Best Roof Rack Brands For Your Future Road Trips

Finding the right roof rack for your vehicle can at times be overwhelming, should you get a full platform roof rack or just cross bars? Should you get one brand or another? There are plenty of options to choose from. That’s why this article can be helpful, as it will highlight not only the best roof rack brands, but also what’s the best brand for each specific rack use.

Before we jump into each specific roof rack use, let’s look at the brands that make the best roof racks. This list will include brands that have been thoroughly tested and used over the span of a few years:

  • Front Runner Outfitters
  • Prinsu Design Studio
  • Sherpa Equipment Co
  • Thule
  • Yakima
  • Rhino Rack

There are many other brands that could get honorary mentions, but the truth is we are highlighting the top 3 brands in the off road or overlanding industry, as well as the top 3 brands in the cross bar and universal roof rack industry.

Now it’s time to break it down into what each brand does best, and why this helps you during your car travels or road trips, since they make it much simpler for you to carry your gear and accessories.

Thule Best Roof Rack Bike Carrier

If you need to carry your bicycle (s), then you need either a hitch bike carrier or a roof rack bike carrier. There’s no denying that hitch bike carriers are perhaps easier to install, as well as mounting and unloading your bikes from them.

However, not all cars have a hitch, or you use it for other purposes. Getting a roof rack or set of cross bars which can also allow you to mount a bike carrier can be the alternative.

Luckily, Thule makes both hitch carriers and bike rack carriers. For those of you who don’t know Thule, they are a Swedish brand, perhaps the largest rack manufacturer in the world, and have been in business for decades.

Their outdoors equipment is top notch, and both hitch bike carriers, roof racks, and bike rack carriers tend to have the smartest design as well as being premium in quality. The best of it all? Prices are reasonable.

Now, since this is a roof rack guide, then we’ll talk about the best roof rack bike carrier Thule has. If you own a set of Thule cross bars, whether that’s the WingBar, ProBar or SquareBar, or even if you own a Thule bed rack system, you can install the famous Thule UpRide, an excellent roof rack bike carrier.

The Thule UpRide can be very easily installed over any set of Thule cross bars, and it will keep your bike safe and in place over the roof of your car, without having to remove any of the two wheels. Simply mount your bike in a perfectly upright position, where the rack makes absolutely no contact with the frame of your bike. It comes with both a lock to secure the rack to the car, and as well as another cable lock to secure the bike to the rack itself.

Essentially, the best roof rack bike carrier you can find.

Yakima Best Universal Car Roof Rack

Yakima is alongside Thule one of the most famous brands in the roof rack cross bar market. Their specialty? Racks for literally all cars. The make perhaps the best universal car roof rack systems in the world, and it’s easy for you to find them pretty much for any vehicle.

But how? Well, Yakima makes feet systems that attach or can be installed over pretty much any vehicle roof type, whether that’s a naked or bare roof, a roof with raised side rails, with flush rails, and with tracks or fixed points. You will buy the Yakima system with the correct feet to fit your roof type, and then add a particular crossbar type to install over said feet to complete the roof rack.

This makes Yakima one of the best universal car roof rack manufacturers, since they can fulfill the needs of any car owner. On top of that, the quality of their racks and crossbars is simply outstanding. Yakima is a Pacific Northwest company, born out of the passion for adventure, and it has ever since become a fantastic manufacturer of outdoors gadgets and travel products.

Rhino-Rack Best Affordable Roof Rack

The last of the three cross bar brands we wanted to recommend, Rhino-Rack. This Australian based company has also been around for years, they manufacture all sorts of racks, from bed racks to platform racks and even have some great systems like the Backbone, which work for vehicles such as Jeeps. What sets them apart is the great quality with an affordable price.

Rhino-Rack perhaps specializes on cross bars, and just like Thule and Yakima, they have the great advantage of having many feet systems that partner up with cross bars to fit pretty much any vehicle or car in the market. Their price range is also similar, but more affordable, despite the quality being similar. This makes them the best affordable roof rack.

As you may also imagine, installing any travel gear or accessory to them is easy. You can tie backpacks, cargo boxes or carriers, roof top tents, awnings, kayaks, boards, fishing equipment, whatever you might need in your next trip, can be mounted over their racks. We highly recommend Rhino-Rack if you’re looking for an affordable and trustworthy solution.

Front Runner Best Roof Rack For Kayak

When picking a roof rack for a kayak or kayaks, you will need to think of a few factors:

  • How easy is it to secure the kayak to the rack
  • How easy is it to mount or take down the kayaks
  • Will the roof rack work for something else other than carrying kayaks

After answering these three questions you will find the best roof rack for kayak has to be the Front Runner Slimline II platform roof rack. Not only because it answers all three questions with flying colors, but also because the quality of these racks is perhaps the best one in the entire world. Manufactured directly at their headquarters in South Africa, each Front Runner rack is made of a mix of steel and aluminum, designed to fit each vehicle specifically, with a load rating of 660 lbs, making it perhaps one of the toughest racks in the market.

Then, there is literally a plethora of rack accessories made by Front Runner that work with any Slimline II. Some of these include kayak or board carriers, which secure any kayak to the rack in great fashion, as well as making it a literal breeze to mount it or take it down. Hassle-free.

Finally, the rack works perfectly for a lot of other things. Whether that is for more space inside your vehicle if you’re traveling on a family road trip, or even to do a camping trip, install a roof top tent and go off the beaten track. These roof racks are versatile, strong, durable, they’re the best road trip accessory you can think of.

Sherpa Equipment Best Roof Rack For Overlanding

Sherpa Equipment Co is a company based out of Colorado, with all their roof racks made in USA. The “edge” or advantage they have over other rack companies is that the side panels that “hold” the rack platform are made of aircraft grade aluminum, and are overall a thicker panel. What does that mean? They are built for a serious off-road abuse. These panels can take more weight, sustain better the hardships the trail can throw at them, and will last longer.

Add to that a better system in the base of the feet of these panels than other rack brands, thanks to better and thicker rubber stops, and no matter how much vibration there is on off road trails, the rack just won’t give in. That’s why we chose it as the best roof rack for overlanding.

They make racks for various types of vehicles, as you may imagine, vehicles suited for tougher activities, not just any car. That means they aren’t really universal roof racks, but they are the perfect companion for off road adventures. Most of their racks have a static load rating, on the conservative side, of 700 lbs or more, which is enough to mount over them anything you might need for your next road trip.

Prinsu Most Aerodynamic Roof Rack

Finally, we take a look at the most aerodynamic roof rack, and that has to be any Prinsu roof rack. Why? We are looking at one of the lowest profiled platform roof racks in the world, some of the models adding only a mere 2” in height to the roof of your vehicle. On top of that, these Prinsu roof racks have a wind deflector at the very front of the rack, which is perfectly positioned not only to deflect the wind but minimize wind noise whilst driving.

Don’t let the low profile fool you, these racks are manufactured in USA, completely modular, making installation and adding or removing accessories over them a simple task. On top of that, they are quite strong, some having even over 1,000 lbs in static load rating, which is more than enough.

Installing them over most vehicles can take around one hour, but it doesn’t require any drilling on most cases, which is great. Plus, given the low profile and aerodynamic design, you can probably park inside any garage or parking lot, and you won’t ever even notice the rack is there if you don’t need to use it. And if you do, you’ll notice how great it is.

Wrapping It Up

If you’re looking for the best roof rack brands, then you just got a pretty in depth review out of each brand, as well as out of what their strengths are.

Sure, you will find that Thule also makes excellent universal roof racks, or that Prinsu racks are amazing for overlanding or off-road conditions. However, we were looking to highlight the exact feature that would set one brand apart from another.

The final decision on what roof rack to buy for your next road trip or yearly holiday adventures is now an easier one. Rest assured that whichever out of the brands mentioned here you choose, will be a great investment.

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