Rooftop cargo boxes are a godsend. If you do not like to travel light, you already know what we’re talking about. These boxes make it incredibly convenient to pack more than what our car trunks allow. So, which is the best roof box? How should you go about selection?

There are countless rooftop cargo boxes available, and finding out the best one for your needs can be daunting. However, you can sit back without worrying about completing hours of research as we’ve done that for you!

Prepare to dive deep into roof box land as we look at some of our top recommendations.

Best Choice

4.6/5

Thule Vector Rooftop Cargo Box

Premium Choice

4.2/5

Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Best in Budget

3.9/5

Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box

Top 6 Cargo Roof Boxes

Here are our picks for the best roof box options. Each product has been explained with pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

1. Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Pros

  • Well-built
  • Easy to attach and remove
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Expensive

Thule is one name you’ll repeatedly see in this list. They have definitely earned the top spot as one of the best roof box manufacturers. The Motion XT Carrier is one of the most popular picks with its top-notch features.

It is a highly spacious roof box that comes with its very own internal ski carrier. It comes with a stunning finish available in three different colors- white, black, and steely gray “Titan” shade. The solid construction helps in keeping the contents dry at all times.

The Motion XT Carrier has a PowerClick mounting system that lets you attach and remove the box quickly. It makes a “click” sound when you twist the mounting dial to let you know that the box is fastened securely.

It also features an indicator that shows a red strip once the carrier is secured correctly. Moreover, the outer handles are pretty easy to grip, and the lid-lifters make it convenient to open the box even when you’re wearing gloves.

Features

  • Safety: Built-in secure sidelock system
  • PowerClick Mounting System: Makes it convenient
  • Lightweight fiberglass: Weighs 46 pounds
  • Stylish: Glossy finish
  • Large handle: Makes it easy to open and close with one hand

The Thule Motion XT is a stylish and spacious product with multiple features to justify its high price. It is a sturdy rooftop box, cleverly designed to offer maximum convenience to the users. This cargo box will not disappoint you, whatever the weather may be.

2. Thule Vector Rooftop Cargo Box

Pros

  • Motion-activated LED lights
  • Reduced noise

Cons

  • Short overall length

Yes, it’s a Thule product again. No, we are not biased. Thule just happens to produce some of the best roof box options in the market. The Vector Rooftop Cargo Box is a high-end product that offers luxury and functionality alike.

The Alpine can fit four to six pairs of skis at a time. The robust box will not drift even if you’re driving at 80mph. Whether you navigate snow-covered gravel or dirt roads, the box will not fall off.

It features a PowerClick mounting system that lets you know it is in place with a click sound. This system makes installing this 64 pounds car very easy. The box can be opened or closed with just one hand.

The box also comes with synchronized lid-lifters. These lifters help ensure that both ends move at the same time by just lifting the middle part. The interior of the lid is white, which promotes visibility in the dark.

The Vector box features an LED light that automatically lights up when you open the lids. It is a subtle light that provides optimum visibility. The box’s interior also comes with a washable felt liner that creates a cushion between the box and the load.

Features

  • Lid Cover: Protects the box from dust and scratches
  • Storage: 13 cubic feet of space
  • Convenience: Synchronized lid-lifters

The Vector is a highly durable and stylish rooftop cargo box.  Although it may be a little costly compared to some other brands, its features are pretty convenient. If you like to drive through different terrains, this box will make a trusty travel buddy.

3. Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • UV-resistant
  • Impact-resistant

Cons

  • Complex assembly

Unlike most of the other Thule products, the Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box is a compact product at a reasonable price. It is meant for smaller cars and doesn’t take up much of the roof space. You can easily go through underpasses or garages with this box.

The shape of the box is perfect for carrying camping gear. The design is pretty sleek and lightweight. The box weighs just about 16 pounds, making it pretty easy for a person to lift it onto the roof single-handedly.

The box requires to locks, in contrast to some competing products that only need one lock. It can be somewhat bothersome, but it does add to the security of your belongings. The box only opens from one side.

Assembly and installation of this box can be a little painstaking, but that should not be a problem unless you plan to take it often on and off. It uses the knob mounting system.

The Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box is made of ABS plastic that is UV-resistant and impact-resistant. It is safe from sunlight exposure and provides durability. However, it is not waterproof. 

Features

  • Compact: Does not take up too much space
  • Lightweight: Weighs 16 pounds
  • Secure: Two-lock system

For a brand with this much credibility, the Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box is astonishingly inexpensive. It may not be a high-end product, but it’s a decent buy for smaller cars or if you have budgetary constraints.

4. SportRack Vista XL Cargo Box

Pros

  • Easy installation and removal
  • Comparatively inexpensive
  • UV resistant

Cons

  • Flimsy lid

SportRack Vista is a wonderful choice if you do not travel very often. It is a spacious box that is not too heavy. It is a long-lasting roof box with an elegant design that will give you your money’s worth.

The design of the box is pretty functional. The interiors are well-planned and can fit every gear you’d like to carry. The box can also withstand various weather conditions. The rear-opening offers easy access to the cargo.

The box does not sway during winds either. The aerodynamic shape reduces drag and wind noise on your roof. The angled contours help cut the air through the box, letting it pass when the vehicle is in motion.

The SportRack Vista is made with ABS plastic which makes it lightweight and convenient. However, plastic does not make it less durable. The black coating makes it fade-resistant and UV resistant. Moreover, it is water-resistant as well, so your cargo remains safe.

The integrated locks ensure that your belongings remain safe. When you open the box, you don’t need to hold the cover; it stays open automatically.

Features

  • Rear Opening: Provides easy access
  • ABS Construction: Makes it durable
  • Convenient: Quick-release feature
  • Integrated locks: Keep it secure

Despite being from a different price range, the SportRack Vista gives tough competition to the more expensive products. It is durable as well as affordable. It is lightweight and perfect for those who do not venture out often.

5. Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box

Pros

  • Quick installation
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Complicated lock mechanism

The Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box is Thule’s most affordable roof box. It is an excellent pick for those who want to invest in a Thule product, but not one of the expensive ones. The Pulse Box offers some great features along with helpful customer service.

The design of this roof box is simple yet functional. It comes with a single opening on the passenger side, along with a combined lock mechanism. You can install it without any tools, thanks to the FastGrip quick mounts.

The interior is pretty spacious and can easily fit multiple items. The cargo box is made with rugged thermoplastic materials that make it durable. It comes with internally done lid-lifters that let you access the contents of the box hands-free.

The box features easy-grip mounting hardware that makes the assembly and installation very convenient. It attaches itself quickly to the roof racks with the help of the knob hardware. You will need just about five minutes to install the box securely onto the rack.

Features

  • Secure Lock Technology: Ensures safety of items
  • Rugged Material: Makes it durable
  • Aerodynamic Design: Allows air to flow smoothly

The durability and ease of installation make this one of the best roof box options in its price range. Apart from the complex lock mechanism, users had no difficulties with this product. Moreover, the aerodynamic design allows air to flow smoothly without producing loud noises.

6. INNO Shadow Cargo Box

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Robust

Cons

  • Floppy lid

The INNO Shadow Crago box is ideal for trips when you need to carry multiple skis, surfboards, snowboards, or deep-sea fishing poles. The 16 cubic feet of storage allows you to store up to eight skis, two surfboards, or six snowboards.

Assembling and installing the cargo box is pretty convenient, owing to its Memory Mount System. The quick-mount clamps wrap around the crossbars and are secured with hand knobs. The installation process is primarily tool-free.

The aerodynamic shape of the box helps in reducing drag and wind noise to a minimum. The box also features a dual-side opening lid that lets you access your belongings from both sides of the vehicle.

The pushbuttons on the cargo box allow you to open the box even with a single hand. In addition, the safety lock system ensures that the lid is closed correctly. You will not be able to remove the keys if the lid is not secured.

The lid of the INNO Shadow Crago Box is pretty durable because of its 2-Layer ABS plastic construction. The box also features an SPM injection-molded base. This roof box is resistant to UV rays, scratches, and impacts. It is strong but light.

Features

  • Memory Mount System: Ensures hassle-free installation
  • ABS Construction: Makes is durable
  • Dual-Side Opening Lid: Allows easy access to cargo

The INNO Shadow Cargo box is lightweight but a durable product. It is pretty spacious and lets you store multiple items without much fuss. It is one of the best roof box options for SUVs. It is also pretty quiet and boasts of an elegant design.

Things To Consider When Buying A Roof Box

A lot of different factors influence the kind of roof box you should buy. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind while making your choice to help you choose the best roof box.

Dimensions

The first essential step in finding your ideal roof box is determining the maximum length of the carrier that your vehicle can fit. The box should not be so long that it reaches over your windshields on either side. It may affect your ability to see the road.

The size may also influence aerodynamics. Ensure that the back of your box does not obstruct your rear hatch opening or antenna. You should measure the distance between the front crossbar of your roof rack and your open hatch to find the perfect length of a cargo box for your car. It should be wide enough for the items of your choice without cramming or crushing anything in terms of width.

Shape

The shape of the box has a significant impact on the aerodynamics of the car. People generally prefer more aerodynamic models as they reduce wind noise. These products also maximize the mileage on your outings.

Taller rooftop boxes end up creating drag. If you are planning longer trips, a sleeker model would be better suited. The shape also influences how visually appealing the box is.

Capacity

Your cargo box would be able to fit in whatever you’d like to carry without snapping it to pieces. You should first assess the items that you plan on storing in these rooftop boxes. Based on those items, select a box that can accommodate them without much hassle. 

More voluminous boxes are generally preferred over smaller ones. Boxes with a volume of 16 to 18 cubic feet should be enough to hold camping gear for up to four people.

Security

Security is one of the most important aspects to look for in the best roof box. A cargo box is not of much use if it fails to keep your belongings safe. The box should come with at least one lock and key.

Most of the rooftop cargo boxes don’t let you remove the key unless the box is locked. While some people may argue that it is bothersome, it keeps your belongings safe by ensuring that you never leave the cargo box unlocked.

The opening and closing mechanism of the box can also influence your choice. Some high-end products come with locking mechanisms that include push buttons, twist handles, or even sliders.

Some models also combine the open and close mechanism to the lock system. The lock system then becomes responsible for securing the lid of the box to its base. Moreover, a few boxes even come with an indicator to know that they have been secured.

Accessibility

There are three main styles of rooftop cargo boxes – one-side, dual-sided, and rear access. Dual-sided access boxes are pretty user-friendly. They allow you to open the box from both the driver’s side and the passenger’s side, but not at the same time.

In less expensive models, you are most likely to find one-sided or rear access. These boxes make it slightly less convenient to reach and organize your cargo.

Durability

Cargo boxes are installed on the roof of your vehicle. They encounter many harmful elements that they cannot avoid while on the open road. You should invest in a durable roof box that can withstand different conditions.

ABS is one of the most commonly used materials for creating roof boxes. It holds well against rigorous opening and closing of the box. It is also pretty lightweight. However, you should ensure that the lid of your cargo box is not very floppy.

Flimsy lids could mean that the lid and the base will not line up easily. You will have to extra careful while securing the box. Additionally, the hinges, handles, and locks should also be of good quality. If any of them break, they might leave your roof box unusable.

Assembly & Installation

Some cargo rooftop boxes are pre-built and ready to mount, while some require in-depth assembly. However, assembly is just a one-time thing, so it should not be your top priority while selecting the best roof box for your car.

In contrast, mounting is a process that you may frequently be performing. High-end models are usually more user-friendly, with clamps that slide on the tracks, tightened with the help of a thumbwheel, and are secured with a click sound using an integrated lever.

On the other hand, budget boxes generally come with simple U-bolt mounts that may require you to work with many tiny parts and put in a lot of effort. It can be an inconvenience if you take your box on and off often.

Interior

The interiors of cargo boxes are usually just huge compartments for storing your belongings. They may also include a pull strap to help you close the lid if it is out of reach.

Expensive models tend to house more features. Many boxes come with a removable felt-lined base to protect your cargo. Moreover, some roof boxes include motion-sensing LED lights or white-colored lids for improved visibility.

Price

It would be best if you started browsing for products with a budget in mind. Different roof boxes are available at various price points. As you go up the ladder, you will find fancier products with more additional features and sleek designs.

However, cheaper products can also be quite durable. You should look for a product that falls in your price range and has the features you desire.

FAQs

All this information on finding the best roof box may be overwhelming. Let us look at some of the most frequently asked questions about rooftop cargo boxes.

Does a roof box affect insurance?

Maybe. Whether significant or not, all modifications are considered important from the point of view of a car insurance company. Therefore, you should always let your insurer know about any modifications you make to your vehicle, including roof boxes.

An even better idea would be to inform your insurance company even before you actually purchase a rooftop cargo box. If you buy a roof box without consulting the insurance experts, you may end up wasting a significant amount of money, as the companies do not cover all kinds of roof boxes.

Notifying the insurance company also allows you to find out if there is another type of roof box that they recommend and cover. It is better to purchase a cargo box after speaking with the insurers to buy a box that you are assured is covered in your policy.

All modifications should be appropriately documented for them to be legally valid. Even if you make modifications to the roof box, you have to inform the insurance company. The company should provide you with new declarations which validate your modifications.

This entire process of informing and documenting modifications is necessary because if something goes wrong later on. The insurance company can deny the claim on the grounds that they did not know about it beforehand.

Once the modification is documented in black and white, you would have fulfilled your responsibility. You will be fully covered in such a scenario if the modification causes any harm or injuries to anyone.

Informing the insurance company is simply a way to protect yourself. If the company denies your claim, the documentation will give you a legal leg to stand on.

Does a roof rack increase fuel consumption?

Once you install a roof rack, a roof box, or even a rooftop bag, you will notice a difference in your gas mileage. Adding any extra weight to your vehicle will cause it to drag more, and fuel consumption is directly affected by drag.

The weight of the roof rack can lead to increased fuel consumption. Moreover, airflow also affects consumption. Adding a box on the roof of the car does not let air flow well over the top of the vehicle, worsening your gas mileage.

The size and design of the roof rack will also affect the amount of extra fuel being used. It means that an empty carrier and a carrier filled with cargo will affect your fuel consumption differently.

While you cannot completely eliminate the effect of rooftop racks on fuel economy, you can improve it. For starters, drive about five miles below the limit. The reduced speed caused the drag to reduce as well, improving your gas mileage.

Aerodynamically designed rooftop carriers are also a great way to improve fuel economy. The more aerodynamic the design of your roof box is, the less it affects your mileage.

Can you use a carwash with roof bars?

No, it is not recommended to take your car through an automatic car wash with a roof rack on top. Many parts of the rack can get caught in the car wash. The process could cause damage to both the roof rack and the car washing equipment.

Some places may even insist that you remove the roof rack before putting your car through the automatic wash. Tunnel washes are the worst option for a roof rack. When your vehicle is in the wash, it is pulled through the tunnel and attacked by huge brushes with soap and water. 

Roof racks have many tiny nooks and corners where the brush fibers can easily get caught. Furthermore, if the brushes get stuck to the roof rack, they may try to tip themselves free and end up breaking the car washing equipment or damaging your roof rack.

A hand wash is the best option for roof racks. They even protect the finish of your car by avoiding water pooling leading to rust.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best roof box is not a piece of cake. You need to be careful about various aspects that can influence your roof box and then find a product that meets your requirements and fits your budget.

Your ideal roof box will offer you convenience as well as functionality. We hope these product reviews, along with our super-simple buying guide, help you in making an informed decision. Pick out your perfect rooftop cargo box now!

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