Roof Racks are a very practical 4×4 product that allows drivers to significantly increase the amount of cargo space their vehicle can carry. Space is always difficult to manage when planning an extended 4×4 trip, considering all the items, equipment, and gear that is needed to ensure you get home safely. This is why roof racks offers an ideal solution to the experienced 4×4 off-roader.
Roof racks have evolved over time to suit modern vehicle requirements, so naturally there are many products to choose from. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to roof racks, as there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration, such as the vehicles design and manufacturer and the type of roof contours on your vehicle. Before purchasing roof racks for your vehicle, it’s important to understand various factors about the types of materials available and how they are mounted on your vehicle. Weight also plays a critical role when selecting roof racks, so to give you some insight into what you should be looking for when purchasing roof racks, here’s a quick guide to help you make the right decision.
Types of Materials
Selecting the right material for your roof racks is important for your vehicle’s functionality, durability, and of course to suit each driver’s preferences. Like bull bars, there are three main types of materials when it comes to roof racks: steel, alloy, and plastic. The biggest difference between each type of material is the weight, so considering your roof’s load capacity is paramount.
Steel – The heaviest and most durable material, steel roof racks significantly reduce the extra cargo load due to its weight. The roof load capacity must be taken into account so you don’t damage the vehicle and create safety concerns.
Alloy – Offers the best balance between durability and weight, aluminium roof racks are both strong and lightweight, allowing drivers to carry more load without exceeding the roof load capacity. As a result, aluminium roof racks are more expensive than steel roof racks, and aren’t exposed to the same level of corrosion.
Plastic – Plastic roof racks are the cheapest and lightest of all the roof rack materials, however they aren’t nearly as durable and are not suitable for off-roading.
Types of Roof Racks
Given that there are many vehicle designs with different types of roofs, there are also many different shapes and sizes of roof racks. The following provides a list of the most common types of roof racks available.
Rain Gutter – The most traditional type of roof racks that is attached to the vehicles rain gutters, Rain Gutter roof racks have varying heights to suit different clearance requirements.
Bare Roof – One of the most common types of roof racks for modern vehicles, the Bare Roof roof racks are designed according to the style of your vehicle’s roof. This roof racks can be removed and stored when not in use, however may not be suitable for all types of off-roading.
Raised Rail – This type of roof rack is typically factory installed and runs from the front to back of the vehicle’s roof. Easy to install and versatile.
Tracks – Similar to the Raised Rail, this type of roof rack is also typically factory installed and runs from the front to back of the outer edges of the vehicle’s roof.
There are other types of factory installed roof racks that are similar to the two mentioned above, however they are very custom and dependent on the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Normally, your vehicle’s make and model will greatly assist you with best type of roof racks for your vehicle, however there are other factors to consider. One hidden cost that people tend to forget is installation costs. Ensuring that your roof racks are installed correctly is a very important safety issue, especially when a permanent system is installed. Don’t forget to add the cost of installation or additional mounting accessories to your overall roof rack costs.
Height and clearance is also another issue that must be considered, even without a load on top of your vehicle. If you find that your roof racks may be too high for low-hanging branches or road bridges, consider installing roof racks that can be temporarily removed. Additionally, keep an eye out for additional features, such as high sides that protect your cargo from catching when off-roading.