Roof Rack Trays: The Most Popular Way to Safely Carry 4×4 Gear

Most people don’t use the full potential of their vehicles. While that is the case for most city cars, with 4x4s it’s a little bit different. What I mean by full potential doesn’t include using all the vehicle’s features to the max until they break or wear off. Instead, this refers to the most basic components. With a 4×4, this is the drivetrain which, as you know, powers all four wheels. With a 4 wheel drivetrain, you can drive up steep hills a lot easier and tackle ditches and mounds like you have never before.

Because of the high ground clearance, you are also a lot safer when driving a 4×4 than a 2WD vehicle. Something else that you can do is off-roading. While this type of driving requires you to get to know your vehicle and bring a lot of equipment, you can easily solve the issue with the latter by using roof racks. Since there are a lot of different types of roof racks, the best way, in this case, would be to use a tray or what is also known as a roof basket.

roof basket

What Is a Roof Rack Tray/ Basket?

Unlike a regular roof rack with bars on both sides, a roof basket or tray is an open platform. Because of their open design, there are certain benefits to installing them. Instead of using the roof of your 4×4 as the support surface, a roof rack tray has its own, which is often surrounded by bars to keep the load in place. Some models have a larger capacity, allowing you to store all kinds of items even ones that are oddly shaped. You can even put them in a pile and you’ll still have some space left. Roof rack tray models are usually coated to prevent rusting.

A basket is an extremely versatile type of roof rack that is easily the best solution to provide additional storage space when traversing through varying terrains and exploring unknown areas. While not as aerodynamic, roof baskets are easily the best option for off-roading since they can hold up a lot more and can be installed on top of your existing roof rack bars.

roof rack basket

How to Install Roof Cargo Basket

Before you start mounting your new roof rack, make sure you’ve removed all the accessories on the boot and you’ve cleaned it. Get yourself a pair of nitrile gloves to make the process easier.

The first thing you need to do is connect both the upper and lower main frame of the basket. This includes installing half saddle washers, lock nuts, metal spacer tubes and screws. Make sure to tighten the lock nuts and then place the metal plates that came with the basket (if any) in the correct orientation.

To secure the metal plates in place you need to insert washers, M6 screws, and lock nuts and then tighten the locknuts. Once all of this is done, place the basket on top of your vehicle. In this next step, you need to place U bolts through the basket’s wire mesh from the top side.

When you have the U bolts in the correct position, secure the plate that came with them to the underside of the basket. Then, fasten the U bolts to the plate with securing nuts. Do this on all affixing points and at the end, ensure that the basket is secured in place by giving it a little wobble.

how to pack roof rack basket

How to Pack a Roof Basket

Although roof baskets already have a large capacity, if you want to make the most out of them, you need to make sure you’re packing them the right way. The first thing you need to do is put all your heavy items first. This way they won’t crush more fragile items underneath when driving on uneven terrain. Make sure you distribute the weight evenly.

Place your items around the tray so that the pressure put on the vehicle is not concentrated on one area. Doing this constantly will affect handling over time. If your basket came with straps or holders, make good use of them. Secure items that are a bit unstable and even if everything is sitting all nice and tidy you should still put them on for extra reassurance. Keep in mind that when you put stuff at the top of the vehicle the load acts as a weight at the end of a metronome, swinging the back of your ride.

While some items won’t mind being exposed to rain, others will. To help prevent them from getting damaged, you should wrap them in plastic. You can use Ziploc bags if they are big enough to fit some of your 4×4 equipment. Make sure you have someone to help you out when loading and unloading the basket.