Roof Rigging

Roof Rigging
Sporting over 50 square feet of coverage, the Front Runner Easy-Out Awning is simple, lightweight, and offers more than enough coverage for most overlanding needs. The two poles can be erected by one person, but it's easier with two people, especially if there is a breeze. (Photo courtesy of Wheels Afield Magazine)

Maximize this often-overlooked cargo real estate

By: Wheels Afield Magazine

The top of a vehicle is often a forgotten, barren wasteland. Plenty of attention is given to the bed of the truck, the rear of an SUV, and unused space behind the seats, but the most overlooked place to store gear – especially large, wet, bulky, or dirty gear – is up top. A vehicle’s roof rack doesn’t have to look like a Camel Trophy Land Rover to be effective, but smart utilization of the space on top frees up room inside – and keeps infrequently used, but necessary, items available that might otherwise get left behind. Here’s a look at some of the hottest and most practical items for the top of your rig.

Roof Racks


Roof Rigging Don't think roof racks are just for SUVs — pickups can benefit, too, by mounting a rack on the cab or bed. Roof trays should be first and foremost strong. Minimum requirement is the ablity to hold several hundred pounds. (Photo courtesy of Wheels Afield Magazine)


Roof racks come in as many styles and types as there are vehicles (maybe more), but a few key traits separate the good from the bad. Important features to look for are corrosion-resistant construction, well-engineered design, and overall functionality.

To get started, determine your actual needs. Load bars or roof racks? Depending upon your application, one or the other (or, in some cases, both used in conjunction) may best suit your needs. Load bars are ideal for things like rooftop tents, kayaks, SUPs, and large cargo boxes. Roof racks are better suited for hauling everything else: jerry cans, emergency kits, spare tires, axes, and shovels, for example. Generally speaking, start with a set of heavy-duty load bars (some vehicles are already so-equipped, others require aftermarket installation), then add a rack, platform, or basket as your needs warrant.

Cargo Carriers

Roof Rigging Dry storage comes in many forms. Yakima's sleek aerodynamic ShowCase 20 has 20 cubic feet of cargo space to fit many needs. (Photo courtesy of Wheels Afield Magazine)


In the West, it seems every Subaru is fitted with an aftermarket cargo carrier festooned with “Bernie for President” stickers. This is due to Subaru’s complete unsuitability for the outdoor enthusiast, but these hipsters insist on making a statement by driving one, so extra storage is a must – and dry bonus storage, regardless of vehicle, is a pretty solid idea. A place to put boots, camping gear, sleeping bags, and packs is always needed. Multiple manufacturers make a wide range of cargo carriers in enough sizes to fit about any outdoorsman’s needs. Look for quality mounting options, seal tight lids, and lightweight materials. Options like aerodynamic style, dual opening sides, and integrated internal lights separate the good from the great.

Awnings

Roof Rigging Sporting over 50 square feet of coverage, the Front Runner Easy-Out Awning is simple, lightweight, and offers more than enough coverage for most overlanding needs. The two poles can be erected by one person, but it's easier with two people, especially if there is a breeze. (Photo courtesy of Wheels Afield Magazine)


Awnings are extremely rare in the American outdoors but are ubiquitous nearly everywhere else in the world. Of course, awnings make perfect sense for the Namibian heading out for a day of fishing on the Skeleton Coast where the nearest shade tree is roughly 250 miles away as the vulture flies, but they’re also ideal for us in North America as well. We have used them to create a dry cooking spot while elk hunting in the Pacific Northwest, a shaded dining spot while fishing desert trout streams, and everywhere in between. Most awnings cover a significant area alongside the vehicle, and some even wrap around the vehicle for 270 degrees of coverage. The best part is that the better ones can be set up by one person in a minute or less.

Rooftop Tents

Roof Rigging Rooftop tents come in two main styles: soft and hard. Soft styles like this Tepui work great in arid conditions and offer a large sleeping area. (Photo courtesy of Wheels Afield Magazine)

We don’t know whether it is the prevalence of lions or snakes, but so many of

the great rooftop tents come from either Africa or Australia. But this is changing rapidly as North American hunters, anglers, and campers realize how useful these gems truly are. Quick to deploy, as well as collapse, rooftop tents keep a mattress and bedding rolled out and in place – meaning from stop to sleep can be measured in minutes. Best of all, they are always dry, off the cold ground, and even snake-free in places like the American Southwest where this can be a concern. While soft-sided tents are king in most warm, dry environs, we have found that for the hunter (especially the late-season hunter likely to experience snow) a hard-shelled tent is superior.

Accessories

Roof Rigging The amount of accessories available for roof racks is nearly unlimited. (Photo courtesy of Wheels Afield Magazine)

If you dig into rooftop accessories, you’ll see there isn’t anything that hasn’t been done: secure holders for propane tanks and gas cans, brackets for axes and shovels, and even accessories to help load and secure a canoe. In short, if you can conceive it, it has likely already been invented. Many accessories aren’t used often – or maybe ever – but you want them should an emergency arise. A shovel may ride on a rack for years and never be used, until the day it is needed and then it is probably really needed. Ask yourself: If you had to put it inside the vehicle every trip, would it always be there? Probably not.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 8: Midnight Sun Grizzlies

Kevin Steele and CZ-USA's Jason Morton return to Alaska's arctic tundra for Kevin's second and Jason's third attempt on the legendary species. Things are looking up on day one but time will tell if the boys will get a shot a the king of the tundra.

Cheeseburger Poppers

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

From trajectory to penetration to recoil, we evaluate this cartridge for the big-game use case. Ammo

Is the .308 the Perfect North American Big Game Cartridge?

Richard Mann

From trajectory to penetration to recoil, we evaluate this cartridge for the big-game use...

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted positions in the outdoors. Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted...

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great black North America

Best States To Hunt For Black Bears

Joseph von Benedikt

Which are the best states to hunt for black bears? I have compiled a list of several great...

See More Trending Articles

More Overlanding

In the 1960s, Land Rovers and Land Cruisers were more than just a means of transportation—they Overlanding

Safari Rides

Joe Coogan - July 28, 2016

In the 1960s, Land Rovers and Land Cruisers were more than just a means of...

The Jeep Wrangler makes a nearly ideal platform for the Western hunter. Nimble, extremely off-road Overlanding

Jeep Wrangler AEV

WA Staff - May 12, 2015

The Jeep Wrangler makes a nearly ideal platform for the Western hunter. Nimble, extremely...

American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) has spent the last decade and a half building a reputation for Overlanding

AEV RAM Truck

WA Staff - May 13, 2015

American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) has spent the last decade and a half building a reputation...

Ag giant, Mahindra, takes aim at the adventure UTV market with two new models
If you’re at Overlanding

Mahindra Retriever

Derrek Sigler - September 25, 2018

Ag giant, Mahindra, takes aim at the adventure UTV market with two new models If you’re...

See More Overlanding

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.