ROOF RACKS ARE A GREAT WAY to carry ex­tra gear on your week­end ad­ven­tures. How­ever, when it comes to car­ry­ing your recre­ation equip­ment and lug­gage, or any loads for that mat­ter, there is a right and a wrong way to do it.

The wrong way can lead to dam­age to your ve­hi­cle, un­nec­es­sary fuel con­sump­tion, and can cre­ate un­safe con­di­tions for your­self, your pas­sen­gers and oth­ers on the road.

You are legally re­spon­si­ble for your loads be­ing safely se­cured, so fol­low the fol­low­ing tips to en­sure a drama free ad­ven­ture.

• Over­hang. Avoid too much un­nec­es­sary over­hang at the front of your ve­hi­cle as the wind can rip the roof racks right off your ve­hi­cle.

• Check load. Al­ways check your load at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, push­ing and pulling on the load in every di­rec­tion to en­sure it is snug and has not loos­ened dur­ing the drive.

• 3 points. As a gen­eral rule, your roof top loads should have 3-4 tie down points on the ve­hi­cle to avoid shift­ing.

• Ad­just speed. Load­ing your roof top with weight changes the dy­nam­ics of your ve­hi­cle so ad­just your speed to avoid “lift”, to counter the new higher cen­tre of grav­ity, and to en­sure your ve­hi­cle will stop in time when brak­ing.

• Clear­ances. Take note of over­head clear­ances, (like in un­der­ground park­ing garages). It is sur­pris­ingly easy to for­get, and mis­cal­cu­lat­ing will re­sult in a bit­ter end to your week­end ad­ven­ture. One idea is to put a post-it on your win­dow screen with an ar­row point­ing up.

• No Bumper. Avoid at­tach­ing the loads to your bumper, it can rip it right off!

• Weight lim­its. Make sure your roof top load isn’t too heavy, your ve­hi­cle and roof racks will have a max­i­mum car­ry­ing weight, which is al­ways de­ter­mined by the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer.

• Use Straps. Tie Down straps are best, bungee cords are a no go as they al­low shift. Ratchet or rapid lock­ing straps are a vari­a­tion of tie down straps and are easy to use and al­low you to cre­ate ten­sion eas­ily.

• Flag. If there is an over­hang at the rear of the ve­hi­cle, then at­tach a red flag to the load to bring peo­ple’s at­ten­tion to it to avoid ac­ci­dents with ve­hi­cles and pedes­tri­ans.

• Special car­ri­ers. Special items, like recre­ation equip­ment, re­quire special rack at­tach­ments e.g. kayak, bikes, and boats.

It’s easy to for­get about some of the ba­sics when you’re ex­cited to hit the road. Dou­ble check this list and your next over­land ad­ven­ture won’t end early be­cause of an over­head mis-ad­ven­ture.

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