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DEPENDING ON WHAT KIND OF vehicle you have and how much gear you are bringing, you may find that a roof rack comes in handy for camping trips. Paul Ning, owner of, based in Mississauga, Ont., noticed a big uptick in business during the summer of 2020. "Since Covid-19, people are concerned about travelling by plane and staying in a hotel," he says. "Last summer, I helped many customers equip their vehicles with roof racks for local camping and travel." For car camping trips, Ning says cargo carrier boxes or roof baskets work best, although you can buy specialized racks for transporting bikes, canoes and other recreational equipment. As for what model to choose, that's largely determined by your vehicle. Some have a bare roof, without any special pre-installed parts for a racking system; some have factory-installed raised or flush side rails; and others have fixed mounting points. There's a rack for every roof, but how do you ensure quality? "Try not to pick the cheapest option," Ning advises. "You need to make sure you have the best fit for your car. The size of a car's door edge, the roof slope and other factors decide how strong a rack will be. The same rack will perform differently on different vehicles." He recommends that buyers check product and manufacturer reviews, compare warranties and shop around for pricing. "For the same car, you may find a $260 roof rack from a sporting goods store, and you can find a $600 rack from a rack store. You may even pay $800 at the dealership. Check different places before you make a decision." Ning says it's also possible to assemble a custom roof rack for just about any vehicle. While they all come with detailed installation instructions, he recommends consulting a professional if you lack mechanical skills and are worried about a safe installation. Roof Rack Cheat Sheet Paul Ning from offers a few more useful tips ➊ Look for aerodynamic bars shaped like an aircraft wing or an elongated teardrop. ➋ Store the keys to your roof rack in the glovebox so it's easy to remember where they are. ➌ Never secure loads with a bungee cord—use multiple ratchet straps with one connected to each bar. ➍ Rack maintenance is important, so be sure to oil your rack locks and brackets at least once a year. ➎ Check your roof rack carefully before every trip to spot damage from previous excursions. PACK IT ALL IN PACK IT ALL IN Trunk space fills up fast. When that happens, invest in a roof rack to create room up top. 36 | CAA MAGAZINE C AMPING FOR BEGINNERS

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