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SUVs for Adventurers: Roof Rack and Cargo Options

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SUVs are a popular choice for adventurers due to their versatility and ability to handle various terrains. Whether you’re planning a camping trip, a ski vacation, or a road trip with friends, having the right roof rack and cargo options can greatly enhance your SUV’s capabilities and make your adventures more enjoyable. In this article, we will explore different types of roof racks and cargo options available for SUVs, their benefits, and how to choose the best options for your needs.

1. Roof Rack Types

Roof racks are essential for expanding the storage capacity of your SUV. They allow you to carry bulky items such as bikes, kayaks, skis, and camping gear on the roof, freeing up space inside the vehicle. There are several types of roof racks available, each with its own advantages and considerations:

A. Crossbar Roof Racks

Crossbar roof racks are the most common type and consist of two parallel bars that run across the width of the vehicle’s roof. They provide a sturdy base for attaching various accessories, such as cargo boxes, bike racks, and kayak carriers. Crossbar roof racks are versatile and can be easily installed on most SUVs. They are also compatible with a wide range of accessories, making them a popular choice among adventurers.

B. Flush Rail Roof Racks

Flush rail roof racks are designed specifically for SUVs with integrated roof rails. These roof racks sit flush with the vehicle’s roofline, providing a sleek and aerodynamic look. Flush rail roof racks offer a seamless integration with the vehicle’s design and often have a higher weight capacity compared to crossbar roof racks. However, they may have limited compatibility with certain accessories, so it’s important to check compatibility before purchasing.

C. Raised Rail Roof Racks

Raised rail roof racks are similar to flush rail roof racks but have a gap between the roof and the rack. They are compatible with SUVs that have raised roof rails running from front to back. Raised rail roof racks offer a good balance between functionality and aesthetics. They provide a solid base for attaching accessories and are often more affordable compared to flush rail roof racks.

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D. Rain Gutter Roof Racks

Rain gutter roof racks are designed for older SUVs that have rain gutters along the edges of the roof. These racks attach to the rain gutters using clamps or brackets, providing a secure mounting point. Rain gutter roof racks are known for their durability and strength, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications. However, they may require additional installation steps and may not be compatible with all SUV models.

2. Cargo Box Options

Cargo boxes are a popular accessory for SUVs as they provide a secure and weatherproof storage solution. They are especially useful for carrying camping gear, skis, snowboards, and other bulky items. When choosing a cargo box for your SUV, consider the following factors:

A. Size and Capacity

Cargo boxes come in various sizes and capacities, so it’s important to choose one that suits your needs. Consider the length, width, and height of the cargo box to ensure it can accommodate your gear. Additionally, check the weight capacity of the box to ensure it can safely carry your items.

B. Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics play a crucial role in reducing wind noise and improving fuel efficiency. Look for cargo boxes with sleek designs and aerodynamic features, such as tapered fronts and integrated wind deflectors. These features help to minimize drag and improve the overall performance of your SUV.

C. Opening Mechanism

The opening mechanism of a cargo box determines how easy it is to access your gear. Some cargo boxes have dual-side openings, allowing you to load and unload from either side of the vehicle. Others have a single-side opening or a rear opening. Consider your preferences and the practicality of accessing your gear when choosing a cargo box.

D. Security Features

Security is important when transporting valuable items. Look for cargo boxes with secure locking systems to protect your gear from theft. Some cargo boxes have built-in locks, while others require separate lock kits. Additionally, consider the durability of the box and its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions.

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3. Bike Rack Options

If you’re an avid cyclist, having a bike rack for your SUV is essential. It allows you to transport your bikes safely and conveniently, without taking up valuable space inside the vehicle. When choosing a bike rack, consider the following options:

A. Roof-Mounted Bike Racks

Roof-mounted bike racks attach to the crossbars of your roof rack and hold the bikes upright. They are a popular choice for SUVs as they allow easy access to the rear of the vehicle and do not obstruct the rearview mirror. Roof-mounted bike racks are versatile and can accommodate various bike styles, including road bikes, mountain bikes, and fat bikes. However, they may require lifting the bikes overhead, which can be challenging for some individuals.

B. Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Hitch-mounted bike racks attach to the receiver hitch of your SUV and hold the bikes behind the vehicle. They are easy to install and offer a convenient loading and unloading process. Hitch-mounted bike racks are available in different configurations, including platform-style racks and hanging racks. Platform-style racks provide better stability and are suitable for heavier bikes, while hanging racks are more affordable and can accommodate multiple bikes.

C. Spare Tire-Mounted Bike Racks

Spare tire-mounted bike racks are designed for SUVs with an external spare tire. They attach to the spare tire and hold the bikes securely. These racks are compact and easy to install, making them a popular choice for SUV owners. However, spare tire-mounted bike racks have a limited capacity and may not be suitable for carrying multiple bikes or heavy-duty applications.

4. Kayak and Canoe Carriers

If you enjoy water sports, such as kayaking or canoeing, having a kayak or canoe carrier for your SUV is essential. These carriers allow you to transport your watercraft safely and securely. Here are some options to consider:

A. J-Cradle Kayak Carriers

J-cradle kayak carriers are designed to hold the kayak on its side, resembling the shape of the letter “J.” They provide a secure and stable platform for transporting kayaks. J-cradle carriers are easy to load and unload, and they can accommodate different kayak sizes and styles. However, they may require lifting the kayak overhead, which can be challenging for some individuals.

B. Stackers

Stackers are versatile kayak carriers that allow you to transport multiple kayaks or a combination of kayaks and other gear, such as paddleboards or surfboards. They consist of vertical posts that hold the kayaks in a stacked position. Stackers are a great option if you need to transport multiple watercraft or have limited roof space.

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C. Canoe Carriers

Canoe carriers are specifically designed to transport canoes securely. They often feature padded cradles or brackets that hold the canoe in place. Canoe carriers can be attached to crossbars or roof racks, depending on the design. Some carriers also have additional straps or tie-downs to ensure the canoe remains stable during transportation.

5. Cargo Management Accessories

In addition to roof racks and specific carriers, there are various cargo management accessories available to optimize your SUV’s storage capabilities. These accessories help to organize and secure your gear, making your adventures more efficient and enjoyable. Here are some popular options:

A. Cargo Nets and Tie-Down Straps

Cargo nets and tie-down straps are essential for securing your gear on the roof rack or inside the cargo box. They prevent items from shifting or falling off during transportation. Look for high-quality cargo nets and straps that are durable and have a high weight capacity. Consider using adjustable straps to accommodate different-sized items.

B. Roof Rack Baskets

Roof rack baskets are versatile accessories that provide additional storage space on top of your SUV. They are ideal for carrying bulky items, such as camping gear, coolers, or duffel bags. Roof rack baskets often have a sturdy construction and can be easily installed on most roof racks. Some baskets come with built-in wind deflectors to reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics.

C. Cargo Bags

Cargo bags are a great alternative to cargo boxes if you need temporary or occasional storage. They are made from durable and weather-resistant materials, such as nylon or PVC, and can be easily attached to the roof rack. Cargo bags are available in various sizes and capacities, allowing you to choose one that suits your needs. They are also collapsible for easy storage when not in use.

D. Roof Rack Accessories

There are numerous accessories available to enhance the functionality of your roof rack. These include ski and snowboard carriers, fishing rod holders, and awnings. Ski and snowboard carriers allow you to transport your winter sports equipment securely, while fishing rod holders keep your fishing rods organized and protected. Awnings provide shade and shelter, making them useful for camping trips or beach outings.


When it comes to SUVs for adventurers, having the right roof rack and cargo options can greatly enhance your outdoor experiences. Whether you’re carrying bikes, kayaks, camping gear, or other bulky items, there are various roof racks and cargo accessories available to suit your needs. Consider the type of roof rack that best fits your SUV, choose the appropriate cargo box or carrier, and utilize cargo management accessories to optimize your storage capabilities. By investing in the right equipment, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure every time.

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