‘outdoor hobbies and sports are a great way to burn off some energy and spend time with friends and family. These types of activities usually don’t involve a whole lot of forethought and planning; you simply call up some buddies grab a Frisbee or football and hit the road. Yet, for those who enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, or white water rafting, things aren’t so simple. Some complications must be addressed before heading out.
Now, this doesn’t mean that to enjoy these pursuits, you should book a meeting with a travel agent months in advance, but there are transportation and equipment fundamentals that must be planned for. More specifically, how exactly are you going to get your canoe, kayak, or mountain bike to the designated location, safely and legally?
The Reasons Why
This obstacle is one of the more important considerations for both acute and casual participants in outdoor activities requiring bikes or other large pieces of equipment. Though this barrier may seem impossible, it can be taken care of rather quickly. That said, if not done correctly or legally, you’re running the risk of damaging your luggage, equipment, vehicle, and yourself.
We’ve all probably seen someone driving a truck on a highway or street with ten bikes, a kayak, and a pet carrier haphazardly attached to their truck bed cover or roof. When we see this irresponsible and careless situation, we tend to think or even say aloud what an idiot this person is. Not only is it highly illegal to drive on the road with an unsecured piece of equipment on the roof of your car, but it’s also incredibly dangerous to your fellow drivers.
Putting yourself in this type of predicament usually ends with irreparable damage to your beloved mountain bike, bed, or ski equipment and a costly ticket for driving with an unsecured load. Of course, there a ton of more serious things that can happen when traveling at a high rate of speed with a loosely secured, heavy object on the roof of your car or flatbed truck and, though most of us have gotten away with it at some point or another, running these types of risks is not cool. It only takes one misstep or bumps in the road to set into action a series of events that have the potential to alter your life forever.
To avoid a traumatic and life-altering accident from occurring when transporting your outdoor gear, a small bit of advanced planning and equipment is necessary. Thankfully, many fantastic rack systems are both affordable and easy to install for the safe storage and secure transport of all sorts of items.
To help those who are stuck in their search for the perfect vehicle-mounted roof rack system, let explores and explains roof rack systems that are not only some of the more popular items available but that also have the best overall performance. What these products can do performance-wise is essential, but you also have to consider the roof racks price, customer service options, and customer reviews.
The rather obvious starting point to any vehicle roof rack purchase is to first ask yourself in what capacity are you planning on using this product? Since the various categories of vehicle roof rack systems come in a wide variety of types, each with their mounting accessories, racks, load bars, crossbars, it’s best to pick a design suited to your particular transport needs.
Popular and quality brands like Yakima and Thule have their unique style, accessories, and mounting gear that can be fitted to a lot of popular vehicles, so there is no lack of choices. Yet, out of all the bike, luggage, cargo, and multi-sport rack options and categories to choose from, it’s easy to become sidetracked. It’s essential to keep the focus of your search on the specific performance requirements you need because you don’t want to be sold a product or hardware item you don’t need or rarely take the time to use.
Thankfully, the repercussions of wayward spending are typically only going to hurt your wallet due to the higher price tag these additional rack kit options bring with them. I say this because companies like Yakima and Thule have designed their kayak, ski, bike, and other car and truck mounting hardware to be universal fits for most of their racks. It allows a little wiggle room in how a customer chooses to set up their truck or car.
Using your mounted roof rack imagination too much in this regard, however, requires a bit of simple common sense, so don’t go trying to strap down a giant kayak or king-size bed with a truck roof rack system with hardware designed to fit a small jeep. The mounting weight load limits and other design and model-specific guidelines should be followed without much question.
If your cargo needs are not isolated to a couple of bikes and are of the multi-sport variety than the best choice is something like the Sportrack. It is a complete roof rack or a similar type of rack system that’s designed to haul just about any piece of outdoor equipment.
Of course, if you’re positive, you’re only going to be hauling the same kayak or bike and nothing else, then focus your search on racks designed for that particular purpose. Once you have a solid understanding of the type of cargo or gear, you’re going to haul. The next step is to determine if your vehicle has the required roof rack mounting bars already installed. You’ll also want to learn if they are appropriate for the cargo type and amount of gear you plan to haul.
This mundane yet crucial step is important because if you don’t have mount bars, then you’ll need to install them, which takes a bit of skill and work to do correctly. Also, If you learn that the style or model of your vehicle’s mount bars can’t handle the amount of cargo weight, this presents a quality performance issue that makes your vehicle incompatible. In this case, you may need to select new mount bars. Determining what the cargo weight capacity of your truck, car, or SUV is as well as other performance spec categories don’t take much time, and if your truck or car already has mount bars, just look up the specs in the owner’s manual.
To avoid spending the next thirty or so minutes detailing with how to install truck, bike, cargo, every other type of mounted rack kit, I’ll save time by providing some universal answers to the more common questions regarding the installation process.
One of the first questions that a customer usually wants to be answered is, how do I know what kind of roof type or mount my vehicle has? This chart will help provide the answers and also gives you a quality visual to go along with this quick description of the various pieces.
The critical items involved in the installation of roof racks all begin with the mount. If it’s already installed on your car or truck, it’s likely to be the store or factory install version that is specific to your vehicle. Whether your car or truck is a Ford, Toyota, or any other brand, the mounting hardware (in both the front and the rear of the vehicle) can usually be adjusted and removed with relative ease.
The other two parts to knowing about for an easy installation process are the tower and crossbars. The tower, once connected, holds to the mount, which in turn attaches to the crossbars. This primary installation method is typically used to install the crossbars, racks, and rails for most, if not all, multi-sport rack systems. Though the installation process only takes thirty or minutes, the tricky part is making sure the specific mount type, crossbars, and other rail kit parts are compatible with each other. Of course, this all depends on the roof type of your car or truck. However, to make this process easier, most popular manufacturers of these products have car and truck compatibility charts to help customers figure out which products are good fits for the style of their vehicles of the roof rack.
Now that you know the basics of a roof rack, if your vehicle is naked on top, you’ll have to install one, which is usually just a matter of clipping to the rain gutters that run along the roof of your vehicle. If your car already has raised or factor rails, then it’s just a matter of attaching the towers and crossbar pieces. It is not complicated, and as long as you can follow a set of directions and have a bit of common sense, you’ll be fine. Again, all you need to do is use the manufacturer’s fit and compatibility guides to choose an appropriate fit for your car, truck, or SUV.
As far as what features you should look for in a roof rack, this varies from person to person. But, since we’re trying to cover all our outdoor sporting needs, you want to find a roof rack with the ability to haul just about anything. This requires a roof rack that’s equipped with nearly all of the prominent features plus a little extra.
The first thing you want from your roof rack is for it to be able to hand a rather significant amount of weight. You want to find a frame that can accomplish this, but that does so in a way that doesn’t make your car look like something a mad scientist put together in a run-down garage. The lightweight aluminum that most racks are constructed from is undoubtedly strong enough to handle your hauling needs, but only if it is engineered in an above-average way.
Another feature you want your roof rack to employ is adaptability. The ability to swap accessories in and out with ease turns your seemingly one-dimensional roof rack into a multi-sport hauling machine. If this process is not able to be done in a streamlined, no-nonsense manner, you’ll quickly begin to dread having to go through an annoying and complicated process just to add the necessary straps and extensions needed make the switch from hauling bikes to canoes.
One of the best tips to follow to avoid an overly complicated procedure of adding and removing accessories is to make sure that the various parts are universal and can be installed and removed without needing a box of different tools.
While we’re on the subject of accessories, it’s essential to check out what extra ski rack, bike rack, truck bed, and crossbars your roof rack maker offers. This helps you avoid spending over your price limit on a bike roof rack system only to find out that the black carrier box you bought for your truck bed or bike rack is not going to fit into the limited interior space of your vehicle.
To avoid having to pay for a box and labels for shipping returns, make sure that the bike rack or whichever product you choose has the necessary universal accessories to accommodate anything from surfboards, rooftop tents, bikes, skis, kayaks, and canoes, just to name a few.
Other universal tips to avoid the extra price of shipping returns is not to assume you’ll be able to just buy whatever accessory you need from a different manufacturer because they are not always a universal match. Various racks are intentionally made not to be universal fits to ensure that competitors’ products won’t work on their product. Though this isn’t always the case, it’s in your best interest to cover all your bases with one particular brand.
Thankfully, famous brands like Thule exist that not only have fair prices and warranty coverage but also check off nearly every box of necessary features most people shop for in regards to these multi-sport products. This roof rack kit fits the most popular vehicles, has an affordable price tag, excellent customer service, and many positive reviews. The road warranty benefits are also noteworthy because they usually cover the main parts of the rack, such as the rail and crossbars. They have a multi-sport roof rack system for nearly any style of vehicle, including mounted racks made to fit in a truck bed, so finding the perfect Thule rack kit for your particular vehicle is fast and easy.
Thule Evo Wing Bar, along with its Pro-Ride and Thru Ride series, has some of the highest-rated reviews, and their customer service department is no slouch either. The various bike and truck bed racks are also great fits for many popular vehicle types. Their online store is easy to navigate, and finding the correct compatible crossbars for your truck bed, or bike rack only takes a couple of minutes. Many reviews have praised how easy it is to shop for Thule crossbars and bike rack kit options due to their online shop and its compatibility feature. It takes ten or so minutes to punch in your vehicle info, navigate to the truck bed rack or bike rack area of the shop, find out which are compatible with your vehicle, and find the available options.
My personal favorite is the Yakima Timberline System, which is one of if not the best roof rack fits for most of the popular vehicles you see on the road. Its price and cargo hauling performance have many positive customer reviews that highlight the quality of this set, especially in regards to its advanced engineering and pure strength.
Though it only fits vehicles with raised side rails, these roof racks are have earned many positive reviews for its price tag and ability to carry a maximum weight load of around 220 lbs while still maintaining a sleek and stylish design.
For folks who have flush-mounted side rails, the Yakima Ridgeline System of roof racks is a solid choice. It adheres to all the necessary storage capacity features required for high-quality performance and multi-sport use; mainly, it’s easy installation. You only need to carry one tool to manipulate this roof rack system, and it comes included with the product.