This post is intended as a comprehensive guide for anyone who is looking for a roof box for their car and not sure where to start. If you are specifically looking for a roof box for your Range Rover Evoque, then this post also goes into details that are specific to Range Rover Evoque, size constraints, and also covers roof rails and roof racks.
There are so many sizes, features and specifications to consider when buying a roof box. This post aims to capture all the decision making parameters involved in the process of buying a roof box into a logical format with help of charts and diagrams where needed.
Before we continue, here is a handy list of topics we will look to cover in this post:
The type of roof box we wanted for our Range Rover Evoque:
Range Rover Evoques are known for their notoriously small boot capacity – 471 litres to be precise for a 5 door 2011 to 2019 version. So a roof box can be a fantastic addition to your Evoque and can double your luggage space in an instant.
Roof boxes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. For our Evoque, we knew that we wanted a roof box that had at least 400 litres storage capacity or slightly more. To put the size into context, a roof box that is at least 5 feet/1.5m long, 3ft/1 metre wide and 1ft/30cm high. Which equates to 1.5m0.45 x 1m x 0.30m = 0.45 cubic metres or 450 litres or so.
We also wanted the roof box to be of rigid construction and not one of those roof bags you can buy.
Our particular model of Range Rover Evoque (5 doors, 2016) had a boot capacity of only 471 litres. Now it isn’t quite clear whether the 471 litres of space was up to the ceiling or up to the parcel shelf (the removable shelf you often find in your boot behind your rear seat headrests that separates your boot from the rest of the car). But essentially, we wanted to roughly double our loadspace capacity. Going on holidays, weekend trips have been a bit of a challenge with baby items to carry such as pushchairs and travel cots. And you can imagine camping is pretty much out of bounds.
Choosing a roof box with the right shape and size:
There are a few things to consider when it comes to the size of the roof box. The size and shape both go hand in hand in some ways. For example, roof boxes labelled as “sport” may come as narrower, longer boxes as opposed to midsize to large and extra large boxes that tend to take up your whole roof space as they are both wide and long. Here’s a list of the roof box sizes below to consider before you start your roof box search.
What are sports roof boxes?
These boxes are slightly narrower and are often labelled as “Sport” by the majority of the popular roof box manufacturers. Roof boxes labelled as sports tend to take up approximately half of your roof width or sometimes even less. The idea is so that it leaves enough space for you to carry fishing rods or add a bicycle mount to your roof racks for bikes. Sports roof boxes tend to be longer than other small and medium sized roof boxes.
Advantages of Sports size Roof boxes
The obvious advantages of a narrower roof box is that it takes less space on your roof minimising wind lag. The longer internal space in a sports roof box also means that you are able to carry skis of pretty much any length up to 175cm. This should cover people who are up to 6’2” tall for up to intermediate level skiing. You can fit upto 4 sets of skis in most sports size roof boxes that come with a width ranging between 62cm to 68cm.
Some drawbacks of sports size roof boxes:
You may notice that the space is fairly limited as most sports roof box capacities max out around 300 litres. Another disadvantage of sports roof boxes is their length. Since they are narrower, they have to make up for it in length. Therefore, a sports roof box may have to be upto 190 cm long to hold a capacity of 300 litres. This is in contrast with a mid size roof box which can be 175 cm long, yet hold over 400 litres due to its larger width.
Medium size roof boxes
This is one of the most popular sizes with the perfect balance of size and capacity. For most well known manufacturers of roof boxes, you will find that the capacity for medium size boxes start at around 370 litres and go up to 400 litres. Likewise, the length of the medium size roof boxes ranges between 175 cm and 177 cm and width between 77 cm and 82 cm.
Here’s a chart we have compiled below to show side by side how the sizes vary for medium roof boxes across popular roof box manufacturers:
Medium size roof boxes are suitable for any small to midsize SUVs, estate cars and can also fit nicely on MPVs (multi purpose people carriers) and even sedans/saloons. One of the small drawbacks of medium size roof boxes is that you will not be left with much space lengthwise internally to carry longer sports equipment like skis and if you are 6 ft or taller. As you can see in the chart above, the maximum internal space on medium size roof boxes range between 155cm and 160cm in length which means that longer skis for taller people and intermediate levels will be a no go.
Large and extra large roof boxes
This is where labelling of sizes can get a bit confusing from manufacturer to manufacturer. Larger roof boxes tend to start at 420 litres capacity and can go up to 510 litres or more. The obvious positives of larger roof boxes is that they can offer the best of both worlds – length and width for bulkier objects as well as the capacity itself. You can easily fit bulky pushchair frames and strollers in a series, due to impressive 200cm or more internal length, and still stack smaller objects over the items, thanks to extra height which is usually at least 42 cm or more.
However, extra large roof boxes may not be suitable for all cars due to the bulky external size. Wind lag is also another major consideration as it may impact your fuel consumption a lot more than the sports and smaller size roof boxes will. Therefore, before you buy an extra large roof box, make sure the extra space is definitely what you need.
Roof box size chart
We have gone ahead and compiled a chart of popular roof box models from 4 well known manufacturers to give you an idea of size, capacity, features and costs side by side. We hope that this will save you some time as it surely did for us when we were shopping for our roof box!
Please see roof box size comparison chart below: (please note prices were obtained in June 2021)
How to find the right size roof box to suit your car/vehicle
When buying a roof box for a Range Rover Evoque, there are a few size constraints you will need to think of.
Considerations for the rear tailgate spoiler
Each time you open or lift your tailgate, you will notice that the spoiler on the top of the tailgate ends up moving towards the front of the car.
This means that you will have to leave enough space between the rear end of the roof box and the final opened position of the spoiler so that the tailgate can open freely without hitting your roof box every time.
How far does the roof box stick out over your windshield
For obvious reasons, as you can imagine, it is not safe if the roof box starts obstructing your driving view in any way. Therefore, you will want to make sure that the roof box doesn’t stick too far out over your windshield.
One rule of thumb is that if you sit inside on the driver’s seat, and can not see the front of the roof box, then it is generally regarded as safe. This is what we have been told by a very helpful sales representative at Halfords, Epsom, Surrey.
The roof box in the picture above is our Thule Motion XT XL (215cm in length) mounted on our Range Rover Evoque. As you can see from the picture, it just about fits our Range Rover Evoque which is pretty impressive considering the fact that Evoque is a compact SUV.
Working out the maximum roof box length for Range Rover Evoque
We figured out that we could fit a Thule Motion XT XL which is 215 cm in length and 95 cm wide on our Evoque. Thule Motion XT XL is one of the longest roof boxes out there, only perhaps smaller than Kamei Delphin 470 which is 230cm long and comes with a capacity of 470 litres. Here’s a few more pictures of the Thule Motion XT XL roof box on our Range Rover Evoque.
What features to look out for in a roof box
Our decision to buy Thule Motion XT XL (Gloss) for our Range Rover Evoque was based on the following points:
- The roof box manufacturer/brand
- The mounting system it uses
- The outer finish and overall shape
- Locking mechanism
Below, we elaborate on each of the areas.
Why we chose Thule roof box as a brand:
We wanted a well renowned brand that is known for its quality and longevity. Having done lots of research online and speaking to friends and family, we deduced that Thule is one of the top Roof Box manufacturers out there.
Kamei and Atera also popped up in our searches repeatedly, Kamei having won multiple product review awards too. Kamei also comes with a slightly cheaper price tag, however, there were some key features combinations which only Thule seemed to have.
Here’s a list of features we considered in arriving at the conclusion that Thule Motion XT range was the perfect roof box for us.
Roof box mounting system options we considered:
From what we have seen so far in our search for a roof box, the majority of roof boxes in the market come with either U bolt attachment or clamp style attachment. Here’s a brief illustration of how each of the roof box mounting systems work.
How U bolt roof box attachment works
Please see diagram below for a loose illustration of how the U bolt attachment system works for a roof box.
With the U bolt type roof box attachment system, every time you need to attach the roof box onto your horizontal roof bars, you will need to insert 4 x U shaped bolts from underneath and into the roof box > and then secure it with tightening nuts from inside the roof box. Unless you intend to leave the roof box on your car for extended periods of time, the U bolt style of mounting technique may not be the quickest or easiest option.
As a result, we felt that using U bolts to secure the roof box was too time consuming, and we began looking for an alternative roof box mounting technique.
How claw style roof box mounting system works
The claw style roof box attachment mechanism was the first better, easier alternative we found during our search. In our opinion, this is by far one of the easiest and most convenient mounting options.
The installation can be as simple as aligning the grip claws over the roof bars and hand tightening the rotating grips directly above the claws for a secure fit, as shown in the diagram above. Torque guidance is also available on some brands, such as Thule roof box mounting grip claws. You’ll hear a click when you tighten from the inside, signalling that it’s tight enough to be secure, which is quite helpful.
Only a few roof models come with Claw mounting systems and Thule Force and Thule Motion ranges both come with claw mounting systems.
Roof box outer finish we considered:
There appeared to be two prominent trends in terms of outside finish for roof boxes during our searches: matte and gloss. We chose the gloss black finish simply because it was our personal preference. Thule Motion XT is also available in matte or aeroskin finish.
Do you need a dual sided or single side opening roof box?
Another important thing to consider in your search for a roof box is the lid opening options. Some roof boxes come with struts that enable opening the box from both sides.
Having the option to open the roof box from both sides may come very handy in places where space may be limited i.e. if someone parked too close to you on the side your roof box lid usually opens. Or if you are travelling abroad with your car and you end up having to access the roof box from the opposite side to your usual side.
Thule Motion XT XL that we went for can be opened from both sides. In fact, the majority of the roof boxes we looked at had dual opening struts. The only brand that seemed to have less dual opening roof box opening options was Kamei. Please refer to the chart below.
Choosing the right lock attachment for your roof box
Another key consideration for us in choosing our roof box was the lock type. Most of the roof boxes in the market seemed to have the standard key turn lock system. Whereby, the whole locking mechanism is directly connected to the key/lock system, so as you turn the key, the locking points will engage or disengage.
Our key concern with the key turn type of locking system after reading some reviews was the longevity/reliability. Some people seemed to complain online that after a few years, when the locking system becomes rusty or simply not as smooth as it first was brand new, you run the risk of snapping the key if the system jams.
Some manufacturers have separated the key locking mechanism from the actual lid attachment/locking arms to avoid this. This means that you don’t actually engage or disengage the locking arms with the actual key. Instead, the principal mechanism for engaging and disengaging the locking arms is the sliding lock system. The key, on the other hand, just locks the slider.
All the Hapro and Kamei roof boxes we looked at had key turn locking system (Hapro Traxer 5.6, Traxer 6.6, Kamei 330, Kamei Delphin 340k, Delphin 470, Husky L) Please refer to chart further up for side by side comparison of roof box brands by locking mechanism.
Finding the right cross bars or roof racks for our Range Rover Evoque:
Before you start looking for a set of cross bars (the bars that go across the car on your roof rail side to side) you will need to figure out if your car already has roof rails. Luckily, our Range Rover Evoque already had roof rails so we could simply go ahead and purchase cross bars.
What are roof rails and what to do if your car doesn’t have roof rails
Roof rails are those two long bars you see running lengthwise on a car roof, usually sticking out as individual rods/bars or sometimes just attached to the roof with no gap between the roof and the rails themselves. Roof rails alone will not enable you to carry overhead loads on your car. You will need roof racks/roof bars/cross bars that go across the car side to side and attach on to the roof rails.
If your car already comes with roof rails pre fitted, then all you need to do is buy roof racks or cross bars. You will then be able to mount the roof box on the cross bars. However, if your car does not come with factory fitted roof rails, then in most cases, the car manufacturer will offer an option to buy them separately.
For Range Rover Evoques for instance, you can buy a pair of aftermarket roof rails for around £140 from websites like lrparts.net or for around £250 or so directly from Land Rover here –
How we chose our cross bars for our roof box
As mentioned earlier, luckily, we did not need to buy roof rails as our Range Rover Evoque already came with factory fitted roof rails. Therefore, the next task was to choose a set of roof racks or cross bars.
Land Rover makes cross bars specifically for Range Rover Evoques with Range Rover branding. They look pretty neat and come in Silver and Black finish (Silver bar, and Black mount cover).
Here’s a link to Land Rover website for the Range Rover Evoque cross bar:
We decided to purchase the Range Rover roof racks and they slotted on like a charm to our Evoque’s factory fitted roof rails.
Staying safe with your roof box and precautions
Now that we have covered how to find the right roof box, what features to look for etc, it seems befitting to end this post with some general safety advice on using a car roof box.
Do not overload a roof box
Your car insurance may become invalid if you overload your roof box more than manufacturer specified capacity. So please be mindful and have a rough estimate of the weights of each individual item you decide to carry in your roof box.
Always double and triple check roof box lid is locked securely
It goes without saying that you can never be too careful when it comes to making sure your roof box is attached securely to your roof racks. The last thing you want is a wobbly roof box when you are driving at 70 miles per hour on a motorway! For U bolt attachments, please double check the nuts and tightly secured on each mounting point before going on a long drive. For claw style systems, tighten each mount until you hear the click before loading your roof box ahead of a trip.
Be very careful when you enter car parks with height restrictions
You may not be able to drive into a car park if you drive a SUV/MPV with a roof box on by default. Most multi storey car parks have very low height restrictions. Therefore, it is advisable that you measure your overall vehicle height once you have finished fitting your roof box onto your car. Then add 5 or 10 centimetres to that measurement as a buffer (a loaded car will measure lower than an empty car for instance) and note it down on a piece of paper and store it in your glove box. Next time you visit a height restricted car park, this measurement will come really handy.
How fast can you drive with a roof box on your car?
Roof boxes increase your wind drag and they are terrible for fuel economy. Driving at high speed puts a lot of strain on your roof rails and particularly if you have a large roof box.
Therefore, it is always advisable that you drive very sensibly when you have roof bars on. Both Thule and Kamei roof boxes and mounting units are rated for up to 81 mph according to their websites (screenshot below).
Screenshot taken from Thule website:
Screenshot taken from Kamei website:
It is advisable that you stay well below the maximum rated speed for your roof box to be on the safe side.
We hope you found this post useful and it helped you decide on not only what size roof box to choose, but also features you need to look out for and consider when buying a roof box.
Please leave comments below if you think we have missed anything and also if you have any further information that can help our reader in choosing the right roof box for their cars.
Thanks and speak soon!