Car with Rooftop tent with man celebrating at sunset

How to Tie Gear to the Roof Racks

A Word of Caution

A lot of vehicles these days come with roof racks which look like they can carry anything and everything you need. However, each car has a specific loading limit that it can sustain, the owner’s manual of the car should have this weight clearly mentioned.

SUV’s and minivans can handle much greater loads than roof racks on sedans and coupes. Carefully consider the amount of weight that your vehicle can take and always stay below the recommended limit.

How To Tie Gear To The Roof Rack

Successfully tying your gear to the roof begins with choosing the right straps. While many recommend bungee cords because of their flexibility, this is precisely what makes them wrong for the task. Bungee cords can break easily, and their flexibility means that the load can move around from side to side while traveling. Bungee cords tend to become stretched and lose their shape with heavy loads, making them useless for future use.

We recommend premium quality tie down straps with ratchet attachments which provide greater strength and hold over the load.

Begin by placing all your luggage and gear on the rack so that the heaviest load is low and in the middle of the rack. Avoid putting anything too heavy on the sunroof.

Run the tie down strap over the load, looping it down and around the roof rack, to the other side of the car where it can be tightened using the ratchet. Be sure to use a long strap which will allow for a second pass over the load if need be. Be careful not to tighten the ratchet too much as this can crack certain roof racks. The idea is to create a loop, which when tightened, pulls the load down towards the roof of the car.

When you have tightened the straps, step back and inspect your luggage from every side, making sure that the tie down strap is looped through and properly holding down all your gear.

Grab the load with both hands and rock it back and forth to see if it moves around. Remember that the center of gravity of your vehicle changes when you add weight to the roof. If the load moves around on the roof, it needs to be looked at again. We suggest getting used to driving with the roof load before starting your trip, checking whether it is fully secure after a few minutes of driving. Keep in mind that the car will handle differently with weight on the roof, so practice with it to get used to braking and steering, especially on expressways.

If you don’t have a roof rack, using nylon straps which can pass down through your car windows and into the cabin is the best way. However, it is always better to install premium after-market roof racks instead of improvising a tie down system without one. Don’t have any other option? Make sure the straps pass over the load more than once, and give them a twist when extending into the car to reduce flapping and noise from wind.