If your current vehicle doesn't have enough capacity to carry everything you need for your next road trip or family outing, then you have two options: buy a larger vehicle, or invest in a roof box. Naturally, buying a roof box is easier - and much cheaper.
As well as giving you extra space to carry items such as camping equipment, sports bags, sleeping bags and suitcases, it means your vehicle's cabin will be less cluttered - making it more spacious to be in and reducing the chances of the driver's view being obscured.
A roof box is comparable to a large suitcase which is securely fitted to the roof rack system of your car's roof.
In order to fit a roof box to your car, you'll need to first attach a roof rack system for it to lock onto. Your vehicle may already have a roof rack fitted.Whether you need to buy a new roof rack or have one already fitted, you'll need to be aware of the mounting system used by the roof box. Here are two of the most common roof rack mounting systems on the market today:
U-bolt systems use u-shaped bolts that fit around the roof bar cross section. Inside the roof box are screw caps that secure the entire kit in place. Roof boxes that use U-shaped bolts are compatible with all kinds of roof bars. That said, you may need to invest in a special T-track adapter if you buy Thule-branded wing roof bars. It takes around 10 minutes to fit a U-bolt system.
This system uses claw grips on the roof rack bars. It takes about five minutes to fit.
It is of paramount importance that your roof box is fitted securely. If you remove the roof box for any length of time, it's a good idea to keep all the fitting components inside the roof box, so you don't lose them for the next time.
If you do not feel confident about fitting your roof box, your garage may be able to do it for a small fee.
There are many roof boxes on the market, ranging in capacity from 250 litres to 600 litres. However, the higher the box, the more the wind resistance. As such, width and length are greater determinants of a roof box’s usefulness, rather than height.
Capacity - consider what you'll be using it for. If you plan multiple two-week road trips in the future, then a larger box is a good idea. For weekends away, a smaller capacity box may suffice.
Build quality and materials - as is often the case with many products, the more you pay, the better the quality of the roof box. Cheaper options may be made from thinner, more flimsy plastic, potentially causing the box to vibrate in the wind. Such roof boxes may also not last very long. More expensive roof boxes tend to be built to a higher standard from thicker plastics.
Type of opening - some boxes only open from the side, while others have a dual hinge system, so you can access your items from both sides of the car. The latter is of course much more convenient.