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Pack up all your gear with the best roof racks for your vehicle

Go anywhere, anytime with all your favorite outdoor gear this year

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack  - Toyota 4Runner (4th Gen)
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
Best roof rack for heavy haulers
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Yakima JetStream Crossbars
Yakima JetStream Aerodynamic Crossbars
Most aerodynamic crossbars
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CargoLoc Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bar Set
CargoLoc Aluminum Roof Top Crossbar Set
Best budget roof rack
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Curt Universal Steel Cargo Basket
Curt Universal Steel Roof Rack Cargo Basket
Best budget cargo basket
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Yakima RoundBar Roof Rack Crossbars
Yakima Round Bar Roof Rack Crossbars
Best roof rack for sedans
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Inno INA446 Locking Roof Carrier
Inno INA446 Locking Roof Carrier
Best roof rack for watersports
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Yakima Whispbar Roof Rack System
Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System
Best for “naked” vehicles
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SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
Easiest-to-install roof rack
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Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unless you’re driving a museum-quality showpiece, most vehicles are meant to be used — not merely driven but used. More people now are planning road trips, going kayaking, and exploring the deep backcountry than ever. Whatever flavor of adventure you’re into, it no doubt requires packing a lot of “stuff.” Most vehicles are built to haul a decent amount of gear, but unless you’re driving a full-size pickup, you’re probably not stuffing a kayak, dry bags, backpacks, and two weeks’ worth of mountain biking gear (with bikes!) into your rig.

That’s where a good rooftop rack comes in, as there’s no better way to expand your vehicle’s utility and cargo space. Many modern sport utility vehicles and even some sedans come equipped with factory-installed roof rails. When you add one of these best roof racks onto those existing rails, you can seriously expand your vehicle’s gear-hauling capability. Assuming you already have the roof rails to get you started, here are the best roof racks to prep for your next great outdoor adventure in 2023.

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack Kit for Toyota 4Runner on a white background.
Front Runner

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack

Best roof rack for heavy haulers

We’ve long been fans of Front Runner Outfitters, and we love their roof rack kits, in particular. The Slimline II is damn near-perfect with a streamlined silhouette that looks great on almost any vehicle without changing the overall looks or aerodynamics. But, it’s the versatility and usability that make it most appealing. With Front Runners’ deep catalog of bolt-on accessories, it’s easier than ever to pack on whatever tool you need for your next adventure.

Mounts for camping/survival axes, shovels, jerrycans, outdoor prep tables, dutch ovens, and more are all available. With its horizontal slat design, the Slimline II also provides the perfect base for easily mounting the best rooftop tent.

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack  - Toyota 4Runner (4th Gen)
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
Best roof rack for heavy haulers
Pair of Yakima Jetstream Crossbars on a white background.
Yakima

Yakima JetStream Aerodynamic Crossbars

Most aerodynamic crossbars

For a more basic rooftop rack-like buildout, it’s hard to beat Yakima’s JetStream crossbars. With lightweight aluminum construction and a sleek, tapered design, they limit drag and reduce wind noise, particularly at highway speeds. They also play well with various Yakima mounts and come in several colors and sizes to best match your vehicle.

Yakima JetStream Crossbars
Yakima JetStream Aerodynamic Crossbars
Most aerodynamic crossbars
CargoLoc 2-Piece 52-inch Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bar Set on a white background.
CargoLoc

CargoLoc Aluminum Roof Top Crossbar Set

Best budget roof rack

It’s hard to beat the simplicity of CargoLoc’s Aluminum Crossbar set. As long as your vehicle is equipped with raised roof rails (most modern SUVs are), these simply clip on, and you’re in business — no tools necessary. From there, you can lash or attach just about any light or modest load to your roof. A keyed locking system also ensures no one tries to walk off with them. The best part, however, is the ultra-affordable price: Less than $100 per pair.

CargoLoc Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bar Set
CargoLoc Aluminum Roof Top Crossbar Set
Best budget roof rack
Curt Universal Steel Roof Rack Cargo Basket on a white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Curt Universal Steel Roof Rack Cargo Basket

Best budget cargo basket

Curt has a solid reputation for simple, durable products that are affordable. The company’s 18115 Universal Black Steel Cargo Basket is no exception. Measuring 42 inches by 37 inches, it adds 11 square feet of carrying space to your vehicle’s roof. An optional extension accessory adds even more capacity. With four-inch high sides, the design also ensures your gear stays put for the long haul.

Curt Universal Steel Cargo Basket
Curt Universal Steel Roof Rack Cargo Basket
Best budget cargo basket
Pair of Yakima 48-inch Round Bars on a white background.
Yakima

Yakima Round Bar Roof Rack Crossbars

Best roof rack for sedans

Most sedan drivers aren’t looking to strap two weeks’ worth of expedition gear to the top of their Audi A4. Yakima’s Round Bar Crossbars are an ideal choice for sedans and other small cars looking to haul more modest cargo. They’re simple, streamlined, and easy to install. Plus, at just over $100 per pair, they’re perfect for most budgets.

Yakima RoundBar Roof Rack Crossbars
Yakima Round Bar Roof Rack Crossbars
Best roof rack for sedans
INNO Surf/SUP/Kayak/Canoe Locker Rooftop Carrier on a white background.
INNO

Inno INA446 Locking Roof Carrier

Best roof rack for watersports

The INA446 Locking Roof Carrier from Inno has everything a watersports adventurer needs in a simple roof rack system. The twin arms, straps, and adjustable corner pads create an expandable “envelope” around whatever you need to carry. The result is a versatile, universal fit system capable of securely hauling most surfboards, windboards, kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards (SUPs).

Inno INA446 Locking Roof Carrier
Inno INA446 Locking Roof Carrier
Best roof rack for watersports
Yakima Whispbar Flushmount Roof Rack System on a white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System

Best for “naked” vehicles

For vehicles rocking a “naked” look (sans roof rails), Yakima’s Whispbar system is among the simplest, most affordable ways to add a roof rack. The twin crossbars flush-mount to the channels in your vehicle’s roof without the need for rails. By attaching or removing Yakima’s Whispbar QuickDock accessories, you can customize your new rack’s utility in seconds. With a maximum load rating of 165 pounds, they’re more than capable of wrangling whatever gear your next adventure demands.

Yakima Whispbar Roof Rack System
Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System
Best for “naked” vehicles
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
Image used with permission by copyright holder

SportRack Complete Roof Rack System

Easiest-to-install roof rack

Like Yakima’s Whispbar, SportRack’s Complete Roof Rack System is a great solution for vehicles without rails. The system includes everything — load bars, hooks, locks, and all — for a quick, seamless install in minutes without drilling or power tools.

SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
Easiest-to-install roof rack

No matter what sort of adventures you're into, you don't need to spend a fortune on a premium brand-name roof rack. But, if you are into serious outdoor sports, check out our roundup of the best gear racks and cargo carriers for biking, skiing, kayaking, and more. Sometimes it's worth spending a bit more on a purpose-built rack that's specially designed for the type of gear you're hauling.

Mike Richard

Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. His travel advice has appeared on the websites of industry-leading publications for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, National Geographic, and Vagabondish. He loves the great outdoors and good bourbon, and (usually) calls Massachusetts home. Mike also enjoys speaking in the third person.

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