AR15.Com Archives
 Roof rack and cargo box vs. hitch install and small trailer
PeteCO  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:06:23 PM EST
I am driving cross-country in a month and I need some extra storage. I have neither a rack nor a hitch on our SUV. Here are my options:

1. Harbor freight trailer ($250), hitch ($150) and misc crap (wiring harness, hitch ball etc). I have a sheet of 3/4 plywood I could use for the floor, and enough lumber to build a stake side for it. Total cost, about $475.

2. Yakima roof rack ($275) and Sears SV20 20 cu ft cargo box ($200). Total cost, about $475.

I am pissed off by the high cost of the roof racks, especially the Yakima bars which look like powder-coated 2 inch OD pipe, for $56 a pair.

On the other hand, dicking with a trailer and installing a hitch can be a pain in the ass too. The object is to haul Christmas gifts and associated baby stuff for our 4 month old son from Colorado to Indiana.

My other alternatives are to say to hell with it and fly commerically (about $1600), or fly myself via Cessna 172 (about $1400). If we drive we can haul more crap and also bring the dog.

Which solution would you guys go with, given that I'm going to have to cough up roughly $500 for either choice?
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stoner63a  [Member]
11/25/2006 8:09:28 PM EST
Pete,
You gonna post pics of the potential rig?
PeteCO  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:20:32 PM EST

Originally Posted By stoner63a:
Pete,
You gonna post pics of the potential rig?


02 Trailblazer. No, I have no idea why it doesn't have a roof rack already.

Probably going to sell it and get another Tahoe, but I don't have time to mess with that right now.
bamaslam  [Member]
11/25/2006 8:20:52 PM EST
Not really in a position to help you decide, but I will throw in my 2 cents about roofracks. Couple months ago I put a Yakima Load Warrior on my Xterra, and I'm very happy with it. Yeah, it's expensive for what it is, but it does the job well and looks good doing it. It's extremely sturdy, so don't worry about overloading it, unless you're giving gold and lead Christmas presents.
2ndChildhood  [Member]
11/25/2006 8:27:46 PM EST
A trailer will give better gas mileage, much easier to load than way the hell on top.
It will also be easier to put on & off and it's better for heavy stuff.
Also, don't pull into a low garage with the bigger rooftop carriers.

Oh yeah, trailer is better in the wind too.
GoGop  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:28:27 PM EST
I would go with the trailer. It's far easier to load and unload, and also to sell if you choose to after the trip.
kimber_glock_beretta  [Member]
11/25/2006 8:30:34 PM EST
do you have a friend with a welder that could build the roof rack for you? Might save some money. However I would go with the trailer.
PeteCO  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:30:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By 2ndChildhood:
A trailer will give better gas mileage, much easier to load than way the hell on top.
It will also be easier to put on & off and it's better for heavy stuff.
Also, don't pull into a low garage with the bigger rooftop carriers.

Oh yeah, trailer is better in the wind too.


I was wondering about mileage, kind of suprised to hear a small (4x8) trailer would be better. On a 1000 mile trip, that's important.

I have made this trip before, and the wind can be a pain. Will I notice a significant difference with the roof cargo box?
VT4meGunCtrlisAntiUS  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:30:57 PM EST
Where in CO?? My buddy owns a shop, and they sell and install racks/ boxes on the Western Slope. Lemme know..

--VT
platz2  [Member]
11/25/2006 8:43:24 PM EST
I dont know how much stuff you have to haul, but have you considered just a hitch and one of those reciever racks?


Hitch Rack

Those are only about $100. You could get the reciever installed fairly cheap and maybe find a used reciever rack. I cant see you being able to put more stuff on a roof rack than on one of those. Just an idea.
PeteCO  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:49:27 PM EST

Originally Posted By VT4meGunCtrlisAntiUS:
Where in CO?? My buddy owns a shop, and they sell and install racks/ boxes on the Western Slope. Lemme know..

--VT


Fort Collins
glenn_r  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:57:58 PM EST
More weight capacity with the trailer, and more flexibility on the size items you can carry in the future. Some roof racks have insanely low weight limits, though I don't know the specs on your vehicle.
sandboxmedic  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 8:58:16 PM EST
Roof boxes willl cut your gas mileage. Check your local paper and you can find them fairly cheap in barely used condition sometimes but you'll still need a roof rack (can be found on egay for good prices sometimes- watch shipping charges though!).

Not my auction, just found it http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Yakima-Blacktop-Cargo-Box_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ33651QQihZ010QQitemZ200051933030QQrdZ1

The Yakima rack uses metal bars with a plastic coating. It's great to have a roof rack for hauling stuff. They are decent racks, but by the time you buy all of the parts and lock cores it's a chunck of change!

Those inexpensive trailers are just that- cheap. The wheel bearings in them aren't very good generally.

I'd look into adding a hitch (always go with 2" instead of the smaller ones) and then using a hitch hauler if that's large enough. The rack is easier to store if you don't need it often, less maintainance, less expensive overall, etc.
Skibane  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 9:06:52 PM EST
Even the smallest trailer will give you 10 times more cargo capacity than a roof rack - and the low center of gravity won't affect vehicle stability. Also, after you've got a hitch installed (and what self-respecting SUV owner doesn't already have a hitch, BTW?), you're good to tow a small boat, motorcycle/ATV/snowmobile, teardrop trailer, popup camper or other small RV.

Roof racks are for Euro-weenies.
armoredsaint  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 9:13:07 PM EST
you should see dumbasses that forget that they are towing some shit and cut in front of you without signaling...
biere  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 9:53:41 PM EST
While I like roof racks they can be a royal pain to load and unload. Depending on what this will take to accomplish with your vehicle this might be a bit annoying to do without leaning on a wet or dirty vehicle.

I consider a trailer to be a very useful item. But I dislike the tiny trailers and some of the "fold up" 4x8 trailers are so cheap they don't come with a spare tire. So if you get a flat you are waiting for someone to come help you or leaving your trailer while you go get a spare.

Someone already mentioned the "hitch packer" stuff. I bought a cheap one at lowes or home depot and I like the idea but I recomend getting a better design than what the cheap ones use.

Mine has no extra bracing and is already "frowning" from hauling stuff around my yard where I used to live. I did not overload it and I did not abuse it.

Some of the designs have higher sides or tubes or reinforcing bars going from the ends to the bottom of the receiver tube. Mine simply has a 2 inch high side all around it and it needs reinforcing.

When loading these pay attention to your brake/turn signals and I also wonder about folks I see who block their license plate with it.

Only problem with an suv is getting the tailgate open when loaded.

But one of these with a rooftop carrier on it would be my suggestion.
RobarSR60  [Member]
11/25/2006 9:56:03 PM EST
I've got a Yakima Rocketbox on top of my car right now, and I'm surprised at how much I actually use it. It swallows a ton of gear, and has served me well for the last 6+ years. I would opt for the rack. I mean, you'll have to register the trailer, so that'll be more time spent at DMV, etc. Racks are easier, IMO.
Daytona955i  [Team Member]
11/25/2006 10:00:08 PM EST
Not only are you going to get better mileage with a trailer, but you will also have an easier time selling the trailer and receiver if you decide you don't want it anymore than trying to sell a roof rack and box. At least in my expirience.
RobarSR60  [Member]
11/25/2006 10:58:04 PM EST

Originally Posted By Daytona955i:
Not only are you going to get better mileage with a trailer, but you will also have an easier time selling the trailer and receiver if you decide you don't want it anymore than trying to sell a roof rack and box. At least in my expirience.


Disagree...I found a loss of only 1.5 MPG with my rack/carrier on the car. And people don't pay shit for used trailers.
FrankSymptoms  [Team Member]
11/26/2006 12:01:58 AM EST

Originally Posted By bamaslam:
Not really in a position to help you decide, but I will throw in my 2 cents about roofracks. Couple months ago I put a Yakima Load Warrior on my Xterra, and I'm very happy with it. Yeah, it's expensive for what it is, but it does the job well and looks good doing it. It's extremely sturdy, so don't worry about overloading it, unless you're giving gold and lead Christmas presents.


+1 on the Load Warrior. I got the extension in the middle of mine, and it works like a sled dog.

Also: if you use nylon rope to secure your load, cut it into 6' lengths. This makes it much easier to tie stuff down, rather than fooling around with a 25' or 50' length.
BullDogger  [Member]
11/26/2006 6:03:29 AM EST
trailer....just because its way more versatile. I wanna see somebody haul a 4 wheeler, lawn mower, gun safe or big bbq pit on a roof rack. Only bad thing about a trailer is everybody will call you when they need help moving shit.
Nlinc  [Team Member]
11/26/2006 6:11:37 AM EST
I picked trailer because the wind noise/ resistance of a roof rack would be noticable.
aa777888-2  [Member]
11/26/2006 8:12:06 AM EST
I have that exact trailer probably. I vote trailer for all the good reasons already given: more capacity, more flexibility, better mileage, you should have a hitch, etc. I bought the Harbor Fright 4x8 folding trailer with the 12" road wheels (don't get the smaller wheels, you'll burn up the bearings on the highway).

The trailer isn't bad quality, but I sure do like that I can fold it and throw it in the corner of the garage, otherwise it probably would have rusted away by now. It will take you a solid day to put the frame and wiring together and install the hitch, another to put the deck and stake sides on. Here are my build tips:

1. Get some 1/2" wire loom for all the wiring, about 30' worth. Otherwise you just have all these bare wires hanging in the breeze. Put a good plug and receptacle together, not just one of those cheap ass 4-pin connectors, too.

2. Put the license plate bracket on the top and make some bump stops for the rear, that way you can tilt load it if you want.

3. Fit and drill the deck for countersunk fasteners. Then paint it prior to putting it on. It looks better and won't rot. Use stainless fasteners so they won't rust and countersink them so the deck is smooth.

4. I don't use stake sides, but I'd paint them and put some corner hooks on them if I did.

5. You will want a spare. That up's your cost a bit. Make sure you have a jack and a lug wrench in the truck that will work on the trailer, too.

6. A cheap-ass Harbor Freight trailer jack is handy, too. Just up'd your cost again

Thinking all this is too much and you'll just throw it together for the trip? Consider that you'll probably find all kinds of useful things to do with the trailer, build it nice.
tenmikemike  [Member]
11/26/2006 8:33:02 AM EST
I don't think that for a light load as you propose a roof rack OR a trailer is necessary. I have seen cargo bags that merely strap between the existing rails for much less than $100.

Of course, if you are gonna carry anything heavier than ~100 lbs, a rack may be necessary.
npd233  [Team Member]
11/26/2006 8:47:55 AM EST
How about putting on the trailer hitch and renting a U-Haul trailer one-way? It'd set you back about $120 or so for a 4x8 trailer for a one-way trip and you don't have to build it either.
Grendel_J  [Member]
11/26/2006 8:58:06 AM EST
I would probably go with the trailer, but if it's something that you're only planning to use once, why not just ship the stuff to where you're going ahead of time? Should cost a lot less than $475....
PaDanby  [Team Member]
11/26/2006 8:40:30 PM EST
I voted for the hitch and trailer, because it seems to be adequate for the load you are planning.

That said, I'm kinda whoopsie about using one of those really inexpensive trailers for a long distance run at freeway speeds with any kind of moderate or heavy load on them.

I think your hit on mileage would be about the same at higher speeds, at trailer "legal" or smart speeds the trailer would come out ahead.The trailers look like they make sense for around the town utility work, but I sure as hell wouldn't trust one at over 55 for more than a few hundred miles... And I'ld make sure the bearing were properly lubed before the trip also.
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