What to Consider When Buying a Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Nowadays, cargo carriers are designed sleeker than ever in order to blend in with the aesthetics of your Ford Ranger without hurting your fuel economy. All you need to install a cargo carrier is a Ford Ranger rack, and you don’t even need a rack in some cases. Improving the cargo capacity of your Ranger can be invaluable if you’re someone who enjoys going on weekend getaways, camping in remote places or uses their Ranger as a workhorse. There are many different types of cargo carriers today, and choosing the best one comes down to understanding your needs.

ford ranger roof racks

Types of Cargo Carriers

Cargo Boxes

Cargo boxes are what most people immediately picture when they think of cargo carriers. They’re also known as rocket boxes, and are hard-sided, heavy and extremely secure. They provide the most protection for your equipment out of all cargo carrier types, as everything is neatly packed in an enclosure that protects from the elements. Many cargo boxes feature Ford Ranger rack and bar attachments, and lockable lids for extra security. Installing one can take some effort, but once installed, it’s easy to use – you won’t need to tie ropes or cinch straps to keep your belongings safe. However, they’re not flawless. Even though most models are aerodynamically designed, the box itself still sticks out into the wind, which will impact your noise levels and fuel consumption due to the increased drag. Plus, they’re usually quite expensive.

Cargo Bags

If your Ford ranger doesn’t have a roof rack, and you don’t feel like installing one, then you should consider a soft-sided cargo carrier like cargo bags. Cargo bags simply lash down to the top of your roof with the help of straps that are either looped through your windows or attached to mounting points on your roof rack. These bags are light, easy to store and flexible, allowing you to store oddly-shaped and bulky items. On the downside, they wear faster, are prone to damage from bad weather, and have a higher chance of scratching your Ford’s paint. Furthermore, they can get quite blocky when filled, making them aerodynamically-inefficient.

Cargo Baskets (Cages)

Cargo baskets are just that – big metal baskets that leave your gear exposed to the elements. While they don’t offer weather protection, they allow you to transport your cargo much easier. They require cam straps or a rope to tie down whatever you place inside them. The lack of a solid body makes them quite aerodynamic and less probable to reduce your fuel efficiency. Their low profile allows you to fit your Ford in garages without removing them, and they’re one of the most affordable cargo carrier solutions.

ford ranger rack

Sport Equipment-Specific Cargo Solutions

If you’re going to transport things that won’t fit in a box, bag or basket, such as a bicycle or kayak, you’ll need a cargo carrier that’s specifically built for the pieces of equipment. The benefits to these cargo solutions are obvious – safe transport of your expensive sports equipment. However, there are also more downsides, such as the inability to transport anything else, a worse aerodynamic profile and the inability to park your Ford Ranger in a garage with the cargo on top.

Things to Consider When Choosing

First and foremost, if your Ranger doesn’t come with factory-installed racks that work with the type of carrier you’re considering, you’ll need to buy roof racks. But before you do that, make sure you check your owner’s manual for the recommended weight capacity of your Ranger’s roof. Then, you’ll have to consider the physical dimensions of the cargo carrier relative to the roof. Will the cargo carrier fit snugly without hanging over the sides, back and front? Is it big enough to accommodate the cargo you want to use it for? If your Ranger has a hatch, will it open or will the cargo carrier prevent that? How much extra height does the cargo carrier add to your Ford? All of these questions need to be answered before purchasing any type of cargo carrier.

Furthermore, take a look at all the available information regarding dimensions, restrictions and even pictures of how the cargo carrier will look on your Ranger. The carrier’s shape also matters, and if you intend on installing it as a permanent modification, make sure you get an aerodynamic and less bulky model. While this may end up costing you more upfront, you’ll save in fuel costs.

ford ranger rack

Features to Look for In Cargo Carriers

If you get a cargo box, consider where and how it opens. When you try to reach across the roof or overhead, you’ll want the box to have a handle that’s easy to grip and use, especially if you aren’t on the taller side. Depending on how you access your cargo carrier and the model and make of Ford you have, determine whether you should get a box that opens from the side or from the rear. Additionally, most people want a cargo carrier that has locks, so they can store valuable equipment. The cargo box should be water-tight, or if you get a cargo bag make sure it’s waterproof.

Type of Mounting System

Cargo carriers are generally easy to install and remove, or they can require some time and tools to do so. More affordable cargo carrier solutions feature simple u-lock systems that need a wrench to install and uninstall, whereas high-end options don’t require any tools to be installed and removed. Again, which way you go will come down to your personal needs and figuring out how often you’ll need the cargo carrier. Some people prefer permanent cargo carriers, while those who only use them a few times a year prefer a semi-permanent or removable cargo carrier.

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