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Roof racks are an essential buy for your car if you’re someone who enjoys the outdoors and has bicycles, kayaks, or skis to haul around, or if you’re someone who simply needs the additional space for cargo.

While you may think of it is an unnecessary add-on, it’s quite the opposite. A good quality roof rack will protect the top of your car from any damage. Plus it will evenly distribute the extra weight you’re carrying onto the frame of the car, not the roof itself, which is not strong enough to support excess pressure. Yes, it may seem costly now, but most roof racks are easily transferred from vehicle to vehicle and should last you for years to come.

With all that being said, it’s undeniable that the right rack system is a worthwhile investment and you should seek out the best of the best. In this article, we’ve chosen our top three picks and outlined the reasons why each of these roof racks is a particularly great model, great for any outdoorsman or individual seeking additional storage space.

Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof-Rack System

With a clean, crisp design, and modern technology aiding the seamlessness of this system, the Yakima Whispbar Flush Bar Roof Racks are for those who want their roof rack to complement their vehicle, not stand out as an ugly add-on.

Aesthetically pleasing as well as aerodynamic, Yakima’s fit only on vehicles that have SmartFoot fitting kits already installed, so this purchase may be more well-suited to someone with experience owning and using roof racks or someone with specific needs.

Nonetheless, this rack system is so beautifully designed that its look will appeal to every customer. Using these is also a pleasure; wind drag is addressed by the sleekness of the racks, which also helps reduce excess noise. 

Sports Rack Complete Roof Rack System

Sports Rack Complete Roof Rack System is one of our top picks for two major reasons. First, it’s designed to fit onto any type of vehicle, so even if your car or truck doesn’t have preinstalled rails on its roof, Sports Rack Complete System will still work for you.

This is surprisingly one of the most common issues that people have when they want to install roof racks. Most roof racks are made for vehicles, such as SUVs and crossovers, that already have railing systems in place. For those who are cycling enthusiasts but also own a regular 4-door sedan, Sports Rack Complete Roof Rack System has their back. 

It includes all necessary parts, such as rack feet, load bars, brackets for support, and hardware for mounting, as well as locks and keys. The maximum weight capacity for this system tops out at around 130 lbs. 

Secondly, Sports Rack Complete System is cost-friendly at under $200, especially considering the all-inclusive model and the fact that everything you need for installation is covered. If your vehicle is not roof-rack-friendly, so to speak, this system is definitely our top choice for you. 

Thule AeroBlade Edge Flush Mount Rack

Unlike Sports Rack Complete System, Thule is a premium brand for roof racks, making it a more expensive option, but one that comes with a stylish design and additional perks.

Many racks share a common problem: wind drag. They can even reduce vehicle fuel efficiency because they cause so much wind resistance while driving. Thule’s AeroBlade Edge Flush Mount Rack — as the name suggests — solves that common issue due to its aerodynamic model. As our colleagues at My Car Needs This found, “the AeroBlades not only improve fuel efficiency, but also reduce noise while driving.” 

This rack system is one that is built for vehicles with existing factory-installed rails. If your vehicle doesn’t have these rails, be prepared to pay extra for Thule’s brackets that will convert a non-rail roof to one that can support a roof rack.

Luckily, despite the cost, Thule’s fans attest to how long-lasting its products are, so you’re truly getting what you pay for in this case.