I spent some time on the Interstate Highways this past week, and I couldn't help noticing all the families heading out on vacation trips. Most of the cars were packed to the ceilings with kids, pets, and luggage, and many of them had increased their carrying capacity with car top carriers. The carriers were of all makes and shapes and they were loaded down with luggage, kayaks and canoes, bikes, camping gear and anything that was too big for the interior or the car. You name it, it was strapped to the top of a vehicle. Car top carriers are a great way to increase a car's carry capacity.
Typical of the carriers was one of this design -- the Sport 3 Car Top Carrier (was $139; now on sale for $120). It offers a monster 18 cubic feet of storage and secures to a vehicle roof rack (or to the rain gutters with optional straps). You have easy access to the contents inside the Hydrotuff cover -- with its storm flap -- because the urethane-coated zipper runs 3/4 of the way around the carrier. All the necessary security straps are included with the cover, and it features a one year warranty.
Should you prefer a hard-body car top carrier, Thule has one for you -- their Atlantis 1200 Cargo Box (was $570; now on sale at $513). Ideal for over-sized gear -- tents, golf clubs, skis, tricycles -- this rugged ABS plastic car top carrier sports a sleek, aerodynamic shape to minimize wind drag. 12 cubic feet in volume and nearly 7 feet in length, the carrier fits on your installed crossbar roof rack; you get access from either side, it's weatherproof, and features a locking system. Lifetime warranty on this nice car top carrier. If you only haul things like gas cans and spare tires, you might like this Curt Roof Basket Car Top Carrier ($52); lightweight at some 17 pounds and generously sized at about 4' x 3' x 4" deep, the carrier is built from sturdy, round steel tubing and powder-coated for a lasting finish. The carrier fits all factory roof racks without tools.