There are pros and cons to both cargo boxes and bags when it comes to traveling. If you're trying to decide which is best for you, consider your needs and preferences. Do you need a lot of space? Are you carrying fragile items? How much do you want to spend? Keep reading to learn more about the differences between these two types of travel gear.

Cargo Box vs Bag – Best Comparisons for 2024

You’ve finally chosen to acquire a roof storage system because you need more room in your car. You’ve cut the available options cargo box vs bag, both of which are highly useful.

The choice between a cargo bag and a cargo box is not always clear cut. Some people may find it hard to perceive the similarities and differences between the two, but before making a choice, do they truly know what each one has to offer?

To help you make an informed decision, we’ll go over the main difference between a roof bag and a roof box. Both have numerous benefits, but picking one over the other may be particularly important depending on your needs, preferences, and circumstances.

Selecting between a cargo bag or a cargo box is not always clear-cut. This piece is meant to help you make a more informed decision by clarifying some of the details and outlining the benefits and drawbacks of both carrier systems.

Cargo carriers may be divided into three distinct categories.

  • Cargo Box: The most typical kind of rooftop cargo box, the box provides the highest level of security for a wide variety of items, including suitcases and sports gear.
  • Roof Bag: A softshell carrier is created from a fabric that doesn’t retain its shape when empty. This is made up of waterproof material, but that doesn’t ensure dry clothes. Most of them are open with zippers.
  • Cargo Baskets: Are large metal containers that may be attached to the top of your vehicle and used to transport your items and store heavy objects while being held in place using cam straps, bungee cords, or rope.
rooftop cargo box

What Is A Cargo Box?

Cargo boxes are solid plastic containers that may be mounted on the top of a vehicle to provide extra space to store; they come in a range of sizes to accommodate drivers’ varying demands.

Cargo boxes, thanks to their sturdy exteriors, shield your possessions from harm as they ride on the car’s roof. Your items will be safe from the elements, trash, and insects if you transport them in a hard cargo box.

As an added bonus, cargo boxes may be locked, and their hard exterior makes getting into them far more difficult than breaking into, say, a cotton cargo bag.

Cargo boxes are pricey and need a roof rack to be mounted. For the additional cost, you can attach a cargo box to your car roof, but only if you first install a roof rack. In addition, you’ll want to make sure the cargo box you pick is compatible with the roof racks you already have.

Cargo boxes are inflexible and, as a result, difficult to store until they are needed. Depending on the height of your garage, you may also need to remove your cargo box before parking in it.

What are the pros and cons of a cargo box?

A cargo box is useful for packing plenty of goods when traveling. Large cargo boxes can store camping goods, baggage, or sporting equipment. Cargo boxes are costly and may not suit all vehicles. Installation and removal might be tricky.

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Roof Bag vs Roof Box: Which Is Better?

What Is A Cargo Bag?

Cargo bags are quite similar to cargo boxes, however they are often made out of a tough, water-resistant fabric rather than a hard shell. To visualize what a cargo bag is, think of an oversized, waterproof backpack with straps that span across roof of your vehicle.

Cargo bags, which are available in a variety of sizes analogous to those of cargo boxes, are a great way to increase the amount of extra cargo space available in your vehicle for transporting goods. Since a roof rack is unnecessary for their installation, the process is quick and painless. The bag may be easily secured by strapping it beneath the top of the vehicle. There will be straps resting on your head the whole time you’re traveling, which is a little inconvenient but still worth considering.

My soft racks for my car use the same strapping procedure because I’m a surfer. It’s a minor annoyance, sure, but it’s easily dealt with. The racks leave marks on the car’s roof from rubbing against it.

In the same way that cargo boxes protect your goods from damage and severe weather, so do cargo bags, albeit they may wear out a little faster than cargo boxes since hard plastic is significantly more robust than cloth.

Cargo bags are superior to cargo boxes from a financial and space-savings standpoint. They are cheaper, and you won’t have to spend extra money on a roof rack. Remove the bag in seconds, fold it up, and store it in a drawer at home; this is far more convenient than a bulky cargo box.

What are the pros and cons of a bag?

A bag is more space-efficient than a cargo box. Small pockets make these bags perfect for road trips and city excursions. When flying, put everything in a carry-on to avoid checked luggage costs.

Using a bag instead of a cargo box has drawbacks. Hard-sided containers are safer than bags. Pack delicate things like gadgets in a box. Since bags are commonly left on the floor or ground when filling your car, they get soiled more readily.

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Cargo Box vs Bag – Head to head best comparison

You may now compare and contrast the benefits of using roof bags vs roof boxes. You should still compare the roof box and roof bag to understand their differences before making a final choice. You may now move on with confidence knowing this crucial piece of knowledge.

Roof Rack

You can skip putting in a roof rack if you get roof bags. The roof bag may be installed with or without a roof rack installed. Nonetheless, this is not the case with roof boxes, since they must be mounted using a car roof rack.

Having more storage space in a car is a major selling point for roof boxes. It’s possible that your car’s roof rack won’t be able to accommodate your roof box. That’s why you need to be sure your roof box will fit on your car’s roof rack.


Both the roof bag and the roof box, it would seem, provide an excellent amount of storage space. You should note that the maximum volume that may be accommodated by roof bags is 18 cubic feet. But with roof boxes, you can add an extra 22 cubic feet as additional storage space.

The best option if you need more storage is a roof box. A roof box not only provides extra storage space, but bags comes in different sizes. This implies that the manufacturers provide a range of sizes for you to select from.


To proceed, let’s consider safety measures. Cargo containers are superior to cargo bags in this respect. Cargo containers are built to last and have locking systems, as mentioned above.

A cargo bag, on the other hand, might not provide you with the same peace of mind. For instance, an unwelcome factor may use a knife to cut open a sack. Cargo containers are a far more secure and safe option for transporting valuables.


Furthermore, there’s the issue of where to put it when it’s not in use. Cargo bags are foldable, so you can store them in a closet or under a bed. The bag is foldable, so you may alter its form to suit your needs. The cargo hold does not allow for such.

Where you keep the box when it’s not in use is something to consider. A garage is a nice luxury to have. If you don’t, though, there may be trouble. You may leave it on your vehicle at all times if you choose, but bear in mind that it will make your car taller, which could be a problem if you regularly drive under low bridges.


Finally, when deciding on buying a roof box or a roof bag, it’s crucial to weigh your options in terms of price. If you’re fortunate enough to have more money to spend, the cargo box is the way to go. However, cargo bags are the way to go if you’re trying to save some cash.

On the other hand, you may find cargo boxes at pricing similar to that of a cargo bag. Similarly, you may get pricier cargo bags that cost about the same as small cargo containers.

Cargo Box vs Bag: Table comparing a roof bag with a roof box

Installing a cargo box or a cargo bag is the safest option to increase the amount of storage space in your car. Find out which of the two you need to buy today, for this specific reason and goal, by doing your own comparison.

Cargo Box

Roof Bag

Cargo Box vs Cargo Bags: The Ultimate Decision

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of cargo boxes and cargo bags, you can make an informed decision. Decision time has come, so pick the one that best suits your requirements. Finally, we’ll draw parallels between:

Storage Space

Cargo bags and cargo boxes both provide a substantial amount of extra storage space. They’re roughly equivalent in this respect. However, a cloth bag’s flexibility can outweigh that of a hard-sided container.


Cargo bags are obviously the most cost-effective option when compared to cargo crates. There’s no need to spend more on a cargo bag or roof rack, however.

Cargo carriers are convenient additions to vehicles since they allow for increased storage capacity without taking up valuable floor space. However, depending on how aerodynamic or boxy your vehicle already is, these boxes increase wind resistance and reduce fuel economy.


Cargo containers’ time to shine is at times of high security risk. Given that they come with locks so that you can lock away your valuables, they provide far greater safety than a simple cargo bag. A cargo crate is the finest option if you need to move expensive equipment.

What are the best brands of cargo roof boxes?

It might be challenging to choose the finest cargo box brand. When choosing a cargo box, keep a few factors in mind.

You’ll need to make sure it fits all your goods yet fits in your car. Consider the content. Plastic and aluminum cargo crates each have pros and cons. Plastic boxes are lighter and cheaper, but more fragile. Metal boxes are more robust but costlier and heavier.

Thule, Yakima, and SportRack make popular cargo boxes. Each manufacturer provides different sizes and styles, so you’ll need to shop around. Compare pricing after finding a few solutions that match your criteria.

Our Top 3 Picks of Cargo Box 

YAKIMA SkyBox 18

Our ratings


Yakima SkyBox 12

Our ratings


Thule Force Rooftop Cargo Box

Our ratings


What are the best brands of bags?

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a travel bag such as price, durability, space, and comfort. When it comes to finding the best travel bag brands, there are a few that stand out above the rest. The following brands are some of the most popular and trusted when it comes to travel rooftop bags.

Our Top 3 Picks of Cargo Bag

Roofpax Car Roof Bag

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CURT 18221 Extended

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Amazon Basics

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Roof Bag vs Roof Box: Which Is Better?

How do you pack a cargo box?

Packing a cargo box is easy, but there are a few things you need to know before you start.

  • First, make sure your box is the right size for your vehicle. You don’t want it to be too big or too small.
  • Second, pack your items tightly so they don’t move around during transport. Use soft items to fill any gaps and secure the lid with straps or bungee cords.
  • Finally, remember that a cargo box will increase the wind resistance of your vehicle, so be prepared for higher fuel consumption.

If you’re traveling with a lot of gear, a cargo box is probably the way to go. But if you’re carrying smaller items or you want easy access to your belongings while on the road, a bag might be a better option.

How do you pack a bag?

How do you pack a bag for air travel? The method you use to pack your bag can make all the difference in the world when it comes to whether or not your belongings arrive safely at your destination. Here are a few tips on how to pack a bag for air travel:

  • Use a soft-sided bag. Hard-sided bags can be more difficult to fit into overhead bins and may be more likely to be damaged in transit.
  • Pack heavy items at the bottom of the bag. This will help keep your bag balanced and prevent items from shifting during transit.
  • Use packing cubes. Packing cubes can help you organize your belongings and make it easier to find what you need while on the go.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them. Rolling your clothes will save space and help prevent wrinkles.
  • Wear your heaviest items on the plane. This includes coats, jackets, and shoes. Wearing these items will free up space in your bag and help keep you comfortable during the flight.

Safety Tips for Roof Cargo Bags and Rood Cargo Boxes

Although they are constructed differently, these two things serve the same purpose, and therefore the same precautions should be taken with either. I’ve included some suggestions for protecting your possessions.

  • Ensure that the cargo fits. It’s important to make sure that the car roof rack you’re contemplating buying is a good fit for your car’s roof size so that it doesn’t slide about while driving.
  • Take into account the highway. You could be wondering, “What do I mean by this statement?” This implies that your box or bag should be loaded to a height that will allow you to squeeze under low-hanging branches and under covered parking structures.
  • Get the weight just right. At high speeds, your cargo won’t sway if the weight is evenly distributed throughout it. When you pack your roof rack cargo bag or box with evenly distributed weight, it becomes more stable.

Cargo Box vs Bag: Final Thoughts

After thinking about the following, the best choices will emerge depending on your specific needs:-

  • Storage capacity.
  • Compatibility with vehicle.
  • Security.
  • Storage after use.
  • Cost.

For those who aren’t transporting something particularly priceless and are concerned about cost, the cargo bag is an excellent option. You’ll be able to save money, have plenty of room, and be protected from the elements.

But if you need something that is waterproof, can withstand impact, and comes at a somewhat higher price, then a cargo box is the way to go. These provide a lot of storage space and are lockable, so you can be confident that your possessions are safe.

Before purchasing roof rails, think about your current situation in regards to safety, after-use storage, the availability of roof rails, and your budget. Remember to think about the product’s compatibility with your car by reading reviews. It’s possible that you’ll need to purchase more parts in order to set it up.

You may now choose between a cargo box and a cargo bag with the knowledge you have gained here.

Cargo Box vs Bag: FAQs

Q. Are rooftop carriers secure?

When properly loaded, with soft-sided baggage, and securely fastened to the car, they are quite secure. Loose cargo straps increase the risk of the bag sliding around or being blown over.

Loose cargo straps increase the risk of the bag sliding around or being blown over. If you want to know how much weight may be placed on the roof while it is in motion, you can look it up in the handbook or online. Depending on the size of the SUV, it may be as much as 200+ more pounds. Make sure you aren’t carrying more than the cargo bag can handle.

Q. How fast can you drive with a roof top carrier?

With a roof rack carrier, you may travel at the same maximum speed as without one. If you’re towing a load in a cargo box, like a Thule, we recommend keeping your speed below 90 miles per hour, which is good advice in general. Driving more slowly will help you keep better control of your car. 

Q. Are roof boxes covered by insurance?

Vehicle attachments such as roof boxes and bike racks are not covered by standard auto insurance policies. You might want to look at getting some more insurance. The ‘accessories and lettering cover’ on your driver’s insurance policy will protect you in the event of theft or vandalism of your customized parts.

Q. What Can I Put In a Roof Bag or Roof Box?

Whether you go for a roof bag or a roof box, be sure that your contents aren’t easily damaged. Here are a few things that are unique to camping weekends: Crein ates a new window or tab. Items that Roof Boxes and Roof Bags allow you to transport and store

  • Sleeping bags.
  • Roll mats.
  • Air Beds.
  • Small tents.
  • Kitchen supplies.

Roof racks, including roof boxes and roof bags, are a convenient way to transport objects that are too large to fit in the trunk of a car. In the trunk, especially if you’re bringing a pop-up tent, whose various sizes and shapes may make normal packing a hassle even when you’re not camping.

Whether or not it’s a good idea to store objects that aren’t water resistant in roof bags is a topic of considerable debate. To prevent water damage, roof boxes are typically coated with plastic, but the bags are typically composed of cloth that isn’t as waterproof as it’s made out to be.


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Daniel Wisdom
Daniel Wisdom

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