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The Best Roof Racks You Can Buy for Your Vehicle

What's the best roof rack to buy? An expert weighs in.

front runner roof rack on car holding surfboard with woman standing next to it
Front Runner

Long road trips and overlanding adventures are only done right when you pack until your vehicle is almost overflowing. But if you’re playing Tetris with bags and your truck is bursting at the welds, chances are you won’t be able to see anything out the rear window — and that’s not safe. Roof racks are great for spreading gear to the often unused and underutilized space on the roof, but also for storing equipment that won’t fit in your car to begin with. Paddleboards, mountain bikes and kayaks should all ride topside, especially after a long weekend of hard use.

So to find out the best ways to attach gear to the outside of your ride, we spoke to Tom Henwood of Main Line Overland to see what the pros are using and what’s popular on today’s market.

“The best roof rack is the best design for a given application, rather than a particular brand,” Henwood said. “We help customers select racks and storage systems based on what they intend to carry on their travels, where they intend to go, etc. We look for componentry that maintains a low profile and low center of gravity for off-road driving, so we often choose aluminum roof racks to keep weight down up top.”

Why Use a Roof Rack?

Whether you have a sedan, a truck or an SUV, the interior cargo space can always fill up quicker than you think. And while the average person doesn’t need a roof rack 24/7, much like winter tires, they can be a valuable asset to have on hand — whether you’re overlanding, going on a long road trip, moving to a new house or just going up to the lake for a day.

So if you’re going to be strapping things to the roof of your car, do the job right; as per Hendwood’s philosophy above, it’s best to use solid, lightweight hardware that’s designed to carry loads, not roped-together guesswork.

Roof Rack Buying Guide

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Best All-Around Roof Rack
Rhino Rack
Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform
Best Budget
Yakima JetStream Bar
Best Upgrade
Aluminess Mercedes Sprinter Roof Rack
Best Mountain Bike Hauler
Rhino Rack
Rhino Rack Roof Top Hybrid Bike Carrier
Best Roof Rack for Kayaks
Thule Hullavator Pro
Front Runner Slimline II
Best Roof Rack for Sedans
YAKIMA RoundBar Crossbars
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