Car roof boxes (also known as cargo boxes) are storage spaces that are fitted to your car's roof and mounted to your car's built-in or installed roof racks. With a roof box, you can stop stressing about how you can possibly pack everything you need for a camping weekend away with the kids or a road trip with friends and family. The extra storage space can make it easy to transport bicycles, ski gear, fishing equipment and other large items.
Our guide will help you compare the different sizes and features of car roof boxes, so you can choose the right one to meet your needs.
Compare some of the best car roof boxes
Size and shape
When choosing a roof box, the most important factor to consider is the size and shape of the roof box.
While roof boxes can reasonably fit on most cars, varying sizes will provide different amounts of storage. Roof boxes are usually rectangular, but their dimensions vary. It's more helpful to compare the dimensions of the roof box, rather than its stated capacity. Extra litres in capacity could translate to only a few extra centimetres in height or length, which realistically won't make much difference. Remember to check the dimensions of the roof box against the dimensions of your car; you will want to be able to open your car's tailgate completely without the tailgate spoiler hitting the rear of your box.
Roof boxes come in half, medium and full-widths in both long and short options. With a half-width box, you can carry additional gear on your roof, such as a bike or canoe. Medium-width boxes typically suit a family of four. A long, full-width roof box that covers your whole roof offers more storage space but requires two people to maneuver it. A long roof box would suit those carrying skis.
Standard roof box sizes:
|Narrow-width||60cm wide or less|
|Medium-width||60cm to 75cm wide|
|Full-width||75cm to 95cm wide|
|Short||Less than 1.5 metres long|
|Long||Over 2 metres long|
Yes, if you want to attach a roof box to your car, you need a roof rack. You will need to install the roof bars before you can fit a roof box to your car. Though your roof box doesn't have to be a particular shape for your car, your roof bars do. Check what roof racks fit your car by finding out your vehicle's roof type. For more information, about what roof bars and roof rack system to purchase, check out our roof rack buying guide
When adding a roof box, it's important to check the increased height of your car and be aware of height restrictions of tunnels, parking lots and other restricted height spaces. Height restrictions in Australia depend on the location and the road.
If you buy a roof box without checking the total height of your car, you could end up trying to drive into a restricted height space, damage your car and roof box, and potentially face heavy fines.
Before buying a roof box, check the following heights:
- Roof box
- Roof rack
Add the three heights together to get the total height of your vehicle with the roof box and add an extra margin of at least a few centimetres just to be safe. To find out the height of your car, check your car manual. If you are storing anything additional on your car, such as an upright bicycle, make sure to measure from the highest point.
Once you are on the road, keep an eye out for low clearance roads, tunnels, underpasses and parking lot entrances.
How to compare car roof boxes
A car roof box can cost you from around $499 up to $1999 depending on the size of the box, the material used and the brand.
To work out which roof box is right for you, consider these essential features:
If you're not leaving your roof box permanently on your car roof, we recommended that you store it horizontally instead of upright which can cause damage to the end or side of the box. If space is an issue, you can purchase a hoist system so that your box can be suspended from your garage roof, or use a wall holder to keep it securely mounted against the wall. Roof boxes should be stored in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight to avoid damage from extreme temperatures and UV rays.
Alternate storage options
If you don't want to shell out the money for a roof box, soft-sided roof bags and roof baskets can give you additional storage for a lower cost.
If you only want to transport your bicycles, you could also opt to get a tow bar or trunk-mounted bike rack instead of investing in a roof box.
|Soft-sided roof bags||Soft fabric bags that can be strapped to roof racks or directly to your car's roof.|
|Roof baskets||Open-air container that requires contents to be strapped into place or covered by a net.|
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