportRack Vista Cargo Box, the box is designed for easy access on the road and the rear opening feature will keep you away from the traffic.

The cargo box also offers a very easy to use a quick release system, which will allow you to mount and dismount the box in a matter of minutes.

Furthermore the box is made from extremely high quality and durable materials, giving you the benefit of going on that road trip at any time of year and any time of the day.

You can also be sure that no one will try and grab something that doesn’t belong to them as the box features very a strong and secure locking system to keep criminals out and your cargo inside.

The price for this box is considered to be one of the cheapest available when looking at the size and quality.

If you have this box you will find that you now have more space for the children and the dog. Finally, this box is made to perfectly fit any vehicle, from an SUV all the way down to the GTI hatchback.

PROS:

  • Rear opening
  • UV resistant
  • Quick release mounts

CONS:

  • Faulty knobs
  • Feels flimsy
  • Can crack/break

Related: While traveling, you will build up some trash. The Zone Tech Universal Traveling Portable Car Trash Can will help you keep it all together and you can dispose of it properly later.

Check the price on Amazon

Thule Force Cargo BoxThule Force Cargo Box

Price: Approx. $500

Weight: 36 lb

Dimensions: 81.5 x 24.5 x 17 in

Specific features: Diamond-textured skin, aerodynamic lid, quick grip mounting system, oversized secure lock, dual side opening

Best use: Camping gear, sporting goods

Description: Thule is probably considered to be the best outdoor brand on the market and with the Thule Force Cargo Box they have once again proved it. The box is extremely lightweight for a cargo box and when you look at the box it is simply just amazing to the eye.

The cargo box features dual side opening, ensuring that you will never have to stand in the traffic to open the box and quickly get something.

One of the best features the box has to offer is the aerodynamic look. This will help your car with fuel consumption and the car will not need to exert more power to achieve a certain speed.

Thule has also added an oversized lock to keep all your items inside, and not even the toughest weather conditions will rattle this lock or the design.

The box further offers a quick mounting feature to save you time and effort. This will give you the benefit of packing the box outside and then mounting it.

One of the best features is the weight limit. The weight limit is set at a staggering 110lbs, giving you the opportunity to add heavier cargo.

PROS:

  • Oversized lock
  • 110 lb weight limit
  • Aerodynamic

CONS:

  • Box may not fully shut
  • Pricey
  • May leak

Related: You need to be safe and prepared with any car trip. The AAA 42 Piece Emergency Road Assistance Kit is a 42 piece kit that will help you during a breakdown or any other issue.

Check the price on Amazon

Yakima RocketBox Pro 14 Cargo BoxYakima RocketBox Pro 14 Cargo Box

Price: Approx. $400

Weight: 53 lb

Dimensions: 34 x 75 x 17 in

Specific features: Aerodynamic design to reduce drag, forward mounting for improved hatch clearance for smaller vehicles, dual sided opening and push button security fitted with SKS locking system

Best use: Equipment, camping gear, luggage

Description: The Yakima RocketBox Pro 14 Cargo Box is perfect for the stylish road traveler. The box features an extremely efficient aerodynamic design to reduce all the drag from the wind and make your car more fuel efficient.

The dual sided opening will allow you to stop almost anywhere and open the hatch without being in the traffic.

An added push button security feature works great with the SKS locking system, not only giving you protection, but allowing you to over stack the cargo box with luggage without the fear of the box opening by itself.

The materials used to create this box are of high quality and they are made to withstand all weather conditions. The forward mounting feature is specifically made to improve the hatch clearance on the smaller vehicles.

Finally the cargo box is big enough to fit the cargo of about three campers and the Yakima Company is so confident in the product that they will give you a lifelong limited warranty. This is great for people that love going on road trips more than once a year.

PROS:

  • Great on all types of vehicles
  • Dual sided opening
  • Aerodynamic, secure

CONS:

  • Hinges can break
  • Some skiing gear may not fit
  • Many design flaws

Related: In harsher weather, you may need some really good rubber floor mats. The Armor All Floor Mat Set are around $20, and come in a 4 piece set.

Check the price on Amazon

Thule Atlantis Series Cargo BoxThule Atlantis Series Cargo Box

Price: Approx. $475

Weight: 42 lb

Dimensions: 74 x 36 x 16.3 in

Specific features: Built in lock with keys, extremely aerodynamic design, easy to mount clamps, fit all vehicles and SUV’s

Best use: Snowboards, luggage, camping gear

Description: The Thule Atlantis Series Cargo Box gives you a different aerodynamic look that will save you a lot of money on your travels and is easy to clamp on and off, allowing for easy mounting.

The cargo box is made for all vehicles and even though it may be a little on the heavier side, it is made from extremely durable materials to help keep your car and luggage protected for the entire road trip.

It also offers a great locking system with external keys for you to keep safe and the box is never to open on the road.

Aside from giving your car and luggage protection, the Atlantis series also offers a sense of style and the cargo box can withstand up to 110 lb of baggage and evenly distribute the strain among the box. This is a perfect buy for someone looking for a once off buy.

PROS:

  • Dual side openings
  • Roomy
  • Quick Grip mounting system

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Can crack
  • Seems flimsy

Related: Keep your vehicle clean with the Armor All Complete Car Care Kit. It’s affordable and comes with tire foam, glass cleaner and more!

Check the price on Amazon

RoofBag Explorer Waterproof BagRoofBag Explorer Waterproof Bag

Price: Approx. $70

Weight: 10 lb

Dimensions: 40 x 36.5 x 17 in

Specific features: Waterproof Explorer carrier, 1 year manufacturer warranty, non-slip poly vinyl protective roof mat, 3000 lb strong seat belt style straps

Best use: Luggage, gear

Description: The RoofBag Explorer Waterproof Bag is one of the top-of-the-line rooftop bags available at the moment.

The bag will never come loose on the road and the 3000 lb. Seat belt style straps will certainly keep your bag perfectly in place on the roof.

The bag also comes with an added non-slip poly vinyl protective roof mat to help protect your car from any scratches if the bag moves or slips. An added 1-year warranty will give you the opportunity to test out all these features in the harshest of conditions and make sure it is worth your dollar.

The bag prides itself on durability and the added ability to keep water and sun from entering your luggage and perhaps damaging anything.

The materials are of extremely high quality, never to tear or damage if you put odd-shaped objects in the bag. Finally, this bag is extremely lightweight and should definitely be a great buy for anyone enjoying the long road with the family.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Heavy duty
  • Made in the USA

CONS:

  • Stiff zipper
  • Slides on the roof
  • Can leak

Related: Are you tired of dropping things in the car between the seat? The Drop Stop is a set of 2 that will fill in the gap between the seats so you can catch everything from change to debris.

Check the price on Amazon

WeatherTech RackSack Cargo CarrierWeatherTech RackSack Cargo Carrier

Price: Approx. $130

Weight: 5 lb

Dimensions: 39 x 32 x 18 in

Specific features: Made of durable water repellent polyester with soft felt bottom to protect the finish of a vehicle, stows away neatly in own bag, roll and wrap tabs to prevent flapping straps

Best use: Gear, extra luggage, heavy items

Description: If you are looking for something small, yet extremely useful, the WeatherTech RackSack Cargo Carrier will be a perfect addition to your car.

The bag provides 13 cubic feet of storage space to keep your precious luggage inside and the bag can also be neatly packed into its own bag once you are done with it.

The bag can also be easily fitted to the cross bar and side rails of your car, but without these rails it is a little bit more difficult to fit the bag. We recommend only buying this bag if you have a car with a fitted crossbar and side rails or it will cost you extra.

The bag is made from durable water repellent polyester and it has an added soft bottom to help protect your car from any damage. The bag also comes with already fitted tabs to help keep the excess strapping from swirling and flapping in the wind.

Finally, this bag is great to have as an added trunk and will certainly protect all your luggage from damage that may come from different weather conditions.

PROS:

  • Swivel straps
  • Easy to use
  • Water repellent

CONS:

  • Not waterproof
  • Only carries 13 cubic ft
  • One color option

Related: If you use your phone as a GPS while driving, the BE Universal Smartphones Car Air Vent Mount can be helpful so you can be hands free and still have the directions you need. It’s under $10 and easy to mount.

Check the price on Amazon

Rightline Gear Sports Jr. Car Top CarrierRightline Gear Sport Jr. Car Top Carrier

Price: Approx. $68

Weight: 8 lb

Dimensions: 14 x 12 x 6 in

Specific features: PVC mesh and hydrotuff materials, urethane coat zipper located on water flaps, 100% water resistant, aerodynamically designed for cars without roof racks

Best use: Extra gear, camping equipment, sporting equipment

Description: The Rightline Gear Sports Jr. Car Top Carrier is designed for all vehicles and especially for those without roof racks. This makes the car top carrier and extremely good buy no matter the car you are driving.

The material used to manufacture the bag is tough PVC mesh, giving you a product that is 100% water-resistant and great for use in all weather conditions and the added urethane coat zipper will make sure no leaks are ever present when the hard rain is coming down.

The bag also has 9 cubic feet of storage space and the moldable material is sure to never tear and perfectly fit almost any object you would like to put inside.

The aerodynamic design will save you some extra cash for your road trip, as it is designed to keep the fuel consumption at a minimum. Overall this product is great for carrying small loads over long distances at a fraction of the fuel cost associated with the larger bags. This is a great economical buy.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Does not need a roof rack to attach

Cons:

  • Vinyl can come off
  • Hard to secure
  • Noisy while driving

Related: On long car rides, the sun may be a disturbance. The Veneev Car Sun Shade 4 Pack can block over 98 percent of UV rays and keeps the glare away.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Whether you are looking for a large cargo box to carry a lot of luggage or just a simple strap on bag that is easy to mount and dismount, you can be sure that all of these items have been carefully selected to meet your every need and they have been tried and tested to be extremely durable and to withstand any extreme weather condition.

We would like to thank you for reading this article and we would also like to encourage you to comment and tell us about your experiences using these boxes and bags. What do you like or dislike about them, and what your concerns are about the specific car top carrier.

Choose your Car top carrier

If you have any other suggestions, we would also like to know about them and perhaps even help you find the perfect product for your needs, so leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Kendra Larson

    15 Cubic Feet Keeper is a great bag. Very well made and provides not only zippers, but velcro to seal over the zippers, and it’s lined for even more added protection. The size is perfect, it held three suitcases and a few smaller bags. I only wanted a soft top cargo carrier for the convenience of being able to fold it up and store when not in use, and I think I’ve made a good choice 🙂

  • Mark Foster

    Hi Kendra! Choosing the right car top carrier is easy when you have the requirements that you really need. Always opt for durability – so choosing a reliable manufacturer is your best bet. Make sure to always read reviews so you can have a lot of options prior to your decision to purchase.

  • Rachel Mohan

    Always have and always will buy Thule products. The Force is another great example of why Thule is the way to go: no noticeable noise in the wind; easy to mount; and both straps inside the box and a lock on the outside to ensure that the contents are safe and secure. Doesn’t look out of place on the roof of my car neither. There are a lot uglier carriers on the market, that’s for sure!

  • Mark Foster

    For sure Rachel, the Thule is remarkably streamlined and designed to be an eye candy! Yeah, I’ve seen people staring and pointing when they see a Thule on top of any car. They are also lightweight, which is very important. I’m so pleased that utility and aesthetic worked great on this car top carrier. Users don’t mind paying a bit since the Thule is an excellent gear.

  • Kim Bromley

    Bought the Rightline Sport Jr a few years ago to help me move out of college. Only had a small car at the time – and couldn’t afford a roof rack – so the Sport Jr seemed like the best option. Lasted me all this time and I still use it to this day! Super easy to attach to any car – just feed the straps through one door and out the other. Managed to fit all my clothes and pointless possessions in from college so if it can withstand all of that – and a downpour too – then I’d recommend it for anyone!

  • Mark Foster

    Wow, that’s one for the books Kim and glad you still got that top carrier. It’s very durable and affordable. The manufacturer did a great job in making a sturdy product. I also recommend it to anyone!

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