So you have your brand new roof box. You just used it for the first time, and everything went great. When you get home, you realize you have a roof box storage problem:
Where am I going to store my roof box?
Roof boxes come in all shapes and sizes and even the smallest box is going to take up some storage space. If you have a garage you can use one of the many hoists, hooks and straps available to store your roof box on the ceiling or wall. I’ll go over those options.
Note: Some people leave the box attached to their car all year round, but it will reduce your gas milage and increase wear and tear on the box. It’s better to consider a roof box storage system, it can be done on a budget.
Roof box hoist or lift
A roof box lift, is similar to a strap lift system except it uses a pulley mechanism to lift the box to the roof with ease. For a single person who might be leaving gear in the box this is a great method. Ropes are used to support the roof box and they are pulled through wheels that are attached to the ceiling. As with the strap lift systems, these can be positioned above the car so that the box can be raised and lowered onto the car when needed. The best one is the Thule 571 MultiLift.
Features of the Thule 571 MultiLift:
- A safe and accessible option for any person, you don’t need to be able to lift the box.
- Will work in almost any garage, just check your ceiling height.
- Supports up to 220 lbs.
- Comes with hardware.
- Use this for all your outdoor goodies, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards.
- We have a great, even better than the manual, free install guide for the Thule 571 MultiLift!
Quick Video of the roofbox lift in action
Wall mounts or roof box brackets
Another option for storing your roof box is to purchase a set of roof box bracket wall mounts like these Rhino Racks. The wall mounts are very easy to attach to the wall and they can be used in the garage, shed or even in the house. You could also attach them to the outside wall of your house or garage, but if doing so it would be recommended
to cover your roof box and make sure it is fully secured. Most wall mounts can be folded into the wall when not in use to save space.
Ceiling strap lift system
Strap lift storage systems, consist of two straps that are attached to the ceiling of the garage. The straps go around the roof box and allow you to lift the roof box so that it is suspended from the ceiling. This system is cheaper but requires manually tightening the straps and keeping it all balanced. The good thing about these straps is that you can place them directly above where the car is parked, allowing you to unbolt the box and then lift it up without having to move or carry it for your Thule or Yakima cargo box hanger solution. The roof bars can be left attached to the box and lifted up too.
It can be a cheap option. I have a review of the RAD Sportz kayak lift that goes over the pros & cons. In the UK get the Mont Blanc Strap Lift System. However the Mont Blanc is really just two very long straps and some brackets, so it could be done DIY for those so inclined. Keep in mind theses inexpensive canoe and kayak lifts are often rated to 125 lbs. and do not have bracing and four lift points like the Thule which is rated to 220 lbs.
Leave the roof box on the car?
The main reason people choose to leave a roof box on their car is lack of space to store it. If you have a shed or garage, maybe even a spare room or a loft in which you can store your roof box when it is not needed, then great, you have room for your roof box.
But what if you live in a flat or a small house? Or you don’t have a garage or shed, or any outside space at all? One option is to leave it attached to your car permanently.
If you don’t go on a lot of trips or the box will just be used once, another option is to buy the roof box, use it, and then sell it again. You won’t get what you paid for it brand new, but it will solve the problem of having to store the box. It’s very hard to find a roof box to rent, but if you do please let me know and I’ll share the shop with everyone.
Another reason that people leave a roof box on the car is that it becomes permanent storage space. If you have a family but are driving a small car, a roof box can add significant storage room for shopping, prams and anything else that would usually be a struggle to fit in the car.
Leaving your roof box attached to your car all year round has the added benefit of not having to attach and remove the box when it is needed, although in reality most roof box systems are relatively straight forward to fit (some can even be attached in 5 minutes!).
Fuel economy with a roof box
One of the drawbacks to leaving a roof box on your car when you don’t need it is the increased fuel consumption. While some people report up to 10 – 15% increased fuel consumption, most people don’t notice it enough to make it an issue that would stop them using the roof box in the first place, saying that the benefits of having more space outweigh the added fuel costs.
The fuel economy of the roof box will also depend on your usage, if you use the box regularly or for long distances it might be wise to pay a little bit extra for a more streamlined box. The reduced fuel consumption may offset the extra cost of the box after a good few trips.
The more aerodynamic a roof box is, the better the fuel economy will be. This roof box from Kamei is one of the more streamlined models. Though in the US the new Yakima ShowCase is their sleekest model yet.
There have been several tests on the subject of fuel economy with roof boxes and this one from Auto Express shows that even with a roof box loaded close to the 75KG max load limit, there was very little difference to the fuel economy of the car. This will obviously vary depending on the car and the roof box, but it makes for interesting reading.
A roof box adds height to your car
OUCH! It may seem obvious, but a lot of people forget that a roof box will significantly increase the height of your car. This means some places that you usually go, such as car parks, hospitals and low bridges will become inaccessible to you. Plan your route and make sure to properly research any places that you think might be an issue with increased height. If you are staying at a hotel or another destination you have
never been to before, check the parking options before you leave and if necessary make alternative parking arrangements.
If you plan on fitting the roof box to your car while it is in the garage, make sure you measure the height correctly before you fit it or you may find out that you have a problem when you try to drive out of the garage! The same is true when you are parking your car back in the garage
after your trip, don’t forget about the roof box attached to the car or you may get a nasty shock as it bangs off the outside of your garage (which is easily done!)
Store it outside
If you have nowhere inside your house, garage or shed to store your roof box when not in use, another option is to keep it outside. Most roof boxes are made with high quality, durable plastic and are designed to withstand all kinds of weather when attached to your car roof. This means that storing it outside in even the harshest of winters should be fine as long as you take some precautions.
If storing it in the garden or the side of the house is your only option, always make sure security is a priority. The last thing you want is to go outside one morning and find out your $500 roof box is missing, and no matter what size your box is, thieves will find a way to remove it from your property. Secure the box with a strong bike lock, and try to ensure that it is not visible from any roads or walkways if possible.
It is also recommended to get a good, waterproof cover for your roof box.
Roof box covers are inexpensive and will greatly reduce the chance of your roof box getting damaged or worn due to rain, wind and ice. A decent roof box cover will also protect your roof box from scratches and keep it free from dirt and mud.
Check out my guide on the best Thule roof bike racks, see which one comes out on top!