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A cargo bag is one of the most convenient and affordable ways to carry extra items that just won't fit into the trunk or cargo space of your car or SUV. Here's a video that shows how easy a roof bag is to install and pack.
When you’re headed out of town on a road trip, room for your luggage and gear can be at a premium. Cargo roof bags are a great way to gain additional space so that all of your passengers will be comfortable for the trip ahead.
Cargo bags are soft, zippered carriers that fasten to the roof of your car, SUV or van with built-in straps to hold them in place on your vehicle’s roof rack. They come in many different sizes, and most are made of PVC coated nylon to keep their contents dry and protected from rain, snow and dust.
Hard car top carriers are another option but tend to be more expensive, heavier to install and bulky to store.
The amount of gear your roof bag can hold will be determined by your vehicle’s rooftop load limit. While most vehicles can safely carry 100 lbs, we recommend consulting your owner’s manual for verification. Remember to include the weight of any cargo bars or baskets you have added when calculating your weight requirements.
In preparation for installing your roof bag, wash the roof of your vehicle to remove any dust or dirt particles. This minimizes the potential for scratches or other damage that could result from the filled carrier shifting.
In addition, you may want to consider using a non-skid pad or mat between the rooftop and the cargo bag; this also minimizes scratches in addition to helping hold the filled carrier from sliding forward or backward on the rooftop. You should never use a blanket or towel for this.
Installing the roof bag onto your vehicle can usually be handled by one person, but the job will be easier if you enlist some help.
If the cargo rails or bars are adjustable, start by opening them as wide or as long as possible. Place the bag onto the roof of the vehicle with the closed-zipper end toward the rear of the vehicle. Even though most bags are rated water-resistant, having the opening to the back reduces the chance of rain getting in.
Position the bag to fit between the rails for the best aerodynamics and to prevent the bag from flapping once you are in motion.
The same goes for the roof bars. If the bag is longer than the car rack, place the bag directly behind the front bar, and let the excess overlap on the back bar, not on the front.
When loading your items into the roof bag, start with the largest or heaviest items first, placing them in the middle. Continue to work out from there, trying to keep the cargo relatively balanced.
Finish the loading process by zipping the roof bag closed, making sure the zipper flap is completely flat against the zipper.
It is best to fill the roof bag as completely as possible in order to keep the flapping and noise to a minimum. Built-in cinch straps help secure any loose fabric, and (it) also helps to tuck in any loose strap ends.
With all your gear and equipment loaded, tighten up all the slack in each tie down strap.
When adding a substantial amount of weight to your vehicle, both inside as well as the contents of your roof bag, you may notice a difference in your car’s handling and responsiveness. Check your owner’s manual for information on the vehicle’s gross weight rating to make sure you are not overloaded, and adjust the tire pressure as necessary.
On the Road
Once you are on the road, it is important to check your tie down straps periodically. Stopping after your first 30 miles to make sure everything is still secure is a good idea, then every 100 miles after that.
When you’ve arrived at your destination, have someone help remove the roof bag for easy unpacking.
After returning from your road trip, you’ll notice a lot of bugs and dirt that have collected. Take the time now to wash and thoroughly dry the roof bag. Store the roof bag where it will remain dry and out of direct sun.
This will further the longevity of your roof bag, and it will be ready to go for your next adventure. Have a safe trip!
How much does a cargo carrier bag really hold? A 10 cu. ft. rooftop cargo bag will fit two or three average-sized suitcases; a larger roof bag of 15 or more cu. ft. will hold at least four suitcases. Can I use a rooftop cargo bag on a vehicle with a sunroof? Or on a convertible? Most sunroofs will support a roof bag if the cargo is evenly distributed and you use good judgment. If you have any doubt, we also suggest checking the manufacturer's recommendations for a sunroof's weight capacity. However, convertible car tops will NOT support a rooftop cargo bag. What if I can't reach far enough across the rooftop to get it installed or packed? A portable wheel step makes installing and packing cargo bags much easier. Simply position the wheel step over the top of one of the vehicle's rear wheels, and you've got a sturdy, slip-free surface on which to stand and reach forward, unlike perching in the frame of the door.
Several online discussion forums recently popped up in our searches that asked whether it is necessary to use a wheel chock when transporting a motorcycle. The correct answer is (of course) a resounding, Yes!
The question came across each forum remarkably similar. In each instance, some guy was moving out-of-state and had never trailered his motorcycle for any distance. Where should he start? A gamut of experts chimed in from a very supportive, well-meaning community of fellow riders, and the range of responses was wide and varied.
First were the cowboys in the group, who basically told the inquirer to get himself a few tie down straps, push the bike’s front tire up against the front of the motorcycle trailer or pickup bed, buckle the thing in, and go for it. They’d moved lots of motorcycles that way plenty of times and never had a problem, they said.
The second group was comprised of industrious and handy do-it-yourselfers who fashioned their own wheel chocks from 2x4s. They presented their plans and measurements, cost of materials, time for labor and related the ease of their journey.
Motorcycle wheel chocks are very affordable, and there really is no substitute for a quality, commercially manufactured piece of equipment
The reality is that most people: A) Don’t want to risk damaging their motorcycle, which is why they asked the question in the first place and B) Simply don’t have the patience, time or interest in building their own motorcycle chock. The final part of that equation is that C) Motorcycle wheel chocks are very affordable, and there really is no substitute for a quality, commercially manufactured piece of equipment.
A motorcycle wheel chock is designed specifically to keep the front wheel aligned and straight to prevent it from turning, the result of which could be the motorcycle becoming wobbly and tipping over. A wheel chock is the best security against that happening. They are also used on trailers that have no front rail, to stop the bike from rolling forward.
When selecting the style of motorcycle wheel chock, there are different options to consider, depending on your needs and budget. Some are basic and straightforward, a simple curved bracket that hugs the front tire and is mounted directly to the trailer or truck bed. These do the job nicely, but the key is to make sure you get the right size for your tire, ensuring that it is a snug fit.
Beyond that, chocks come with base plates, a pivoting cradle that “locks” the wheel in place, adjustments to accommodate various sizes of tire diameters or widths, or even built-in tie down loops. Some wheel chocks perform double-duty, coming in handy when doing maintenance on your bike as well.
Whatever the style, the wheel chock needs to be mounted to the deck of the pickup truck bed or trailer. You may want to consider using quick nuts for this step if you tend to move a lot of equipment (motorcycles or otherwise), since these create a permanent threaded hole you can reuse with each trip.
Finally, you’ll need four good tie down straps to secure the motorcycle to the trailer, two for the front end and two for the back; ratchet tie down straps or cam buckles are both a good bet. Some people like to use handle bar tie down clamps or soft loops to avoid any possible damage to the bodywork.
Tighten these straps bit by bit, moving from one side of the motorcycle to other, to create as much balance in the tension as possible. Pushing down slightly on the handle bars to compress the front forks as you tighten the straps helps reduce any additional bouncing, should you hit some bumpy roads, and prevents the tie downs from becoming unhooked. The second set of straps is for the rear of the motorcycle, this time, pushing down on the seat as the straps are tightened.
A final precaution is to put your motorcycle into gear once you have it tied down and secure. This extra step keeps the bike from possibly rolling backward and also takes some strain off the various tie down points.
A high quality motorcycle wheel chock is affordable, accessible, and available with lots of convenient options. It’s always a good idea, and there’s really no reason to skip it. After all, have you ever seen a more appalling sight than a motorcycle – your motorcycle, no less – tipped on its side? Do yourself this little favor and invest in a wheel chock.
Using a bungee when you need a tie down strap is a risky scheme at best, and really, just asking for disaster to strike. Do you know why?
1. You don’t know the exact strength of a bungee cord.
Most bungee cords do not come with a Break Strength or Working Load rating. Quality cargo straps, however, will have one or both of these important numbers printed on their tag or some other permanent spot on the strap or hardware. No guessing.
2. You think using a bungee is OK because you’re “just going a couple blocks.”
If a bungee isn’t strong enough to hold the cargo you are carrying, it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling across town or across the country. A skimpy elastic cord may allow a load to shift; once that happens, you risk the safety of surrounding motorists, yourself and your belongings.
3. Overloaded or old bungee cords wear out quicker than you think.
It is recommended that the maximum “stretch” of a bungee cord be limited to 50% of its resting length. Even with normal use, these cords eventually stretch permanently, fray or break, or are subject to loose hook-end connections. Exposure to sun, rain, wind and hot or cold temperatures can accelerate a cord’s deterioration, and many experts recommend replacing bungees every six months or once a year, even with light use.
4. A metal hook end can straighten, become loose from its attachment point or scratch the items you’re moving.
Just as is the case with not knowing the exact strength of the cord, it is also likely you would not know the strength of the hooks, either. So the potential of failure exists not just with the elastic woven cord but also with the metal hooks. More common, though, is that the hook simply unlashes from the object it was securing.
5. A stretched bungee that accidentally slips from your hand becomes a sharp – and really dangerous – projectile.
Enough injuries occur every year when a bungee hook slips from a person’s hand during loading that studies have been performed on the process. The most common injury is to the eyes, with estimates indicating the hook recoils at speeds of 45 to 60 miles an hour. That can do some very serious damage.
Despite all this bungee cord bashing, there is a good and useful application for them, tasks like holding down a tarp or securing the cover on a cooler; but nothing that involves containing heavy, bulky or airborne-prone items.
More massive cargo should be left to heavy duty, high quality tie down straps. They come in a variety of lengths, widths, and Work Load ratings, and many styles of hook ends and ratchet straps are available to reliably perform whatever hauling or transporting job you may have. Use the right tools for the task at hand, and you’ll find that investing in tie downs for dependability and longevity will be more than worth it!
- Biker’s Friend. Bungee Warning. Retrieved from http://www.bikersfriend.com/pages/bungee.htm
- Lexco. Bungee Cords FAQs. Retrieved from http://www.lexcocable.com/faqs-12.html
- Meyer, Lewis. How to: Safely strap a ton of shit on your car. Matador Network. August 23, 2011. Retrieved from http://matadornetwork.com/goods/how-to-strap-shit-to-your-car/
- State Fund. Bungee Cords – More Than Meets the Eye. Retrieved from http://www.statefundca.com/safety/losscontrol/LossControlArticle.aspx?ArticleID=295
- Triodyne Inc. (June 1997) Bungee Cord Danger Analysis. Safety Brief, volume 12, no. 3. Retrieved from http://www.triodyne.com/safety~1/sb_v12n3.pdf
No, summer isn’t over; there’s plenty of time left. But with Labor Day having come and gone and the kids getting back to school, you know winter is on its way. And with the onset of the colder weather comes a huge laundry list of “season end” chores that need to be addressed before the snow flies. Sure, you may already have weeded all the whites out of your wardrobe for the season, but there’s a lot more to be done.
The Big Cover-Up
There are tasks like closing up the cottage, pulling in the pier from the lake, picking the final harvest in the garden and preparing your beloved toys and tools and equipment for storage. No small feat, and, thankfully, there are plenty of resources and checklists available to help in making sure you’ve got it all handled. A critical step in this process is the ‘covering’ part; specifically, what you use to cover your equipment as it rests over the cold months.
As you proceed through the steps of winter prep for your motorcycle, boat, Jet Ski, lawn tractor, kayak or canoe, you might be tempted to use a plastic or canvas tarp, a retired blanket or even some bed sheets. Don’t go there! By using a good cover that is designed to fit your equipment properly, your equipment will be protected and in good shape to provide many more years of dependable service.
The selection of a cover should be based on the material of construction and the fit.
Made of the Right Stuff
So ask yourself:
Is the cover waterproof or water-resistant to protect against moisture?
Is it breathable or vented to guard against moisture build-up, which can cause corrosion, mold, etc.?
Will it protect against dust, dirt and UV rays well enough to prevent scratches, fading, etc.?
Is it durable to withstand tears? (Note that not all covers are not necessarily designed for trailering.)
A Good Fit
Is the cover a good fit without gaping pockets of excess fabric? (These can be a welcome mat for bugs or small critters looking to nest.)
Is it easy on / easy off? (With less bulk, a better fit usually means less hassle, especially if you are doing this job solo.)
We Cover Everything
Getting a close-to-custom fit for your equipment going into winter storage is easy and affordable with a wide selection of covers to choose from:
Boat covers (aluminum boats, hunting boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, outboard motors)
Motorcycle covers (styles for all makes of motorcycles, including Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, BMW, Triumph and more; also available for motocross and scooters)
Personal watercraft covers (Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, Wave Runner, more)
Garden Tractor / Lawn Mower covers (riding, push-behind, zero turn)
Car / Truck / SUV covers
Camper covers (full size RVs, motorhomes, travel trailers, pop-up campers)
Patio Furniture covers (grills, patio chairs, chaise lounges, tables, benches, cushions, umbrellas, standup heaters)
The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting bitterly cold temperatures for two-thirds of the country this winter with a bonus of heavier than normal snowfalls for some of us. It’s time to button things up and batten down the hatches because winter, she’s on her way. Have you started your fall cleanup and storage yet?