When you outfit yourself for an outdoor excursion, you need to ensure you have all the necessary equipment to keep you and others safe. Showing up for an outdoor trip unprepared, whether it’s a multi-day camping trip or an afternoon hike, can potentially lead to dangerous situations. To get all the gear you need to your chosen destination, you need the right roof rack to carry everything.
Your vehicle only has so much space, and that can encourage you to pack lighter than you should. Know how to choose the best roof rack for your gear and make sure you have everything you need for a safe and productive trip.
Check the Rack’s Weight
One of the first things you need to look out for is the rack’s weight, making sure it’s not overly heavy. Often, people confuse weight for durability, and that’s not necessarily the case. An excessively heavy rack can be clunky, hard to use, and unreliable, and in some cases, it can even damage your vehicle.
Many racks come in steel, but that is not always the best material due to the greater amount of weight. Look for racks constructed from aluminum, as they offer the same degree of strength with significantly less weight on your vehicle when designed properly.
Strength To Hold Together
Going off of rack weight and durability, you need something that can handle the harsh environment of the outdoors. Whether that’s dealing with off-road driving or standing up to wear and tear from the weather, you need a rack that keeps strong. Settling for a cheaper, less reliable rack runs the risk of falling apart during your trip, which will likely result in losing critical equipment, damaging your supplies, and banging up your vehicle.
Look into racks from manufacturers that have a history of gear made for the outdoors. Dealing with the elements requires hardened material and expert engineering, and going for something not suited for the outdoors can ruin a trip.
Check for Any Plastic Components
Related to overall strength, you need to make sure all the components are of the same sturdy material. As mentioned, aluminum is ideal for your roof rack, but many manufactures cut corners by implementing plastic parts in the design. Obviously, plastic is far less durable than aluminum, which compromises the entire rack.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and plastic parts will significantly reduce the reliability of roof racks. Make sure you have one that is all aluminum, that the manufacturers do not sabotage the strength of the rack to save on costs.
Ease of Assembly
While it can be stronger than a modular rack, one that comes in a single piece is often difficult to handle, install, and customize. Ideally, you’ll want to look for a rack with modular capabilities, allowing you to tweak the design to better fit your vehicle and the equipment you need to pack. With a solid, single rack, a single part that breaks is significantly more difficult to repair. However, it’s sometimes impossible to fix, and you might need a full replacement.
Modular racks allow owners to take them apart, replace the broken part, and reinstall them faster and for a fraction of the repair costs. It also allows for far more customization, letting you implement more or less storage depending on the amount of equipment you need.
Know What Accessories It Comes With
Along with the modular nature of roof racks, you need to invest in one that can offer a wide array of accessories and add-ons. This allows you to use your rack for multiple trips for different purposes; these can include greater space for tents, attachments to carry gas canisters, or special storage for food and water.
Find a brand that allows for seamless integration of attachments and accessories. You don’t want to find yourself stuck with a rack that you can’t customize for special trips. If you do, you’ll only increase your expense due to purchasing new, more specialized racks for different trips.
Inspect the Profile
Ideally, your rack should be low profile; this can help in a few key ways. The first is that it makes it significantly easier to load up your gear and take it down when you make camp. You don’t want anything to be too out of reach or difficult to get to when you really need it. Second, having a high-profile rack increases the likelihood of hitting objects overhead like tree branches and parking garage ceilings.
Lastly—and this one involves aerodynamics—a lower profile increases your fuel economy. The higher the profile of your rack, the more drag it puts on your vehicle. The more drag it has, the more it must struggle to move. Eliminating that drag allows your car to travel without issue, increasing fuel efficiency and making for safer driving.
Look Into the Companies You Buy From
A business being around for a long time doesn’t always mean they sell the best material, but it makes it easier to track their product history. Before committing to a purchase, make sure you know the company you invest in and the level of quality they can guarantee.
Look for their popular products, check reviews, and always exercise caution when you run into worrying information. Consider a business’s product history and make an informed purchase; you don’t want to accidentally end up with a company that has a history of failure.
Don’t Settle for Low-Quality Racks
When you set out on outdoor trips, you need to make sure all the gear you have is up to par—and that means making sure your roof rack is ready, too. Settling for a poor-quality roof rack only compromises your trip and can bring it to a halt if it fails.
In the worst-case scenario, a failed rack can endanger you and others while on a trip by destroying essential supplies. Always know that your rack guarantees quality and invest in a roof rack company that can provide that level of assurance. Know how to choose the best roof rack for your gear and avoid any precarious situations and inconveniences.