In this article, Im going to compare the features and benefits of Car Roof Bags Versus a Car Roof Box as there are strong points to both. I’ve personally owned two roof boxes and 12 Car Roof bags in the last twelve years and both solutions have some amazing benefits and some problems. Depending on your usage and situation it’s good to compare both before you make a buying decision as they are not inexpensive items and making the wrong decision could prove to be costly, especially if you need to buy twice! In this article I’m going to discuss the general features of each and mark both solutions out of 5.
Ease of Use:
The first thing to consider when comparing a roof box to a roof bag is how easy are they to live with? Do they enhance your life an provide you with a storage and travel solution or do they drive you nuts and add stress to your life? So let’s compare! The first thing I’m going to look at is how easy is a roof box to fit versus a roof bag? I’ve owned two roof boxes in the last ten years. The first was a Thule Roof Box. As you may be aware, Thule is a Swedish company, they make high quality vehicle accessories for most vehicles but they are priced at the premium end of the market.
The first thing to know about a roof box is you need a set of roof racks to fit it. If your vehicle already has roof rails that makes life easier but if not you need to buy a full roof rack. So you will need to fit your roof bars first, then your roof box typically bolts directly to the rack either using a special connecting kit or simple U brackets and screw tops. Fitting time will vary but typically it will take 15-20 mins to fit both racks and box. Dismantle is the process in reverse and again takes about 15 mins on average.
Fitting a roof bag will depend on whether you have roof rails on your vehicle or not. Fitting a roof bag with roof rails is a breeze. You place the bag in the centre of the roof, clip 4 straps together and pull tight. Total fitting time is about 3 minutes and dismantle even quicker. If you don’t have roof rails it will depend on the roof bag type but some bags can be fitted without roof racks or rails and use a special set of straps to either thread through both door gaps and clip above the driver and passengers heads or another strap fits to the frame of the car roof underneath the rubber seals. There’s a bit more faffing about but its a good working solution to add a car roof bag without roof rack or rails.
RESULT: Roof Box 3/5 Vs Roof Bag 4/5
Storage of Box Vs Bag
This is the biggest downside to a roof box. When you take it off your car or truck, what do you do with it? Unfortunately being the big beasts that they are, they need to be stored in either a garage or shed or outhouse. A Roof bag stuffs down into a bag or container about the size of two shoe boxes. You can also travel with a roof bag in your luggage so let’s say you are travelling on vacation, you can fly with the roof bag and when you land at the other end you don’t need to hire such a large rental car to get to your holiday home as you can load the luggage into the roof bag and store it on the roof for the journey.
RESULT: Roof Box =1/5 Vs Roof Bag 5/5
Load Capacity and Loading:
Due to their aerodynamic styling and peculiar shape, a lot of roof boxes can be a pain to load. You will normally need a set of step ladders or steps to get access to them on the roof and because of their clam tops it can be hard to judge how much to fill them. Roof bags tend to be the opposite. I always suggest putting them on the roof before you load them and their box like shape makes them easy to load, corners and gaps can be stuffed with more items and their flexible material means you can fit all sorts of kit into them. I would advise you not to fit anything sharp into them though as even the toughest bags can get ripped. some roof bags can be hard to zip up too but a roof box is normally fairly easy to close.
RESULT: Roof box 3/5 Vs Roof Bag 4/5
I’ve never known a roof box to leak water. Some cheaper roof bags will leak though! I’d advise you to load any items into black trash bags first to add a layer of water protection and the better roof bags come with waterproofed zips and seams and storm flaps but a roof box wins here.
RESULT: Roof Box 5/5 Vs Roof Bag 3/5
Roof Boxes are lockable and so are the Roof Racks they sit on. roof Bags can be removed in seconds and the bags can be slashed open easily
RESULT: Roof Box 5/5 Vs Roof Bag 1/5
This one is easy. Roof boxes plus racks plus accessories can reach easily into the hundreds of dollars. The most expensive top of the range roof bag is sub one hundred dollars.
RESULT: Roof Box 1/5 Vs Roof Bag 5/5
Depending on how much you use it, each system has benefits but if you want something thats quick to fit and inexpensive buy a roof bag. If on the other hand, you have plenty of space to store it and plenty of money to buy it and time to fit it then buy a roof box. Personally I like the ease of use and time and money save that comes with a roof bag.