5 Best Campervan Roof Racks And What To Look For
If you’re craving some extra storage for your camper, then you’ve come to the right place, as today we’re looking at the best campervan roof racks.
Adding a roof rack to your set up allows you to carry more gear with you when you’re travelling. This extra space means you can take everything you need for the perfect adventure on all of your road trips.
The roof of your van is a great place to carry large items that would be difficult to store inside your van. Think fun stuff like surfboards, kayaks, bikes and rooftop tents as well as bulky essentials such as a spare tyre or a toolbox.
Before we look at the five best campervan roof racks, we’re going to go through some essential things you need to know before purchasing one.
What To Look For In A Roof Rack
A good roof rack can be an investment. However, it’s better to spend the money and get a safe, reliable and durable rack than go for something cheap that will break quickly. While rare, breakage on the move could cause a serious road accident, so it isn’t worth the risk.
As a roof rack can be expensive, you don’t want to have to buy one twice. A roof rack with all metal parts is likely to last longer than one with a mixture of metal and plastic, as plastic is more susceptible to breakages.
An all-metal roof rack also means you do not have to worry about taking the dirt, potholed road to reach your destination. A weak frame could struggle with the bumps and vibrations when off-roading. Also, check the warranty that comes with your rack, will the company who you bought it from be there to support you if any breakages do occur?
As well as ensuring you choose a safe and durable roof rack, you will want to go for something as light as possible. A lightweight rack will be made of aluminium which is 30% lighter than the alternative, steel.
The lighter your rack, the better your fuel economy will be, which is good for your wallet, and the environment. You also need to be aware of your camper’s overall weight limit, you don’t want to go over this, and you also don’t want to have to sacrifice on other items because you have a roof rack.
Having one rack that can support many different types of gear is such a bonus. It means you can take any equipment you like with you on your next adventure, without worrying about whether it’s compatible with your current roof rack. This versatility often comes in the form of different accessories. Check out what is available for your rack before you go ahead and purchase it.
Roof Rack Placement
Installing a roof rack on a campervan requires more thought than on a car. This is because there are often more items on the roof of a camper, such as solar panels, roof vents and skylights. Installing a rack after you have installed all other roof-mounted equipment can be tricky, it is best if you can design the roof layout together, for optimal use of space.
Can I Put A Roof Rack On My Pop Top Roof?
It is possible to secure a rack to a camper with a pop-top roof; you just need to double-check your weight allowance to ensure you do not cause any damage to the roof. Also, be aware that you will need to remove any gear you fix to your roof before opening it. The roof will not be able to hold the weight of the get once you have popped it open.
Top Five Best Campervan Roof Racks
1. Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform
|Good quality||Very expensive|
|Lots of accessories for gear|
The Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform is one of the best campervan roof racks there is; it’s lightweight, durable and versatile. Made of aluminium and with a low profile, the rhino roof rack adds minimum weight to your vehicle while having a high load capacity for all your gear. I
ts light profile also means that, when empty, the Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform doesn’t massively change the fuel economy of your car as it is still streamlined.
There are many different sizes of the Pioneer Platform to fit different vehicles and to give you a choice in how big you need the rack to be. Good news for vanlifers who often need to dedicate some of their roof space to skylights and vents.
A range of different accessories allows the Rhino Rack to be versatile and adapt to carry different types of year safely. For example, different straps and securing systems will hold down spare tyres, jerry cans, gas cannisters and of course, bikes and kayaks.
The main downside to this product is the price. Depending on the size you go for, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1000-$1500.
2. Arksen Cargo Rack
|Affordable||No warranty advertised|
|Different sizes available||Side rails add to your car’s profile|
For a more affordable option, check out the next entry on our list of the best campervan roof racks. The Arksen cargo Rack is just under $200, or less if you choose one of the smaller racks.
This is much more affordable, especially if you only use your van for a few trips a year.
The cargo rack comes in three sizes, depending on how much extra storage you desire. It is designed to use a vehicles crossbars for installation, if your camper doesn’t have these then you will need to purchase a separate mounting system. This isn’t a huge deal but will add to the overall cost.
Additionally, this roof rack has no warranty advertised so if something goes wrong you may not be eligible for a repair.
The Arksen Cargo Rack is made from steel, making it hardwearing and durable but heavier than an aluminium alternative. This weight, and the high side rails of the rack, will slightly decrease the fuel economy of your vehicle.
3. M-VDub Three Bows Roof Rack
|Fits vintage VW campers||Only fits this vehicle|
|In keeping with vintage VW design||Wooden slats may break over time|
|Strong stainless steel frame||Quite expensive|
At number three on our list of the best campervan roof racks, we have one specifically designed for vintage VW campervans.
Old school VW campers have a very different shape to the modern camper van, with a curved roof rather than a flat one. This means that most roof racks, made for the contemporary vehicle will not fit.
In comes the M-VDub Three Bows Roof Rack, a system that has been designed to work in conjunction with a VW’s curved roof.
This product is compatible with the VW Type 2 Bus years 1950-1967 and as well as being able to fit on the vehicle; the design is also in keeping with the vintage style of the camper.
A Stainless Steel frame makes up the rack, which will be durable and long-lasting. The wooden slats that create the platform will not last as long but will still be hardwearing, plus they look super cute. This roof rack comes in at just under $700.
4. Thule SmartClamp
|Lightweight aluminium||Only suitable for certain vans|
|Affordable||Bars not a platform|
|Range of accessories|
Another leading brand that needed to be on our list of the best campervan roof racks is Thule. They also create a whole host of other campervan related accessories including awnings and bike carriers.
Their SmartClamp roof rack is suitable for Ducato, Boxer and Jumper vans, all popular alternative to the Sprinter Van Conversion in the UK. Different lengths of rack are available, depending on the size of your camper.
This roof rack makes use of bars, not a platform base, meaning you have fewer points to secure gear to, making this rack slightly less versatile that the Rhino Ready Pioneer Platform.
However, it is much more affordable, coming in at about £300, depending on with size you choose. Additional bars can be added to secure bulkier gear to, such as kayaks, along with accessories to make this easier.
The Thule SmartClamp is made from lightweight aluminium, meaning minimal weight is added to your vehicle, good news for fuel economy. It is easy to fix to your camper; you don’t need to drill any holes into your roof. Instead, the vans fixing system is used, along with glue.
5. Curt Rooftop Cargo Carrier
|Affordable||Smaller than others|
|Universal fit||Not suitable for large gear|
The last rack on our list of the best campervan roof racks is the cheapest option, coming in at $101. This is good if you’re looking for an affordable option that does the job but isn’t too fancy.
The Curt Rooftop Cargo Carrier provides additional storage space for smaller items such as bedding, climbing gear or an extra tent.
However, this cargo carrier is not suitable for carrying large Pieces of equipment such as surfboards as it only measures 42x37inch. You can easily secure this storage solution onto most roof rack rails.
This is good news as it makes the fit universal but does mean you will need to buy rails, adding to the overall price.
Adding a roof rack to your camper creates a lot of extra storage space, and is great for the adventurer with lots of gear. If you’re going to be using your roof rack a lot, then it is worth spending the money for a lightweight, high-quality model.
However, if you just want somewhere to stick your surfboard before heading down to the beach, there are also more affordable options out there.
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More Content From The Van Clan Team
- If you’re kitting out the roof of you’re van, then find the best camper van roof vent for you.
- Looking for a tent to add to your roof rack? Check out our list of the 15 best pop up tents.
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