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In my recent trip, I decided to try a "cargo carrier" instead of my usual setup with a "roof rack". I removed the roof rack by Yakima, moved the hi-jack to the trunk and put a rather expensive and sturdy "cargo carrier":

http://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Cargo-Carrier/Highland/5800200.html

Overall, I like the new setup.



The weight of the cargo carrier is a little bit more than the weight of the Yakima roof rack. The hitch adds more pounds, so obviously the new setup puts more weight on the vehicle. But the distribution of the weight and the aerodynamics is better with the cargo carrier.

The advantages of the cargo carrier vs roof rack:

1) Better fuel economy. I noticed at least 1 or 2 MPG difference.
2) Better center of mass location. The vehicle is less tippy in the turns and off camber situation.
3) Easier to load. You do not need to put the heavy staff on the top and tie them up.
4) Less road noise. You do not need to turn your CD on and you can drive in relative silence.
5) High-speed driving is easier - you feel less wind resistance. When you have larger tires you feel the air resistance in the highest gear.
6) When you leave the carrier in the camp, your vehicle is lighter off-road than when you are using the roof rack - you cannot leave the roof rack in the camp.

The dis-advantages of the cargo carrier vs roof rack:

1) You have to detach the carrier when you arrive to the camp. Driving with the carrier on the trails is not practical, for obvious reasons (although, I made an easy "Macedonia canyon" trail in Mojave with it). It takes about 3 or 5 minutes if you have the tool with you. This means, that you have to have a base camp, and that the base camp must be easily accessible.
2) The space in the carrier is smaller than the space in a large roof rack. You cannot stack your things high so that they would obstruct the view of your license plate and the signals.

My personal opinion is that the cargo carrier is a good option if you have to drive a long distance, on a family vacation.

My vehicle has very stiff rear suspension - OME929 coils and TLC shocks. I do not feel any problems with the steering. I do not know how a heavy cargo carrier would affect a vehicle with softer rear suspension.
 

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My dad bought one of these a few years ago, while we still had our Grand Cherokee, and it made that Jeep a much better travel vehicle. It frees up lots of room, and is very practical.

I recently took a trip to the beach, about 300 miles one way, with 5 peoples luggage in my roof rack. At some points I felt like the truck was going to get pushed off the road by the random gusts of wind, so the aerodynamics of a roof rack are pretty bad for long trips IMO. The plus side of the rack is I had 3 girls luggage for a week all in there, plus mine and my buddy's stuff; it'll hold a ton of stuff.

It all really depends on how you plan or carrying your cargo, how you drive, and how far you're traveling as to which cargo hauler is best for you. Just my $.02
 

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I've also got a carrier and when its needed its much easier to work with than a roof rack. I went so far as to install a functional set of lights on it. I wish it was large enough to double as a scooter carrier.

When I had a job, I'd take the wife to work with her bike tied down to it so she could ride the bike home instead of waiting for me to get off work.

As for the tag issue, its only two bolts and my carrier has a location to mount the tag so nothing blocks it.
 

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Sigh...

I'd love one..

But then I'd end up hauling stuff on my roof rack AND the carrier.. ;)

Personally I think the roof rack is more convienent.

Partially because I'm fairly tall, 6'4, so getting stuff up or off of their isn't too difficult.

Partially because I'm 36 and reasonably healthy, so I am physicaly capabile of getting stuff up there..

But mostly because I wouldn't have to unhook it when I was done. :twisted:
 

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We have both a roof rack and a carrier now. On our trips we are going to be using both. I was using a trailer but it was really killing gas mileage....I hope that using a roof rack and the car carrier will help in that department.
 

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i like the cargo carrier. never trusted my roof-rails to hold much weight.

trust the trailer hitch much more. plus, was only 60 bucks at Harbor-Freight!
 
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