Friday, February 16, 2024

Guest Post: Car Roof Cargo Bag Review

by George Groot

George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

Due to the price of gasoline (and airline tickets over the holiday season) my wife and I decided to take the extra time and drive from Georgia to Washington state. The problem was that our two vehicles aren’t great options for a family of 4 on a long road trip. My Nissan Frontier is fine, but doesn’t have a canopy over the bed and the gas mileage is not great (seriously, it’s shaped like a brick; not the most aerodynamic option). The wife’s Subaru Outback is better on gas by about 5 miles per gallon, but even with the station wagon-level storage, there wasn’t enough room for everything we’d need. We looked at hard-shell roof cargo options, but I ended up purchasing a soft roof cargo bag.

The Good
These are cheap, and you get good quality for the price. They also fold up into a really small storage bag so you can throw one on the shelf in the garage, or toss it inside the car if you need to bring it with you to pick up stuff.

The Bad
These aren’t very secure at all; anyone with a knife or improvised cutting tool can get into your stuff. They also aren’t convenient to access routinely, and they can slip a bit over a 3,400 mile drive (we had about two inches of slipping, as the front straps got tighter and tighter).

The Utility
You can hold a lot of stuff in these bags. About five fully packed out green GI duffel bags fit snuggly, which represents a lot of sleeping bags, tents, and other stuff you might need to bring along, so long as you don't need it inside the car for immediate access.

Over the course of 3,400 miles the Subaru Outback averaged 23.7 miles per gallon. This didn’t concern me too much, but it does represent a drop from the 30 - 32 miles per gallon a Subaru Outback would normally get on mostly freeway driving. Even with that decrease, it was still more efficient than using my pickup. With the bag installed and filled, the Subaru's top profile only came up to match the Frontier).

The Interesting
I went with the “international safety orange” version since I plan on re-using this bag to support my local Trail Life troop in the future. Having a great big, highly visible beacon has a lot of utility for normal outdoor recreational activities. However, if you wanted to be more clandestine, there is a grey option available. If you need to camouflage an orange version, keep some olive drab spray paint on
hand, or actual fabric paint to reduce the visible signature.

The Final Verdict
If you have a car with a roof rack or rail system, this is a great option. Even beyond using it to haul stuff from point to point, having a weather-resistant storage bag has plenty of utility at a campsite or location where some additional protection from the elements is needed (such as hand tools, spare batteries, extra rope, etc).

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