What Can I Put In A Roof Box

What Can I Put In A Roof Box?: 10 Practical Choices

What Can I Put In A Roof Box?


Whether you like camping or skiing a roof box can be a great addition to your car. For both work and pleasure, it will allow you to haul all the equipment and gear that you need by giving you extra space.

Planning your family vacation will become that bit easier if you add a roof box since you can move a lot of your luggage from your trunk or even the passenger compartment.

If you’re still not sure whether a cargo box is right for you then you might want to take a look at the pros and cons. For those of you that have taken the plunge, you might be wondering what sort of things you could put in your roof box.

Weight Limits

This is probably the most important thing to consider when planning what equipment you will take on your trip. The roof of your vehicle will have a maximum weight limit that you need to stay under. This includes the weight of any cargo box and mounting systems as well!

For many passenger cars, the limit will be 165lbs or 75 kg. The Ford Escape is rated at 100lbs (45kg). With some of the largest boxes weighing as much as 60lbs you will need to take care not to overload your roof. The cargo box itself will also have a maximum load capacity,  for larger boxes this could be as much as 165lbs.

In addition, your vehicle will have a maximum axle weight rating so make sure you stay within that when you set off for your annual vacation.

On the flipside try to avoid carrying extra weight unnecessarily on your road trips. Between the cargo and the box you will be reducing your fuel economy so try to avoid overloading the car whenever possible.

List Of Items You Might Want To Carry

Roof boxes are really designed for carrying bulky but lightweight items. Despite this as long as you stay within the weight limits for the box and your vehicle then you should be fine.

Here is a list of some of the types of items that you might want to carry:

  • Camping gear
  • Suitcases
  • Tents
  • Skis
  • Snowboards
  • Fishing gear
  • Golf clubs
  • Tools
  • Shopping
  • Work-related items

Camping gear in particular is ideal as it tends to be generally lightweight but quite bulky. Skis are also another great option due to their length.

One benefit that is often forgotten is having an unobstructed view in your rearview mirror. No doubt most of us are guilty at one time or another of piling loads of stuff into our trunk to the point where our rear visibility is compromised. Having considerable extra storage on the roof of your vehicle means that you should be able to load your trunk in such a way that visibility isn’t affected. The safety benefits are pretty clear.

Loading Your Cargo

Heaviest In The Trunk

As already stated you should try to avoid putting particularly heavy items on the roof as you will quickly use up your weight allowance. Try to put the heaviest items in the trunk of your car. Apart from avoiding damage to both your roof box and your vehicle this should reduce how much the balance of your vehicle is affected. It’s also a lot easier to load and unload heavy items from the trunk than it would be from a roof cargo carrier.

Camping Gear

It could be argued that camping equipment is the ideal roof box cargo. Sleeping bags, tents, pillows and ground sheets can all be quite large but will generally be fairly light so they are great items to store up on your roof. Some of the larger roof cargo boxes can handle camping gear for as many as five people! if you still need more space then you’re probably going to need a trailer or a much bigger vehicle!


Before the advent of roof boxes, you would often see people setting off on a summer vacation with their suitcases tied to their roof rack. Putting your suitcases into your cargo box will give them some added protection from the elements during your journey. You will need to make sure that the size and shape of your cases are suitable for the box you purchased particularly if you went for an aerodynamic model.

Sporting Equipment

If you’re into winter sports then a roof cargo box might be ideal for you to lug your skis or snowboard. If you want you could just show them in and avoid getting melting snow over all your other gear which you can stow in the trunk.

Fishing gear is also ideal to be carried in a roof box. Rods in particular will be lightweight but quite long making them difficult to store in the trunk. 

While I’m not entirely convinced myself some people even carry golf clubs in their roof box. I wouldn’t recommend it if you normally use a tour bag with a full set of clubs as just one would take up a good portion of your weight limit.

Work Equipment

Perhaps you only have a compact car but work as a realtor. By adding a cargo box you will be able to store all the signage and other equipment you need for your day-to-day business.

How to Load Your Gear

Try to place the heaviest item in the center. Wherever possible use straps to hold things in place. You don’t want the items in the roof box moving around as you drive as they may get damaged or potentially even damage the box itself.

If you have a particularly large loading capacity then you may actually find you reach the weight limit before you fill the box.

The video below shows the use of holdalls rather than a suitcase and also using straps to prevent items from moving during your trip.

Fitting and loading a roof box

Here are some more tips for loading a cargo box.


So now you should have a good idea of the types of items you can carry in a roof box. Whenever possible try to avoid putting heavier items on your roof. Always stay within the load rating for your vehicle and whichever model of cargo carrier you’ve purchased.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Can you put a suitcase in a roof box?

Yes, you can but it will depend on the size and shape of the box and the case. You may be better off using a holdall style bag similar to the ones that manufacturers sell as add-ons to their roof storage boxes.

How much weight can you put in a roof box?

This will vary depending on the box and the vehicle. Some smaller boxes might be rated at 50-80lbs While the large boxes will usually be able to carry 165lbs. However, if the roof of your vehicle is only rated to carry 150lbs then you need to stick within that limit. Don’t forget that that also includes the weight of the box and any roof bars or roof rack.

How much can you fit in a roof box?

It depends mainly on the size of cargo box you purchased. The smallest models are usually around 300 liters or 11 ft³. With the largest models around 20-24 ft³. Roof boxes are ideal for bulky but light items like sleeping bags and other camping paraphernalia.

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