Car roof boxes

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We tested 4 car roof boxes.

A car roof box is a quick and easy solution for your tent in summer or skis in winter.

From our test

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Why get one?

A car roof box is a quick and easy solution for your tent in summer or skis in winter.

With summer starting, the prospect of carting around camping and sporting gear in an already packed car can be daunting. With a car roof box, you can store almost anything … depending on the size and weight limits of the box and your car roof.

Rained out of your campsite? Pile it into the roof box without packing it away and you don’t have to worry about the boot getting wet. You can also use one of these boxes for stashing the kids’ dirty sports gear – it’s easy enough to hose it out later. And if you have a small car, a roof box gives you easy storage space for a long weekend.

What to look for

Thinking about getting a car roof box? Here are some things to check for:

  • If you don’t already have roof bars, you’ll need to install them. It’s a good idea to buy the same brand as your roof box – they’re more likely to be compatible.
  • Measure the distance between your roof bars – you’ll need to buy a roof box that fits.
  • Check the roof box has the dimensions you need. Length is important if you want to store skis.
  • Check the width of the box. Make sure you can reach comfortably across the roof to access it.
  • Roof boxes have load “ratings”. Don’t buy one with a load rating that’s greater than the weight limit specified for your car’s roof.
  • A roof box that opens from either side of the car is safer and easier to use. Roof boxes that only open from the driver’s side can be a hazard if you need to get at the contents when you’re parked on the road.
  • Straps help prevent the load shifting around inside while your car’s on the move. Most roof boxes come with straps – but not all the ones in our test did.
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Need to know

Car roof boxes have load limits – the ones we tested had a 75kg limit. So store heavier items in the boot and lighter items in your roof box. (In a crash, heavier items will be safer in the boot because a roof box may detach from the roof or the items inside it may crash out.)

Using a roof box will increase your fuel consumption – our test vehicle used just over 12 percent more fuel with the roof box fitted. Make sure you remove the box when you’re not using it.

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Buy a box? Or rent?

You can buy a roof box from auto-equipment stores, camping or outdoors shops, and some car dealers and mechanics – they can order one in for you. You can also buy online if you know the model you want.

Some roof box suppliers will also rent them. These rental periods are usually for one week – perfect for that camping or skiing trip. But you need to book early because there’s often limited stock.

Don’t have roof bars? No problem, most shops that rent roof boxes also rent roof bars. Some shops will even help fit the roof bars and roof box to your car. So you’ve got no excuse for not making use of that extra space on your car roof.

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