Roof Basket vs. Cargo Box – Which Wins for Your Adventure?

Comparing a roof basket to a cargo box for your vehicle, a roof basket offers versatile and flexible storage for bulky items but may affect aerodynamics and expose items to the elements. On the other hand, a cargo box provides secure and weather-resistant storage but might limit the types of items you can carry and can impact gas mileage. Choose based on your storage needs and preferences.

If you’re a travel freak, you are accustomed to a roof basket or cargo box. Both products are needed to carry household equipment when you’re traveling somewhere. But which one is the best roof basket vs. cargo box? Well, there’s no clear-cut answer to this question since many considerations are attached to it.

To be honest, both options are plentiful. However, roof baskets and cargo box have their own benefits and drawbacks. Therefore, you need to know about them thoroughly. Understanding their characteristics can only help you figure out which is best for you. Let’s go –

Roof Basket vs. Cargo Box – Choose the Right One

Before discussing the best roof basket vs. cargo box, we should know about the roof basket and cargo box.

What is a Roof Basket?

Roof Basket

A cargo basket is a practical gear that can provide extra storage to a vehicle. It is usually made of metal that sits on the vehicle’s top. Further, it can effortlessly convey various household equipment, such as luggage, camping gear, tent, etc.

If you want to spend some fresh time away from a crowded civilization, a roof basket can be helpful to you. Some cargo baskets are fastened to the roof, while others are attached to the hitch.  

Cargo baskets mounted on the vehicle top need a custom roof rack system.

You can carry a maximum load without worrying about their falling outIt can’t use safely without a roof rack
Perfect for drivers who need added storageAdding a roof basket increases the overall height of the vehicle. It can raise a problem while driving in low-clearance areas.
Much cheaper optionItems on the roof are more exposed to theft.
The installation process is convenient. 

What is a Cargo Box?

4runner Roof Storage

Cargo boxes are known as roof boxes or rooftop cargo carriers. It is available in different sizes and made of sturdy plastic material. So you can fit it on top of your vehicle for added storage. You can lock the cargo box. For this reason, it’s too hard for any intruders to break a cargo box and steal anything.

Mounting a cargo box is expensive on a car’s roof and requires a roof rack. The reason is simple. You also need to spend a lot of money on a roof rack. Another thing is you need to ensure that the cargo box is compatible with the roof rack.

Otherwise, you can’t attach the box to the vehicle’s top. So, you need to be careful about it.

You can securely take your items anywhere due to its lockable featureNeed roof rack for installation
Due to the weather-resistant capability, you can keep your items safeBit expensive
Most boxes have a sleek and aerodynamic designRequire regular maintenance
Usable for a long period 

Roof Basket Vs. Cargo Box – Best Picks

Since there are so many roof baskets and cargo boxes on the market, people might think about which are the best among them. Well, I’ll give you some best options. Let’s take a look –

Top 3 Picks of Roof Basket

Rhino-Rack Roof Cargo Basket with Mounting Bracket for Roof Racks, Easy Use & Fitment, Heavy Duty, 2...
  • The Rhino-Rack XTray is a heavy-duty extra-large cargo basket ideal for both on and off road use. The burley 2 piece powder coated steel construction and built-in wind deflector makes this tray strong, durable, and aerodynamic, deflecting bugs and dirt.
  • LOADS OF ROOM - Weather you’re escaping the city, going camping, headed to the mountains, getting away to the water or countryside, you won't run out of room with the Xtray so you'll never have to leave anything behind again. Hold up to 165 lbs of gear.
  • UNIVERAL MOUNTING - The X-Tray mounts easily to your existing cross bars with included universal mounting hardware. Fits all crossbar shapes including elliptical, round, & square bars (except Heavy Duty bars). Bar spacing must be between 25.6" and 43.3".
  • STRONG & DURABLE - The burly all steel, two-piece construction and powder coated welded frame with sleek curves means this tough basket can hold up to all kinds of conditions including off-road use. Engineered for life. Made for adventure.
  • BUILT IN WIND FAIRING - The built-in wind fairing/deflector deflects bugs and grime getting on your gear while also improving aerodynamics and reducing wind noise. Win-win.
  • HIGH RAILS - The high rails provide extra security for your cargo. We recommend strapping down your gear with a pull strap tie down (Cam buckle). Not recommended with ratcheting style die down straps.
  • DIMENSIONS - Loads of space for all your gear: External Dimensions: Height 6" x Length 58" x Width 43." Internal Dimensions: Height 5" x Length 53" x Width 37."
  • ADVENTURE - At Rhino-Rack, we believe there’s an adventurer in all of us. It’s what drives us to create world-ready outdoor gear, born and proven in Australia. We believe life is better when we Make Space for Adventure.
  • ENVIRONMENT - The best thing we can do for the environment is make our stuff last longer. We care deeply about preserving the landscapes we love, and work hard to minimize our environmental impact across the board - from design to manufacturing & beyond.
  • EVERY JOURNEY - Every Journey starts somewhere. Whether you’re a beginner, enthusiast, or veteran explorer – hitting the road for work or play – we strive to build products which help make adventure inclusive for everybody.
Thule 859XT Canyon XT Basket, Black, One Size
  • Wedge-shaped low profile design combines style and function with tapered side walls making it easier to load and unload
  • Wind fairing is included to help airflow over your cargo. Load capacity 150 pounds. Internal dimensions-41 x 39 x 5 inches
  • Accessory crossbars (sold separately) allow you to carry additional equipment or stabilize your cargo. Maximum barspread: 37 inches, Minimum barspread: 20 inches
  • Fits a broad range of vehicles with versatile mounting hardware and includes T-Track mounting for Thule aeroblade and Thule xsporter bars. Roof Rack Material: Aluminum
  • Mounts to all Thule rack systems, round bars and most factory racks (check Thule Buyers guide)
134 Reviews
Yakima OffGrid Large Premium Cargo Basket Roof Rack with Quick Release Mounting System and Removable...
  • Rooftop Basket Rack: Yakima's cargo basket seamlessly fuses a durable steel build with a sleek, aerodynamic design, embodying a perfect blend of strength and contemporary style
  • Customizable Adventure: Adjustable accessory bars make it easy to integrate Yakima gear mounts, allowing you to securely transport bikes, boats, and boards on top, enhancing your outdoor activities
  • Enhanced Security: Additional SKS (Same Key System) locks guarantees that your cargo is secure during every journey (locks sold separately), giving you peace of mind
  • Easy Installation: Features quick-release mounting system and tool-free hardware, ensuring a low-effort setup right out of the box to provide a user-friendly experience for any adventure
  • Versatile Storage: Offers not only a universal fit for Yakima StreamLine crossbars but also the option to extend for 40 percent more cargo space, catering to diverse hauling needs

Top 3 Picks of Cargo Box

Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier, XL, Black
  • Roof-mounted cargo box provides 18 cubic feet of additional packing space
  • Designed for optimal space efficiency, aerodynamics, and vehicle fit
  • Quick-mount system "clicks" when roof box is secure and properly mounted
  • Dual-side opening for quick access from either side of the car
  • Easy to open and close with grip-friendly handles and supporting lid-lifters
  • Full trunk access and no roof box contact
  • Lid automatically locks in place and indicates a secure closure (One Key System compatible)
  • Fits 5-7 pairs of skis / 3-5 snowboards
  • External dimensions: 84.5 x 36 x 17 inches; Internal dimensions: 79 x 31.5 x 15 inches
  • Load capacity: 165 lbs; Product Weight: 46 lbs
1,825 Reviews
Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box, Large
  • A versatile roof-mounted cargo box for everyday use
  • Provides 16 cubic feet of additional packing space
  • Designed to fit a wide range a vehciles with maximum space efficiency
  • Quick-mount system "clicks" when roof box is secure and properly mounted
  • Dual-side opening for easy access to all areas of the box, from either side of the vehicle
  • Full trunk access with no roof box contact
  • Fits 5-7 pairs of skis / 3-5 snowboards (up to 175 cm)
  • External dimensions: 74.75 x 33 x 18 inches
  • Internal Dimenions: 70 x 28.75 x 16.25 inches
  • Load capacity: 165 lbs; Product Weight: 41 lbs
590 Reviews
Yakima SkyBox Carbonite 12 Cubic Foot Hard Shell Vehicle Roof Box Cargo Carrier with Aerodynamic...
  • Generous 12 cubic feet of cargo space, carries all your gear and essentials in the roof carrier box that features a SuperLatch security system for ultimate security
  • Boasts a sleek aerodynamic carbonite textured lid that not only enhances its visual appeal but also reduces wind drag, contributing to improved fuel efficiency during your travels
  • Engineered with internal lid stiffeners, the cargo box ensures long-lasting durability while maintaining easy opening and closing functionality, enhancing user experience
  • With a dual-sided opening, you can access the gear from either side of the vehicle, adding convenience to traveling with a tapered design that minimizes hatch interference
  • Available in 12, 16, 18, and the spacious 21 cubic feet, fit for your vehicle needs; Accommodates gears for up to 3 campers and can securely hold snowboards and skis up to 215 centimeters

Roof Basket vs. Cargo Box – Which One You Should Pick?

Well, before deciding which one to choose, we should look at roof baskets and cargo box features. Let’s go –

Roof Basket

Here are the features of the roof basket –

Good Interior Space

Using a roof basket, you can make a good amount of interior space.


One of the top-notch features of a roof basket is its tremendous versatility. Since its design is pretty much open, it can convey cargo of different sizes and shapes. Hence, you can conveniently store products that mightn’t fit in a closed cargo box.

Easy Access

Loading and unloading items in the roof basket are just easy as pie. We know that it’s open from each side. Therefore, you can find and reach your gear from any angle without a hassle. Moreover, it’s also perfect for the last-minute addition of a particular item.


Roof baskets often have a lower profile compared to cargo boxes. It can provide magnificent aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.


Roof boxes are budget-friendly. If you don’t have a lot of money, you can go for a roof basket.

Notwithstanding, there are some considerations regarding it. Since they don’t possess superior safeguards, your items could expose to unwanted elements. Further, you must be careful while tying down your items to ensure they are securely fastened during travel.

Cargo Box

Here are the features of the cargo box –


If you’re looking forward to storing a large amount of gear, then a cargo box is the perfect answer. Since it offers massive storage capacity, you can travel with family members without a problem.


Due to the locked and robust structure, a cargo box adds a security layer. Thus, the protection gets drastically enhanced.

Weather Resistance

Cargo boxes ensure enclosed space. Therefore, your items will be safe from rain and snow.

Rust Resistance

Most cargo boxes are made of metal. It means rusting can take place. However, there’s no chance that corrosion will get into it. A suitable rooftop cargo carrier must have excellent rust resistance to give you an age-long lifespan.

Best Roof Box for Subaru Outback

So, Which One You Should Pick for Your Adventure?

Selecting between a roof basket and a cargo box depends only on you. It is primarily attached to the matter of your exact requirements and preferences. A roof basket may be the better option if you value versatility, ease of access, and affordability.

Elsewhere, if your priority is weather protection, security, and large capacity, you can go for a cargo box without a doubt. But one thing I must tell you. Before choosing the right one, thoroughly consider the type of equipment you convey, the amount of traveling, your financial capability, etc.

Consequently, consider your vehicle’s roof load capacity to ensure you stay within the safe limits for your chosen storage solution.

Roof Basket Vs. Cargo Box – Final Words

I’ve already outlined the factors that will help you to choose the best one between the roof basket vs. cargo box. The proper choice mainly depends on three factors –

  • Vehicle compatibility
  • Safety
  • Price

Try to choose a product that will give you the ultimate service according to your needs. You’ve got enough knowledge, so I hope you won’t make a mistake while purchasing a roof basket or cargo box.

You can ask me in the box below if you still want to know more.

Roof Basket Vs. Cargo Box – FAQs:


What is a roof basket?

A roof basket is an open-style cargo carrier that sits on the roof of a vehicle, allowing you to secure and transport various items.

What is a cargo box?

A cargo box, also known as a roof box, is a closed and weatherproof cargo carrier that attaches to the roof of a vehicle, providing secure storage for belongings.

Roof basket vs. cargo box: Which one is better for carrying luggage?

It depends on your needs. A roof basket offers more flexibility for oversized items and irregularly shaped cargo, while a cargo box provides better protection against the elements and security for your belongings.

Can a roof basket carry more than a cargo box?

Roof baskets typically have a higher weight capacity and can accommodate larger items, making them ideal for bulkier cargo. However, checking the manufacturer’s specifications is essential to ensure you stay within your vehicle’s roof load limit.

Are roof baskets more aerodynamic than cargo boxes?

No, roof boxes are generally more aerodynamic due to their streamlined design, which reduces wind resistance and may result in better fuel efficiency compared to roof baskets.

Are roof boxes harder to install than roof baskets?

Both roof baskets and cargo boxes require similar installation procedures involving roof rack systems. However, cargo boxes may take a bit longer to set up due to their enclosed design and additional locking mechanisms.

Which one is more secure against theft – the roof basket or the cargo box?

Cargo boxes are more secure against theft since they feature lockable lids, keeping your belongings safe and protected from unauthorized access. Roof baskets usually need more security.

Can I always leave a roof basket or cargo box on my vehicle?

Yes, you can leave a roof basket or cargo box attached to your vehicle, but removing it when not in use is recommended to reduce wind resistance and improve fuel efficiency.

Can I use both a roof basket and a cargo box together?

In some cases, it may be possible to use both a roof basket and a cargo box simultaneously, provided your vehicle’s roof rack system has enough space and weight capacity. However, it’s crucial to ensure proper weight distribution and avoid exceeding the manufacturer’s recommended limits.

Last Update : 2024-06-27

Automotive products are like an addiction to me. Years ago, I started my job at a Roof Box installation co. Then I realized that I have a passion for cars. It is a perfect scope to share my different experiences about automotive products.