Rooftop carriers can be a huge asset when you’re traveling because they provide extra space to hold things such as fishing gear, skis, and even a few extra suitcases.
Whether you’re going on vacation or just trekking to your favorite ski slope or fishing hole, having extra space to store your gear or accessories can be truly priceless, and if you plan to install a rooftop carrier yourself, there are some things you need to know before you attempt the task.
So, Does a Roof Box Need to be Central? No, you can mount it to one side if you want to however it might affect the balance of your vehicle if it’s full of a particularly heavy load. Therefore we would recommend that you do mount your box centrally unless you have a good reason not to.
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Starting at the Beginning
Image Source: Thule
Even if you’ve never installed a roof rack or a carrier yourself, the job can be a little easier once you learn a few basics. One of the questions many people ask is whether or not the carrier needs to be mounted central, or in the very center of the rooftop.
As a general rule, it doesn’t matter which side of the rooftop your carrier is mounted on, as long as the opening is convenient for you to get to.
Most rooftop carriers can be installed to open either from the passenger or the driver side, but most experts agree that the passenger side is easier for you to get to because that is the side that is away from traffic.
If you do happen to install the carrier and it leans a little toward one side or another, not to worry. It won’t make your vehicle tilt or lean to that side, so the weight distribution should be fine.
For some of the larger SUVs and vans, you might want to center the carrier more, but again, this is not a requirement. In fact, most of the time when you see a carrier that is installed more towards one side than the other, it is because the driver wanted to make it easier to install and open it.
If your rooftop carrier opens from either side, you might as well go ahead and install it in the center to make operating the carrier a little easier.
Rooftop Carrier Installation – Racks or No Racks?
Most rooftop carriers are made out of either a polyester/vinyl material or a hard-shell material, and many of them can be installed whether you have roof racks or not.
Naturally, it is important to determine whether the carrier you want can be installed on your particular vehicle, because the last thing you want is to purchase one that requires a roof rack if you don’t have one already installed.
For the most part, the only thing that matters is the method used to install the carrier, since many of them can be installed on vehicles either with or without racks. Essentially, if you don’t have a rack the carrier will simply be tied onto the roof of your vehicle, as opposed to being tied around or attached to the rack itself.
You just have to make sure you know what you’re buying ahead of time, whether you want it mounted central or not.
Installing Your Rooftop Carrier
Rooftop carriers usually have two side rails, which are stationary and run front-to-back along the roof of your vehicle; and two or more crossbars, which are movable and run across the width of the vehicle’s roof. In most cases, the crossbars are slid apart so the load is stabilized, then the carrier is installed using brackets and screws.
It is these screws and brackets that create a clamp used to attach the carrier to the crossbars. If you follow the manufacturers’ instructions, installing your carrier should be simple, whether you want it mounted central or not. Remember, it can be more convenient in some circumstances to install the carrier more toward one side, but it is not imperative to do so.
Even if your goal is to mount the carrier right in the center of your rooftop and you make a mistake, it shouldn’t affect the way the carrier looks or the way your vehicle runs. You’ll also notice that many rooftop carriers come with mats that fit underneath them and protect your roof from becoming scratched or damaged in some way.
If installed properly, carriers shouldn’t damage your vehicle anyway, but these mats give you a little extra assurance that your rooftop will be safe, even if you’re a little rough when you’re installing your carrier.
Carriers in All Price Ranges
If you’re shopping around for rooftop carriers, you’ll notice they are now available in a lot of designs, sizes, and price ranges, which means everyone should be able to find one that perfectly suits their needs.
If you’re curious about some of the best rooftop carriers on the market, consider the following products:
Our Recommended Rooftop Carriers
Last update on 2020-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. RoofBag Waterproof Rooftop Carrier Bag
Made by the RoofBag Company, this high-quality rooftop bag fits all vehicles with or without roof racks. They come in two main sizes: a size 11, which fits small and large vehicles; and a size 15, which fits vans, SUVs, and full-sized sedans.
It is installed via water-repellant straps that are super-strong and long-lasting, and it is easy to install, regardless of the type of vehicle you own.
Weighing a mere 8 pounds, the RoofBag carrier is a steal at around $70 and is both fire-resistant and easy to store away when you’re not using it. It is quiet thanks to its aerodynamic design, and it can help you save a lot of money at the gas pumps. It is also surprisingly large and can handle everything from suitcases to snowboards with ease.
2. STDY Rooftop Cargo Bag
Providing a full 20 cubic feet of extra space, this top-notch carrier bag is waterproof, durable, and simple to install. You can use it to store sleeping bags, luggage, and even accessories for your vehicle.
Priced reasonably at roughly $60, the STDY carrier bag has a unique aerodynamic design and comes in a lightweight 8.7-pound size. It even has a storage bag you can put it in whenever you aren’t using it.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but need a high-quality, waterproof cargo carrier, this rooftop bag is for you. It is designed to be easier on your gas mileage and even protects your belongings when it’s pouring down rain outside. Perfect for all types of trips and vacation outings.
3. Asani Rooftop Carrier Bag
In a 15-cubic-foot design, the Asani rooftop carrier bag can accommodate sedans, vans, SUVs, and even pickup trucks. Since it’s a soft bag-type carrier, it is flexible enough to hold items of various sizes and shapes, and it is super-easy to install.
It is also low-maintenance and even folds down to the size of a tablet, making it easy to store it away when it isn’t being used.
To make things even better, Asani offers a lifetime warranty on this carrier, meaning you can buy it with confidence every time. In addition, at a price of around $62, you can purchase this excellent carrier bag without breaking the bank. It is the perfect addition for your next vacation or day trip.
4. RoofPax Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag
With a convenient 19-cubic-foot design, the RoofPax carrier bag is 100% waterproof and made out of military-grade materials that will keep it working great for many years to come.
You can attach the carrier whether you have a roof rack or not, and it fits vehicles of all sizes and designs. It is also one of the most reasonably priced cargo carriers on the market and costs under $120.
If your zippers or buckles ever break or tear – even decades from now – the manufacturer will replace them for free. At night, the logo on the bag will glow so it is easily seen, and it even comes with a total of 10 straps to make sure you are able to install it nice and tight.
5. Thule Pulse Rooftop Carrier
The Pulse rooftop carrier box is great whether it is mounted central or to one side, and its hard-shell design is sturdy and aerodynamically made.
It is available in 11-, 14-, and 16-cubic-foot sizes and comes with a fast-grip quick-mount system that makes it super easy to install. It comes with a key for extra safety and security, and you can load and unload the carrier conveniently on the passenger side.
Built to last and to accommodate up to 110 pounds of belongings, the Pulse rooftop carrier can hold up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards. Thanks to its aerodynamic design, it also makes for a smooth and quiet ride, and it can withstand the elements with ease.
6. SportRack Rooftop Carrier Box
Thanks to its sturdy materials and its aerodynamic design, this rooftop carrier box is both efficient and stylish. You can install and remove it quickly and easily, and it fits the majority of roof rack systems.
It comes with a limited lifetime warranty and is available in three different sizes. It also opens on the passenger side for safety when installing or removing skis or snowboards, and its locks will make certain that your belongings are safe at all times.
It is also a carrier that provides a smooth and quiet ride, making it a convenient product to own for your next outing or vacation.