Going camping or overlanding usually requires you to bring along some gear. Your 4×4 may have ample space in the cabin or truck bed, but if you’re hauling some serious gear, you may find that it’s not enough.
Installing a cargo carrier onto your vehicle is a great way to increase its storage capacity and make it more versatile. But if you’ve never done it before, the process can seem a bit daunting. This step-by-step guide will show you how to install a cargo carrier by walking you through everything you need to know about the process.
Types of Cargo Carriers
There are a few different types of cargo carriers, but the three most popular are roof bags, roof trays or baskets, and roof boxes. We’ll detail the key features of each type to help you choose the right one for your needs.
Roof bags are the most popular type of cargo carrier, and for good reason. They’re easy to install, don’t require special mounts or racks, and can be used on any vehicle with a roof. You just often have to strap them down, looping the straps through your roof rails or doors. Roof bags are also relatively inexpensive, starting at around $50.
The main downside of roof bags is that they can be a bit awkward to load and unload, especially if you’re doing it yourself. And while they’re fine for carrying lighter items, they’re not ideal for heavier loads.
Roof Trays and Baskets
Roof trays and baskets are a great option if you’re looking for something easy to load and unload. They are also more affordable than roof boxes, starting at around $100. Unlike roof bags, they usually are more rigid and have rods, brackets, or frames that help hold their shape.
The downside of roof trays and baskets is that they don’t offer as much protection from the elements as a roof box. It’s also important to note that your belongings are not enclosed, meaning they can shift around while you’re driving, which can be dangerous.
Roof boxes, or cargo boxes, are the best option for carrying heavier loads or items that must be protected from the elements. They have rigid shells that offer the best protection for your gear against impacts and the elements. They’re also more expensive than roof bags and roof trays, starting at around $200.
If there’s a drawback to using a roof box, it’s that it can be difficult to install and remove. That’s why we recommend roof boxes for stationary items that won’t need to be removed often, such as camping gear or snowboards.
Choosing the Right Cargo Carrier
There are a few things you’ll need to consider before purchasing and installing a cargo carrier. First, you’ll need to decide on the size and load capacity that you’ll need. Then, you should consider whether you’ll need roof rails for mounting purposes.
Let’s focus on the size factor. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to size. You’ll need to make sure that the cargo carrier you choose will fit your vehicle. You can do this by measuring the length and width of your vehicle’s roof.
Then, you’ll need to take into account the size of any items you plan on transporting. For example, if you’re planning on carrying a large piece of furniture, you’ll need to make sure that the cargo carrier you choose is large enough to accommodate it.
As far as load capacity goes, you’ll need to consider how much weight you plan on transporting. This is important because you’ll need to make sure that the cargo carrier you choose can accommodate the weight of your belongings. In general, most cargo carriers can accommodate up to 150 pounds, although some models can carry slightly more.
Once you’ve considered the size and load capacity factors, you’ll need to decide on a mounting option. There are two main types of mounts: with roof rails and without roof rails.
If your vehicle has roof rails, then you’ll be able to install a cargo carrier that attaches directly to those rails. If your vehicle doesn’t have roof rails, then you’ll need to choose a cargo carrier that mounts directly to the roof of your vehicle.
Installing a Cargo Carrier
Now that you’ve chosen the right cargo carrier for your needs, it’s time to install it. In this section, we’ll focus on installing a roof box to give you a general overview of the process.
Things You Need
Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you may already have a roof rack. If that’s the case, you don’t need to invest in another rack. Just use what you have but make sure that the dimensions of the rack and box match.
Parts and Materials
- Roof box
- Roof rack system
- Socket wrench
With your cargo carrier and tools ready, let’s check out the installation process.
- Read the manual. Begin by reading the instructions that came with your roof box. This will give you a better understanding of the product you’re working with and will help you select the right roof rack system for your vehicle. Some roof boxes may have unique features that would require some special steps to mount. So, be sure to check the manual first.
- Plan the mounting. Once you’ve decided on a roof box, it’s time to see where best to mount it on your roof. Ideally, you should have already checked the dimensions of your car, your gear, and the roof box to ensure that everything fits. The box should be placed in an area that is easily accessible and free of obstacles. It helps to do a test mount before clamping anything down.
- Install the roof rack system. Using the instructions that came with your roof rack system, install the crossbars and feet on your vehicle. Make sure that the system is installed correctly and that all of the parts are tightened securely.
- Attach the U-bolts. Attach the U-bolts to the roof box, ensuring they are tightened securely.
- Place the roof box on the roof rack. Carefully place the roof box on the roof rack, making sure that it is secure. Line the box and rack mounts properly so that they will be flush. Check for any play and adjust the components accordingly. You don’t want the box to be jostling around.
- Lock the roof box. Using the locks that came with your roof box, lock the box in place using the included fasteners and hardware. This will ensure that it stays secure during transport.
- Test the roof box. Before you hit the road, it’s important to test your roof box to make sure that it is secure. Try opening and closing the box to see if it closes and locks correctly. Then, take your vehicle for a test drive to see if it rattles or slides around.
Installing a cargo carrier is a simple process that can be completed in a few easy steps. By following the instructions in this guide, you can ensure that your cargo carrier is installed correctly and that your belongings are safe during transport.
Please remember that if your vehicle already has a roof rack system, you can skip steps 3 and 4 from above. Just attach your roof box to your existing roof rack as outlined in our step-by-step guide.
Make the Most of Your Cargo Carrier
Now that you know how to install a cargo carrier, you can make the most of your vehicle’s storage space and keep your belongings safe while you’re on the road.
Be sure to read over your carrier’s instructions thoroughly before beginning the installation process. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask a professional for help.
As long as you take your time during the installation process, you should have no trouble getting your cargo carrier up and running in no time. And once you’re finished, you’ll be able to enjoy the added convenience and peace of mind that comes with knowing your belongings are safely stored away while you’re on the go.