Volkswagen Passat parked at the bottom of a snow field with a man walking towards it with skis.

Roof Rack Buyers Guide – Winter Edition

The temperatures are cooling down and the ski fields are beckoning. Planning an outdoor adventure is easy with the proper roof racks. Here are a few simple tips to making sure your set-up is the tops.

Weight Matters.

Your vehicle, despite what you see on social media, cannot carry everything on top of its roof. The limit varies with each vehicle, and it’s best to consult your vehicle’s manual to determine what load it can carry. A standard passenger vehicle can typically handle between 50kg to 75kg on the roof, while commercial vehicles can sometimes carry between 100kg to 200kg.

A whole heap of weight above your vehicle’s centre of gravity can spell disaster. This can affect your ability to stop and handle corners effectively and make you more susceptible to crosswinds. It also affects your aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

While these warnings shouldn’t scare you off buying a roof rack, it’s important to consider the facts where your safety – and others – is concerned.

Volkswagen SUV parked in an outdoors location with a family and dog running around it.

Consider Your Use.

Is your roof rack for winter sports only, or do you have summer activities that require roof space, as well? Consider what you’ll need to haul, where you need to haul it, and if you’ll need the racks on year round.

Also, consider the access. Is it easy for you to clamber on top of your 4WD in sub-freezing temperatures to fetch your snowboard by yourself? If it’s too hard to use, you may not use it at all, rendering it useless.

Volkswagen Roof Rack close up on top of a blue Volkswagen SUV
Volkswagen roof cargo box close up on a blue SUV parked at a beach.

What Type Do You Need?

There are two main types of racks to carry your winter gear. Roof bar racks can easily be mounted on most vehicles and work well with most winter sports gear. These sets come with two load bars that can be installed yourself.

This option offers an easy solution that’s quick to install and use. They can be locked to avoid theft, don’t obstruct your view, and affect aerodynamics less than a roof box. The disadvantages include increased noise at high speeds and the fact that your gear is exposed to the elements.

Roof boxes offer more variety for gear, as they are completely closed boxes that sit atop the roof. If you’re worried about your winter gear being exposed to the elements – or stolen – a roof box offers more protection. As they are heavier than roof bar racks, you’ll need to consider the extra fuel consumption and noise at high speeds.

Lighter Materials Are Better

The heavier the roof racks, the more petrol you’ll burn. You also need to keep your weight in check (remember earlier?), so consider roof racks made of aluminium instead of steel.

Don’t Skimp on Quality.

New Zealand’s windy roads are tough without things clanging around on the top of your roof. From fording rivers to climbing steep ski field roads, you’ll want to focus on your adventures, not your gear sliding into someone’s windshield. This isn’t an accessory that’s just for show.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, get in touch with our friendly Parts Team who are happy to assist you in finding the right roof rack for you.

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