The proper preparation for van life involves fitting the things of your home into a compact camper van. Knowing how to choose the best roof rack for your van is essential to get all your belongings to your desired location safely wherever you go.

Cargo Capacity

Before you browse various roof racks, you must consider what you plan on doing with them. You can add many things to your van’s roof rack, so it’s wise to make a list of the goods you want to bring along. After all, you don’t want to pummel your van with excessive weight, so finding the exact measurements and numbers is key. Make sure the rack’s mass and dimensions can accommodate your supplies and equipment. This entails figuring out the cargo capacity, which is a measurement in cubic feet or pounds that indicates how much room is available for transporting goods.


Rooftop features like vents, solar panels, and skylights all have space requirements, which could significantly limit your space for a rooftop rack. Consider any of these applicable elements when deciding on a size for your cargo rack. After all, after crunching the numbers, it’s time to play a real-life game of Tetris atop your van to complete the installation. You don’t want to realize the rack’s dimensions don’t accommodate those of your van.

Additionally, you’ll want easy access to your roof to unload anything off it. Things like a ladder should be easily grabbable without too much effort. Think of your roof rack like a tactical backpack: get a design that allows you easy access to important supplies that only take mere seconds to grab.


You’ll come across several roof racks made from different materials, leading to vast price differences. But hopefully, you’re not just looking for the cheapest option. Aluminum rack systems are the most practical choice since they are lighter than steel and can support more weight. Hence, aluminum rack systems will cost more than their steel or plastic counterparts but will pay dividends because of their durability. After all, your van is your new home. You wouldn’t use plastic shingles on your roof, so don’t value price or quality unless the difference is astronomical.

Modular Design

A single-piece rack, although potentially more durable than a modular one, is often more cumbersome during assembly, placement, and adjustment. It would help if you searched for a rack adaptable to your vehicle and the gear you need to transport, ideally one you can dissemble into its parts. After all, it is far more difficult to fix a single broken component when dealing with a solid, single rack.

By design, you can dissemble, repair, and reassemble modular racks with little downtime and expense. In addition, it’s far easier to tailor these racks to individual needs, with the flexibility to add or remove storage as you see fit.

Improvement Capabilities

Settling on a rack is only half the battle since you should consider the extra accessories you may add. Because roof racks are so adaptable, you should get one with many different attachments and features. This enables you to use your rack for various excursions, whether you need extra room for tents, gas canister attachments, or food and water storage. And if any of your items are vulnerable to wet weather, adding a cargo bag or net is worthwhile to fend off the tumultuous weather.

Look for a manufacturer that makes installing and using additional parts simple. Don’t buy a rack without knowing whether it’s adjustable for your new way of life. If you do so, you’ll spend more money on separate racks for each specific trip you take.

Low Profile

Your rack should preferably have a low profile because of the many benefits it can provide. First, it is much simpler to set it up and break it down again. Second, you are more likely to damage your gear or someone else’s if you use a rack that is too tall for your vehicle.

Furthermore, a reduced profile results in better fuel efficiency from an aerodynamics perspective. As the rack’s profile rises, so does the vehicle’s resistance to motion. When drag increases, propulsion becomes more difficult. So in addition to improving your car’s fuel economy and safety, removing that drag will also help it move more quickly.

Reputable Brand

A company’s longevity doesn’t guarantee high-quality goods, but it makes tracing its manufacturing processes easier. Ensure you are familiar with the brand you are investing in and the quality they can promise before purchasing.

Take note of what they sell that is popular, read up on it, and use caution if you encounter anything suspicious. You don’t want to wind up forking over your dough to a company with a history of failure. Therefore, it’s important to consider the company’s product history before purchasing.

While embarking on van life, every piece of equipment, including the roof rack, must be in working order. If your roof rack breaks, it might hurt your living conditions and force you to turn back. Buying an inferior roof rack because it’s not as pricey might have long-term ramifications that inhibit your journeys way more than the short-term financial loss.

In the worst-case situation, a malfunctioning rack might jeopardize the safety of you and your traveling companions by destroying life-sustaining goods. While shopping for a roof rack, choosing a company that will stand behind its product 100 percent is important. Avoid dangerous or inconvenient circumstances by knowing how to choose the right roof rack for your belongings.

Learning how to choose the best roof rack for your van ensures your transition to van life goes as smoothly as possible. While you won’t fit everything atop your van, you’ll at least know the best strategies for bringing as much as possible.

Unaka Gear Company understands the importance of quality van roof racks, so you know you can count on us for the best roof rack regardless of your situation. We want you to explore the majestic mountains, riveting rivers, and pretty plains with a roof rack you can trust!

How To Choose the Best Roof Rack for Your Van

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