We spoke to Tom Henwood of Main Line Overland to see what the pros are using and what’s popular on today’s market. “The best roof rack is the best design for a given application, rather than a particular brand. We help customers select racks and storage systems based on what they intend to carry on their travels, where they intend to go, etc. We look for componentry that maintains a low profile and low center of gravity for off-road driving, so we often choose aluminum roof racks to keep weight down up top.”
While most roof rack systems have some modular components, the year, make and model of your vehicle will determine what your specific options will be. Brands like Yakima and Thule have a current solution or two for most vehicles, but at ReRack we are able to offer a wide variety of choices, from now-discontinued styles to the latest and greatest racks. If you’re not sure what parts you need for your car, reach out to us! We’re happy to help. For an introduction to main types of roof racks, see our guide here.
Rather than going for a pack put together by a roof rack shop or supplier I decided to visit the Thule website, find the make, model and year of my car to create a shopping list of the parts required. This is a simple but crucial process as the different possible combinations of bars, foot pack and fitting kit is enormous. Once checked I sourced each of the parts from different suppliers on Amazon. This saved around 20% and as I have Amazon Prime included free delivery.
Thule Motion XT is not only designed for space efficiency and ease of use, but also to harmonise with contemporary car design. It has a distinctive shape that has been optimised using advanced computer simulation, reducing the impact on fuel economy and providing a quiet ride. With Thule Motion XT, Thule is setting a new standard for modern roof box design, with a stylish, silent and easy-to-use box that will make your car look even better.
Generally speaking, you are going to see an increase in costs with the more features that you want on your rack. Here are some of the key features to keep an eye out for, you’ll find that some will be available on most models, whilst the Thule, as the truly premium item, comes closest to packing them all into one feature heavy bike rack – albeit with that premium price tag we mentioned!
I put these on a 2012 VW Tiguan (using the Thule Rapid Crossroad Foot Pack) and probably should have gone with the 53" version for 2 kayaks. I only anticipated 1 kayak at time of purchase but the collection grew. Ended up getting a Takima J-Low to mount one on its side and one flat on the bars. Very tight squeeze (the J-Lows max weight for 2 kayaks isn't high enough if they are fishing kayaks - 110lbs). The J-Lows are VERY noisy and whistle when empty (gotta break out some duct tape and work on that...) but the bars - you won't notice they are there unless actively listening for them when unloaded.
Procycling brings you the colour, action and drama of the world's most spectacular sport in a glossy and dynamic magazine. It's the authoritative, worldwide voice of international professional road racing, distributed in every country where there are English-speaking fans. With exclusive features and spectacular photography, Procycling brings to life the complexities, rivalries and hardships of the European professional scene.
After a lot of looking and web browsing we came on Oak Orchard Canoe's Deluxe "J" cradles. It's a couple of hours to thier store and we went up and bought two pairs. They are nearly 3/16" thick brushed stainless steel and very well padded. The cradle is wider than the Thule. At 22" high they're 4" taller then the Thule and since they are, essentially, vertical they double as kayak stackers. They are even padded on the back. They come with straps that have sewn on buckle pads. The mounting bracket fits Thule or Yakima bars and some other racks. All-in-all, these are a little more money than the Thule but they appear to be as close to "bombproof" as any accessory I've seen. I'll post a review as soon as we've used them enough to do a fair appraisal.
In addition to looping the synch down straps around the factory rack, I run them through the rigging on my boat deck and through the bottom part of the "J bend/brackett" of the rack to get to the factory roof rack. I figure that this way if the Thule rack does give away at least it and the boat have a better chance staying with the truck longer until I can pull over. I hope this helps, overall I think the rack is really a good affordable option that requires some added attention and caution when using but overall it is well worth the money.
Once you’ve got your bars and towers sorted, the biggest factor in selecting the best cargo box is its size and its shape. You want space ample enough to handle whatever you’re going to toss inside, of course. But those looking to haul a quiver of skis for the entire family or a few surfboards will want a box long enough to accommodate your hard goods, while others who just want some extra space for a variety of items can consider wider, shorter models. Those with hatch-backs that open vertically should also be sure that the cargo box won’t interfere with the door, and those who want their cargo box to look like part of their luxury vehicle should consider boxes that are made with higher-quality materials or that are low-profile, which provides a sleeker silhouette that looks better, creates less drag, and less noise than bulkier models.
I’ve spent years transporting bikes in the back of a car, usually whipping out the front wheel, throwing an old grease stained fleece blanket over it and slamming the boot shut before heading off. Bags would be placed carefully around it of course and it took a little more finessing if I was taking a friend and their bike. But I became fairly adept at balancing bikes on top of each other – separated by blankets – and avoiding any damaging movement.
Locking Cables – These are essentially built-in security devices that wrap a sturdy chain around your bike and lock it into place. This has the obvious advantage of protecting your bike from any opportunistic thieves who could look to steal it straight off the rack. Bear in mind that typically you’re only going to see this feature included as standard on the more premium models. Some of the products we looked at above did have a locking cable as an option to buy separately, so check if the rack comes pre-equipped if you want a cable.
Road tripping means you can bring pretty much anything — and you often do. Soon your trunk is full before you realize it. Then the back seat gets taken up, followed by the space at your feet. Next thing you know, you can’t even see out the rear-view mirror. That’s why a roof cargo box is a must-have for any sort of vehicular travel. Not only can it match your trunk’s storage capacity, but it's a secure place to stash dirty gear as well as snow-covered skis, snowboards, boots, and helmets.
Look out for our 'One Key System' lock matching offer. When you put Thule products in the Shopping Basket we automatically calculate how many identical replacement lock barrels you'll need so you can lock all your Thule gear with the same key. We'll charge you a nominal price for each of these replacement lock barrels, refunding you the same price for each lock barrel posted back to us.