Today’s cargo carriers are sleek enough to work with the aesthetics of your vehicle without sabotaging your gas mileage. All you need is a roof rack—though sometimes you don’t even need that—and you can add cargo capacity to the top of your car without looking like the Clampetts.
See quick reviews below of five of the best options, then scroll deeper for longer reviews of these and other rooftop carriers, plus helpful buying advice.
Total Expert Score: 84.5/100
A sleek-looking, tough carrier for all your needs
BEST VALUE SOFT CARRIER
Total Expert Score: 84/100
A heavy-duty soft-sided cargo bag that works with most cars
Total Expert Score: 79.5/100
Room for all your gear, at a price that will let you buy more
BEST SPACE FOR THE MONEY
Total Expert Score: 72.5/100
A cavernous carrier with a low price tag
BUILT FOR BOARDS
Total Expert Score:
Slim and aerodynamic, capable of fitting just what you need
Things to Consider Before You Buy
First, if your car doesn’t have a factory-installed rack that works with the carrier you want (or it doesn’t have one at all), you’ll need to purchase one. Either way, it’s important to check your owner’s manual or the vehicle’s manufacturing website to determine the weight capacity of your car’s roof.
Next, consider the physical dimensions of the box or bag relative to the roof. Will it fit without hanging over the front or back? Is it long enough to accommodate what you want to use it for—like, say, a couple of pairs of skis? If you have a hatch, will it open unencumbered or will the box get in the way? How much height will the carrier add to your vehicle? This is especially important for anyone who wants to pull into a garage without having to remove the box each time. Before purchasing a carrier, check the manufacturer’s website for information like load restrictions, box dimensions, even images for how the box looks on different styles of cars.