Do I Need a Roof Rack for a Cargo Carrier

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Last Updated on May 21, 2022

Cargo carriers are popular as they enable the capability of carrying extra cargo on your vehicle. Despite being an external accessory, it protects your cargo from any debris and weather conditions. Nowadays many people are choosing cargo carriers over all the other similar options.

It is better to know whether you’ll need a roof rack or anything else to install a cargo rack before you buy one. In this article, you will find the answer to the questions like, “do I need a roof rack for a cargo carrier?”, “can I install a cargo carrier without a roof rack?” etc.

What is a cargo carrier?

A cargo carrier increases the overall load capacity of a vehicle by creating a storage area outside the vehicle. It is a box made to carry extra baggage over the roof or on the side of your vehicle. Cargo carriers offer more space than most roof racks. A cargo carrier is definitely more secure than any other accessory that is used to carry extra baggage.

Can you use a cargo carrier without a roof rack?

Although most cargo carriers are installed on the crossbars of a rack, you can find some that can be used without a roof rack. These cargo carriers are attached with some straps and tied with the door’s weatherstrip of your vehicle.  These cargo carriers aren’t meant to carry a heavy load and using them is riskier. So, installing a cargo carrier over your roof rack is the best decision.

If you are going to carry thin and lightweight goods, you can choose to use a cargo carrier without a roof rack. These carriers are also called soft cargo carriers. The straps of these carriers can get loose while driving and make you uncomfortable. It is better to use a mat under the carrier to protect your vehicle’s roof from scratches.

Do I Need a Roof Rack for a Cargo Carrier

Why should I use a cargo carrier?

You may think that a roof rack is enough to carry some extra cargo over the roof of my vehicle. Yes, that’s correct. A roof rack is enough to carry some extra load. But, driving with different shaped goods over a roof rack won’t be too pleasant. It can increase fuel consumption and make your vehicle less aerodynamic. That doesn’t mean that a roof rack is a bad thing. Actually, all the cargos in different shapes are the reason behind that.

Using a cargo carrier is better because you won’t face those problems with a cargo carrier. Using a cargo carrier will reduce your mileage a little but the mileage will be certainly better with various goods over a roof rack. Cargo carriers also have more security from theft and bad weather.

Why should I use a roof rack for a cargo carrier?

The simplest answer to this question is to carry more baggage. Installing a cargo carrier on a roof rack will also give you a better weight balance which leads to a better driving experience. This way your car’s roof will be more protected from scratches as well.

The soft cargo carriers (that are used without a roof rack) aren’t aerodynamic at all. These cargo carriers reduce the mileage of your vehicle more than hard cargo carriers. Installing a cargo carrier over a roof rack will make comparatively lesser noise as well.


Cargo carriers are a useful thing to carry extra goods on your vehicle. If you can’t (or don’t want to) install a roof rack on your vehicle, or carry some extra goods very rarely; you should choose a cargo carrier bag. But, using a hard cargo carrier with a roof rack is the best option to carry goods whether you want to use it every day or occasionally.

Author: Charles King

Charles King is an automotive enthusiast with a keen interest in the latest technologies and products. He likes to educate himself and help other car lovers by sharing his knowledge. This website is a place for him to share his thoughts and experiences.

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