A roof rack can be an incredibly useful and valuable addition to any vehicle. When used properly, a roof rack can transport equipment while taking up zero space inside the cabin.
Types of Roof Racks
There are many different types of roof racks that serve many different functions. Many cars and 4wd’s have a factory fitting point already manufactured into the roof structure of the vehicle as a standard option. This makes for an easy installation process of any factory roof rack system available from the vehicle manufacture. Perhaps the most important function of factory roof racks is that they provide the mounting place for specialty and aftermarket racks.
While there are several manufacturers of aftermarket roof racks, it is best to check with the vehicle’s manufacture to make sure the vehicle is suitable for the attachment. Some speciality attachments such as bicycle racks, kayak racks, ski
and snowboard racks, and luggage racks are easily attached to a set of factory roof racks. These types of racks come in different colours, shapes and sizes, to accommodate different types of cargo.
Since most roof racks install directly to the roof of the vehicle, it’s a simple process of mounting the brackets supplied in the kit directly to the mounting points on the roof. For the most part, this is a very simple task and can be taken on by any competent individual with basic tools and by simply following the instruction manual. If the vehicle doesn’t have any factory mounting positions, some serious modifications may be needed to install a set of aftermarket roof racks. This job is best left in the hands of a professional.
While specialty racks like bicycle, ski, and kayak racks are made with the primary function of securing that type of load, general purpose luggage racks leaves this task in the hands of the driver. So the task of soundly securing the load is obviously very important. There are a few different types of straps for doing this. Most popular are cam straps and ratchet-down straps. These come in many different colours, sizes and strengths and allow anyone to easily secure a load without having to tie knots. For more traditional minded individuals, the truckers-hitch knot is easy and incredibly useful at tightly securing any load.
Load Rating and Where to Place Loads
Always keep in mind the load rating of the roof rack system. This refers to the advised weight limit recommended by the manufacturer for the roof rack system. The factory roof racks on most vehicles typically have this labelled somewhere on the rack or in the instruction manual. Just remember if a specialised rack has been installed you must add the weight of the specialised rack to your cargo as part of the total weight being secured to the factory roof racks. When using a cargo rack always try and place heavy loads nearest to the load bearing structure of the rack. Do not place heavy items in the middle of a rack where there is no reinforced crossbeams provided on the rack.