Rack up the miles this summer with a car roof rack

Warm summer days inspire us to take on the outdoors, but before you can launch yourself into adventure, you first have to find a way to bring your gear along.

A car roof rack opens up a world of summer activities as it instantly allows you to secure specialized equipment like kayaks, surf boards, paddleboards, water skis or mountain bikes conveniently to the roof. Apart from this, car racks ensure you have plenty of space to pack for camping trips, fishing or picnics, leaving more room inside your car for passenger comfort.

Is your car ready for a roof rack?

Before picking out a roof rack, check your car to see what kind of rack it will need. Not all car tops are ready to attach a rack and others only have some of the necessary hardware. The first step is simply to look at the top of your car and see what kind of system is in place.

You may already have a full rail set-up, with two side rails and cross rails in place, meaning you’re all set to attach a roof rack.

Other cars feature raised half rails, which are two side rails with space between them and your car’s roof. In this case, you’ll need to invest in a standard set of load bars and a foot pack, and install this roof mounting hardware before you’re ready to add a roof rack. Raised rails do allow you to easily install the cross load bars and customize their location on the side bars to best support the load.

Another possibility your car may have is solid roof rails. These rails leave no gap between your car and the rail, giving them a sleek, inconspicuous look. These rails feature a subtle groove along the inside or outside where you can attach cross rails. A specialized cross rail pack is required to ensure the precise fit with this groove. As with raised rails, solid rails often allow you to adjust the position of the cross bars to comfortably hold the load.

Finally, you may find that the top of your car looks completely bare, but never fear, you’ll be able to use fix points to install your roof rack. These points are typically hidden when not in use, so look for hidden panels around the side corners of your car or under door trim. Custom kits are available with specialized fasteners to attach to these points, allowing you to install side and cross rails.

How to select the right roof rack

Once you have attached the rack, it’s time to select which carrier pieces you will need. Three carrier styles are available for bikes: the fork-mounted style is most secure, but requires you to remove the front wheel and is not compatible with road bikes that have disc brakes. A frame-mounted carrier works for all kinds of bikes, but puts some pressure on the bike’s frame. A wheel-mounted carrier clamps the bike’s wheel, keeping the frame stress-free, and works for all bikes. Kayak, canoe, and surfboard carriers are each uniquely curved and padded to secure your boat or board without damaging its sensitive surface. An enclosed roof box gives you more security and lets you pack smaller items on the roof. Well-known brands such as Thule or Yakima might be pricier, but often offer high quality and better aerodynamic design.

Summer’s just around the corner, so now’s the time to start thinking about warm weather plans and deciding if investing in a roof rack is right for you!