Raising the roof(rack)

I recently bought a 4×4 for camping and overlanding. Do I need a roof rack? – MIKE OOSTHUIZEN.

We chatted to Kurt Brunner, owner of Ultimate Bush Adventurer. Here’s what he had to say:

If ever there was a can of worms to be opened, this is it. Roof rack companies will swear that this is an absolute necessity, but is it really?

First off, remember that when you fit a roof rack you automatically get an accompanying (and annoying – at least in the beginning) noise. I’ve always been blown away by customers who expect to hear nothing at all. That’s like walking on the beach and complaining about the sand! The noise is of course caused by the drag, which causes resistance. If the rack is on the canopy, you won’t hear it that far back, but SUV and bakkie (cab mounted rack) drivers will hear the wind noise for sure. I must add, though, that some brands are quieter than others!

For the most part fuel consumption is negatively affected due to the increase in wind resistance, but the bigger concern is body roll. Because now we enter the world of safety and this is where it often goes horribly wrong. A driver cannot expect the driving characteristics of the vehicle to remain the same now that there is weight on the roof. Cornering is affected, body roll increases and braking takes longer – to mention just a few.

Another important factor is roof weight capabilities. In other words, how much weight can the roof take before damage occurs? Most drivers are completely clueless as to their vehicle specifications. A Jimny, for example, has a roof weight allowance of just over 30kg… not because the roof isn’t strong enough but because of body roll. It’s a short, narrow vehicle that is highly susceptible to body roll when the centre of gravity is increased and weight is added. It’s that simple. The moment weight and height are added to the roof, everything changes.

This brings me to rooftop tent fitments. Why on earth would you cover a 2m long roof rack with a 2m long rooftop tent? It’s crazy. Not only have you wasted money on the rack, but there is unnecessary weight and height added to your vehicle when a set of load bars would have sufficed. Load bars will save you roughly 20kg in weight and around R8 000 in price!

The obvious benefit of a roof rack is the additional space. You have a platform on which you can stow and secure gear as well as mount accessories such as gas bottles, jerry cans, a spade, and such. It is especially useful to store those items you do not want to transport inside the vehicle (like fuel). And let’s be honest, a 4×4 looks really good with a roof rack and the associated accessories. Thus, while by no means a necessity for your overlanding partner, this is an extremely versatile accessory with many uses. However, always keep weight and height implications in mind.

Check out Ultimate Bush Adventurer for all your outdoor needs: www.ubadventurer.com

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