Maximizing Your Subaru Adventure: A Comprehensive Guide to Roof Racks

6 min read
Last Updated: Jun 9, 2024
BY: Matt Keepnes

Do you need Roof Bars?

You'll need some roof bars to fit these boxes. We recommend you order these directly from your vehicles manufacturer.

For many Subaru owners, their vehicle is more than just a mode of transportation - it's a ticket to adventure. Whether you're a cycling enthusiast, an avid camper, or just someone who loves the great outdoors, having a roof rack on your Subaru can greatly expand your carrying capacity and open up a world of possibilities.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the benefits of installing a roof rack on your Subaru, discuss how to choose the right one for your needs, and provide helpful tips on installation, loading, and maintenance. So buckle up and get ready to take your Subaru adventures to new heights!

Benefits of Installing a Roof Rack on Your Subaru

Adding a roof rack to your Subaru offers numerous advantages, including:

  • Increased storage capacity: A roof rack allows you to carry large, bulky items that may not fit inside your vehicle, such as bicycles, kayaks, surfboards, or camping gear. This can free up valuable interior space, ensuring a more comfortable ride for you and your passengers.
  • Versatility: Roof racks are highly versatile and can accommodate a wide range of accessories, such as cargo boxes, ski racks, and bike carriers, making them perfect for outdoor enthusiasts with diverse interests.
  • Improved organization: By keeping your gear securely stowed on the roof, you can keep your vehicle's interior organized and clutter-free.
  • Enhanced vehicle resale value: A well-maintained roof rack can potentially increase the resale value of your Subaru, as it's considered a desirable feature for many buyers.

Choosing the Right Roof Rack for Your Subaru Model

Factory-installed options

Some Subaru models come equipped with factory-installed roof racks, which are designed to integrate seamlessly with the vehicle. These options often feature a sleek, low-profile design and have been tested for compatibility and safety. If your Subaru came with a factory-installed roof rack, it's likely a great option for your needs.

Aftermarket options

If your Subaru didn't come with a roof rack, or if you're looking to upgrade, there are numerous aftermarket options available. Reputable brands, such as Thule, Yakima, and Rhino-Rack, offer high-quality roof racks specifically designed for various Subaru models. Before purchasing, ensure the rack you choose is compatible with your vehicle and meets your specific requirements.

Considerations for selecting the best roof rack

When choosing a roof rack, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Load capacity: Check the maximum weight limit of the roof rack and your Subaru's roof to ensure it can handle your intended load.
  • Aerodynamics: Some roof racks are designed to minimize wind resistance, which can help reduce fuel consumption and wind noise.
  • Ease of installation and removal: Look for a roof rack that is easy to install and remove, particularly if you don't plan to keep it on your vehicle year-round.
  • Accessory compatibility: Consider the types of accessories you plan to use with your roof rack, such as bike carriers or kayak mounts, and make sure they're compatible with the rack you choose.

How to Install a Subaru Roof Rack

Preparation and safety

Before you begin, gather the necessary tools and read the installation instructions provided by the roof rack manufacturer. It's essential to follow these guidelines to ensure a safe and secure installation. Additionally, make sure your vehicle is parked on a level surface and, if possible, ask someone to assist you during the installation process.

Step-by-step installation guide

While the specific installation steps may vary depending on the roof rack you've chosen, the general process typically involves:

  1. Assembling the roof rack components according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Positioning the rack's mounting brackets or feet on your vehicle's roof, ensuring they are properly aligned and spaced.
  3. Attaching the crossbars to the mounting brackets or feet and tightening them securely.
  4. Double-checking all connections to ensure they are tight and secure.
  5. Adding any additional accessories, such as bike carriers or kayak mounts, following the manufacturer's guidelines.

Remember, always refer to the installation instructions provided by the roof rack manufacturer for detailed information on properly installing your specific rack.

Tips for Loading and Securing Your Gear

Weight limits and distribution

Before loading your gear onto the roof rack, consult your Subaru owner's manual and the roof rack manufacturer's guidelines to determine the maximum weight limit for both the roof and the rack itself. Distribute the weight evenly across the crossbars, and avoid overloading, as this can cause damage to your vehicle and the rack, as well as compromise safety on the road.

Properly securing different types of gear

Each type of gear you carry on your roof rack may require a specific method for secure attachment. Here are some general tips for securing common items:

  • Bicycles: Use a bike carrier designed for roof racks. These carriers typically hold the bike upright by its frame or wheels, and some models may require you to remove the front wheel for secure attachment.
  • Kayaks and canoes: Use a kayak or canoe carrier that is specifically designed for roof racks. These carriers may include padded supports and straps to hold the watercraft securely in place. Make sure to attach bow and stern lines to the front and rear of your vehicle for added stability.
  • Skis and snowboards: Ski and snowboard carriers are designed to hold your gear securely on the roof rack. Ensure that the carrier is compatible with your roof rack and follow the manufacturer's instructions for loading and securing your equipment.
  • Cargo boxes and bags: Choose a cargo box or bag that is compatible with your roof rack and offers the desired storage capacity. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for attaching and securing the cargo carrier to your roof rack.

Maintaining and Caring for Your Roof Rack

Proper maintenance and care can help prolong the life of your roof rack and ensure it remains safe and reliable:

  • Regularly inspect the roof rack for signs of wear, corrosion, or damage. Address any issues promptly to avoid potential safety hazards.
  • Clean your roof rack with a mild soap and water solution, and rinse thoroughly. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that may damage the rack's finish.
  • Lubricate any moving parts or locks as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Remove the roof rack when it's not in use to reduce wind resistance and improve fuel efficiency. Store it in a cool, dry place to protect it from the elements.
  • Check the tightness of all connections and fittings before each use, and re-tighten as necessary to ensure the rack remains secure.


A roof rack is an invaluable accessory for any Subaru owner looking to expand their carrying capacity and embark on new adventures. By selecting the right roof rack for your specific Subaru model, following proper installation and loading guidelines, and caring for your rack, you can maximize your Subaru's potential and make the most of your outdoor pursuits. Happy adventuring!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a roof rack affect my Subaru's fuel efficiency?

Yes, adding a roof rack can increase wind resistance and have a slight impact on fuel efficiency. To minimize this effect, choose a roof rack with an aerodynamic design and remove it when not in use.

Is it safe to drive through a car wash with a roof rack installed?

It's generally recommended to remove your roof rack and any attached accessories before going through an automatic car wash to avoid damage to your vehicle, the rack, or the car wash equipment. If you must use a car wash with the roof rack installed, opt for a touchless car wash to minimize the risk of damage.

Can I use a roof rack on my Subaru if it has a sunroof?

Yes, you can typically use a roof rack on a Subaru equipped with a sunroof. However, you should exercise caution when opening the sunroof with a roof rack installed, as some items may interfere with the sunroof's operation. Consult your vehicle owner's manual and the roof rack manufacturer's guidelines for more information.

Are all Subaru roof racks compatible with all Subaru models?

No, not all Subaru roof racks are compatible with all Subaru models. When choosing a roof rack, make sure it is specifically designed for your vehicle's make, model, and year. Compatibility information can usually be found on the roof rack manufacturer's website or packaging.

How can I reduce wind noise caused by my roof rack?

Wind noise can be minimized by choosing a roof rack with an aerodynamic design or using a fairing, which is a shield that mounts to the front crossbar of your roof rack to deflect air over your gear. Additionally, ensure that your roof rack and accessories are properly installed and secure, as loose components can contribute to wind noise.



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
creator of

Matt Keepnes

Matt Keepnes, travel enthusiast and creator of I share expert tips on car storage solutions for seamless travels, combining personal experiences with practical advice.

Social Connect

We're an affiliate

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram