How to Choose The Best Cargo Racks for You?

Shoshana Zuboff
Shoshana Zuboff Last Updated: Aug 25, 2022


Before installing the cargo rack, you need to be sure to get the rack that fits on the roof. All cargo boxes require that your car has a rack installed on top of the rack, complete with crossbars. A rigid cargo rack, or roof box, requires a set of crossbars, and it will be equipped with a roof rack system. Hardtop roof cargo carriers are more expensive and slightly more complicated to operate, but offer increased protection for higher-value items like skis, snowboards, or other gear used in outdoor activities such as camping or bicycling.


Compared with roof boxes, luggage racks are more flexible and easier to carry. Cargo boxes protect your items better when being transported compared to roof bags, and most are lockable. All the cargo boxes in our comprehensive roundup are hard-sided, but depending on your needs, a padded roof bag might be a good choice. If you are looking to haul items around and add some extra space in the cargo area of your car, the hard-top cargo bag is only an option.


Similar to the roof basket, a cargo-mounted cargo carrier offers a good way to haul all sorts of things, but you also get the benefit of keeping what you are hauling out of harm's way and away from onlookers' eyes. Most platform racks are also different from roof baskets and cargo boxes because of how the platform racks are attached to your car. If you are using a hardtop cargo box, you really want to get a crossbar-style roof rack--that is how the box is attached to the vehicle. In addition to different capacities for storage (measured in cubic inches), you also have a choice of hard-top cargo boxes that attach to a roof rack's crossbars, cargo bags that you can attach directly to the vehicle's roof, or cargo baskets that work with aftermarket roof racks and let you add extra storage solutions.


Getting the box that fits properly helps to decrease drag and increase gas mileage, and Into takes this one step further with the Wedge, creating a contoured base that's integrated with your roof rack, which lowers the height of your Wedge load box (it only raises it 9.6 inches over the crossbars) while still offering the ability to lower the height of your load box (it only raises it just 9.6 inches over your crossbars, without sacrificing any of your cargo boxes. Low-profile cargo boxes are typically 13 inches tall or lower (Thules Alpine-sized fits in that category), and especially aerodynamic models such as INNOs Wedge 660 only add 9.6 inches of bulk over the racks crossbars. Less expensive, but also less rugged, than boxes, roof bags do offer the added convenience of being able to fold down and stash, making them an excellent choice for travelers who have only occasional needs to stash stuff on their rooftop.


Often, racks are specific to vehicles, or they need a special fitting to properly install - this is one of the reasons why you will not see them as much as roof baskets or boxes.

Shoshana Zuboff
Written by

Shoshana Zuboff

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