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Making a decision on what roof rack you need seems complex but it’s actually not.

Selecting a 4×4 roof rack can be a little daunting. There are many different brands and types available and it also depends much on what you already have on your vehicle. Some vehicles have factory roof rails and some do not. But it all comes down to what you actually require the rack for.

If you require mounting a ladder or a kayak then a couple of roof bars is probably all you need. But if you want more flexibility in what you want on your roof then you will probably need a platform of some sort. A platform rack means you can mount pretty much anything but you will also need to look at what maximum weight the rack is rated to.

Whether it’s a solar panel that feeds your second battery, or a few swags, the purpose of roof racks is to gain additional storage to free your cab and tray. Mountain bikes, Jerry cans, spare wheels, surfboards, kayaks, rooftop tents and  boats are just some items commonly transported on the roof of a 4WD.

Ford Raptor fitted with TrailMax Roof Rack System, driving through alpine landscape

Reducing wind loading and lowering center of gravity is vital in selecting your rack.

Roof Rack Wind Loading

You will see many 4×4 roof racks that are mounted quite high and also have large bulky sides. This can cause unnecessary wind loading which will reduce your fuel economy, increase vehicle instability at higher speeds and during high winds, and also have potential for increased wind noise. It’s important when selecting a roof rack to take this all on board. Look for a rack that is low profile and streamline in shape and design.

Roof Rack Height

The total height apart from the obvious decreased parking options also has an impact on the vehicle center of gravity. The higher you mount weight on your roof your center of gravity will increase in height. This increased center of gravity height will increase vehicle instability and increase possibility of roll over. This is then exaggerated with increased weight. Look for a rack that is low but also has height adjustment. This will allow you to lower the rack if your 4×4 has no sunroof.

Roof Rack Weight

The weight of the load itself is important but also the racks weight needs to be taken into account. The combined weight of rack and load is important as most vehicles will provide a maximum the roof will be able to take. Please always check this and make sure you do not exceed this as it can void vehicle insurance in some cases. Most 4×4’s will take a maximum of 100 kg so that means if your rack weighs 30kg you can only add an additional 70kg of load. So the more your rack weighs the less you can carry. This is a fine line of strength vs carrying capacity. Look for a high rated rack that is also light.

All important looks

Then after all of this has been investigated and you have a few options that fit your requirements it can come down to looks of your 4×4 roof rack. Choose a rack that matches the look you are going for with your vehicle. I know this point is not important however we all love our 4×4’s and if functionality is met then why not also have it look great. You can go for several looks. For example basic occasional road user, function only  tradie rack or then heavy duty off road military style. The choice is yours which is what makes accessorizing your 4×4 so fun.

For an example that will fulfill all of the above check out our TrailMax 4×4 Roof Rack system here. Or for some amazing products with the same design philosophy check our Rhino4x4

Your roof rack selection checklist

Creating your checklist is important

  • streamline design for reduced wind loading and noise
  • low profile for centre of gravity
  • can it carry what you need it to?
  • is it rated to carry your load in kg’s?
  • is it light enough to enable full use of roof capacity
  • and do you love the look because its your car