The Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Whether you’re going on a camping trip, moving home, or heading out for a day or two on the slopes, you probably need to pack more items than your car can accommodate. A rooftop cargo carrier is the ideal solution. You simply attach it to the roof of your car and it allows you to pack plenty of extras so you’ll have everything you need. Some models don’t even require your car to have a roof rack, which saves you the expense of fitting one if you don’t have one already.

We reviewed dozens of rooftop cargo carriers to identify the best of the best. We compared a range of factors, including capacity, ease of use, hard shell vs. fabric, and average customer reviews.

Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Overall
Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box
Extremely well-designed and well-made, this is an outstanding option.

The Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box stood out as the best model overall. You can choose from three sizes, each of which is highly durable and easy to load.

The 5 Top-Rated Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier OverallThule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box4.6
Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier BagToolGuards Car Top Carrier Roof Bag4.3
Best Budget Rooftop Cargo CarrierReese Explore Rainproof Car Top Carrier 4.0
Best Hard Shell Rooftop Cargo CarrierSportRack Horizon Cargo Box
4.3
Best Extra Large Rooftop Cargo CarrierCopsrew Car Roof Bag4.1

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Overall: Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box

In search of a top-notch rooftop cargo box? The Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box should be your number one choice. It really is an exceptional cargo box, which is durable enough to keep your belongings protected, whatever happens. The passenger side opening makes loading and unloading a breeze. There’s even a pull cord to close the box more easily and internal lid-lifters for hands-free opening.

With the quality central locking system, you can rest assured your belongings will stay safely secured inside. What’s more, the quick-mount system allows you to secure it to your car in no time, although you will need a roof rack on your car to use this product. All the hardware you need to secure it is included.

Three sizes are on offer: alpine (with an 11 cubic foot capacity), medium (with a 14 cubic foot capacity), and large (with a 16 cubic foot capacity). Prices range from $359 to $399. Admittedly, this isn’t cheap, but this is a cargo box that will last you through decades of regular trips, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box Key Features: 

  • Can hold a load of up to 110 pounds
  • Thule Comfort Key can’t be removed until all locking points are secured to prevent oversight
  • Low-profile design makes it easier to get into garages or parking structures

Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag: ToolGuards Car Top Carrier Roof Bag

Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag
ToolGuards Car Top Carrier Roof Bag
This tough cargo bag is waterproof, dustproof, and UV-resistant.

Many of the fabric rooftop cargo bags on the market aren’t durable enough to last a significant amount of time, but the ToolGuards Car Top Carrier Roof Bag is different. Made from heavy-duty coated tarpaulin, this cargo bag is completely waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about your belongings getting wet if it rains. The zippers are waterproof, too, which prevents leaks, plus this bag keeps out dust, so the contents won’t get dirty if you’re driving on dusty roads. The material is UV-resistant, meaning the ultraviolet rays from the sun won’t degrade it, keeping it in top condition for longer.

This cargo bag works on cars either with or without a roof rack and comes with all the right straps to fit it to your car, whatever your setup. There’s also a protective mat that comes with it, to avoid scratching the roof of your car if you don’t have a roof rack to fit it on. The ToolGuards Car Top Carrier Roof Bag comes in one size only, with a respectable 15 cubic foot capacity, and costs $95.

ToolGuards Car Top Carrier Roof Bag Key Features: 

  • Includes storage back you can pack the cargo bag into when not in use
  • Angled design reduces wind resistance
  • 2-year money-back guarantee

Best Budget Rooftop Cargo Carrier: Reese Explore Rainproof Car Top Carrier

Best Budget Rooftop Cargo Carrier
Reese Explore Rainproof Car Top Carrier
A solid budget choice that’s great for occasional use.

For those who only very occasionally need to use a rooftop cargo carrier, consider the Reese Explore Rainproof Car Top Carrier. It isn’t the most durable model on the market but at $25, it isn’t bad for the price. It should last for a couple of years of semi-regular use or longer if you’ll only be using it once or twice a year. While listed as water-resistant, rather than waterproof, several buyers said it kept their belongings dry in heavy rain, so it should keep out most moisture, though we still wouldn’t recommend stowing any items inside that shouldn’t get wet (such as electrical equipment).

While not completely universal, this cargo storage carrier fits on the majority of crossbars, roof racks, and raised side rails. The strong straps secure it in place, though you may find it hard to travel at high speeds when the bag is completely full as it creates a fair amount of wind resistance. All things considered, this is an excellent cargo bag for the price and is a great choice for bargain-hunting buyers.

Reese Explore Rainproof Car Top Carrier Key Features: 

  • Sonically welded seams help keep water out
  • Folds or rolls to a small size for storage
  • 15 cubic foot capacity

Best Hard Shell Rooftop Cargo Carrier: SportRack Horizon Cargo Box

Best Hard Shell Rooftop Cargo Carrier
SportRack Horizon Cargo Box
Made from solid ABS plastic, this impact-resistant option fits most vehicle roof racks.

Soft cargo bags might be inexpensive, but if you have expensive gear to protect, such as skis, a hard shell model gives you greater peace of mind. The SportRack Horizon Cargo Box is among our favorite hardshell models. You can choose from three sizes with capacities of 11, 16, and 17 cubic feet. The smallest size can hold three to five pairs of skis or two to three snowboards, while the largest size can hold four to six pairs of skis or three to four snowboards. The impact-resistant plastic construction will protect the contents of the box under most conditions.

SportRack Horizon Cargo Box Key Features:

  • Aerodynamic design to decrease wind resistance
  • Maximum load capacity of 110 pounds
  • All sizes are low profile, which works well for getting your vehicle into garages

Best Extra Large Rooftop Cargo Carrier: Copsrew Car Roof Bag

Best Extra Large Rooftop Cargo Carrier
Copsrew Car Roof Bag
With a whopping 20 cubic foot capacity, there’s not much you can’t fit in this cargo carrier.

The Copsrew Car Roof Bag is a soft cargo carrier bag with an extra-large 20 cubic foot capacity. Its double coating makes it waterproof and extremely durable. This is a great choice for almost any kind of vehicle because it works either with or without a roof rack. It includes 10 super strong straps to secure the carrier, so there’s no chance that it could come loose. The angled top reduces wind resistance slightly, but not as much as those that are sloped from the very bottom of the bag.

Since this cargo carrier is made from soft material, you can pack it down small when you’re not using it, which makes it far easier to store than hardshell cargo carriers, which is particularly useful if you’re low on space. Considering its durability and impressive capacity, the $73 price tag is extremely reasonable.

Copsrew Car Roof Bag Key Features: 

  • Zipper covers prevent water leaking through the zippers
  • Easy to secure to your vehicle, with or without a roof rack
  • Measures approximately 52 by 40 by 18 inches

Who Should Buy a Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Anyone who needs to travel by car with more gear than they can fit in it should buy a rooftop cargo carrier. This includes, but isn’t limited to, winter sports enthusiasts who travel with skiing or snowboarding gear, families embarking on long camping trips, or anyone going on vacation with a car full of passengers and little trunk space.

Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Overall
Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box
Extremely well-designed and well-made, this is an outstanding option.

Important Features to Consider

A rooftop cargo carrier should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a rooftop cargo carrier:

  • Capacity. The capacity of a rooftop cargo carrier is measured in cubic feet. This ranges from approximately 8 to 30 cubic feet, though options in the 15 to 20 cubic feet range are most common. It’s important to think about how much you’re likely to pack so you can pick a cargo carrier of an appropriate size.
  • Dimensions. In addition to the capacity, check the dimensions, particularly if you’ll be packing extra-wide or extra-long items, such as skis. Your chosen cargo carrier could have the capacity to store a particular item, but if the item is longer, wider, or taller than the carrier, it won’t fit.
  • Wind resistance. Some rooftop cargo carriers are sloped to reduce wind resistance. Not only does this make for a more pleasant driving experience, but it also cuts down on the excess fuel consumption caused by wind resistance.
  • Low-profile design. A low profile design adds less height to your vehicle, so you should still be able to drive into a parking structure or garage (though you should always double-check the height requirements.
  • Waterproofing. The majority of rooftop cargo carriers are waterproof or at least water-resistant. After all, you don’t want your belongings to get wet if it rains on the way to your destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rooftop cargo carrier?

A rooftop cargo carrier is either a hard box or a tough yet flexible fabric bag that fits onto the roof of a car, SUV, or van. It’s designed to hold any items of your choosing, such as suitcases or sporting gear.

What types of cargo carriers are available?

The two main types of rooftop cargo carriers are hardshell cargo carriers and cargo carrier bags. Hardshell models are made from solid ABS plastic or similar so that they’re relatively lightweight yet impact-resistant to help protect your belongings in the event of a collision. Cargo bags are made from tough fabric, generally with a waterproof coating. While they aren’t as tough and long-lasting as hard-shell models, they’re significantly cheaper and easy to store when you aren’t using them.

Do I need a roof rack for a cargo carrier?

This depends on the model you choose, so if your car doesn’t have a roof rack, you still have options. Most hardshell cargo carriers must be attached to a roof rack, but many cargo bags can be used either with or without a roof rack.

How do you secure a rooftop cargo carrier?

The method for securing a rooftop cargo carrier varies widely depending on the type and model you choose. Hardshell varieties tend to have bolts and similar to secure them to the roof rack, whereas cargo bags have straps that can attach to various spots, such as a roof rack (if you have one), side rails, or even through the door seal. Always check the instructions carefully to learn how to attach your chosen rooftop cargo carrier to your vehicle.

Other Rooftop Cargo Carriers We Reviewed

Best Rooftop Cargo Carrier Overall
Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box
Extremely well-designed and well-made, this is an outstanding option.

We looked at 20 other rooftop cargo carriers. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best rooftop cargo carriers list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Hard Shell Cargo Carriers

Goplus Cargo Box

Goplus Cargo Box

With a respectable 14 cubic foot capacity and an aerodynamic design to reduce drag, this is an excellent rooftop cargo box.

Key Features: 

  • Waterproof
  • Easy to install
  • Left-open or right-open options

Cost: $400

INNO Ridge Cargo Box

INNO Ridge Cargo Box

This extremely compact 8 cubic foot cargo box is a great choice when packing for one or two, or if you just need to transport a handful of items.

Key Features: 

  • Fits most roof racks
  • Great for small cars
  • Weighs just 20 pounds

Cost: $350

SportRack Vista XL Cargo Box

SportRack Vista XL Cargo Box

The rear opening design of this rooftop cargo box allows you to safely load and unload away from traffic. The 18 cubic foot capacity is very large for a hard shell model.

Key Features: 

  • Locking system secures cargo
  • UV resistant
  • Aerodynamic design

Cost: $407

Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box

Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box

You have plenty of options with this cargo box, depending on how much you need to pack. Sizes range from 11 cubic feet right up to 22 cubic feet.

Key Features: 

  • Tool-free quick-mount system
  • Sloped to reduce drag
  • Dual side opening

Cost: $423 to $543

Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box

Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box

This affordable 8 cubic foot rooftop cargo box is great for when you simply don’t need a huge model and is affordable considering its high quality.

Key Features: 

  • Load capacity of 75 pounds
  • Passenger-side opening
  • Sleek aerodynamic design

Cost: $250

Yakima SkyBox Rooftop Cargo Box

Yakima SkyBox Rooftop Cargo Box

Thanks to its aerodynamic design, this rooftop cargo box produces very little drag. You can choose from a range of sizes between 12 and 21 cubic feet.

Key Features: 

  • Quick-mount system
  • No assembly required
  • Dual side opening

Cost: $479 to $777.00

Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bags

Aaaspark Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

Aaaspark Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

An affordable rooftop cargo bag that performs well considering its low price and works on cars with or without roof racks.

Key Features: 

  • Water-resistant
  • 15 cubic foot capacity
  • Storage bag included

Cost: $32

Asani Waterproof Car Roof Top Cargo Carrier Bag

Asani Waterproof Car Roof Top Cargo Carrier Bag

With this 100% waterproof cargo carrier bag, you won’t need to worry if it rains while you’re on your travels.

Key Features: 

  • 15 cubic foot capacity
  • Easy to install
  • Works with any roof rack

Cost: $54

FIVKLEMNZ Car Roof Bag

FIVKLEMNZ Car Roof Bag

This 15 cubic foot rooftop cargo made is made from waterproof PVC tarpaulin cloth with truly waterproof zippers too.

Key Features: 

  • Protective mat included
  • Comes with storage bag
  • No roof rack necessary

Cost: $80

Natudix Car Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

Natudix Car Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

Made from a tough fabric with sturdy zippers, this is a durable choice of rooftop cargo bag, plus is has a decent 15 cubic foot capacity.

Key Features:

  • Waterproof
  • Works on all roof racks
  • Protective mat included

Cost: $50

rabbitgoo Rooftop Cargo Carrier

rabbitgoo Rooftop Cargo Carrier

A simple and affordable yet solid rooftop cargo bag with a capacity of 15 cubic feet.

Key Features: 

  • Installation options for cars with or without racks
  • Waterproof
  • Durable construction

Cost: $50

RoofBag Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

RoofBag Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

An excellent waterproof cargo bag that comes with a mat to protect your car roof from scratches and a storage bag for when it’s not in use.

Key Features: 

  • Works on cars with side rails, crossbars, or no roof rack
  • Made in the USA
  • Capacity of 15 cubic feet

Cost: $64

Suner Power Waterproof Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Suner Power Waterproof Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Choose your preferred size: either 15 or 19 cubic feet. Whichever you opt for, this is a sturdy model with effective waterproofing.

Key Features: 

  • Works with or without a roof rack
  • 10 adjustable straps
  • Coated waterproof zippers

Cost: $70 to $80

ZONETECH Durable Roof Top Waterproof Cargo Bag

ZONETECH Durable Roof Top Waterproof Cargo Bag

Yes, you can find better and more durable cargo bags on the market, but this is an affordable option ideal for occasional use.

Key Features: 

  • Waterproof
  • Fits all roof racks
  • 15 cubic foot capacity

Cost: $40

Extra Large Rooftop Cargo Carriers

Adakiit Car Roof Bag

Adakiit Car Roof Bag

It has a few issues, such as complaints that it isn’t really waterproof, but it has a low price considering its extra large 20 cubic foot capacity.

Key Features: 

  • Sloped design reduces drag
  • Easy to fit
  • Works with or without roof rack

Cost: $50

AUPERTO Car Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

AUPERTO Car Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag

A great all-round cargo bag, which lets you choose from either 15 cubic foot or extra-large 19 cubic foot capacities.

Key Features: 

  • Works with or without roof racks
  • Combination lock included for security
  • Included mat protects car roof

Cost: $55 to $99

LED KINGDOM US Rooftop Cargo Bag

LED KINGDOM US Rooftop Cargo Bag

This large rooftop storage bag works for the vast majority of vehicles, whether or not you have a roof rack installed.

Key Features:

  • 19 cubic foot capacity
  • Fully waterproof
  • Comes with protective mat and combination lock

Cost: $94

Oanon Car Cargo Roof Bag

Oanon Car Cargo Roof Bag

This rooftop cargo bag has an impressively large storage capacity of 20 cubic feet. The top is slightly sloped to make it more aerodynamic.

Key Features:

  • Storage bag included
  • Can be fitted to cars with or without roof racks
  • Waterproof

Cost: $50

RoofPax Car Roof Bag

RoofPax Car Roof Bag

With a 19 cubic foot storage capacity, this is a very large offering that can fit belongings for the whole family, plus a range of camping gear, sports equipment, or similar.

Key Features: 

  • Fits vehicles with or without roof racks
  • Fully waterproof
  • Lifetime warranty on zippers and buckles

Cost: $158

Wisamic Car Rooftop Cargo Bag

Wisamic Car Rooftop Cargo Bag

It’s a little on the bulky side, so it may not be suitable for small cars, but the large size is to be expected due to its huge 30 cubic foot capacity.

Key Features: 

  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Padding helps prevent scratching
  • Works on cars with roof racks or side rails

Cost: $90

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Lauren Corona