Planning a big adventure away soon? Whether you’re off to the woods for a spot of camping or embarking on a lengthy bike ride across the countryside, trying to squeeze in all the necessities into the boot of your car can sometimes feel like you’re playing a game of Tetris.
That’s where roof boxes come in. According to one of the industry’s biggest manufacturers, Thule, there has been a 70% surge in sales in the past ten years, with more and more car owners needing the extra space to transport things.
However, despite the ever-growing popularity of roof boxes, there are a lot of things to consider as well – including size, cost and practicality.
But fear not, as we’ve put together an essential guide to help you easily choose your perfect roof box.
How big should the roof box be?
When it comes to picking the right roof box, size really does matter! If you buy one that’s too small, you might have to ask the kids to wear all their clothes for the weekend, while selecting an unnecessarily big roof box could see you spending more than you need to.
First, consider what you are going to need to pack. As a guide, 400 litres of capacity should give you more than enough room to successfully store holdall style bags, coats, bike helmets and wellies for a family of four. If you need extra room, a 570-580 litre one will roughly take a bike in a bike bag, a few sleeping bags and a pop-up tent. Whereas a 350 litre one will give you enough room to pack sleeping bags and two or three travel bags, plus leave half of the roof to attach bikes.
Before buying, you should always measure to check whether the roof box will even fit on your car in the first place! Pop into store and one of our colleagues will be able to help you find the perfect roof box and fitting system for your car.
What shape works for you?
Choosing the right shape roof box comes down to the type of adventure or trip you are planning. For instance, there are narrow ones designed for kayaks, tent poles or gazebos, medium width ones which enable you to put a couple of bikes alongside it and even long wide ones for long family camping trips.
Don’t forget to consider obscure angles and a narrow front edge. While it may look sleek, it could prove a nightmare when trying to pack everything in! Check the roof box’s length and width to get a true idea of size.
How to identify the best quality roof box?
There’s no substitute for quality. Pick a poorly made roof box and you could see your underwear sprawled across the M5.
Look for a sturdy roof box with quality fittings. If you select one made from a thin plastic, it can make the packing process extremely tricky as it starts to expand when you load it up. In turn, this makes it hard to close the lid once you are finished. A cheaper material will also deteriorate quicker and is more prone to break or be broken into.
How to find a roof box that is practical?
Even if you find the best quality roof box in the perfect size, it’s pretty frustrating if it takes you five minutes to open and close it.
Some boxes can only open from one side and have central locking, meaning you could require assistance when it comes to unloading it. Ideally, a dual opening mechanism is the ultimate option here. This will give you the flexibility to access your packed goods on either side with ease and safety. Just remember to test opening and closing it before buying.
If you’re unsure about fixtures and fittings, it’s worth asking a colleague at your local Halfords to double-check which mechanism works best with your roof bars.
For practicality and quality, we highly recommend the Thule Touring 200 Roof Box. It has a dual side opening, making it straightforward to mount, load and unload, as well as the latest technology for simple and secure fixing.
How much is a quality roof box?
When it comes to cost, the decision process boils down to a few factors. Firstly, how often will you use it? And secondly, will you store it with care? As you’ll expect, the more expensive roof boxes should in theory be more durable and capable of being used on a frequent basis. Whereas a more budget-friendly version might be sufficient enough if you plan to use it sporadically and look after it.
The price of a roof box depends on the quality, warranty, ease of use and the material it consists of – not the size. For example, you can pick up a top 580 litre Exodus Black Roof Box for £419.00, but the 320 litre Thule Dynamic 800 costs around £639.95. The more expensive roof boxes can cost anywhere between £600-£1,000, whereas a more budget-friendly 400-470 litre one is usually priced between £250-£380.
For a combination of value and quality, we believe the Halfords 470L Grey Roof Box for £239 is right on the money.
Find this article useful? Then you might like to read: ‘6 tips for driving long distances’.