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Roof Racks for Your Overlanding Vehicle

Whether you own a standard SUV style 4WD or a Ute, a roof rack is an essential piece of equipment to have, and serves many purposes.

Permanently mounted on the 4x4Explorer vehicle is a Rhino-Rack pioneer roof rack. The Pioneer system is excellent and extremely modular. As well as the rack itself, we have jerry can holders and the new Rhino-Rack stow it, for carrying smaller items. All the accessories are easily detachable, so that we can adjust our roof set up, depending on the trip that we are undertaking.

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We also have the Rhino-Rack Batwing 270° awning and our Maxtrax and a shovel mounted on either side. The Batwing obviously needs to be where it is to provide us with shelter from the sun and rain. Having the Maxtrax and shovel mounted on the side serves two purposes. Firstly, they are easy to get to when we need them and secondly, once they have been used, they are often covered in mud and not something that you want inside the truck.

The Pioneer platform is also used to support the various lights that we have. At the front, we have a lightbar, which is attached using Rhino-Rack’s special mounting brackets. On either side, we have two LED work lights, which are augmented by another LED lamp at the rear. These are extremely useful when setting up camp in the dark.

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The main reason for having a roof rack, however, is to increase your load carrying capacity. Unless we are going on an extended trip, we generally carry everything that we need inside the vehicle. On our last trip to Europe, where we were away for nine months, we carried spare fuel and all our camping and bedding in a two hundred litre waterproof Rhino-Rack bag on the roof. This worked really well as we had my children along for part of the trip and needed four seats and internal space.

There are many different styles and brands out there on the market. We chose Rhino-Rack here and in Europe because it’s good quality, looks great and is modular. Before you buy, think carefully about what you are going to use it for and the accessories that are available.

Something that you should be very careful of when buying, fitting and loading a roof rack, is its loading capacity.

Your vehicle will have a maximum load carrying capacity for the roof. This can either be found online or in the handbook. There are different types of load carrying capacity and these are generally described as static and off road, or dynamic. These need to be differentiated. It is more than likely that the  load carrying capacity stated in the handbook is the static load rating. The static load rating is obviously when the vehicle is static i.e., not moving. Imagine a rooftop tent with two people sleeping inside. The loading on the roof is likely to be close to 300kgs, but as the vehicle is not moving, the roof and the rack can support this weight. Now imagine the same on a bumpy off road track….. Not the same.

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It is vital to do your research before you purchase. If you are not fitting the rack yourself, be sure to check with your vehicle outfitter to make sure that you know the correct off road carrying capacity before you start.

Rhino-Rack have an excellent load rating calculator to help you stay within your safe limits.

Once again, we hope that you have found this article (as part of our Building an Overlanding Vehicle series) interesting and informative and look forward to seeing you out on the tracks!!!!

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