Looking for the best roof racks Australia has? Need a bit of extra storage space to carry that lightweight yet bulky camping gear? Then read on because we’re going to help you find the best car roof racks Australia has!
It seems that it doesn’t matter what type of camping setup you have; you always need more storage space for getting it there in the first place. Whether your kids are getting bigger and there is less space inside the car, you need somewhere to put your kayak, SUP or even just those fancy camping chairs – this is when having one of the top roof rack systems comes in handy.
While there is no doubt roof rack systems are super handy, they aren’t without their downsides. The best kind are expensive, and in all honesty, they can’t carry all that much once you factor in your vehicle’s roof load capacity. Not to mention the additional fuel costs and reduced vehicle performance. Nevertheless, for many of us, car or 4X4 roof racks are a necessity.
If you’re looking for the best 4WD roof racks or the best rook racks for cars, then there are a few things to get your head around first. A lot of it comes down to the type of vehicle you have, what you want to carry and whether you’re into off road camping or stick to the bitumen. It’s also about knowing which are the best roof rack brands because you do get what you pay for.
If you’re looking to buy roof racks for your car, then these best roof racks reviews Australia 2021 are going to be a great start. In this roof top storage guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to consider when purchasing a roof top luggage rack to ensure you buy the right one for you. We’ll also take a closer look at some of the best rated roof racks currently on the Australian market.
This guide covers a range of different types of roof racks. We look at options for roof rack cross bars, full length roof racks, roof top luggage box and more! So regardless of your needs and budget, you’ll no doubt find the perfect option in this guide.
So let’s get started and find you the best roof top carrier for your next camping trip!
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- 1 Our Pick for the Best Car Roof Racks Australia 2021: Kings Platform Rack
- 2 Top Roof Racks System Comparison Table
- 3 How to Choose the Best Roof Top Carrier
- 4 Best Roof Racks Reviews Australia 2021
- 4.1 Vortex Rhino Roof Racks Review
- 4.2 Rhino Pioneer Platform
- 4.3 WingBar Evo Thule Roof Racks Review
- 4.4 Thule Force XT Roof Top Luggage Box Review
- 4.5 Vortex Rola Roof Racks Review
- 4.6 S Wing ProRack Roof Racks Review
- 4.7 Adventure Kings Roof Racks Review
- 4.8 Whispbar Roof Racks Review
- 4.9 Yakima Roof Top Box Review
- 4.10 Yakima Warrior Review
- 4.11 Related posts:
Our Pick for the Best Car Roof Racks Australia 2021: Kings Platform Rack
If you don’t want to read our entire roof top racks guide and just want our suggestion for the best roof racks, we recommend the Adventure Kings aluminium platform rack range. These are reasonably lightweight and super solid platforms, have a massive 150 kg loading rate and are well priced.
These roof racks just tick all the boxes. With their solid build, they’re perfect for both on road and off road adventures. They are also easy to install and have key locked mounting feet to keep safe from theft. Plus, they have a low profile, so even if you have a two inch lift, your vehicle will still fit in your garage.
Click here to purchase the Kings platform rack now or keeping reading below for our full review.
Top Roof Racks System Comparison Table
Before we get started on how to choose a car roof top carrier, below we’ve compiled a quick comparison table so you can see all the different vehicle roof racks that are reviewed later in the guide. The table helps you easily compare the roof top cargo carriers and their features side by side.
Keep reading below for the full reviews.
|Brand||Image||Type||Weight of Roof Racks||Load Rating||Check Price|
|Rhino Vortex ||Crossbars||5 kg||Up to 80 kg||Check Price|
|Rhino Pioneer ||Platform||Various sizes from 18.1 kg up to 38.5 kg||Subject to crossbars||Check Price|
|Thule WingBar Evo ||Crossbars||2.5 kg||Up to 100 kg||Check Price|
|Thule Force XT |
|Various sizes from 14.7 kg to 21.3 kg||Up to 75 kg||Check Price|
|Rola Vortex ||Basket||Two sizes from 17 kg to 24 kg||Subject to crossbars||Check Price|
|ProRack S Wing||Crossbars||5 kg||Up to 75 kg||Check Price|
|Adventure Kings Platform||Platform||Various sizes from 18 kg to 48.6 kg||Up to 150 kg||Check Price|
|Whispbar||Crossbars||5 kg||Up to 75 kg||Check Price|
|Five sizes from 18.6 kg to 28.1 kg||Up to 75 kg||Check Price|
|Yakima Warrior||Basket||Two sizes from 11.3 kg to 15.90 kg||Up to 75 kg||Check Price|
How to Choose the Best Roof Top Carrier
Like we said in the intro, while roof racks are super handy, they are also a bit of a drag (quite literally) on your vehicle. To avoid as many downsides as possible with the roof rack you end up purchasing, you must spend some time considering the below factors.
Vehicle Roof Weight Limit
It might sound odd to start by discussing the vehicle roof weight limit – but this is the most important thing to consider when purchasing a roof rack system. Without knowing what the roof weight limit is of your vehicle – then you’re really going in blind.
All vehicles have a weight limit that can be placed on the roof. If we’re talking about 4WD’s in most cases, it’s somewhere around 100kg, sometimes less, sometimes more – so check this out. This means that whatever you put on the roof of your vehicle, it can’t be more than this amount. That includes both the roof rack system AND whatever gear you plan on storing there.
So if you have a roof rack system that weighs 30kgs, you can only add another 70 kgs worth of gear. Now that may be more than enough for some people – whereas others may really need to rethink what they plan on storing on their roof.
Also, keep in mind that just because the roof rack says it can handle up to 120kgs – this does not mean you can load up 120kgs of stuff. That’s because the roof weight limit of your vehicle trumps the weight limit of your roof rack.
This is why you really want to opt for a lightweight aluminium roof rack and only store lightweight, bulky items on the roof – this will give you the best bang for your buck in terms of vehicle storage space. Keep the super heavy stuff (provided it can actually fit) in the boot. Things like tents, gazebos, camping chairs, tables, boogie boards etc are prime candidates for storing on your roof racks.
So before you buy any roof rack, know your vehicle’s roof load AND the weight of the roof rack you’re thinking about buying AND the weight of what you want to carry. If you don’t get this all right before you buy, you may well end up wasting your money!
What Items will you Carry?
So now you know the weight limit of your car’s roof – let’s consider what you might want to store up there.
Given you need to consider both the weight of your roof rack system and the gear – your best bet is to store lightweight bulky items up there or for things that can’t be stored inside the vehicle because, quite frankly they stink – like LPG bottles or portable loos. At the end of the day, though, roof racks aren’t for cramming as much as you can on them.
Car top rails are great for longer items but cannot carry smaller items on their own. While a roof top basket is great for smaller items and a platform without sides is a little more versatile for items of all shapes and sizes.
I suggest before you purchase any roof rack system, you add up the weight of what you’re considering storing on your roof rack – this will guide you on what the right sort of roof rack system is for you.
How will you attach the Roof Racks?
In most cases, you won’t have a choice in how you mount your roof racks, as this will be determined by the standard factory fittings of your car. So before you purchase any roof rack – know how you’ll attach it first.
In general, these days there are four main ways to attach roof racks to your vehicle.
- Raised Side Rails: These are common on SUVs and are raised rails on each side of the vehicle and go from the front to the back. These rails have a gap between the roof of the vehicle and the rail.
- Flush Side Rails: Like raised side rails, flush side rails are on each side of the vehicle and are flush with the car roof; that is there is no gap between the car roof and the rail. This is common in modern cars.
- Fix Point: Some cars have neither flush nor raised side rails; rather they have fixed points hidden away. These points tend to be either on the car roof or inside the door jamb.
- Naked / Bare Roofs: Some cars have no rails or fixpoints – for these types of cars you’re limited to a door jamb type roof rack. These types of racks clamp to the door jamb.
On or Off Road Use
Just when you thought you had this whole weight thing figured out……. Keep in mind that generally, roof racks have a different weight limit when going off road. Often this is around 20 kgs less than the on road weight limit.
So if you’re planning on going off road with your roof racks on, then also take note of the off road weight limit.
Types of Roof Rack Systems
Now that you have the whole weight thing figured out, we can finally talk about the different types of roof racks available!
I’ll briefly go over some of the options below:
Roof Bars / Crossbars
If you’re after cheap roof racks, then you’re probably going to want to go for roof bars (also referred to as crossbars or rails). This is the best aftermarket roof rack system for those after something cheap, lightweight, easy to install, and easy to remove.
Roof top cross bars run side to side across your vehicle and usually come in pairs – although it is possible to have more than two bars run across the roof of your vehicle. There is the choice of either flush roof bars that finish flush with the side of your vehicle or overhang roof bars, which – you guessed it – hang over the side of your vehicle.
These types of roof racks are easy to install if your vehicle comes with the factory standard side raised roof rails or solid roof rails (which are useless on their own).
The downside though, with roof bars is they are fairly limited to what they can carry because there isn’t much of a surface to tie things down. They are however, ideal for people looking to store long items, like kayaks, paddleboards, fishing rods, camping tables, gazebos, tents etc.
We personally have opted for roof bars for our vehicle as they are lightweight and so we’re not wasting too many precious kilos from our maximum vehicle roof load on the rack themselves. If you want to store smaller items on your roof racks, you can always opt for one of the large waterproof Kings bags and tie these onto your car top carrier rails.
A car top basket is a metal basket with a base and sides. They are useful for storing various gear of all different shapes and sizes – not just big and bulky items. Some baskets have the sides missing or the front and rear missing so that you can overhang larger items.
However, keep in mind that in most cases, you will need first to install car top cross bars and then attach the basket – which of course, will take up some of your roof weight limit.
Platforms or Trays
A really popular choice for those after camping roof racks is a platform. These come in a range of different sizes and are just a flat base which you can tie gear too. It’s more versatile than simple crossbars because you can tie various sized items to it. They are also ideal for attaching various accessories to carry specific items such as kayaks, solar panels etc.
However, just like baskets, platforms do generally need to be attached to a set of crossbars and as such, you will need to factor in the weight of both.
Luggage Boxes / Cargo Carriers
A roof top storage box or luggage boxes are basically hard shell suitcases for the roof of your car – so there really is no limit to what you can store in here. The benefit of a car top luggage carrier is there is no need to tie the items down and given your items are securely locked away; you don’t need to be concerned about them while parked up somewhere.
But here I go again – luggage boxes need to be installed on top of crossbars, so you will have to consider both items’ weight.
Roof racks tend to be made of aluminium or steel and cheaper versions are made with plastic.
Steel is cheaper than aluminium and durable, but the downside is it’s much heavier, so it eats into that weight limit. With a heavy steel roof rack on your vehicle, you’ll be limited to what you can store up there before you reach your vehicle’s roof limit. The other downside is it’s more prone to rust than aluminium.
Aluminium is a great choice for automobile roof racks, but they are also super expensive! Aluminium is super lightweight, durable and more corrosion resistant. It is also said to have less drag when the vehicle is in motion, better for fuel consumption and quieter.
If you’re looking for something super versatile for your camping trips, then you really can’t pass up an aluminium roof rack – yes it is more expensive, but you’ll have many more options in terms of what you can carry on it.
Give the cheap plastic roof racks a miss!
Roof Rack Accessories
One of the most common reasons people opt to install a roof rack is to add accessories – with one of the most popular being an awning (click here to read out guide on choosing the best 4WD awning). But other accessories include lights, solar panels, shovel holders, bike mounts etc.
If you plan on adding any of these accessories to your roof rack, check to make sure they are compatible and again – be sure to consider the weight of these accessories when deciding which roof rack is right for you.
Best Roof Racks Reviews Australia 2021
Hopefully, after reading the above, you better understand what the best car racks are for you. Keep reading our best roof rack storage reviews below.
Rhino is one you’ve probably one of the car rack brands you’ve heard before – these guys are considered to be among one of the top roof rack brands around. They make a range of different racks, but first let’s look at their popular Vortex crossbars.
The Vortex Rhino-rack is a durable roof rack system that is quick and easy to install and remove. The car top carrier cross bars feature specially moulded pads and custom fit clamps so they can easily be attached to your car’s door jamb curves. The pads are made with rubber, so they won’t rub on your car either.
They are made from lightweight aluminium and have a high load rate of up to 80 kgs, depending on your vehicle’s roof weight limit. Other features include lockable legs, so no need to worry about someone nicking them and they have a rubber stripe designed to reduce the wind drag and noise.
These Rhino roof racks are ideal on their own for transporting lightweight bulky items or pair them with a range of other cargo carriers, platforms or baskets. They also come in a choice of either black and silver and both the flush or overhang design.
Another popular roof rack system from Rhino is their Pioneer Platform. In fact, in the various camping groups, I belong to, this is one that I’m regularly seeing recommended as the best roof racks for camping gear. These platforms come in a range of different sizes, so you’ll be able to find the perfect size for your needs.
The Rhino Pioneer Platform is a sleek and stylish roof rack system designed to fit a range of vehicles. They are made from strong yet lightweight aluminium and are black powder coated, so they are corrosion resistance. For added strength, they also have fibreglass reinforced nylon corners.
You will need to pair the Rhio Pioneer with a set of crossbars and the previous Rhino Vortex ones are the perfect partner. You can also pair it with a range of offer rack accessories such as luggage bags, jerry can holders, shovels and more.
Each Rhino Pioneer Platform also comes with a 5 year warranty so that you can purchase with peace of mind.
Thule roof racks are another super popular choice among Aussies after the best roof rack system for their camping gear. Thule makes top quality products that are among some of the lightest roof racks currently on the market. The Thule WingBar Evo crossbars, for example are the lightest of all in these reviews.
The Thule Wingbar was inspired by the design of an aircraft wing. These Thule car roof racks have fantastic aerodynamic features making them one of the quietest roof rack options on the market. They’re also designed to reduce drag which helps with fuel economy.
A great feature of this best Thule roof rack is the t tracks. This means various accessories can easily slide into place along the track. The entire length of the bar can be used, so there is plenty of space for loads of different accessories.
These crossbars have a huge weight limit of 100kgs (subject to your vehicle’s roof limit, of course), making them great for either using them on their own or pairing with a basket, platform or cargo carrier.
If you’re looking for a car roof top box to pair with your crossbars – then why not consider a Force XT Thule hard top carrier. They come in six different sizes with a maximum weight load of up to 75 kgs, so you’ll no doubt be able to find the perfect size to transport.
The smallest of the Force XT Thule car top carrier for sale has a capacity of 300 litres, with the largest having a capacity of 500 litres, so you’ll be able to fit all your excess gear in these. Regardless of what size you purchase, they all come with a maximum load of 75 kgs.
This hard shell roof top cargo carrier is super easy to mount thanks to the PowerClick quick mount system. They’re also easy to open and close and with the dual side opening, you can access the entire box from both sides of your vehicle. You can also lock the Thule top carrier, so there is no concern of theft while you’re parked up.
This hard top luggage carrier is reasonably lightweight, considering its size. However, they will need to be mounted to crossbars, so you’ll need to take this weight also into consideration.
Overall if you’re looking for something safe and secure to store smaller items, this Force XT hard top roof carrier is well worth considering. Lightweight and easily accessible, it’s the perfect place to store those items that you just can’t squeeze into the car.
These Vortex Rola roof racks are a hybrid between a platform and basket style and are a great option for those after something more than simple crossbars yet still wanting cheap car roof racks. In fact, these are some of the most inexpensive roof rack options in this guide.
The Rola Vortex roof rack is made from steel and features a protective black powder coating. It has a heavy duty tubular construction which makes this basket perfect whether you’re looking for the best off road roof rack or on road.
There is a choice of two different size baskets; the small car top carrier weighs 17 kg while the large car top carrier weighs 24 kgs. This makes these affordable roof racks reasonably lightweight compared to the other platforms and cargo carriers in these reviews, particularly considering this is a cheap option.
The Rola Vortex luggage basket is a stylish looking roof rack and for the price, you really can’t go wrong. While certainly not made to the high quality of Thule or Rhino products, if you’re someone after a lightweight and the best affordable roof rack, the Rola Vortex is a perfect choice.
Whether you’re just after some crossbars to store your lightweight bulky gear or need some as a base for a platform or cargo carrier, the S Wing ProRack roof racks are a super popular choice – in fact, this is what we have on our 4WD. These roof racks are what you’ll see at popular camping and vehicle stores such as BCF and Super Cheap Auto.
The S Wing roof racks are aerodynamically designed to reduce wind drag (which helps improve fuel economy) and be super quiet. In fact, ProRack claims that the S Wing roof racks have up to 70% less wind drag than most other crossbars on the market.
You will need to purchase a fitting kit that is unique to your vehicle to install these bars. But overall, they are reasonably easy to mount.
With a loading rate of up to 75 kg, you’ll be able to store on top all your bulky, lightweight camping gear. They are perfect for tables, kayaks, gazebos etc. We also have a Darche awning mounted to one side and accessories to store our max Traxx and shovel on the other side.
Overall we’re super happy with our S Wing ProRack roof racks. Whether you’re after good roof racks to store bulky gear or something lightweight as a base for other roof top carriers, do yourself a favour and consider the S Wing.
Adventure Kings have recently put out this new range of awesome aluminium platform racks. They have a nice modern look to them, are reasonably lightweight, have a huge weight capacity of up to 150kg and come in a range of different sizes.
The King roof racks are super tough platforms made from aircraft grade aluminium which is strong and corrosion resistant. This makes these roof racks perfect for both your off road adventures as well as on road. Plus, it has an aerodynamic shape to it to reduce wind drag and noise.
Everything you need for mounting this platform comes with your purchase. You don’t even need crossbars for this platform as it is a gutter mount roof rack. The mounting feet have a secure key lock too, to ensure no one nicks off with it while you’re parked up.
These Kings roof racks have an accessory channel that makes it super easy to add various accessories and tie down your gear. Plus, the platform has a low profile, so you don’t need to be concerned about not fitting into your garage. Even if your vehicle has a 2 inch lift, you’ll remain under an overall height of 2 metres.
If you’re looking for a platform style roof rack, the Kings range of aluminium roof racks are certainly one to consider. They are one of the cheaper aluminium platforms on the market and have one of the largest weight capacities. So if your vehicle has a large roof weight capacity, then the Adventure Kings platform might be what you’ve been searching for.
Whispbar roof racks are another top option for those after a set of crossbars for their vehicle. These come in a choice of a flush bar for a seamless look or through bars, as well as your choice of black or silver.
As the name suggests, these roof racks are whisper quiet and like the ProRack crossbars are aerodynamically designed. The Whispbar quiet roof racks are said to have up to 70% less wind drag and noise than most offer options on the market.
Everything you need to fit these crossbars comes with your purchase, including locks and a universal t slot system, making adding other accessories to the crossbars easy.
Lightweight, reasonably priced and with a load rating of up to 75 kgs, the Whispbar roof racks are yet another perfect option for those looking for a simple roof rack system.
Another great option for those looking for a secure hard top cargo carrier is the Yakima Skybox range. They come in five different sizes, from a 340 litre capacity box to a huge 595 litre capacity box. Regardless of which size you purchase, they all come with a maxim load rating of 75 kgs.
The Yakima roof top box is aerodynamically designed to reduce both wind drag and noise. They are also made with up to 80% of recycled material, so they are essentially environmentally friendly.
The Skybox range is easy to install on almost any set of crossbars and doesn’t require any tools to install or remove. Once installed, it’s easy to access your gear, as the Skybox can be opened from either side of the vehicle.
Very similar in design, weight and price to the previous Thule car top carrier reviewed in this guide, the Yakima Skybox range is another option worth considering.
The Yakima Warrior and Mega Warrior is a great inexpensive option for those looking for something to transport their bulky camping gear. These are basket style cargo carriers with a solid construction and wide base, making them perfect for a range of gear.
The Warrior and Mega Warrier baskets are constructed with weather resistant heavy duty steel. These baskets are designed to be installed on pretty much any crossbar and installation is easy. You can then pair it up with a range of different accessory mounts for certain gear.
If you need even more space, add a Yakima extension expanding your cargo capacity by 40%. However, keep in mind that the maximum load for these roof top baskets are 75 kgs.
And there you have it, our ultimate guide to the best car roof racks. We have plenty of other guides to help you with camping, including how to choose a pop up tent, how to choose the best camping fridge and we even have the ultimate camping checklist here.
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