Whether you are planning on taking a road trip across the country, or you are going to be doing a lot of weekend excursions, a cargo box is a handy device to have. It attaches to the roof of your car, truck or SUV, providing you with the extra space that you need to store the items that you want to take with you and freeing up room in your vehicle so that you aren’t completely cramped. While a cargo box is very useful, finding the best one for your needs can be a bit of a challenge. Why? – Because there are so many different options to choose from. So, with so many choices, how do you know which is the best cargo box for your specific needs? Well, by reading this buyer’s guide, of course! In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about cargo boxes, including the different types that are available, the factors that you should consider before you purchase one, the different features that they can offer, and the best cargo box brands. After reading this guide, you will have all of the information that you need so that you can choose the very best cargo box for your particular needs.
Types of Cargo Boxes
The primary goal of all cargo boxes is to provide you with extra storage space so that you can fit all of your items that you plan to take with you without having to reduce the space inside your vehicle. The manner in which cargo boxes differ is in their construction. There are two main types of cargo boxes:
- The soft cargo box
- The hard cargo box
Both of these types of cargo boxes definitely offer their advantages, and they also have some downsides, too. Below, you will find a detailed description of each of both the soft and hard cargo box, and what the positives and some of the drawbacks are.
The Soft Cargo Box
Also known as a cargo bag, a soft cargo box is, as the name suggests, a storage container that is constructed out of soft, yet durable material. It attaches to the roof of your car, like a hard cargo box, and offers extra storage space for the items that you want to take with you. A soft cargo box is much more cost effective than a hard cargo box, and it collapses down and folds up for easier storage when you aren’t using it. This means that you can easily tuck it away in a garage or a basement, or even take it off your roof, fold it up and tuck it into your car when you have unloaded it. You also don’t need to have a roof rack to install a soft cargo box. On the down side, though a soft cargo box is built of durable material, it is not as durable as a hard cargo box, and it isn’t as weather resistant, either. Additionally, it isn’t as aerodynamically shaped as a hard cargo box, which means that it could potentially impact the gas mileage of your vehicle.
The Hard Cargo Box
If you are looking to transport heavy items, like skis, a hard cargo box is the best option for you. Because it is constructed of a hard material, it is much more durable than a soft cargo box, which means you don’t have to worry about items puncturing through it and damaging the container and the items stored inside of it. Also, the hard cargo box is much more weather resistant than the cargo bag. Additionally, a hard cargo box is much easier to load and unload than a soft cargo bag, as it has a lid that stays open, allowing you to easily place the items in and take them out without having to fumble around. Another benefit is that it is aerodynamically designed, which will cut down on the impact it will have on your gas mileage. On the down side, the hard cargo box is bigger, bulkier and heavier than the cargo bag, which means that it can be difficult to load onto the top of your vehicle. It also doesn’t fold down, so it can be difficult to store. Other cons associated with the hard cargo box is the price – it is significantly more expensive than a soft cargo bag – and you do need to have a roof rack to install it, which means that you will have the added cost of installing a rack, if you don’t already have one.
The Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Cargo Box
In order to find the best cargo box for your specific needs, there are a number of factors that you are going to want to take into consideration. Some of the most important factors to consider include the size of the box, the items you will be storing in it, and the cost, among other things. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best cargo box for your needs. To learn more about these and other factors that we consider to be the most important when shopping for a cargo box, please keep on reading.
The size of the cargo box
Without a doubt, one of the most important factors that you are going to want to take into consideration is the size of the cargo box. These containers can vary in size from 10 to 20 or more cubic feet. Obviously, the size of the box will impact the number of items, and the size of the items that you can carry in it. Also, you will need to consider the size of your vehicle, as you want to make sure that the box will fit on top of it.
The items you plan on carrying
What types of items will you be carrying in your cargo box? If you are going to be using it to tote around skis, a snowboard or other types of heavy equipment, you are going to want to make sure you choose a container that is long enough to accommodate them, and you are also going to want to choose a hard container, as it will be more durable and less likely to be punctured by the items in the box. If you are going to be using the container to carry things like clothing and soft luggage, a soft container should suffice.
The shape of the cargo box
Another important factor to take into consideration is the shape of the container. The shape of the box will impact the amount of gas that your vehicle will consume. With that said, the more aerodynamic the box is, the less it will impact your gas mileage. Also, a box that is more aerodynamic will make it easier to drive your car; you’ll feel less drag on the vehicle.
The ease of installation
Yet another factor that you are going to want to take into consideration is how easy it is to install the cargo box. The easier it is, the easier it will be to use. Hard top boxes require a roof rack, which means that you will have to install one if you don’t already have one. This could be complicated, and it could be costly. Also, hard top cargo boxes can be challenging to install, as they are heavy and bulky. However, on that note, you should know that a hard cargo box can stay in place for a long period of time, so once it is in place, you will be able to keep it on for a while without having to worry about it. Soft cargo containers are easier to install and remove, and they don’t need to have a roof rack to install; however, they can’t stay on the roof for a long period of time, as they are not as weather resistant and they are not as durable as hard cargo boxes, which means that they can easily tear and become otherwise damaged.
How far you will be traveling
You should also consider how far you will be traveling with the cargo box on your car. While you may only be using it to carry luggage, which a soft cargo box would work for, if you are going to be traveling far distances, a hard container is a better option, as it will offer you better aerodynamics, and you won’t have to worry about it – or the items inside of it – being damaged on a long excursion.
The cost of the cargo box
Lastly, you are going to want to consider your budget when you are shopping for a cargo box. These boxes can vary greatly in price, so you want to make sure that you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping so you can avoid overextending your budget. Generally speaking, hard cargo containers are more expensive than soft options. Also, the larger the container and the more features that it offers, the more expensive it will be.
The Features Cargo Boxes Can Offer
There are several features that a cargo box can offer. These features are intended to make the cargo box more durable, safer and easier to use. With that said, as mentioned above, the more features that a cargo box offers, the more expensive it will be. It is important to understand the different features that a cargo box can offer so that you can determine whether you want or need certain features, and if the added cost will be worth the investment.
Here is a look at some of the top features that cargo boxes can offer.
UV Resistant Materials
If you are going to be leaving your cargo box on your vehicle for a long period of time, or if you it is going to be exposed to a lot of sun, you may want to consider purchasing one that is constructed of UV resistant materials. These materials will be able to withstand the powerful UV rays of the sun so that it won’t fade.
A cargo box that features a rear opening will allow you to open it away from the traffic. This means that you won’t have to worry about opening the box and having items fall out into the traffic and becoming damaged.
Quick Release Mounting Hardware
With this hardware, you will be able to quickly and easily install and remove your cargo box, which is a lot more convenient.
Of course, you are going to want to have a lock on your cargo box to ensure that the contents will be safe. With some cargo boxes, you will have to purchase the lock in addition to the box; however, some cargo boxes come complete with a lock, which means that you won’t have to worry about the added expense of buying a lock, and you won’t have to worry about finding one that will fit your container perfectly.
To protect your investment, look for a cargo box that offers a warranty. With a warranty, you will be able to have the device repaired or replaced should something happen to it, or you may be able to have your money refunded.
The Best Cargo Box Brands
There are several companies that manufacture cargo boxes. If you want the best, most durable and most reliable cargo container, consider purchasing one of these brands.
One of the best and most trusted brands on the market, Thule cargo boxes are exceptionally durable and built to last. They offer a range of features and sizes, and users report that they last a long time.
Another highly regarded brand in the cargo box industry is Sport Track. This company uses high quality materials and expert construction to create cargo container that can withstand wear and tear and the elements. They are built to last.
We also really like the Keep brand of cargo boxes. Their containers are constructed of waterproof materials and users report that they can withstand the harshest of conditions. They also offer plenty of room and are very easy to install and take off of a vehicle.