10 Best Roof Racks in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks
A roof rack is an essential add-on to boost your car’s cargo capacity and open up a world of opportunities to satisfy your inner explorer. Load up with gear for an extended camping trip, throw the bikes on to take to the trails, or strap in the kayak and head to the lake—there’s almost no limit to what you can move with the right roof rack.
There are tons of great products to sort through, so we’ll help you find the perfect fit for your vehicle, cargo, and budget with these reviews on the best roof racks in 2022.
A Glance at Our Top Picks (2022 Update)
|Best Overall||Yakima JetStream Bar Aerodynamic Crossbars||
|Best Value||CargoLoc 2-Piece 52″ Aluminum Roof Top Crossbar Set||
|Premium Choice||Yakima HD Bar||
|Thule AeroBlade Edge Raised Rail Load Bar||
|Yakima Timberline Kit||
The 10 Best Roof Racks
1. Yakima JetStream Bar Aerodynamic Crossbars – Best Overall
|Compatibility:||Yakima StreamLine towers, Yakima gear mounts|
The Yakima JetStream aerodynamic crossbars aren’t the cheapest option available by themselves. When you factor in the towers (if you’re starting from scratch) and mounting gear, a basic setup can easily push the total above $500. Still, the construction quality, performance, and brand reputation make the JetStream a versatile, high-value investment and our pick for the best overall roof rack in 2022.
The simple appearance belies the engineering creativity that went into the JetStream’s design. The JetTruss interior construction gives it maximum strength without sacrificing weight, and the hidden T-slot makes it a snap to swap attachments on and off. Meanwhile, the teardrop design slices the air and cuts down on noise. If you’ve ever had to add a fairing to a previous round or square crossbar, you’ll appreciate being able to skip the added accessory.
Given Yakima’s enduring quality and breadth of attachments, the JetStream bars are a worthwhile foundation for years of exploration. They’re available in three widths (50”, 60”, and 70”), so you shouldn’t have an issue finding a comfortable fit.
2. CargoLoc 2-Piece 52″ Aluminum Roof Top Crossbar Set – Best Value
|Compatibility:||Raised roof rails 1”–1 ⅝” tall and 1”–2 ⅜” wide|
Stout, secure, and, most importantly, affordable, the CargoLoc 2-piece aluminum crossbar set is an easy choice for the best roof rack for the money. The ends attach to roof rails raised at least 1” from the vehicle roof, and each bar telescopes up to 46” long to fit most car widths.
The CargoLoc system’s plastic clamps aren’t the strongest for heavy loads, so if you take the kayak to the lake every weekend, you might want to invest in a more durable option. But for the occasional camping trip, it’s hard to find better benefits for the money.
The CargoLoc features an anti-theft lock, and it offers a sturdiness that rivals crossbars twice its cost. If you want extra convenience when you strap down your load, order the crossbars with the doorstep, a universal foothold that helps you reach your vehicle’s roof.
3. Yakima HD Bar – Premium Choice
|Compatibility:||Yakima HD Truck Racks and StreamLine Towers via Yakima HD Bar SL Adapter|
They’re pricey on their own and they need an adapter and towers before you can put them on factory-installed raised roof rails, but the Yakima HD bars offer unmatched features and performance. The powder-coated aluminum cross bars are lightweight but durable under the elements, and the internal structure lets them carry a few hundred pounds with ease.
As our premium choice, the HD is an expensive investment. But it also might be the last roof rack you’ll ever need. Along with its rugged frame that can last many years, it boasts all the convenience and versatility you could ask for, thanks to a T-slot and tie-down points on the endcaps. It’s one of the best roof racks for work trucks, or you can use it on your SUV to support kayaks, cargo baskets, rooftop tents, and anything else you would want to take on a trip.
4. Thule AeroBlade Edge Raised Rail Load Bar
|Weight:||5 lbs. (1 bar)|
|Compatibility:||Raised roof rails|
The Thule AeroBlade Edge raised rail crossbar is an all-in-one package with a crossbar and universal raised rail mount, with four available sizes to suit most vehicles. It’s one of the most expensive roof racks available, but looking at the specs, it’s clear that you’re getting your money’s worth in quality.
The AeroBlade would take the number one spot among the best roof racks were it not for the extremely high price. It’s arguably superior to the JetStream on most fronts and equal on all others, boasting a hefty core construction, aerodynamic noise-cutting design, versatile mounting options, and an expansive selection of Thule equipment to complete any hauling setup.
5. Yakima Timberline Kit
|Weight:||10 lbs., 16 lbs. w/ towers|
|Material:||Vinyl-wrapped alloy steel|
|Compatibility:||Raised roof rails|
The Yakima Timberline kit combines the CoreBar aerodynamic crossbars with the Timberline towers for cars with raised roof rails. The Timberlines work with Yakima’s JetStream and RoundBars if you ever feel the need for a change down the line. The package is pricey, but you get high-quality and versatile components that make for an excellent value in a cargo-carrying starter kit.
CoreBars are available in 50” or 60” widths and the vinyl-wrapped galvanized steel bars are buttoned up to resist corrosion while providing maximum strength for heavy hauling. Like the JetStream, they feature a tapered design to cut down on drag and wind noise.
6. Rhino-Rack Vortex Aero Crossbar
If you like the sound of the Yakima JetStream but already have Rhino-Rack accessories, the Vortex Aero crossbar is a worthy substitute. The Vortex fits with Rhino-Rack’s rail-mount or track-mount legs, and with the many available sizes between 44” and 79”, you can get them to work with virtually any vehicle.
Keeping up with the Yakima JetStream, the Vortex is an aluminum design available in black or silver to match your vehicle. You’ll also find the familiar rubber-filled T-slot for easy accessory attachment and a similar weight rating of 165 lbs. One notable advantage of the Vortex over the JetStream is the included locking mechanism, which you have to purchase separately when you opt for the Yakima model.
7. Yhaavale 51” Roof Rack Crossbars
|Compatibility:||Universal for vehicles without roof rails|
No roof rails? No problem! With the YHAAVALE 51” universal roof rack, any naked-top sedan, van, or SUV can transform into a serious cargo carrier. The aluminum crossbars sit on a mount that locks into the door frame, and the manufacturer supplies a set of four different clamps to ensure they will fit your car.
No particular feature on the YHAAVALE universal rack is all that impressive. Complementing pieces are limited, its mounting options are one-sided, and it can get noisy when you get up to speed. But if you have a bare roof, you get a no-hassle, lightweight, and surprisingly secure starting point to haul a variety of equipment at a price that’s hard to beat.
8. Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System
|Compatibility:||Flush roof rail and fixed mount points (needs a Fitting Kit for some vehicles)|
The Yakima Whispbar is a toned-down alternative to the JetStream, a simple, streamlined crossbar set that doesn’t require a ton of pieces and works well for flush roof rails and vehicles with fixed roof mounting points.
The Whispbar’s sleek construction packs in several of Yakima’s best roof rack features, including the rubber-filled T-slot, SKS locking mechanism, and aerodynamic teardrop form. It’s a lightweight yet sufficiently strong crossbar that does its best to store various attachments and cut down on drag and wind noise. Plus, you benefit from not worrying about hitting your head every time you get out of the car.
9. Yakima Round Bar
|Material:||Vinyl-wrapped alloy steel|
|Compatibility:||Yakima Round Bar SL Adapters for StreamLine Towers|
Barebones and to-the-point, the Round Bar is Yakima’s classic utilitarian roof rack, a relatively low-priced option that provides plenty of muscle. It comes in three lengths (48”, 58”, and 68”), and once you purchase the SL Adapter, you can pick the appropriate tower to fit your roof set up, whether it has roof rails or not. If you don’t mind spending extra money, it’s a long-lasting and practical option for sedans that occasionally carry extra cargo or sports equipment.
Like most Yakima equipment, it takes several separate components to complete a workable roof rack kit for any style of vehicle. It’s a confusing hassle for some people, and it certainly adds to the final price. But given the quality of the bars, it makes sense to have that kind of versatility. The corrosion-resistant and extra-strong vinyl-wrapped steel Round Bars are long-lasting. If you ever change from your naked-top sedan to a new SUV with rails as the family grows, all you need is to change the towers, and you get to keep the same stout and easy-to-install crossbars.
10. YITAMOTOR 54” Universal Roof Rack Crossbars
|Compatibility:||Raised roof rails with 1.5”–2.5” gap|
The YITAMotor universal roof rack is the more expensive alternative to the CargoLoc system, a one-size-fits-all crossbar set that fits most raised roof rails. The telescoping crossbars are available in 54” or 47” lengths, with the larger version working with 34.5″–49.5″ roof rail gaps and the smaller working with 27.5”–40.9” gaps.
The crossbars consist of corrosion-resistant powder-coated aluminum in an aerodynamic shape that’s supposed to cut down on wind noise, a noteworthy upgrade from the CargoLoc. It sports a similar anti-theft locking mechanism, and installation is as easy as any universal crossbar.
For regular use or heavy sports and work equipment, you may want to upgrade to a more heavy-duty model. But if you need to load up the family SUV with a cargo rack for the infrequent camping trip, it’s affordable, uncomplicated, and capable of carrying anything you need.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Roof Racks
How Are Roof Racks Different From Roof Rails?
Roof rails are fixed mounting rails that come factory-installed on many SUVs and other passenger vehicles. They run front-to-back on the roof of your car, with one positioned on the left edge of the roof and the other on the right edge. There are two types of roof rails:
You may also have a “naked” roof, meaning you don’t have roof rails on your car. But even if you don’t see any rails right now, it doesn’t guarantee that you’re limited to universal door or window frame-mount crossbars. If your vehicle has a rubber strip where the rails would be, there’s likely a pair of fixed mounting points underneath. You can use these to fit anything from fixed-point towers to aftermarket raised rails and tracks.
A “roof rack” is a broad term that can refer to several types of general and specific mounting equipment on top of your car. The basic system, and the foundation for most additional roof racks, is the crossbar, like the ones included in these roof rack reviews. It can attach to roof rails, fixed points, or naked roofs, depending on the model, and then carry cargo baskets or any other roof racks on top.
What Kinds of Roof Racks Are Available?
Along with their crossbars, you’ll find that many manufacturers offer an array of accessories to conveniently and safely haul specific gear. Some of the most common attachments for crossbars include:
Most crossbars will accommodate numerous accessory racks, but weight capacity and construction are crucial considerations. For example, certain items like kayaks can stress a crossbar as they catch the wind at high speeds. Even though a budget-friendly bar might fit a kayak footing, you may want to buy a higher quality bar if you take frequent long-distance trips to the lake.
Can I Leave Roof Racks on My Car?
It’s usually impractical to leave roof racks on your car if you go long stretches without needing them. They cut down on fuel economy during your everyday drives and leaving them exposed to the elements will hasten their wear. Even though you’ll have powder-coated aluminum and vinyl-wrapped steel to handle the weather, moisture can eventually penetrate endcaps and mounting towers, causing them to rust and become difficult to take off.
Take off your roof rack whenever it’s convenient to keep them protected and the inner locking mechanisms in good condition. Be sure to take them off when you go to the car wash or expect bad weather.
Buying Tips: Key Features to Consider
Before deciding on a roof rack, you have to assess your car and see what it can reasonably handle. Along with their mounting options (i.e., roof rails or naked), vehicles also have varying weight capacities for what they can carry up top. That’s crucial, as there is no sense in springing for a crossbar that can handle 300 lbs. when your car can only manage 150.
Once you know what kind of mounting and weight capacities your vehicle can accommodate, consider how you will use your rack. Are you taking the bikes and canoes out of town every weekend, or do you take the kids camping every few months? The amount of use and types of equipment you plan to haul will help you whittle down the specific features that will provide the best value, such as:
Combining strength, versatility, and ease of use at a mid-tier price point, the Yakima JetStream is our pick for the best roof rack in 2022. But even if these bars are outside your budget or won’t work with your car, tons of excellent roof racks can serve as a solid foundation for countless adventures. By following these roof rack reviews, you’ll be sure to find the perfect package to fit your budget, vehicle, and lifestyle.
Featured Image Credit: ModCatShop, Unsplash
- 1 A Glance at Our Top Picks (2022 Update)
- 2 The 10 Best Roof Racks
- 2.1 1. Yakima JetStream Bar Aerodynamic Crossbars – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. CargoLoc 2-Piece 52″ Aluminum Roof Top Crossbar Set – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Yakima HD Bar – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Thule AeroBlade Edge Raised Rail Load Bar
- 2.5 5. Yakima Timberline Kit
- 2.6 6. Rhino-Rack Vortex Aero Crossbar
- 2.7 7. Yhaavale 51” Roof Rack Crossbars
- 2.8 8. Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System
- 2.9 9. Yakima Round Bar
- 2.10 10. YITAMOTOR 54” Universal Roof Rack Crossbars
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Roof Racks
- 4 Conclusion