best cargo carriers for your car

5 Best Rooftop Cargo Boxes 2019

A cargo box allows car owners to store additional luggage when their boot space is not enough. A cargo box (often called a roof box) have improved greatly over the years, transforming from a square box to a stylish aerodynamic box.

The best rooftop cargo carrier is the Thule Force Cargo Box with its aerodynamic design, efficient installation, secure locking and other intuitive features.

Cargo boxes are generally a pricey investment, its important to buy one that suits your requirements. Before buying a cargo box, you will want to ensure that the roof box is secure, easy to remove and install, high quality, aerodynamic and stylish.

Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Cargo BoxCubic CapacityDimensions
Thule Force12 - 21 Cubic Feet92.5 x 36 x 18 Inches
SportRack SR701818 Cubic Feet64.7 x 40 x 18.89 Inches
Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite12 - 21 Cubic Feet92 x 36 x 16 Inches
Prorack 1010 Cubic Feet58 x 15 x 34 Inches
Sailnovo Bag Box15 - 20 Cubic Feet51 x 39 x 17 Inches

High security cargo boxes are vital to ensure safety of your luggage. Many people travelling will be holding their expensive valuables within their cargo box, which means security is essential. All roof boxes that you look at should have at least three latching points that are locked via a key.

Opening a cargo box without a key is quite simple. All that is needed is a drill, which you position in the middle of the lock and apply pressure until you go all the way through the bore. You will then be able to pull the lock out. Alternatively, you can find the serial number on the lock and request a new key from the manufacturer.

All that said, there are many cargo boxes up for the job of storing luggage securely with the need of a padlock and chain. Below is a list of the best rooftop cargo carriers that will fit the majority of cars with ease.

Thule Force Premium Cargo Box

Thule are market leaders when it comes down to car cargo boxes. With multiple choices of cargo boxes to choose from, the Thule roof box can cater for all cars. The force selection comes in the form of the Alpine, M, L, XL and XXL. The dimensions and specification for all the Thule Force models are perfect for all cars.

The Thule Force cargo boxes are one of the nicest looking boxes on the market. The combination of curves and a glossy black finish look excellent in my opinion. Made from a thick five layer ABS plastic and dimon structured AeroSkin shell, the box can withstand the worst weather conditions possible.

The aerodynamic design pushes wind away from the box that allows the box to cut through the air smoothly and significantly reduce wind noise. This also has the effect of increasing the fuel efficiency over long distance travelling.

Thule Force cargo boxes make use of the Quick Grip clamps to connect the box to the roof racks. Without any tools, you are able to quickly attach the roof box by yourself within 5 minutes. Thule Force has been designed to work with the majority of factory roof racks as well as their own.

A very useful feature of the Thule Force cargo boxes is that it can be opened from both sides. Once the box has been opened, there is a mechanism that will hold it up whilst you get things out. There are not many other cargo boxes on the market that can hold the box open on both sides, let alone one side.

Overall the Thule Force is the best rooftop cargo carrier cars and will easily store all your luggage with space left over.

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SportRack SR7018 Vista XL Cargo Box

SportRack SR7018 Vista XL is a well designed aerodynamic cargo box made from ABS plastic that is also UV Ray protected. The specification of the SR7018 SportRack roof box is:

  • 18 Cubic Feet Capacity
  • 100 lbs Weight Capacity
  • 64.17 Inches in Length
  • 40 Inches in Width
  • 18.89 Inches in Height
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

The rear opening cargo box provides an excellent method of getting luggage out. Not only is it safer as you will not be in the way of traffic, but the rear will usually hold heavier items due to the height of the box.

The curved angled aerodynamics of the SportRack SR7018 enable this cargo box to withstand strong wings without large resistance and loud noise. Made from ABS plastic, the SportRack box is highly durable to unavoidable contact.

This cargo box is one of the largest on the market and is still fairly lightweight. This makes the SportRack box simple to lift onto the roof of the car and position correctly. Compared to other large roof boxes on the market, this product is one of the best value for money boxes.

Needing no tools other than your hands, the SportRack SR7018 is simple to install. Using U Bolts, you are able to insert the bolts from underneath the roof racks pointing upwards into the designated roof box locations. If like myself you have very “chunky” roof racks, you made need longer U Bolts but this would be a problem with many supplied U Bolts.

Overall, the SportRack SR7018 is the best large cargo box without being too bulky but stylish and durable cargo box. It is also reasonably priced unlike many of the other cargo boxes of a similar size.

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Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite Cargo Box

Yakima provide a slightly cheaper solution to Thule with a similar selection of their SkyBox roof boxes. Available with 12, 15 (Lo), 16, 17 and 21 cubic feet capacity, there is a size for every car owner. The cargo box will fit the majority of roof racks from Yakima round to square roof racks.

With a built in SKS locking system, you can be sure that your personal items are safe. Potential thieves will also notice that this cargo box contains a SuperLatch mechanism, which is extremely tough to break through. The carbonite material used in the structure of this cargo box results in a strong rigid shell that can withstand big impact collisions but also be lightweight.

It is a large and heavy duty cargo box that is easily installed due to the lightweight construction. It is the best cargo box for SUVs with a range of cubic feet capacity depending upon the rooftop area size.

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Prorack 10 Cargo Box

There is no denying that cargo boxes are an expensive product but we have found the best cheapest cargo box on the market. The Prorack 10 specification includes:

  • 10 Cubic Feet Capacity
  • 58 Inches in Length
  • 15 Inches in Width
  • 34 Inches in Height
  • 3 Year warranty plan

Prorack 10 only weighs just 35 pounds, which means it can be easily lifted onto a roof of a car by a single person. The roof box uses the popular method of U Bolts to attached the box to the roof racks.

The Prorack 10 is the cheapest roof cargo box that will last much longer than those of a similar budget. It is less than half the price of many other brands of the similar size roof box. The box is made from rigid plastic that provides a long lasting and durable roof box to store all your personal items.

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Sailnovo Soft Cargo Bag Box

For car owners wanting a water resistant cargo box that is soft to touch and cheap, the Sailnova is a rubber laminated nylon construction that ties down to the roof racks of your car.

It is available in 15, 16.7, 19.2 and 20 cubic feet with the latter being the most popular with a large 51 x 39 x 17 inches in size. The material itself is foldable, which means it is the easiest cargo box to store, which for the majority of the year it will be spent doing.

Overall, the Sailnova is the best foldable cargo box that is reasonable priced and can be installed in minutes by yourself. It is a great alternative but of course, it will never be as strong and sturdy as the solid cargo boxes.

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Cargo Box Buying Guide

A cargo box is more complex than a box planted on top of a pair of roof rack cross bars. Aerodynamics, weights, quality and ease of use are all important aspects of any roof box. The term buy cheap buy twice refers very strongly towards roof boxes. Avoid cheap roof boxes as they will cause unnecessary problems after a few uses such as jammed locks, broken latches and more.

Size and Weight of Cargo Box

Starting with the size and weight of a cargo carrier, you should check the load capacity of your car. The load capacity will be located within the cars manual.

On the topic of weight, all cargo boxes will have a luggage weight limit and are not designed to store heavy objects such as brickwork. Many high quality roof boxes will have a high weight limit that will be surplus your requirements if you use it to store suitcases with clothes and what not.

Cargo boxes range comes in various shapes and sizes. For example, there are half width cargo boxes that are ideal for other items that you may have on your roof such as a bike. A medium sized cargo box that is ideal for a small family and can be attached by one person.

Larger cargo boxes are able to carry a lot more luggage but usually requires two (or more) people to securely attach it to the cars roof.

Its recommended to look at the dimensions as opposed to the capacity in liters. This is because a few liters extra in capacity seems great value for money but may only be a few centimeter extra in height or width.

cargo carrier for cars

Roof Box Design and Aerodynamics

What is the point of spending large amounts of money on a roof box that makes your car look worse. You should always aim to buy one that complements your cars design with curves, colors and matching connectors/bars.

Roof boxes have come on along way, so avoid the boxy old fashioned boxes and look for more upmarket products on the market.

Aerodynamics play a huge part in the design of a roof box. Wind resistant and wind noise are not only irritating but also cost you money through the resistance reducing the miles per gallon. Newer designed boxes are usually curvey without abrupt edges that produce large resistance and noise.

After travelling each year with my roof box of 5 years, I was so glad I took the time to research the aerodynamics. My older roof box used to whistle loudly and after 1000 miles of it traveling to the south, you do seem to get a headache.

rooftop cargo box

Carrier Warranty and Quality Control

The more expensive cargo carrier boxes will use high quality plastics such as ABS and others. This provides a rigid and durable structure for the cargo box that will last for years to come. Poor quality materials will not be able to withstand bad weather conditions and UV rays from the sun. This will cause discoloration of the box as well as clips and other components breaking down. The plastic used is often thinner in the cheaper roof boxes that can rattle and crack within cold temperatures.

Many of the premium brands such as Thule, Yakima and SportRack offer excellent warranties on their roof boxes. This means that they have great confidence with their products and so should you when buying.

rooftop cargo carrier

Cargo Box Ease of Use

Some cargo boxes contain more than one lock, which makes it harder to force open by thieves. Newer roof boxes may also have multiple opening areas that means it can be opened from both sides, which is highly practical.

Installing a cargo box will require roof racks to be fitted. The locks that are often used to attach roof boxes come in the form of U Bolts, Quick Locks and Power Clicks.

U Bolts are fairly common where they go underneath the roof racks and connect to the two holes in the roof box. You then screw them tight from within the roof box. Quick Locks are similar to U Bolts, however they have a clamp that holds the lock in place. Finally Power Clicks are usually part of the roof box, which grip onto the roof box, which is then tightened by twisting a disc.


The Thule Force models are the ultimate roof boxes on the market today. Everything that you could ever want from a roof box features and the brand Thule are market leaders. This gives you added confidence when purchasing their products.

However, the Thule Force may be the best roof box available but it is also quite expensive. Therefore, the best value cargo box is the SportRack SR7018 that provides high quality features and a limited lifetime warranty. The manufacturers offer this type of warranty because this cargo box has been designed to be durable.

To conclude, if you can afford the Thule, go for it as its a premium product with excellent support and reputable durability. If not, the SportRack is the best alternative to the Thule cargo boxes.

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