Why You Should Never Consider Camping Without A Car Top Carrier

Several years ago our family took a cross-country trip to Colorado and we literally knew nothing about car top carriers. We had no logical order for packing our camping equipment and it ended up crammed in the back our our station wagon It was too hard to retrieve anything as what we needed seemed to be located on the bottom of the heap.

When we pulled in the camping sites, we stared in envy at people who had these cool space-age looking capsules mounted on roof racks. It seemed that everything that the other campers needed was always readily accessible in the car top carrier We vowed to change everything the following year and purchase a new car top carrier.

After researching several models, we came to the conclusion that we could not afford such an expensive piece of  camping equipment. We located a used no-name car top cargo carrier and used zip ties to secure it to our factory roof rack. For the price of a tank of gas, we had a decent used cargo box.  It did not even take 3 days before we had some serious trouble with our new storage container. Our car top carrier was not locked and most of our family’s camping gear including our LED battery flashlights came tumbling out. Fortunately, we located everything within a half an hour of search and rescue by my two young boys.  I figured out quickly that buying the cheap camping gear nearly became very expensive.

The remaining three weeks were not as bad as the first three days. We always checked to make sure that a rooftop carrier was always secured. Several months after returning home, I was able to purchase a scratch and dent Thule rooftop carrier for about half the price of a brand-new one. What I really liked about the Thule was that you have to lock it before you remove the key. There was no way that we could ever forget to secure this rooftop carrier because our ignition key is attached to the cargo carrier key.

4 things to consider when purchasing car rooftop carriers

I really like a model that can be opened from either side of the vehicle. I never understood how useful this was until we used it on our first camping trip. It just made everything so much more convenient by being able to get our camping items out of either side.

Choose the biggest car top cargo carrier that you can afford and that will properly fit your vehicle. Don’t make the mistake of trying to find the cheapest roof top carrier because it’s not going to cut it.  You will be loading the cargo carrier with inflatable camping air mattresses, double sleeping bags, tents, etc.

Make sure that you buy a major brand rooftop cargo carrier that is lockable.  An unlocked roof top cargo carrier is an invitation for thieves to easily steal your belongings.

Purchase a brand that has multiple uses such as ski racks, bicycle carrier, kayak carrier, etc. You will be surprised at how useful a multipurpose car top carrier is.

What You Need To Know About Buying A Car Top Carrier

The major players in the roof rack carrier market are Yakima and Thule It’s kind of like Chevrolet versus Ford.  Both have their good and bad points. Our family happens to own a Thule rooftop cargo carrier. We love it and rant about it. Yakima owners will say about the same thing. I cannot honestly say that one really is not better than the other. REI sells both brands and they will say that both are fantastic. It really depends what is going to fit your vehicle best. Since you’ll be owning this for the life of your car, do not settle for cheap stuff. Buy only the best. I went with the Thule because it fit our Subaru perfectly and I also paid about half price on a floor model with minor scratches.

Be very careful when purchasing a used system. When you buy used car cargo carriers there are no warranties and no returns. You will have to live with it and that’s it.  Be very cautious about buying any used car top carriers from REI’s famous garage sales-there is a reason why it was returned.  I would rather buy a used roof rack system off of Craigslist and find out first hand why it’s being sold than buying at REI’s garage sale because you really do not know if there is something wrong with it.  On the other hand, buying a brand new system from REI will cost you less in the long run because they guarantee everything for life!