What Is A Roof Bag? Soft Cargo Carriers Explained

A rooftop cargo bag is designed to be placed on the roof of a vehicle to provide extra storage space. Its purpose is to hold luggage, gear, and other items securely, freeing up space inside the vehicle and making travel more comfortable.

Additionally, roof bags, or rooftop cargo bags, protect belongings from weather conditions like rain or dust. They are mostly made of flexible polyurethane-coated nylon or canvas.

Roof bags are especially useful for families on long road trips, or when you need to carry bulky items that don’t fit inside the car. Using a rooftop bag will free up space inside your vehicle for a more comfortable journey.

The Type Of Car Roof Bag You Need

Roof bags come in two primary designs, catering to cars with or without roof rails:

  • For Cars with Roof Rails: Some roof bags are specifically designed for vehicles that already have roof rails installed. These roof bags often come with straps that loop around or attach to the rails, providing a secure foundation for the bag. When you have roof rails on your vehicle, it generally ensures a more stable and safer hold for your belongings. The rails act as a buffer between the bag and the roof, reducing the risk of scratches.
  • For Cars without Roof Rails: You can purchase a roof bag designed with straps that go through the inside of the car, usually passing through the door frame. These straps hold the bag securely in place. While they’re effective, they are inherently more risky to use as the load can move about, particularly at high speed. Additionally, some of these bags might come with a protective mat to place between the bag and the car roof to avoid scratches.

In both cases, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the bag is attached securely and to check the weight limit to avoid overloading. Regardless of the type, roof bags provide a convenient solution for extra storage space when on the road.

Pros Of Using A Roof Bag

Expanded Load Capacity: This is the main benefit of a roof bag. It exponentially adds to the vehicle’s load capacity, without needing to tow a trailer to fit all your gear.

Dispersion Of Weight: Using a roof bag aids the even distribution of weight through the vehicle. This helps the driving process and extends safety for all passengers.

Waterproofing: Most of these roof bags are optimally waterproof. This enables them to be used in any climate conditions.

Extra Storage: People who own small cars take the most advantage of roof bags. When on a family trip where you can’t increase your vehicle’s cargo or trunk space area, you have the luxury of creating more storage room with your roof bag.

Passenger Comfort: It can get extremely uncomfortable to spend various hours in a vehicle, especially a vehicle that is filled with luggage. But with a vehicle roof bag, some of this luggage can be neatly transferred to the rooftop, thereby making the passengers more comfortable, freeing up leg space.

Cons Of Using A Roof Bag

High Rate Of Fuel Consumption: Because more luggage implies an additional weight, thereby leading to higher engine action, which finally leads to an increase in fuel consumption.

Noise: When driving on the highway or motorway at a high speed, noise turbulence is usually more noticeable with roof bags.

Format And Size: Roof bags tend to add more height to the vehicle. Using an underground parking lot as an instance, the vehicle is most likely to experience some difficulties due to the exceeded height limit.

Damages To Vehicle Paint: Carelessness when placing roof bags on the roof bars can lead to vehicle paint damage.

Cost: Sometimes, the assembling cost of a roof bag, along with supporting bars, mats and accessories may not be cheap. Always make reasonable inquiries to ascertain what’s included and the total cost before making a purchase.

The 5 Best Roof Bags In The Market Today

There are several roof bags available in the market today. Here is a list of the best rooftop bags currently in the market with their features.

As Amazon Associates, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases made on this page.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

The Sailnovo 20 Car Roof Bag

This roof bag is the most popular car roof bag. It has a protective covering against sun, grit, wind, snow, and rain, with features such as compatibility with all vehicles.

It can be used with or without roof racks, has 566 liters/ 20 cubic feet of storage, 51 x 39 x 27 inches in size and comes with straps and a storage bag.

The only con is that it may seem difficult to install because of its many straps, but we do love that it comes with a protective anti-slip mat.

The BougeRV Rooftop Cargo Carrier

This rooftop carrier is considered to be a smaller alternative to the Sailnovo 20. It is mostly used with roof racks and comes with a complete kit, which includes the bag itself, eight straps, a roof mat, and a storage bag.

Its features include 425 liters/ 15 cubic feet of storage space, a size of 38 x 38 x 28 inches, is built with a 1000D polyester material, has heavy-duty waterproof zippers, must be used with racks, and a one-year warranty.

Fischer 126000 Foldable Roof Bag

This roof bag is a sleek, highly rated model, great for family road trips. It has a thick metal structure, suitable for luggage racks with a width of up to 80 mm and a height of up to 32 mm and has an easy, tool-free installation.

Built from water-repellent polyamide and with bonded seams it is water resistant. 

Offering storage capacity of 270 liters/9.5 cubic feet, its dimensions when fully loaded are 100 x 40 x 80 cm (39.4″ x 15.7″ x 31.5″). It is a little smaller than some of the other models, but aerodynamic and compact to stow.

Its only disadvantage is that it can be somewhat expensive, relative to other rooftop bags. However, if looks and security are important to you, this is an excellent choice for a mounted roof bag.

The HandiHodall Large Car Roof Bag

This roof bag is very affordable, with a whopping 20 cubic feet of space (fully loaded dimension 110cm x 75 cm x 40 cm).

It can only be used on specific roof bars because it has integrated straps that are attached around the straps for strength, so do read the specifications carefully before purchasing.

Strong fiberglass poles hold the base, much like a cargo box. However, unlike a cargo box, you can easily remove the poles and roll the product down for storage.

Wild Xplorer Cargo Carrier Bag XXL

One of our favorites for family camping trips, this XXL cargo bag holds a massive 19 cubic feet. Made from triple layer 600D material, you can be sure that it’ll be robust against any sort of weather you encounter, with seam welded technology keeping the leaks out.

It can be used both with and without a roof rack on any 4 door vehicle or larger (if your car is 2-door, you’ll need a cargo rack). Despite its size, its relatively quick and easy to install an folds down really small when not in use.

More Cargo Carrying Solutions For Cars

If you’ve found this guide to cargo bags handy, you may also like to jump further into our cargo carrier reviews.

Our gear expert, Terry, has been testing the best types of cargo carriers that will work with popular road-tripping vehicles, including:

Are we missing your vehicle? Drop us a line familyroadtripblog@gmail.com; we’re continually expanding our cargo carrier reviews and would love to help you find the perfect rooftop cargo carrier to meet your needs.

Does your vehicle lack a roof rack? You may also want to check out our article on the best roof bags without racks.

download your free road trip checklist click here button

© Family Road Trip

You might also like