Roof racks don't come standard on most vehicles, but most RAV4s come with side rails making a roof rack an easy upgrade. In order to get the most out of a roof rack for your RAV4, you need to find one that's high-quality, meets regulations, and meets your specific needs. Fortunately, there's a roof rack out there designed to carry pretty much anything you can think of. This guide will provide some of Amazon's top-ranked roof racks for RAV4.
What Is a Toyota RAV4 Roof Rack?
A roof rack is a set of bars that attaches to the roof of a vehicle. There are many different types, styles, and attachments, each designed to carry a unique range of cargo. With the right roof rack for your RAV4 you can securely transport:
- Snowboards and skis.
- Canoes and kayaks.
- Other cargo (stored in boxes, baskets, or bags).
The benefits of a roof rack are abundant. With one you can:
- Mount and transport oversized items that won't fit inside your vehicle.
- Increase passenger space or leg room by carrying everyday cargo up above.
- Quickly and securely get your gear to the outdoors.
- Keep your car interior clean (filling your roof rack with wet or dirty gear).
Types of Toyota RAV4 Roof Racks
Whatever you're planning to carry on the roof of your RAV4, there's a type of roof rack (and/or accessory) to accommodate:
Base Rack System
A base rack system is the foundation for dependable rooftop transport. Not to be confused with roof rails which, as mentioned above, come standard on many RAV4s and run parallel to the length of the car, base racks, or crossbars, attach perpendicular to your rails. Each system includes towers, the bars themselves, and a fit kit. Some systems combine the towers and load bars into one piece, which may or may not also require a fit kit, depending on your RAV4's roof style.
Canoe and Kayak Rack
The most important gear you need to own for safe kayak or canoe transport is a kayak rack. These come in a variety of styles, ranging from basic foam pads to saddle and roller systems:
- Temporary pads: These are are a great quick and inexpensive method for transporting water gear. They're typically only designed for short-distance travel, and for those who don't need to transport a kayak or canoe too often. They're also not suitable for traveling at high speeds.
- Saddle with rollers: The biggest advantage of this type of kayak rack is the large surface area for your kayak to rest on. This provides you with added security at higher speeds, through heavy winds, or weather of any kind. Lastly, the design is the most aerodynamic, cutting down on noise and fuel costs.
- J-cradles: This is the most popular kayak rack design. Designed in a "J" shape, these are side-loading racks that sit at a 45-degree angle which leave room to transport multiple objects at once. J-cradle racks are stable, secure, and easy to load.
- Stackers: These hold your boats in a completely upright position (vertically, on their sides), and offer maximum transporting capacity (up to four kayaks at once, typically). Despite their low price point, stackers are very secure and easy to install.
Roof Cargo Basket
Cargo baskets are great for carrying camping or beach gear, luggage, cargo bags, spare tires, Jerry cans, and other cargo. They're similar to roof cargo boxes — the main difference being the freedom to stack items higher due to the open design. These baskets are perfect for bulky or irregularly shaped items.
Roof Cargo Box
Rooftop cargo boxes can mount to your RAV4's preexisting factory crossbars or roof rails, or an aftermarket base rack system. They're great for transporting camping equipment, snowboards, skis, and any other cargo that needs protection from the elements.
How to Choose a Toyota RAV4 Roof Rack
To get the most out of your roof rack, it's important to choose one that's well-made. Equally important is finding a roof rack that meets your specific cargo needs. Whichever style you're going for, keep these criteria in mind:
- Weight: Strong is great — heavy isn't. Well-made aluminum racks are around 30% lighter than steel.
- Accessory compatibility: The wider the range of accessories you can use, the more adventure versatility you'll have. Many companies also design their products to be brand-compatible only, so check that out as well.
- Strength/durability: The harsher the conditions (both weather and road), the more durable your rack needs to be. If you're not one for serious off-roading, a less expensive (top-rated) one will get the job done.
- Profile: As mentioned before, anything you put on the roof of your vehicle will impact both noise and fuel economy. The lower the profile, the better those things will be. Not to mention loading and unloading will be easier.
- Your car's roof: Many RAV4s come standard with factory-installed roof rails. Whether or not your vehicle is equipped with these will determine the type of rack(s) you'll need.
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