Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Reviews (2020)

Posted: 11 May 2020


best rooftop cargo carrier

If you’re going on a road trip of any kind and you’d like to have more room inside your vehicle, a cargo box for your roof is perfect. You’ll literally transform your entire ceiling into a second trunk that, in most cases, tends to have more space than the trunk itself. Many names call these things; some call them cargo boxes, car top carriers, roof boxes, or cargo carriers. They are designed to carry any of your belongings by taking advantage of the space you have on your roof.

You may argue that with this contraption on the roof, you’ll lose fuel economy, but in this day and age, the designs have that in mind. Although there may be a slight loss of aerodynamics, weight more than anything will play the biggest role. Overall, these products are designed to last you a long time and provide you a safe way to store your things for short and long-distance drives.

This whole page is created specifically for you to find the best cargo box and top carriers for your vehicle. You won’t be able to use this product if you don’t have a roof rack, so it’s essential to look into that aspect before you get what we’re going to talk about on this page. If you already have roof racks, continue reading below.

*In some cases, car top carriers won’t require you to have a roof rack due to their “cloth” nature.

*Car top carriers in some cases won’t require you to have a roof rack due to their “cloth” nature.

Top 10 Best Cargo Boxes and Carriers To Buy

Yakima - SkyBox Aerodynamic Rooftop Cargo Space
  • Sleek aerodynamic Carbonite textured lid; Designed with internal lid stiffeners for durability and easy open and close, No assembly required, Fits Yakima round, square, factory, and aerodynamic bars
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Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag
  • Waterproof rooftop cargo bag with 15 cubic feet of space, Fits all roof racks, Designed to fit all roof racks with attachment capabilities on all four sides, Folds compact for easy storage
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SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box
  • ABS construction that is durable and UV-resistant, U-Bolt hardware mounting kit, Fits SportRack Roof Rack Systems, square, round and most factory racks
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Thule Force Cargo Box
  • Diamond-Textured Aero Skin Lid is durable and the aerodynamic shape helps cut through the air, Tool-Free Quick-Grip mounting system attaches box to rack in less than 5 minutes
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WeatherTech 60001 RackSack Cargo Carrier
  • Made of durable water repellent polyester with soft felt bottom to protect finish of vehicle, Swivel straps that mount to crossbar/side rails, Roll and wrap tabs to prevent flapping straps
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Yakima RocketBox Pro 14 Cargo Box
  • Aerodynamic design to reduce drag with forward mounting hardware for improved hatch clearance, Quick-dial mounting hardware fits round, square, factory and most aerodynamic bars, include Dual-sided opening and push button security
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Thule Atlantis Rooftop Cargo Carrier
  • High Quality, Improved hatch clearance, Affordable
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Thule Sidekick Cargo Box
  • Space-saving design carries the load with room for other items on roof rack, Sturdy U-bolts with reinforcement plates mount cargo box securely to the rack, Load capacity 75 lb
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RoofBag Explorer Waterproof Soft Car Top Carrier
  • RoofBag STANDARD carriers afford good protection at an economical price, Includes carrier resists tears, abrasion, extreme heat and cold and the sun’s UV rays, Easy to install
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Rightline Gear Sport Jr Car Top Carrier
  • 100% waterproof construction, 1 year manufacturer warranty, You can attach the carrier's straps to a vehicle’s roof rack or use the Car Clips to attach the straps to a vehicle's door frame weather molding
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10. Rightline Gear 100S50 Sport Jr Car Top Carrier

Rightline Gear Sport Jr Car Top Carrier, 10 cu ft Sized for Compact Cars, 100% Waterproof Zipper, Attaches With or Without Roof Rack, 100S50

Our #10 contestant for being able to pack things on top of your roof easily is the Rightline Gear 100S50 Sport Jr. car top carrier. Right off the bat, this product has one of the most straightforward setup procedures you can possibly have. Since there’s no roof rack required, you’ll simply be able to use the straps provided to you to tighten it down once all packed up. In total, the 36″ inch long, 30″ inch wide and 13-16″ inch high carrier has the capacity of approximately nine cubic feet.To ensure this unit goes anywhere with absolutely no problem, it’s 100% waterproof with dual seams and sewn with a piece of high-quality fabric for overall strength. Empty, the cargo sack weighs only about 6.2 lbs. Overall when comparing this to the cargo boxes, there are massive cost savings due to the cost itself and not need to have a roof rack. Check this unit out below on Amazon.

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9. RoofBag Explorer Waterproof Soft Car Top Carrier

RoofBag Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag | Made in USA | 15 cu ft |Standard Waterproof Luggage Car Top Carrier | 1 Yr Warranty | Fits ALL Cars: With Side Rails, Cross Bars or No Rack

For just a little more, you can get the RoofBag Explorer Car Top Carrier (works great for ANY car, van, or SUV). In particular, this unit is designed to be used if you don’t have a roof rack or side rails installed on your vehicle. What you get inside is the BIG carrier stretching out to fit the entire roof of a regular-sized vehicle. Total capacity for storage is rated at around 11 to 15 cubic feet, and the whole space is 100% waterproof from the elements (even when you’re driving).

In addition to the actual product itself, this product is made in the United States of America. You get a full 2-year warranty against any kind of defects in material and workmanship. Dry weight when you take this product straight from the box comes in at around 8.8 lbs. You can choose which type you’d like to have, one with side rail straps or one without roof rail strap (the latter option is strapped using individual clips which attach to your vehicle). For more space and not requiring a roof rack, the RoofBag is an excellent option!

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8. Thule 682 Sidekick Cargo Box

Thule 682 Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box,Grey, One Size

Now we’re getting to our first cargo box, and it’s a nice one. Thule is known for making exceptional equipment when it comes to traveling and camping. The Thule 682 Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box is designed specifically for small to medium amounts of space. In total, this box measures out 54″ inches long, 25″ inches wide and 15.5″ inches long. The 682 Sidekick is tailored to small vehicles that need additional space, totaling around eight cubic feet of room and 110 lbs max weight capacity.

You can mount the entire unit to most factory-installed roof rack systems, and if not all, aftermarket roof rack systems. Getting this unit open is very simple; using the provided key to lock and unlock it, you can open it up from the right side. Overall, this unit is perfect for small vehicles and not too much equipment to be hauled around. An excellent unit for starters, no doubt!

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7. Thule Atlantis Series 1800 Cargo Box

Thule Atlantis Rooftop Cargo Carrier

If you have any kind of vehicle that ranges from mini-van, medium to a large sedan, or even an SUV for that matter.. the 1800 Atlantis by Thule may be the right choice. This is a rather large roof cargo carrier in the sense that it carries up to 18 cubic feet of space or approximately 110 lbs of weight. Place up to 6 snowboards, 6-8 pairs of skis, or a few full-sized luggage carriers. If you want space, the Atlantis series (1800 in particular) is something worth looking into.

Overall dimensions for this cargo box is 85″ inches long, 36″ inches wide, and 17″ inches high. The total weight comes in at 56 lbs, which combined at a maximum capacity of 110 lbs would make your roof approximately 166 lbs (give or take a few lbs). The way you attach this unit to your roof is by the use of side rails or roof rack. You’ll receive the necessary straps and tools to connect this entire box to the roof properly. Lastly, the whole shape is designed to cut through the wind in a similar way your vehicle does. Not boxy, but actually shaped to not reduce drag on your vehicle. Check it out.

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6. Yakima RockerBox Pro 14 Rooftop Cargo Box

YAKIMA - RocketBox Pro, Multi-Sport Rooftop Cargo Box for Cars, Wagons and SUVs, 14 (adds 14 Cubic ft. of Storage)

Yakima is one of the leading brands when it comes to camping, traveling, and any exterior accessories used for those purposes. When we think of Yakima, the first thing that comes to mind are their roof racks; you’ll see Yakima’s in every other vehicle. In addition to their excellent roof rack systems, they also make roof cargo boxes. Yes, this box, in particular, is called the RockerBox Pro 14, and it’s made to fit SUVs, trucks, and wagons perfectly.

It’s aerodynamically designed to reduce drag using the forward mounting hardware to drastically improve hatch clearance (making it ideal for smaller vehicles also). Unlike with some other units where you can access the hatch from one side, here you can access the hatch from either the left or right side. Some specs in terms of dimensions: 74″ inches long, 33″ inches wide, and 16″ inches high. The total weight comes in at around 38 lbs, and total capacity inside is approximately 14 cubic feet.

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5. WeatherTech RackSack Cargo Carrier

WeatherTech 60001 RackSack Cargo Carrier

WeatherTech is known for the precisely cut floor mats but did you know they make roof cargo carriers. In particular, this one is WeatherTech’s RackSack Cargo Carrier, which is totally different from the Yakima and Thule roof boxes we previously mentioned. This giant cargo carrier can store up to 13 cubic feet of material, and due to this product’s nature, you can store various sizes inside.

The entire carrier is made of 100% water repellent polyester material; with the soft felt bottom, you won’t ruin your vehicle’s finish. To completely strap this unit down, you will have to have side rails on the roof of your vehicle and or a roof rack system installed.

Overall dimensions when fully loaded are 39″ inches long, 32″ inches wide, and 18″ inches high. Great for small to medium-sized vehicles and for anyone who’s on a budget.

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4. Thule Force XL Cargo Box

Thule Force Cargo Box, Black

With Thule’s Force series, there are a few sizes you can choose from. You can choose from Medium, Large, Extra Large, Extra Extra Large, and Alpine as the size options. Thule has done a great job at shaping this carbo box series to be as aerodynamic as possible. To properly install this unit takes not many tools, just a complete roof rack system and the included accessories that come with the Thule Force.

To give you a better understanding of which roof cargo box to get, the biggest XXL size is ideal for LARGE sedans and LARGE SUVs. As you go down to XL and L, you will be near perfect for medium-sized sedans, SUVs, and mini-vans. Overall, sleek design, cargo space ranging from 13 cubic feet to 21 cubic feet will prove to be more than enough to carry all of your equipment.

Check this roof rack out on Amazon, pick your size, and enjoy driving!

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3. SportsRack SR7018 Vista XL Cargo Box

SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box (Black, 18 Cubic Feet)

When we first saw this cargo box, we knew it had to be on our list. Upon digging deep into the SportRack SR7018 Vista XL cargo bog, we realized that there’s a pretty significant cost saving when switching from a Thule or Yakima. You get an enormous amount of space for the price, 18-cubic feet, to be exact. Though it isn’t as aerodynamic as the other cargo boxes, it does provide more room in terms of height so you’ll be able to store BIGGER items/.

Unlike with cargo boxes being accessible from the right or left side, the SportRack box is accessible from the rear only. Being built from an ABS plastic, it’s pretty durable and will resist ultraviolet rays from the sun for quite some time. There’s a lock that allows you to seal this unit off from being opened up completely. A roof rack is required to make this cargo box stick to your vehicle, and we recommend looking into the SportRack SR1002 roof rack system to make this a complete package.

All in all, you’ll spend less than 500 dollars for the entire setup, including the roof rack system (assuming you don’t have a roof rack). To see the current best, take a look at Amazon below.

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2. Keeper Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag

Keeper 07203-1 Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag (15 Cubic Feet)

As we get closer to the #1 in our list, our #2 has to go to the hassle-free Keeper Roof Top Cargo Bag. This one has the most space from all the bags we’ve reviewed. The single best thing about this whole cargo bag is the cost, at under 60 dollars you’re getting excellent value for the money. Stretching to 44″ inches long, 34″ inches wide and 17″ inches high, this waterproof cargo bag is able to hold up to 15 cubic feet of storage with no problem whatsoever.

To properly attach this cargo bag, your vehicle needs to have either side rails and or a roof rack system. Using the straps, you can mount it in place from all corners of the bag. Store it away when not in use, it’s extremely compact when folded up. Check this unit out on Amazon for the latest killer deal!

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1. Yakima Skybox 21 Carbonite Cargo Box

YAKIMA - SkyBox Aerodynamic Rooftop Cargo Space for Cars, Wagons and SUVs, 21 (adds 21 Cubic ft. of Storage), Carbonite

After narrowing it down to the best cargo box, we decided to go with Yakima Skybox 21 Carbonite Carbo Box. This has the most room of all the cargo bags and boxes we’ve reviewed so far, approximately 21 cubic feet of space is available. We like all of Yakima’s products, It is the aerodynamic shape that helps your vehicle break through the wind and reduces drag (regardless of the obvious box on the roof). There’s a key to lock the box on both sides, open this box up on either the right or left side. To prevent your keys from ever getting locked inside the box, as soon as you unlock it, the key is forced to stay inside until you completely close and re-lock the box.

There’s quite a lot that you can fit inside the car roof storage carrier; the only thing your vehicle will need to have are a setup crossbars. Mounting this box is as simple as sliding the box into the crossbars and locking them into place. From start to finish, you’ll be ready to roll in less than 10 minutes. Check this unit out on Amazon to get more details and see the best price.

You may also like to see our full and in-depth guide on trunk bike racks or on the best RC cars to buy if you want an additional room with a cargo box AND room for a few bicycles, see our guide on the trunk racks.

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You may also like to see our full and in-depth guide on trunk bike racks or on the best RC cars to buy. If you want additional room with a cargo box AND room for a few bicycles, se our guide on the trunk racks.

Best Rooftop Mounted Cargo Boxes – Buying Guide and FAQ

The list above represents the best roof-mounted cargo boxes available on the market at the moment. However, they are quite different between one another, different designs, materials, and prices. This guide is here to help you understand the value of certain features of cargo boxes, as well as what to focus on when you make your purchase. Getting some additional knowledge will help you make the right decision and get your money’s worth. Without further ado, let’s get into the details.

➡️ Who needs a cargo box?

The appropriate question here is, who doesn’t? There is no such thing as too much space. If you have a cargo box, you can finally stop worrying about not being able to close your trunk, and your passenger feeling trapped because of all of the stuff in front of your car that shouldn’t even be there. If you ever tried to go on a family vacation, you know these situations too well.

Families with children, or people that have a hobby which requires moving a lot of equipment from place to place, are the perfect candidates for becoming cargo box owners. A box like this can also be beneficial to those who value comfort when driving long distances and larger pet owners who need to have a lot of space in the trunk reserved for their furry friends. Move all your baggage upstairs and enjoy your drive like never before.

➡️ Types of cargo boxes – what options do you have?

There are two major types of cargo boxes currently available on the market, hard and soft. They both have their advantages and disadvantages; here is all you need to know.

  • Hard – It is the most common and traditional type of rooftop-mounted cargo boxes. It is what it says to be a box made out of hard plastic. The advantage here is the solid construction that ensures protection of the items that you have inside it, both on the road and when you stop. A quality product should have a decent lock so that you can leave it unguarded.
  • Soft – It is usually made out of thinner plastic, like a PVC or vinyl, for water protection and looks like a massive bag with straps attached to it. A soft cargo box is the cheaper version out of the two and tends to be easier to install on the rooftop of your vehicle. This box also weighs less and is the ideal choice for a small car owner. The only downside is that this type of cargo box provides less protection, so it is not recommended to leave it on the top of your vehicle for long when you stop.

➡️ What makes a good cargo box?

There are more than a couple of features across the two types of cargo boxes mentioned above that make a difference between an excellent and good purchase. Your decision will, for sure, should depend on your needs, but there are some additional things you should keep on eye out for, and they are:

  • Length – if you need to store longer items, like golf or ski equipment, then make sure to double-check whether the box you want to buy has the right length.
  • Width – on the other hand, sometimes it can be more useful to have a wider box rather than a long one. A wide box is especially handy when you are an owner of a smaller, hunchback car.
  • Aerodynamics – having a cargo box on top of your car can lower the performance of your car significantly if it’s not styled to be aerodynamic. Higher quality models tend to be designed not to disturb the performance of your vehicle, and these are the boxes you should consider.
  • Price – it is a deciding factor when it comes to any type of purchase, but an investment in a quality cargo box should get you your money’s worth. The soft model will always be the cheaper one, so if you don’t plan to use it a lot, it should do the trick. However, if you plan to use your cargo box frequently, it is recommended that you choose the hard plastic box, which is a more secure and sustainable version.
  • Security – Hard boxes will come in with a lock and are made out of strong material. The combination of the two gives you a sense of security when it comes to using the product. Some soft boxes can also be locked if you wish, but they tend to provide a lot fewer safety measures than a hard box. Your security needs will determine what type of box you should really consider.

➡️ How to attach a cargo box?

Attaching a cargo box to the roof of your car is a relatively easy task to perform. However, because of some models’ weight, it is best to look for additional help from one of your friends when you do it for the first time.

It would be best if you put the box on top of your rooftop attachments (crossbars for roof racks), then use the key to unlock the box and open the lid for installation purposes.

Next, insert the clamps, and place them in the correct location, tighten them, so that there is no movement. Now, it is time to attach the restraining straps, and you are done!

A quick video on cargo boxes