CHOOSING A ROOF BOX FOR YOUR CAR
I first bought a roof box for my car when I was in my early twenties. I was doing seasonal work and living out of my car. I needed space for storing items away from my sleeping area, which was a small mattress laid out in the boot of my station wagon. Back then I picked up the cheapest one I could get my hands on without too much thought.
My needs are different now. I bought a roof box last year before a fishing trip to North Queensland and needed some extra space for all the gear. There were certain things I needed to decide first.
HARD OR SOFT
Deciding whether to go for a hard shell or soft roof bag was the first hurdle. The more economical option was the soft roof top bag; however, it is certainly not as durable and weather resistant as the hard-shell counterpart. The soft-shell bags are easily collapsible, much more fuel efficient and often don’t require a roof rack to install. I opted for a hard-shell roof box in the end, purely because I value my fishing gear in the same way I value one of my children and wanted a roof top box that would provide a little more protection. If you are transporting anything of value, like skis or a snowboard, I would recommend the hard shell. Just for peace of mind that even the worse weather won’t breach the outer shell.
You need to consider the volume and weight of your load when choosing your roof top box. If you are going to use the box to carry skis or a snowboard, check the dimensions because you will need a longer box to fit them in. If you won’t be carrying particularly large items, it is worth going for the shallower and shorter models. Rooftop boxes can seriously affect the fuel. I calculated it to reduce my mileage between 1-5mpg, depending on the incline and load weight. Driving around with unused space on your roof will cost you, so it is worth carefully calculating the size you need before you buy.
You also need to consider the height and length of the vehicle. If you already have a tall vehicle, attaching a deep rooftop box could be seriously inconvenient and could really disrupt the vehicle’s balance when fully loaded up.
If I’ve learnt anything from aggressively fiddling around with top boxes on the roof of my car, it’s that the ability to open the top box from both sides is a necessity! This isn’t standard practice with every model so check before you buy. But rooftop boxes which can only open from one side are simply not worth the hassle.
The ability to open the box with one hand, whilst holding a baby, fishing rod, set of skis or all of the above at the same time is also a massive advantage. A latch handle to prop the mechanism open is also really helpful when loading and unloading.
Make sure you are completely comfortable with the installation and assembly process before you leave the shop. Some brands are definitely easier to install than others. A number of brands produce racks which can be quickly attached and removed, using an easy-to-use clamping system.
Is there anything you would like to add to this article from your experience? Let us know, share your thoughts through the comments section below.