Now You Really Can Take It All With You

What’s the best way to carry equipment outside your vehicle? In many cases, that answer comes in the form of a roof rack. Of course, it depends on the weather you expect to encounter, what you are carrying and what kind of vehicle you drive.

“Permanent racks and carriers can be used for summer as well as winter gear,” said John Bauer, founder of Rack N Road in Sacramento. “Consider all your options and requirements before making an investment. Quality installation and equipment will last the lifetime of your vehicle.”

There are also temporary options, which secure to the door jam or roof rails.

“Temporary racks may be removed easily and do not require any alteration of the roof itself,” Bauer said. “Permanent racks, however, offer the safest way to carry winter gear.”

Vehicles without factory-installed racks systems require permanent installation of a rails and crossbars. Modern racks fit snugly and won’t damage the roof’s structural integrity when properly installed.

Decades of refinements produce racks that look and perform better than ever.

One note of caution: rack loads my shift if the driver makes sudden maneuvers or if there are heavy gusts of wind, he said.

Drivers should consider using a clamshell container if they expect to encounter bad weather conditions.

Here are Bauer’s suggestions for winter travelers looking to clear out their vehicle cabin by stowing gear and accessories outside the vehicle:

  • Consider what you want to carry. A clamshell enclosure protects gear from theft and the elements.
  • How much do you want to spend? Temporary roof racks are the least expensive methods of transporting winter gear. Yet they also have offer less security and stability than permanently attached roof racks. Gear attached to hitch-mounted racks may flutter and accumulate road grime.
  • Look for carriers or cargo boxes with sturdy locks and heavy duty plastic. Stainless steel parts are less likely to rust or break than plastic components. ABS plastic lasts longer and weathers better than cheap polyethylene plastic.
  • Review the aerodynamics as well as design to make sure it blends with your vehicle and minimizes wind resistance.
  • Point ski tips toward the rear of the vehicle to reduce air resistance.
  • Ask about permanent racks and look for experienced installer that guarantees installation quality. Proper installation fits as snugly as a factory-installed rack and provides many options not available on temporary or hitch mounted racks.