Car Top Carrier

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Barefootgirl
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Car Top Carrier

Post by Barefootgirl » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:19 pm

I own a Toyota Rav 4. Next month, I need to transport some household items to a relative living 350 miles away.

I will not be able to fit everything into the relatively small cargo area of the RAV4.

I have never used a car top carrier before, but this vehicle came with a rack for a carrier.

Any recommendations? Are they difficult to secure? Any center of gravity issues?

Thank you.
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fortfun
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by fortfun » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:31 pm

Barefootgirl wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:19 pm
I own a Toyota Rav 4. Next month, I need to transport some household items to a relative living 350 miles away.

I will not be able to fit everything into the relatively small cargo area of the RAV4.

I have never used a car top carrier before, but this vehicle came with a rack for a carrier.

Any recommendations? Are they difficult to secure? Any center of gravity issues?

Thank you.
Will you use it long term? If not, Rubbermaid makes a canvas topper that costs about $25. I have one and use it when I'm flying, and then renting a car that is not large enough to hold family's luggage, etc.
https://www.target.com/p/rainproof-car- ... lsrc=aw.ds

Thule and Yakima make excellent toppers. Properly installed, there should be ZERO problems with anything but they are pretty expensive. They are easy to install but you'll need a step stool/ladder. Read the instructions. I bought mine for half price from an REI garage sale (it was brand new with a small scratch). It might be worth looking at some used ones on Craigslist or Facebook market place.
Last edited by fortfun on Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nestegg_User
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by Nestegg_User » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:36 pm

you might see if someone you know has a Thule car top carrier (https://www.thule.com/en-us/us/cargo-ca ... op-carrier) as they are pricey (and not worth it for just a single/ light use)

once you get them up, they are easy to secure, just make sure that you retighten after it is under load

(there are cheap types available, but you would need to see if they are rugged enough to withstand your trip). in either case, a loaner from a friend would make the most sense
Last edited by Nestegg_User on Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Erwin007
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Location: Intermountain West

Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by Erwin007 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:37 pm

We bought a large one from Yakima for our Toyota Sienna. It’s amazing what you can’t fit in a van with 5 people for a camping trip.

It was quite expensive (close to $650) for the largest size. It isn’t super heavy, per se, but is somewhat awkward just because of how big it is. I can get it up on the roof of our Sienna without too much difficulty but am in pretty good shape.

It also says that the weight limit is 50 lbs, so not sure what you are trying to transport in it, but if it’s heavy stuff this may not be the best choice for you. Having said that, we can fit a lot of stuff into it, and it also fits onto my Acura MDX. The RAV4 is a bit smaller than the MDX is not sure if the largest one will fit your vehicle or not. On the Yakima website you can input your vehicle make, model, and year and it will tell you what sizes are compatible.

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TexasPE
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Location: Southeast Texas

Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by TexasPE » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:43 pm

If you have a trailer hitch, something like this

https://www.harborfreight.com/500-lb-ca ... 66983.html

(rated at 500 lb) might be cost-effective.
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graeme
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by graeme » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:01 pm

Driving an old Honda hatchback cross country was okay until I got to some hill country. At that point I discovered the car top carrier added a lot of drag and made it quite hard for the little hatchback to climb hills. I sold the carrier upon arrival and the drive back went much better.

Wenonah
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by Wenonah » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:06 pm

We got a Thule for the top of our Subaru Forester. It's easy to attach and the best part is that we smartly got one that opens on both sides.

A440
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by A440 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:56 am

Wenonah wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:06 pm
We got a Thule for the top of our Subaru Forester. It's easy to attach and the best part is that we smartly got one that opens on both sides.
+1 for Thule. We bought a Thule Excursion Box for a CR-V, then used it on a Pilot, now we use it on our Outback. We also lend it out to friends who have need of it (maybe this is something you could do for your need?) If you have storage for it, it will be useful for many years to come.
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beyou
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by beyou » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:18 am

I bought a soft rooftop carrier (Roofbag brand).
Easier to fold up and store after finishing your trip.
Good for softer items. Packed pillows, mattress topper, and clothing in bags during many college dorm runs. Only buy waterproof model though, in case of rain.

Shallowpockets
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by Shallowpockets » Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:45 am

Why not rent a pickup truck and get it done. One way or RT. Might be better for packing , safety, etc. you can see the price of Thule or Yakima carriers. May be cheaper to rent.

IMO
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by IMO » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:24 am

Shallowpockets wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 7:45 am
Why not rent a pickup truck and get it done. One way or RT. Might be better for packing , safety, etc. you can see the price of Thule or Yakima carriers. May be cheaper to rent.
This may be a good ideal. It could even be a large SUV or a minivan rental vehicle that would provide at least the additional space a roof top carrier would provide.

Thule/Yakima's are expensive systems. Even if you have a factory rack on your vehicle, the box's are very expensive. There are less expensive versions, such as SportRack that one can get at a Pep Boys that are sometimes on sale, but even then, it's probably cheaper to rent a larger vehicle.
Occasionally you'll see a used roof box on Craigslist for a reasonable amount.

I soft type of roof bag is also available at places like Pep Boys or Walmart typically, and those are cost effective so long as what your transporting fits into the bag.

If you have a Harbor Freight near you, if is helpful to get some extra straps and the ones they sell that are yellow are a very good value. Never hurts to be extra safe with these and use a few extra.

h82goslw
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by h82goslw » Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:21 pm

fortfun wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:31 pm
Barefootgirl wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:19 pm
I own a Toyota Rav 4. Next month, I need to transport some household items to a relative living 350 miles away.

I will not be able to fit everything into the relatively small cargo area of the RAV4.

I have never used a car top carrier before, but this vehicle came with a rack for a carrier.

Any recommendations? Are they difficult to secure? Any center of gravity issues?

Thank you.
Will you use it long term? If not, Rubbermaid makes a canvas topper that costs about $25. I have one and use it when I'm flying, and then renting a car that is not large enough to hold family's luggage, etc.
ForFun That is genius. I would’ve never thought of doing that.

To OP, I have the biggest cargo box Thule makes for my Armada and bought it used on Craigslist for about half the price of new and it was in perfect shape. Although for a one time use it probably isn't worth buying one.

Papago
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by Papago » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:06 pm

I had 3 golf buddies flying into an airport 2 hours away - couldn't easily fit 4 people and 3 golf bags into my Crosstrek, so bought this monster carrier - JEGS 18 cf:
https://www.jegs.com/i/JEGS/555/90098/10002/-1

I looked on Craigslist and saw a few others that I could have bought used, but for the hassle of driving 40+ miles roundtrip and meeting up with someone who might be sketchy and then maybe finding out it wasn't what I wanted and starting over, I just decided to buy this cheap-o carrier new. I figured worst come to worst, I'll use it once and then give it to Goodwill. But I ended up really liking it.

At the time I bought it, was only $180. It's now $219.

Seemed kind of flimsy when it came out of the box, but when all latched up, it was superb. No noticeable drag when driving even at 75 mph. Drove through some significant rain and no wet in the interior afterwards.

Just make sure your rooftop crossbars are adjustable to 22" apart. Also, very helpful to have a small foldable stepstool for getting up high to make sure attachments are secure and to ease the loading of items into the carrier.

I wasn't thrilled with the carrier's opening - only opens from the rear and the struts holding up the top are a bit tricky to get used to. But practice a few times and you'll get the hang of it. I installed it the first time all by myself. It's do-able but having a second set of hands makes it really, really much easier to install, take off, and load / unload.

The carrier closes very securely, with clasps on the front and both sides, and a lockable mechanism in the rear. My big suggestion is to buy 40 mm carabiners and use those for all the exterior clasps and especially for the interior front hinge. The tiny clasps provided with the carrier are very difficult to get on or off - the carabiners are just as secure and so much easier to use. Only $6 for a set: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074P ... UTF8&psc=1

Easy to assemble - just align the interior hinge in the front (much easier to do with a second person, but can be done alone with you kneeling into the bottom piece!). Some carriers have very complicated installations and I avoided those.

When you're all done with it, it can break down and lid "clamshells" upside down into the bottom piece to reduce storage space needed.

jimkinny
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by jimkinny » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:17 am

I had a rav4 and used 2 different types of carriers. One was a thule and the other was a canvas/plastic type. The canvas one was about $50, the thule about $300, 10 years ago. The canvas one is not designed for multiple years of use. The Thule is. They both had a cargo capacity rating.

Just as important is the weight capacity of a rav4 roof. Be aware that the carrier itself has a weight/cargo rating but your car's roof/racks also have a weight rating. If I remember correctly, my 2008 Rav4 had about 90lbs capacity after subtracting the weight of the Thule carrier. So, I could only put 90lbs into the carrier.

The roof carriers are good for lighter weight bulky items because of your car's limitation, not the carrier.

jim

HomeStretch
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by HomeStretch » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:24 am

I have a Thule for car top. Works great. Buy used or borrow.

If you are staying in a hotel overnight, put your least valuable items in there to avoid theft.

I would avoid high rates of speed and fast cornering until you get used to the feel of the vehicle with added weight in top.

texasdiver
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Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:34 am

I'm on my second Yakima rooftop box. They are very well made and designed to be aerodynamic. You do need to be mindful of the weight capacity of your factory crossbars. You don't want to put hundreds and hundreds of pounds up there if they are not designed for it as you might lose your load and have it ripped off the roof if you have to brake suddenly or corner sharply and the forces are beyond what the rack is designed for.

Biggest issues with buying those sorts of rooftop boxes are: (1) Cost, they are not cheap but you can sometimes find them on craigslist, and (2) storage of the empty box when not in use. They can be big and bulky and a giant hassle to store if you have a small garage or apartment.

For a one-time trip I'd look for a rooftop cargo bag. There are a LOT of options: https://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-Roof_Bag.aspx It will be much cheaper and easier to store. I'd not bother with a hard cargo box unless you think you'll have repeated use for it for things like skiing or future vacations.

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tractorguy
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by tractorguy » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:52 am

I've had a Sears 20 cu ft Xcargo for 8 years and used it at least once a year for a 2000 mile trip. Never had any problems with water inside. It does affect the car handling slightly (more weight can be felt when cornering or stopping). It also takes about 10% off my highway gas mileage. I believe that any car top carrier will do this just because you have more surface area.

Sears also sells a smaller (15 cu ft) carrier for less money and some canvas boxes.

Storage is the main issue with all of these. I'm lucky and have a high ceiling in my garage so I can hang it up out of the way. My son in law has one & he stores it on its side along the back wall of the garage.

I carry a step stool when I am using it as the car (a SUV) is high and I'm only 5 8. I need this to load and unload it when I get to my destination.
Lorne

barnaclebob
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:24 pm

My Thule mountaineer has been permanently on top of my SUV for nearly a decade straight and still works great. Only a slight amount of fading in the plastic but it has no structural degradation. You can't really tell its there even when fully loaded aside from maybe 1mpg less on the highway or something.

But for one time use I'd probably just rent a trailer or strap the stuff on top of the roof vs put it in a box.

texasdiver
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Re: Car Top Carrier

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:26 pm

Lots of people have these rooftop cargo boxes.

If it is just a one-time use you need, I'd put out a querry to your local circles of friends and work colleagues and see if anyone has one you can borrow for the weekend.

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