2023's Best Roof Racks for Your Pop-Up Camper Adventure!
As many of us know, no camping trip is complete without fun activities such as cycling, kayaking, boating, or skiing, but storing this big gear in a pop-up camper can be next to impossible.
The only solution for carrying large, but often necessary, items is to install roof racks.
However, knowing the best pop-up camper roof racks for your needs can prove difficult.
Thankfully, I know firsthand that having the right gear is essential so I've researched and compiled a comprehensive guide to help you find the best pop-up camper roof racks for your needs.
In this article, I'll share the research and provide additional insights and recommendations to make your camping experience even better.
What Are Pop-Up Camper Roof Racks?
A pop-up camper roof rack is a basic two-bar system comprised of heavy-duty steel crossbars which are attached to the top of the camper’s roof.
These can be used as a boat, bike, or other cargo rack or even as the foundation for other rack options.
Types of Pop-Up Camper Roof Racks
There are two main types of pop-up camper roof racks:
1. Roof Racks for Raised or Flattened Roof Rails
Pop-up campers featuring roof rails, including raised roof rails, allow a rack to be installed without drilling holes into the roof. Many of the best pop-up camper roof racks come with interface hardware and other mounting options, allowing quick and easy installation.
2. Roof Racks for Roofs Without Rails
If your pop-up camper doesn’t already have roof rails, don’t fret. A large majority of pop-up camper roof racks are designed for those without rails and simply require drilling holes for permanent installation.
The Best Pop-Up Camper Roof Racks
1. SportRack Camp Trailer Rack System (Most-Popular)
The SportRack Camp Trailer Rack System contains everything you need in one package, including load bars, hooks, locks, and more, so it comes ready to install. The heavy-duty telescopic bars adjust from 79″ to 88″ and can hold up to 200 lbs. The mounting legs are also adjustable, plus you have the option to mount them directly on your pop-up camper’s roof or through interface hardware.
It’s durable, versatile, and easy to install regardless of whether you already have roof tracks in place or not. Just keep in mind that the steel itself is quite heavy, so you must factor that into your camper’s roof capacity. Additionally, users are quick to point out that the product comes with very poor installation instructions. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful video tutorials online to help you out.
2. Yakima RoundBar Crossbars (Top-rated round bar)
If your camper’s roof already has side rails, then you might consider the Yakima Round Crossbars. Although the bars are not adjustable, the product comes in 48″, 66″, 78″, and 86″ widths, so they are designed to fit a wide range of models. They’re made from vinyl-coated galvanized steel, so you can trust that they’re both strong and long-lasting, yet quite lightweight.
They can hold a capacity of 165 lbs, which places them on the lighter side of the market. Be aware that the q-towers, end caps, and locks used for attaching the crossbars are also sold separately.
3. Swagman Roamer LT Roof Rack for Pop-Up Campers and Camper Shells (Most durable)
The Swagman Roamer LT Roof Racks are a versatile, yet inexpensive way to transport bikes, kayaks, and other cargo on your pop-up camper. The racks can carry a maximum capacity of 150 lbs.
It permanently mounts to your pop-up camper and contains two square crossbars, which are compatible with most clamp-on accessories such as bike, kayak, ski, and cargo carriers.
The roof rack system also features four feet, which bolt on with included hardware. However, drilling is required. A black powder coat finish prevents rust, corrosion, and fading, which adds durability and longevity. Just keep in mind the Swagman Roamer roof racks are not designed for use with plastic, 1-piece trailer tops.
What to Consider When Buying Pop-Up Camper Roof Racks
Thinking about installing pop-up camper roof racks? First, keep the following in mind:
When installing your roof racks requires drilling holes and attaching screws through the pop-up camper roof, this is a permanent installation. If you’re worried you’ll change your mind down the track or that installing these racks could affect your pop-up camper negatively, you should consider other less permanent cargo carrier options.
If your pop-up camper roof rack requires extensive installation, such as making permanent or potentially damaging changes to your camper, you should seek the help of a professional. One wrong move could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs. It’s just not worth the risk.
To determine what roof rack size is best, measure the width of your pop-up camper more than once – just to be on the safe side.
Fixed or adjustable
Depending on your camper model or personal preference, you might choose either fixed or adjustable crossbars on your pop-up camper roof rack. Adjustable bars are the most popular choice, as they can fit various roof widths and can also be transferred to other vehicles if need be.
It’s also vital that you factor in how much weight your camper roof can hold before you purchase a roof rack. Ultimately, the carrying capacity of your roof rack system will depend on this.
Fix wind noise and whistling
Roofracks can add a whistling noise to your pop-up camper. There are both DIY and commercial solutions that are easy to fix this problem.
Also check out: How to stop roof rack wind noise.
If you like to bring a lot of large items with you when you go on a camping adventure, such as more than 3 bikes, then you will need to consider installing additional racks to your camper to prevent your camper from collapsing under such a load.
This might include installing a hitch-mount car bike rack on the camper’s front, for example, to carry additional bikes and even out the weight distribution.
Bottom Line for Roof Racks for Popup Camper
In the world of pop-up campers, roof racks have emerged as a versatile solution for transporting various items, from bikes to kayaks.
Essentially, these racks are sturdy steel crossbars fixed atop the camper's roof.
They come in two main types: those designed for campers with roof rails and those for campers without.
Among the top contenders in the market are:
- SportRack Camp Trailer Rack System, known for its adjustability and comprehensive package
- Yakima RoundBar Crossbars, which are durable yet lightweight
- Swagman Roamer LT Roof Racks, celebrated for their durability and compatibility with various accessories
However, before diving into a purchase, it's crucial to consider the permanence of the installation, the need for professional assistance, the exact measurements of your camper, and the weight capacity of both the roof and the rack.
Additionally, be mindful of potential wind noise and the need for additional racks if you're hauling a significant load.
In essence, while roof racks offer a convenient solution, it's essential to choose wisely, keeping safety and functionality at the forefront.