How Much Weight Can Roof Racks Support?

Roof racks are essential for rooftop tents to be secured to your vehicle, and therefore you need to know your weight capacity.

Just because your rooftop tent can hold a few hundred pounds does not mean that the roof rack you purchased can do the same.

In fact, different vehicles are more prone to carry more weight than others. Different roof rack brands as well are stronger than others.

In this article, we’ve compiled a few roof rack models and brands to review for your next adventure:

Model  Rack’s Maximum Weight Capacity Price
Thule Evo WingBar ~165 lbs ~$440.00
Yakima FlushBar Single Bar ~165 lbs ~$250.00
CargoLoc 60” Rooftop Crossbars ~150 lbs ~$150.00
Thule Hullavator Pro for Kayaks ~75 lbs ~$700.00

Note: These weights are according to estimates given by the manufacturer’s websites and are not always exact.

How Much Weight Can the Strongest Roof Rack Hold?

The universal cap for a roof rack is rough ~165 additional lbs.

This means that the best roof racks out there will be able to hold around that amount of weight.

In fact, most heavy-duty roof racks, such as the Thule Complete Crossroad System or the Thule Evo WingBar, will hold up to 165 lbs.

Therefore, if you plan to load up the roof of your car, you will want to keep the weight at or below that 165 lbs limit, otherwise, you would run the risk of damaging your car roof, your roof rack, or losing cargo during your drive.

How Durable Are Roof Racks?

Roof racks are very durable when bought from trusted brands.

Their ability to hold rooftop tents, bikes, cargo, tents, kayaks, surfboards, and winter sports gear is the best way for minimalist campers to take their favorite toys out into nature.

Now, please keep in mind that the way that you use your roof rack is going to determine how long it lasts.

This means that using it improperly, tying too-heavy or awkward things to it that might pull the rack to the side, forward, or backward can damage the rack or your car if you aren’t careful.

Also, depending on the materials that your roof rack is made of can be a huge factor. If you have a metal roof rack, you’ll want to prevent rusting as much as possible.

Strong plastic racks are more likely to break under intense pressure or if a large branch were to fall on your car.

How Much Weight Can a Car Roof Hold?

Your car should have a rack on it if you plan to tie heavy things to it.

This is because a car’s roof is generally smooth, presses inward given pressure, and is more cosmetic than utilitarian without a rack.

For this example, we are discussing cars like PT Cruisers, Chevy Malibus, or other cars that don’t already have a built-in roof rack that comes with it. An SUV, for example, is probably going to have a built-in rack that you can utilize.

Now, if you don’t have a roof rack, your car will generally be able to hold roughly 70-165lbs of weight. You will also probably have to attach that weight using strange means, such as bungee cords roping through open windows or using straps to tie something down to a bare of.

If you are not sure about how much your car can hold, please reference your specific vehicle’s owner manual.

If your car already comes with a roof rack, your vehicle’s shell is probably built differently than a smooth-top car, and therefore will already be able to hold more than an average compact car (in that higher 165 lb range).

Buying a rack for your car – such as a PT Cruiser, for example – will be the determining factor on how much your car will be able to support. If you bought a cross-bar for your PT Cruiser, you will probably only be able to carry about 80 lbs.

Everything will depend on your vehicle model and the model of your roof rack, so make sure that you read up on the limits of both before you load up!

What NOT to Load on Your Roof Rack:

In most states, it is either illegal or dangerous to load unfit cargo on top of your vehicle and driving fast speeds with it.

Mattresses – the most common offender – are almost always a hazard or illegal, so make sure that your mattress is either inside your vehicle or in a moving truck.

Other items such as major appliances are too heavy for your roof rack, and should not be loaded up for fear of damaging your equipment or hurting others behind you if it should fall.

Large furniture such as a sofa or bed frame as well might fall into the same sort of legal/illegal grey area as the mattress. It is possible to get pulled over for that as a hazard or for violating traffic laws depending on your state.

Finally, if you think for any reason that you can’t fully tie up whatever it is on your roof rack, don’t do it!

You don’t want to hurt others or cause accidents.


REI Rooftop Tents – Prices and Models

How Much Weight Can A Car Roof Support? (With Examples) –

Top 15 Best Roof Rails and Roof Racks –

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