Nothing ruins a holiday than dealing with a falling or misplaced bag on your roof rack. You never know when they’ll fly off, and the last thing you want is for them to create unnecessary havoc, potentially injuring people, before falling on the road.
The safest and most efficient way to secure gear on roof rails is to make sure that it is properly adjusted and balanced.
However, with little guidance available beyond ‘installing the rack and putting your stuff on it’. Can you really be sure that everything will be secure?
If you take the time to get it right, you can enjoy your drive more. And these three simple steps will help you do that.
Types Of Roof Racks
Roof racks are used to carry extra luggage and other moving loads. The main purpose of these setups is to safely transport goods without damaging the interior of your car and without taking up any space inside the cabin.
There are a variety of roof racks for different needs and budgets. When shopping for the right roof rack, you need to consider how you will use it and what type of car it will be mounted on. There are three main types of roof racks:
Paddle roof rack
Paddle roof racks have a padded arm that slides over your cars existing raised side rails and is fitted snugly across the top of your vehicle’s roof. The other end has a cradle that holds the paddle or arm, onto which you can secure your bike or kayak carrier. These racks are extremely versatile as they can be used on all styles of vehicles, including sedans, vans, and hatchbacks.
The most common is the ladder rack designed to carry large items like surfboards or kayaks on top of your car. This type of rack usually has four legs with rubber pads attached to the feet to avoid scratching your vehicle while moving around. People love ladder back as it provides some extra roof rack storage.
It is like a ladder rack but has no legs. It consists of an arm that attaches directly onto your vehicle’s roof rails, and then some bars stick out from it to hold your items in place.
The best way to find the right roof rack is to think about what use you’ll be putting it towards.
- Are you going mountain biking? Hiking? Kayaking?
- How often will you be using it?
- Do you need something quick that can easily be taken on/off your vehicle?
- Or do you want something permanent that will stay on?
#1. Strapping The Bag To The Roof Rack
When it comes to storing your bag on your roof rack, you have a couple of options. You can either strap it directly to the frame or attach it using bike-specific attachments such as straps or bungee cords. Strapping it directly to your roof rack has pros and cons. For one, you’ll be less likely to lose your bag if you decide you want to store it in your car trunk while driving.
However, because wind resistance is much higher when strapped directly onto a car or bike as compared to bike-specific straps, finding a balance between security and aerodynamics is key. One that will depend on what kind of ride you’re embarking on and how many times per week/month/year you plan on using your setup.
#2. Securing It Properly
Roof rack storage can be challenging. A bag on top of your car doesn’t always stay in place, especially if you live in an area with more traffic or bad roads. If it isn’t secured correctly, your bag could end up sliding off your car.
Securing a rooftop storage bag is simple, though. You need to adjust it correctly and use tie-downs for extra security. There are three major types of tie-downs: ratchet straps, soft pads, and ropes/cables. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses.
- Ratchet Straps:
There is a long strap with hooks at the end that allows you to quickly and easily tighten or loosen the belt as needed. This is especially useful when you need to secure heavy objects in place.
- Soft Pads
These pads work by increasing the contact surface between the car and the load that’s being carried. Soft pads will also help prevent cargo from shifting while you drive.
The first step is figuring out how to lash down your bag using heavy-duty rope or cables. A little preparation can go a long way in keeping everything where it should be and securing it with cords and cables designed for that very purpose. These are generally available in any auto parts store.
#3. Center Your Load
People are often surprised at how heavy their luggage is when it’s loaded onto a roof rack. This weight can throw your car out of alignment, making steering more difficult and increasing your fuel consumption. If you want to avoid that extra strain on your vehicle, center your heaviest bags at least halfway down each side of your car and never place anything directly over one of your wheels. Not only will you save yourself money in costly repairs, but you’ll also get better gas mileage.
In The End
Once you’ve got your bag loaded, make sure to look at it from different angles to make sure that all straps are properly tightened and that nothing’s hanging or about to fall off. You want to feel comfortable with where your things are sitting. If anything looks like it could potentially slide out of place, adjust accordingly. If you’re riding in a high-traffic area, consider strapping a bungee cord around your load, so it stays secure even when unstrapped.