Red Volkswagen Passat in the snow with a man holding skis walking towards it.

Roof Rack Buyers Guide – Winter Edition

Find the best roof racks for you.  

The temperatures are cooling down and the ski fields are beckoning. Planning an outdoor adventure is easier with the proper roof rack set up. Here are a few simple tips to making sure your set-up is the tops.

Close up of Volkswagen roof racks.

Weight Matters.

Your vehicle, despite what misguided photos on social media may tell you, cannot carry everything on top of its roof. There is a limit, which varies for each vehicle, and it should be adhered to. Always check with your vehicle’s manual to determine how much it can carry, but standard passenger models can typically handle between 50kg to 75kg on the roof, while commercial vehicles can sometimes carry 100kg to 200kg.

Putting a whole heap of weight above your vehicle’s ideal centre of gravity can affect crucial driving elements like stopping, corner handling, and make you more vulnerable to crosswinds. Plus, it makes you less aerodynamic and fuel-efficient.

While these warnings shouldn’t completely put you off a roof rack, they’re important to consider for your safety,  as well as others on the road.

Consider Your Use.

Do you want a roof rack for your winter slope activities or something that can carry you into summer sports as well? While ski-specific roof racks are ideal for the mountain, you may want to consider more adjustable options that allow a combination of activities, or roof boxes for trips away.

Also, consider the access. Is it easy for you to clamber on top of your 4WD in sub-freezing temperatures to fetch your snowboard by yourself? If it’s too hard to use, you may not use it at all, rendering it useless.

Blue Volkswagen Roof Rack with a white background.
Volkswagen cargo roof box on top of a blue SUV with a sunset in the background.

What Type Do You Need?

There are two main types of racks to carry your winter gear. Roof bar racks can easily be mounted on most vehicles and work well with most winter sports gear. These sets come with two load bars that can be installed yourself.

This option offers an easy solution that’s quick to install and use. They can be locked to avoid theft, don’t obstruct your view, and affect aerodynamics less than a roof box. The disadvantages include increased noise at high speeds and the fact that your gear is exposed to the elements.

Roof boxes offer more variety for gear, as they are completely closed boxes that sit atop the roof. If you’re worried about your winter gear being exposed to the elements – or stolen – a roof box offers more protection. As they are heavier than roof bar racks, you’ll need to consider the extra fuel consumption and noise at high speeds.

Lighter Materials Are Better

You’re going to burn more petrol carrying things on your roof, that’s just a matter of fact. What your roof racks are made of can affect this as well, so choose materials wisely. Aluminium racks are lighter than steel ones, which is great because we’re trying to lighten the load, remember?

Blue Volkswagen with an open cargo roof box parked in a geometric-looking parking lot.

Don’t Skimp on Quality.

New Zealand’s windy roads are tough without things clanging around on the top of your roof. From fording rivers to climbing steep ski field roads, you’ll want to focus on your adventures, not your gear sliding into someone’s windshield. This isn’t an accessory that’s just for show.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, get in touch with our friendly Parts Team who are happy to assist you in finding the right roof rack for you.

Please note that imagery and specifications may be of overseas vehicles and include optional extras. Pricing is subject to change. Speak to our team for current pricing and specs.