ROOF LOADING LIFE HACKS!

POWER UP YOUR PACKING PROWESS

Loading up your vehicle precisely and pragmatically, as opposed to hurriedly and haphazardly, is the key to staying in control of your touring experience. You know how you’re so much more effective, both at home and at your job, when you keep a tidy workspace? Exactly the same principle applies when on the road. Your 4WD is like your life in microcosm. When everything is in it’s proper place, the experience just seems to flow.

A good set of rear drawers, or a customised canopy, can be a godsend when it comes to keeping your cargo bay in check. However those that really want to bump their loading game up to the next level need to look to the final frontier of vehicular storage – the rooftop.

Last month we took a look at rooftop weight limits. Assuming that you’re aware of your 4WD’s roof limit, and the load limit of your roof racks or roof tray, it’s time to consider the gear that is best stowed up top, outside of the cabin.

CENTRES OF GRAVITY

One of the key principles to keep in mind when loading your rig is how the extra weight is going to affect your vehicle in motion. Of course many of us are driving 4WDs that are lifted higher than their stock counterparts via larger tyres, suspension lifts or both. This obviously raises the centre of gravity of a vehicle, and when you start to load gear up on the roof, it further compounds the issue.

The primary way to stay on top of the matter is to load all heavy camping gear, tools, spare parts, water tanks and other heavy items low down within your rig’s cargo bay, and save the rooftop mostly for lightweight, bulkier gear.

Swags, sleeping bags, camping mattresses and bulky items like fishing rods and surfboards are perfect for loading up on your roof. These items don’t weigh much, so make minimal difference to your rig’s overall centre of gravity, yet free up a huge amount of space within your 4WD’s cabin.

If you do need to store a couple of heavier items on your roof, ensure that you secure them first, directly to your roof racks or tray and in the direct centre of your roof, so as to avoid uneven weight distribution.

 DANGEROUS GOODS

There are a few comparatively heavy items that can be worth storing on your roof, despite the weight distribution issues discussed above. Dangerous goods such as jerry cans of petrol and diesel and gas bottles used for cooking should not be stored within your rig’s cabin. These items can be secured to your rooftop storage system via specialised setups like Rola’s Titan Tray system, which offers mounts for jerry cans and gas bottles as well as permanent mounts for lightbars and awnings.

Dangerous goods such as fuel and gas bottles carry an inherent risk, wherever they are stored on a vehicle, but the risk can be mitigated to some level by keeping them out of the cabin and further from occupants.

Whether you’re running a set of roof racks, a full-length tray with specialised accessory mounts or some other setup, there’s always value in utilising the storage space on top of your rig. If you haven’t been making use of your 4WD’s penthouse storage suite, you might be pleasantly surprised at the extra gear that can be carried, and the improved levels of passenger comfort, after implementing an improved storage strategy.

LOAD UP FOR A SAFE TRIP

  • Always know your vehicle’s roof load limit. You’ll be able to find this in your owner’s manual or by contacting your manufacturer.
  • Roof rack limits don’t cancel our your vehicle’s load limit – don’t load above the lower of the two numbers.
  • Use good quality ratchet tie downs to secure your load, or if you use rope, ensure that you know how to tie good knots and check them regularly.
  • Big bulky items go on your roof, heavy gear is best stowed within your rig.