Choosing The Best Rooftop Cargo Bag
In this thorough walkthrough, we’ll help you choose the best rooftop cargo bag for you and highlight some of the best options available on the market. Whatever your cargo needs, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this carefully researched guide.
We’ve all been there. You’re ready to get out on the road and take a trip, but your car just doesn’t have the room for all your gear. You might consider a tow hitch and trailer, but this brings its own challenges. Driving with a trailer can be unpleasant and stressful. Your car might not even be capable of towing anything in the first place.
That’s where you can benefit from a soft car top carrier. Lightweight, durable and often waterproof, these packable carriers can fit as much as 20 cubic feet of cargo. That frees up your car to allow for more storage, or just a more comfortable road-tripping experience.
Best Rooftop Cargo Bag (Full Waterproof Roof Bag Reviews Below)
But what exactly makes the best rooftop cargo bag better than the rest?
The best rooftop cargo bag for you should offer enough storage space for your unique needs. Whether you just want to pack along a couple extra suitcases or a whole load of extra gear, the bag you choose should reflect that need. The list below features carriers ranging from 9 cubic feet of space to 20 cubic feet, so be sure to select the product that’s right for you. And remember, too much space can leave your gear exposed to shifting and banging on top of your car.
Considering how much your carrier will be exposed to the elements, durable construction is vital. The best rooftop cargo bag brands use high-quality products, often double-layered for added safety. Not only does this keep the elements out, it ensures that your carrier will last longer than the competition. That means more road trips and less worry about wear and tear. You should also look for well-made zipper designs, as a broken zipper can ruin an otherwise high-quality carrier.
Ease of Use
Securing your carrier bag to the top of your car should not be a frustrating, irritating process. The best products listed here feature easy-tightening straps and simple to use buckles. The designs are intuitive and straightforward, and you won’t find yourself wondering what a strap is for or where it belongs. In other words, they’re easy to use. The best rooftop cargo bag shouldn’t just be durable and dependable—it should make your life easier, too. That’s why design is so important in picking the right product for you.
Protection From the Elements
It’s important to remember that not every bag is completely waterproof. Some market themselves as “water-resistant.” But we all know that a little water leaking in can often be just as damaging as a lot of water. If you plan on taking long trips where you might encounter rain, always choose a product with a fully waterproof design. Not only is the safety of your gear worth the investment, but so is the peace of mind. You’ll enjoy your trips much more when you know that your cargo above is safe no matter the weather.
Rain isn’t the only danger—wind, dirt, and grit can also damage your belongings. It’s yet another reason that the best rooftop cargo bag manufacturers craft 100% waterproof designs, with zipper flaps and welded or electrically sealed seams.
Car top carrier bags can be big and bulky. It’s important to select one that can be folded down to a smaller size and stowed when not in use. Some of the designs listed below even feature included stuff sacks for even more portable storage. That way the cargo bag you bought to save space doesn’t end up taking up space on its own.
Admit it—you want to look good while you’re driving. Nobody would pretend otherwise. So why choose a cartop carrier that’s ugly, bulky, or bland? There are plenty of products in the list below that offer high quality construction combined with a relatively attractive design. So don’t skip out on looks—the best car top cargo bag for you can offer both strength and beauty.
The Ten Best Rooftop Cargo Bag Options
Without further ado, let’s take a close look at ten of the best car top cargo bag products available on the market today. The top ranking designs combine storage, durability, ease of use, and weather protection all into one well-designed and portable package. Whatever you’re looking for in a rooftop cargo bag, you’ll find an option for you here.
#1) Vault Cargo Canvas Storage Roof Bag – Best Rooftop Cargo Bag
The canvas construction of this soft-style rooftop cargo bag also makes it extremely durable. You’ll be able to load to capacity without a thought and strap it safely to your car’s rack or basket. And at 6.3 lbs. it’s lightweight enough to easily heft and store on your car top or in the garage.
Design and Features
We also love the Vault Cargo roof bag for its dependable zipper design, which keeps the zipper path secured against the elements when not in use. This is an often-overlooked feature that can make the difference between a cargo bag that’s useless after a few trips and one that keeps going vacation after vacation. The zipper design is also strong and durable. This means snapped and useless zippers won’t be a problem. Plus, the strong material of the bag prevents the zipper from tearing away at fabric and causing frustrating holes.
When you combine storage space, durability, ease of use, waterproof protection and light weight, you end up with the Vault Cargo storage roof bag. Its sturdy design offers everything you want in a cargo carrier, enough to give you the peace of mind to enjoy long road trips rather than being stressed the entire way. This leads us to nominate the Vault Cargo canvas storage bag as not only the best waterproof rooftop cargo bag, but the best rooftop cargo bag currently available on the market.
The first thing you’ll notice is the design. Thule has long been known for bringing sturdy materials and stylish design into one package, and the Thule Outbound is no exception. It features a slick airplane-wing style shape that narrows in the front to lower wind resistance. The Thule logo is large and visible, and a silver-grey stripe extends around the zipper line.
Design and Features
But enough about looks, let’s talk about construction. Thule has tested this bag against the elements and guarantees weather resistant storage. That’s a good thing, but their marketing seems to leave the phrase a bit vague on purpose. They don’t use the word ‘waterproof’ to describe the bag, and this should be one minor reason for pause. It will likely keep your items dry in a light drizzle, but there are no promises when it comes to a long downpour.
Otherwise the bag features compression straps to help minimize friction along your car top and noise from sliding around. They also boast a PVC-free material that’s both durable and environmentally friendly. That’s a nice touch. Another key feature is the addition of double-stitched webbing straps. These are designed to attach the bag to the rack crossbars or rails.
When it comes to the zipper, Thule has done an impressive job of making it both easy to access and safe from the elements. The large storm flap folds out of the way so that you can access the 3-sided zipper with ease. Finally, the Thule Outbound attaches to most standard roof racks and can easily fold down to be stored away when not in use.
One point to consider? Price. While the Thule Outbound is impressive, it generally lists for over twice the cost of our number #1 pick.
While we can’t definitively grant the Thule Outbound the distinction of best rooftop cargo bag, it comes close enough to earn the second spot on our list.
Rightline claims that their bag is designed for SUVs and minivans and doesn’t require a roof rack to be used safely. This is a big claim, as it allows many travelers the chance to save money by skipping the roof rack installation. They can attach the Rightline 100S30 directly to the roof of their car.
Design and Features
Unlike the Thule Outbound, Rightline proudly claims 100% waterproof design. They also boast about their Dual Seam design, which in theory provides an added layer of protection for your belongings. The design combines sewn seams with a welded design to ensure safe protection. Customer experience reviews generally back up this claim.
When it comes to the zipper, Rightline’s ZipRight system is a serious upgrade from some more standard zipper designs. The zipper is coated in urethane for smooth use and protected by a fold-down zipper flap against the elements. This not only helps protect against zipper rust or damage, but also adds another layer of safety against the elements.
Each model in the 100S30 line comes with four attachment straps, four car clips, and a stuff sack. This can be useful for storage when the carrier is not in use, keeping it in a small space that you can store out of the way until your next trip.
Well-designed, durable and built for any kind of weather you might meet on your trip, the Rightline Gear 100S30 earns its place on our list. Its grey and black two-tone design is easy on the eyes, too.
The Keeper entry on our list is also one of the best waterproof cargo bags available, thanks to a truly waterproof design that’s built to protect against all elements. The heavy duty material is one part of that protection, but so is the smart zipper design with a fold-down flap that completely protects the zipper within.
Design and Features
The soft sides of the Keeper 07203-1 are also designed to stretch and fit a max cargo load. This is a great feature as it will keep you from worrying about stuffing the bag to the gills. It’s built to take it.
The overall features of this model are 44” x 34” x 17”. Like any hopeful to the throne of best rooftop cargo bag, it’s built from a rubber nylon material. This adds a great deal strength for years of heavy use. That’s an important feature, not just because the strong exterior protects your cargo on the inside. It will also ensure that your carrier will stay in top condition even after thousands of miles atop your car. The bag also folds up for a storage size that’s as small as possible, adding to its convenient design.
One more feature that makes this a top-notch carrier is how easy it can be to attach to your roof rack. Its design makes setup a breeze, even with a full load. You’ll never find yourself grasping for a strap or wondering how you’re going to make the cargo bag fit on your car.
With plenty of storage, durable quality and a black-orange design that suits outdoor living, we’re happy to include the Keeper 07203-1 here. Its less streamlined profile and some customer complaints of water leakage keep it from the top spot. It may not be the best rooftop carry bag on the market, but it’s still a quality product worth considering.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Platypus is that it’s not the basic black color found in most rooftop carriers. This model is a light, cool grey. While looks aren’t the most important part of a cargo carrier, they don’t hurt. You definitely won’t mind having this carrier on top of your car for long stretches of time.
When it comes to storage space, that’s where the Platypus really shows off. It offers a standard size of 339L (about 12 cubic feet) of space. But by unzipping the expansion section, you’ll get up to 453L (approx.. 16 cubic feet). That ability to move from one size to another makes this a great choice for any type of road trip. Whether you’re taking a short weekend jaunt or a longer journey across the country, this bag adapts along with your needs.
Design and Features
The weatherproof construction also gains major points, helping to protect the zipper and your belongings from rain and other concerns. The best rooftop cargo bag options on the market all have this feature– its critical for your gear’s protection.
ROLA also highlights the bag’s unique cinching system, designed to keep bags more secure than other models. While that’s tough to measure, the system definitely works to keep bags secure during long trips with windy weather.
The overall dimension of the Platypus ranges from 40” x 34” x 16” to 41” x 35” x 24” when expanded. The cinching design also helps make sure there are no loose bits of fabric flapping in the wind. This is a great feature for both noise and safety. You don’t want loose space in your cargo bag for cargo to shift or experience damage on a long trip.
ROLA also offers a 5-year limited warranty on their car top carriers, which can help you with peace of mind. The overall price of the Platypus is slightly higher than our number-one pick, but still reasonable for the average buyer. This makes the ROLA 59100 Platypus a great choice for anyone looking for a smart design in a versatile package.
You also have plenty of options, ranging from 11 cubic feet to 15 cubic feet of space. That means you won’t have to choose between a small profile or extra space. You can get exactly what you need for your unique road trip or cargo needs.
When it comes to keeping your cargo safe, the RoofBag is also no slouch. It features a 100% waterproof design that’s electrically sealed with no exposed stitching. Electrical sealing is a special type of welding-style sealing method that creates a seamless bond. There’s no way water’s getting in.
Your cargo won’t just be safe from the elements. 3,000 lb. seatbelt-style straps come standard on the RoofBag car top carrier, which will keep your cargo secure at any speed and on any vehicle. And remember—the RoofBag can fit on virtually any car.
Design and Features
The standard dimension for the RoofBag are 40 x 36.5 x 17 inches, and it weighs a respectable 7 pounds. Each and every model is made in the USA, and RoofBag offers same-day shipping for quick delivery. There designs are also backed by a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
As far as negatives, the RoofBag brand name is not particularly well-known. This means they may not have as long of a track record as some of the higher names on this list, so buy with caution. The visual design also leaves a lot to desire. If you don’t mind a less-than-pretty cargo bag on top of your car, then this shouldn’t concern you much.
If you’re looking for one of the best rooftop cargo bags money can buy, you can’t go wrong with the RoofBag design featured here. It’s a high-quality, high-durability product that will give you peace of mind during every road trip.
This carrier is also designed to be completely weatherproof. Every seam is welded shut to seal out water, making it an excellent choice to protect against rain or grit. Meanwhile, the flap design protects the zipper from leakage or moisture as well.
The Shield Jacket also scores highly when it comes to ease of use. The 8 built-in straps are not only secure but are very easy to attach. In just a few minutes you’ll be ready to load cargo and get on the road. And with its 43” x 34” x 17” profile, even large or strangely shaped items are good to go. When it’s not in use, the Shield Jacket folds completely into a small, easy-to-store package.
Design and Features
Quality is always a concern with roof top carriers, and the Shield Jacket holds its own in that department. The double-wall vinyl construction is sturdy and long-lasting. Plus, two included compression straps keep flapping or shifting of cargo at a minimum. You won’t spend your trip feeling stress that all of your belongings are flopping around on top of your car.
Another area where the Shield Jacket brand shines is in its customer service and dedication to satisfaction. They offer a three-month money back guarantee during which you can return the carrier for a full refund. That means that anything you don’t like won’t leave you eating the cost. It’s this dedication to quality that makes Shield Jacket a trusted name in cargo carriers.
Combining durability, waterproof design and storage space, the Shield Jacket is a great choice. Some users might even consider it the best rooftop cargo bag available.
Meanwhile, the bag is both waterproof and resistant to fading thanks to its quality fabric design. That same design also allows you to break down and fold up the carrier easily for storage. Amazon even includes a storage bag and carrying case for your convenience.
Design and Features
The oversize zipper closure protects the zipper and your cargo all at once with stay-dry flaps. And the strong seams ensure that water won’t leak in, even in heavy rain or during long, wet trips.
The dimensions of this Amazon Basics carrier bag are 43.5 x 33.5 x 17 inches, a fairly standard and versatile size. And it’s all backed by the AmazonBasics limited one-year warranty.
There is one downside of the AmazonBasics rooftop carrier bag. For a brand designed to bring the “basics” at a lower cost, it’s not particularly cheap. It won’t break the bank, but it doesn’t sit lower than many of the picks on our list.
All that aside, the AmazonBasics rooftop carrier is a dependable, solid option for any traveler. It might not be the best rooftop cargo bag on the market, but it will certainly get the job done.
Design and Features
It begins with the most important feature—safety. Are you clothes, suitcases and cargo items going to be secure on a long journey? The answer is, yes. The rubber laminated nylon exterior is durable and waterproof enough for protection from rain and dust. Meanwhile the six extra-strong and extra-wide straps guarantee safe and secure storage. Even on bumpy roads or off-road trails, your cargo will be safe and sound.
That’s a good thing, because you’re certainly going to have a lot of cargo up there with the Sailnovo. It boasts an truly massive 20 cubic feet of storage space, the most of any entry on our list. That means more room inside your vehicle to store, lounge, or just feel less cramped during long road trips. Just remember that the added size comes with a price. If you aren’t able to fill up those 20 cubic feet, you might find your cargo will shift during travel. That’s not to mention how the carrier itself might flap noisily in the wind. It’s important to consider your real cargo needs before buying.
If you do choose the Sailnovo, you’ll be enjoy a high-quality cartop carrier that’s built to last. And at a reasonable price point, it won’t break the bank. Is it the best rooftop cargo bag on the market? No, but it will serve you well if you opt for the enormous storage space.
Featuring a travel-ready design and a zipper enclosure, your cargo is sure to be safe. The enclosed zipper protects against leaks, while the heavy duty buckle straps keep everything safely and firmly in place. The durable and water-resistant materials used in construction are another great feature. But it’s worth noting that the OxGord car top carrier is water-resistant, not waterproof. That means it may not be the best bet if you’re planning on driving through wet weather for long periods of time. That said, it’s still an impressive, durable product at a reasonable price that’s one of the cheapest on our list.
Design and Features
OxGord has designed their roof top carrier bag to work on any vehicle with a roof rack. They promise easy installation with no required tools, a feature of all the products on this list. But the setup is simple and easy and allows you to cinch the straps tightly and securely. This is important not only for your cargo’s safety but for your own peace of mind. No one wants to spend their time driving while worrying about whether their cargo is safe.
If you’re looking for a simple, no-frills option rather than the absolute best waterproof rooftop cargo bag, consider OxGord. Their product is dependable, well-built and gets the job done. If you’re looking for something with a little more style and features, try out one of the other entries on our list. You’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for, providing the best rooftop cargo bag for your unique preferences.
Conclusion: Choosing the Best Rooftop Cargo Bag
Once you’ve selected the right bag for you, it’s important to take care of it. Dry it off after wet trips and store it in a safe place. Remember not to overstuff your bag, as this can gradually lead to tears and increased wear. And for the safety of your gear, yourself, and the cars around you, always secure your bags properly. Even the best rooftop cargo bag on the market can be unsafe if it’s not secured properly. Follow the included instructions and only use gear included in the package or endorsed by the brand. That way you’ll not only be safe from harm, but also protected from taking yourself out of warranty with third-party additions.
Finally, be sure to find out the roof capacity of your vehicle. Just because you can fit 100 lead weights in your car top carrier doesn’t mean it’s safe for your car. Always use a combination of judgement and research when loading the top of your vehicle, whether you have a designated roof rack or otherwise.
Whichever car top carrier bag you choose, we hope you enjoy many happy road trips and safe travels along the way.