How to tie gear to the roof racks

One of the main challenges of camping without a trailer is the age-old dilemma of how to get you, your family and all of your camping gear safely to and from the campsite. One solution is to go up rather than out by transporting some of your gear on the roof of your car.

You have numerous options for doing this - a roof box, roof tray or basket and a cargo bag, or you could go for the cost effective solution of simply enclosing the gear in a durable and weatherproof bag and tie it directly to the cross bars.

Gear tied to car roof

While the car roof is popular for transporting all manner of camping gear nowadays, in keeping with the way in which we pack our car for camping, this article focuses on how to transport tents, bedding and clothing on your car roof without the need to invest in expensive roof trays and cargo bags or roof boxes.

Clothing and bedding is ideal for this purpose because it is lightweight, and being malleable, can be more easily packed to suit the shape and dimensions of your particular bag. Likewise, tents as well as marquee style shelters that have a long rectangular pack shape are suitable for strapping directly to the car roof cross bars. Many of them can also be transferred to a suitably shaped bag if necessary.

If you don't have a car with roof rails and cross bars, then make sure your next car does by including them in your car buying checklist.

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Benefits of strapping your gear directly to roof racks

While not as easy as throwing everything into a weatherproof roof box and locking it, strapping gear directly to roof cross bars of your car has many benefits. You can save hundreds of dollars by avoiding the outlay on a roof box or tray, you won't add unnecessarily to the weight of your load, you will have more flexibility in terms of transporting unusually shaped items and you won't have storage issues. The main issues will be ensuring your gear is protected from the weather and is not an easy target for thieves.

Roof boxes or trays, on the other hand, are costly, they significantly add to the weight of your load, they can be difficult to store at home (and costly in terms of fuel economy if they remain on the vehicle) and roof boxes in particular may not efficiently transport certain odd shaped objects, leaving unused space.

Beginner campers are also usually unsure about their long-term camping plans and whether they would eventually prefer a roof box or tray. They might not ultimately even want either, preferring to stay as they are or to upgrade to something like a camper trailer or caravan instead. The longer these types of purchases can be delayed, the better informed you will be if and when the time comes to invest your hard-earned money in an upgrade, and the fewer obsolete camping items you will have cluttering up the garage.

Tips for transporting gear on the roof of your car

Transporting gear directly on the roof racks of your vehicle is pretty straightforward if you take some simple but important precautions. Before you go further, read our tips for securing gear to the roof racks.

Choosing your tie down straps

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