CAR’s guide to the best roof racks

Want to show you're active and adventurous? Roof racks will help you do just that. They're also useful for carrying things. Here is our guide to roof racks.

A red VW Golf with a roof rack carrying bikes and a kayak

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

Nothing upgrades your motor to ‘family mode’ more than a roof rack. This says "I’m a parent who knows exactly what I need. More space."

No matter how big your boot space, kids and life take up more room than we have sometimes and then the added need for bikes or canoes opens a whole new can of worms. Roof racks can be a tricky business, though, you’ll need to check whether your car is compatible, generally, if your vehicle has rails on the roof, you’ll be good to go. If you don’t there is still an option to install a roof rack but you are more limited on choice.

Price ranges vary, this is to do with materials used, aerodynamics as well as other factors so which is the best? Well, it’s a good job I’ve done all the looking for you.

Types of roof rack

Square bars: The simplistic choice, generally quite sturdy a no messing about option and probably the cheapest.

Aluminium bars: a lighter alternative, but lighter often means not able to support heavy loads, usually a little bit more ‘aero’

Aero Bars: Made to reduce wind noise and not have as larger detrimental impact on the fuel gauge. Something your partner will really enjoy discussing with you when considering Roof Racks.

Types of car roof rails

Of course it wouldn’t be so easy as turning up at Halfords and just buying a roof rack to install on your car, not only are there different roof racks there’s all different types of car roofs to consider…

• Raised rails

• Flush Rails

• T-track

• Fixed Point

• Rain Gutter

• Normal Roof

Helpfully, if you’re buying from Amazon, there is an Amazon Confirmed Fit menu that will help you choose the correct rails for your car by entering your make and model

Important Notice

Your car's roof will have a weight limit – check the manual before installing roof racks and loading your car up. The last thing you want is for your roof to collapse at 60mph on the way to the seaside.

Roof Rack picks

Thule WingBar Edge Complete All-in-One
Price: £472.99


When it comes to roof racks, there is one name which rules the roost: Thule. Thule have put in an


At the other end of the price spectrum and for flush rails is the Halfords Integrated Rail Roof

Summit Premium Lockable Roof Bars
Price: £75.18


If you don’t have any roof rails on your car and a standard roof – these may be what you’re

HandiWorld HRACK Universal Car Roof Rack

Rrp: £56.99

Price: £54.95
Alternative retailers
Halfords£75.00View offer


Now here’s a novel idea that doesn’t care what roof rails you have because to mount it, you don't

Chris Williams is a Senior Product Writer for CAR, also working for Live For The Outdoors. An expert in camping and muscle cars, he spends most of his time up a mountain or laying rubber.

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