No Roof Rack? No Problem with These 3 Car Top Carriers!

vehicle with box top carrier strapped to roof

Being able to store and haul items on your roof is great, especially if you like to travel. I spent a good chunk of my life as a fleet operator so I understand the importance of finding the right gear for your vehicle.

Since roof racks can be expensive, many people are interested in using car top carriers without a roof rack or finding other alternatives.

Although many car top carriers will require a roof rack, there are some that will work without one! This is great news for those looking to save some money on car storage products.

Here is a quick shortlist of the top carriers on market:

To skip to recommendations on the best car top carriers in detail, click here.

  1. RoofBag Rooftop Cargo Carrier – Best Overall
  2. MIDABAO Car Roof Top Carrier – Spacious
  3. Fivklemnz Car Roof Bag – Budget-Friendly

If you are looking for more information, keep reading.

In this article, we will explore the best car top carriers that can be used without a roof rack or crossbars.

What are the Different Kinds of Car Top Carriers that Don't Require Roof Racks?

Unlike traditional roof racks, these racks are designed for convenience and ease of installation.

Here are the different types:

Soft Car Top Carriers

These are flexible bags made from waterproof materials like vinyl or nylon. They strap directly to a car's roof using door frames. They are popular because they are affordable and easy to store.

Hardshell Carriers

Most people chose the hardshell carrier for its rigid protection; it attaches with special mounts, giving complete peace of mind to make any belonging safe.

Vacuum-Mounted Carriers

These are essentially hardshell carrier but they are secured using heavy-duty vacuum cups. They are quick to install and versatile.

Inflatable Car Top Carriers

Inflatable car top carrier are great because of its cushioning and adaptability; it's also a breeze to store when deflated.

Foam Block Carriers

This is a classic option for transporting kayaks. The foam block carrier is my go-to; it's straightforward, affordable, and gets the job done.

Do you Need a Roof Rack for a Cargo Carrier?

Most people think they need to buy a roof rack along with their cargo carrier, but this is not necessarily true.

Many soft car top carriers, like the ones mentioned above, are actually designed to be used without a roof rack.

Sometimes, they will also include a protective mat for the cargo bag to sit on so it does not damage your roof.

Although, some cargo carriers will require a roof rack. For example, hard-shelled cargo carriers must be used with a roof rack.

How to Install a Car Top Carrier Without a Roof Rack

Here's a step-by-step guide and precautions to consider:

  1. Choose the right carrier: Opt for a carrier specifically designed for vehicles without roof racks. These often come with straps that can be secured through the car's doors or windows.
  2. Clean your roof: Before placing the carrier, clean the roof of your car to remove any dirt or debris to prevent any scratches. Place the carrier on the roof, ensuring it's centered.
  3. Feed and secure straps: Feed the straps through the car's interior, either through the doors or windows. Ensure the straps are flat and not twisted.
  4. Tighten it firmly: Pull straps to snug the carrier against the roof without over-tightening.
  5. Ensure even loading: Distribute the weight of your items evenly within the carrier. Avoid overloading, and always check the manufacturer's weight recommendations.

During long trips, periodically check the car top carrier's strap tightness and position, and be mindful of the added height affecting clearances like parking garages, trees etc.

Drive at moderated speeds, especially in windy conditions because the added weight can alter your vehicle handling.

When packing your stuff, be mindful of any sharp objects and ensure you don't puncture the waterproof layer of the carrier.

Best Car Top Carriers Without a Roof Rack

Choosing the best car top carrier that doesn’t require a roof rack can be difficult because of all the various options.

I’ve done research on various cargo carriers and selected 3 favorites, so you can choose the best for your situation:

1. RoofBagBest Overall Car Top Carrier

The RoofBag has been in production since 1992 and they are a leader in soft car top carriers.

Their RoofBag is made in the USA using high-quality materials. It carries 15 cubic feet of cargo, which is about average for soft cargo carriers. It is also waterproof, which is a very important feature to have.

It comes with 2 straps, a storage bag, and a protective mat so your roof does not get scratched. RoofBag comes in a variety of sizes: 13, 17, 26, and 34 cubic feet.

Buyers of the RoofBag were very impressed with the capacity and quality of the bag. The only major recommendation from buyers is to buy some extra straps for some more peace of mind.

Check price on Amazon

2. MIDABAO – Best High-Capacity Car Top Carrier

The MIDABAO Car Roof Top Carrier is a great option if you’re looking for a larger cargo carrier.

It has a capacity of 20 cubic feet, which is 5 more than the other carriers listed in this article.

It is also waterproof and comes with 8 total straps to help safely secure it to your vehicle.

Overall, it is a pretty basic and straightforward cargo carrier, with the main advantage being the larger carrying capacity.

Check price on Amazon

3. Fivklemnz – Best Budget Car Top Carrier

If you’re looking for a cheaper option than the other cargo carriers we mentioned, the Fivklemnz is a great choice.

It has a good array of features, such as a 15 cubic foot storage capacity, 8 straps, and a protective mat so your roof does not get scratched. It is also waterproof.

For the price, it is a fantastic option for carrying items on your roof. The features are great and people also said the customer service was very helpful if you have any problems or defects with your bag.

Check price on Amazon

Bottom Line for Roof Top Car Carriers

You can save some money on car storage products if you get one of the roof top carriers that doesn't require a roof rack or crossbars.

This is great news for travelers who want the convenience of storing and hauling items on their roof without the expense of a roof rack.

These carriers offer a practical solution for those who want to maximize their storage space while on the road.

They provide ample space for all your belongings and are designed to withstand the rigors of the road. Plus, they are easy to install and remove.

When it comes to choosing the right car top carrier, it's important to articulate your requirements. Think about the size and weight capacity you require, budget and frequency of usage.

Additionally, make sure to check the compatibility of the carrier with your vehicle to ensure a secure fit.

Michael Rollins
Cars are my life - 20 years in the fast lane and I'm still hooked. When I'm not under a hood, you'll catch me on a hiking trail, in a coffee shop, or cheering at a baseball game. I'm not just about horsepower and torque, I'm all about life's simple joys. Here to share my car wisdom, making your ride choices a breeze.