Settling the Score on the Best Roof Racks for Jeeps
Since World War II, the Jeep 4X4 has served as the preeminent symbol of off-road freedom.
Today, millions of Jeeps built by the European-American company help to inspire the dream of off-road travel and even off-grid living for younger generations and retirees, too.
Myriad options exist for outfitting the iconic Jeep Wrangler soft top and the other Jeep models with roof racks for weekend trips or longer voyages into the wilderness.
Jeep Wrangler Soft-Top Roof Rack
The Jeep Wrangler originally served on the European battlefield as a light and maneuverable combat vehicle.
Now, you may kit the Jeep Wrangler soft top with an array of modern roof racks for Jeeps to accommodate kayakers, cyclers, surfers, and long-term campers. To that end, the Universal Roof Rack - The Mule offers some thoughtful functionality for today’s outdoor sportsperson.
The heavy-duty universal rack weighs just 39 pounds. And its aerodynamic design eliminates the usual wind noise of roof racks for a more fuel-efficient trek through the mountains or desert. The lower height, too, allows for carriage with options, like the ability to park in a garage or squeeze beneath a tree limb.
The versatile roof rack lets you carry the whole gamut of sports equipment like canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles — without resting them on the window frame. You can also safely take work materials to the job site, like ladders, plywood sheets, and lumber.
Fits Over Previously Installed Roof Racks
The manufacturer says the Mule also fits over after-market roof racks like Thule and other brands.
Jeep enthusiasts say the Mule standard kit indeed offers strength and versatility within reason. The product works great for kayaks and whatever you’re hauling up to 300 pounds. Pro-tip: Be sensible and don’t load 50 sheets of plywood onto the top!
Among the best features of the roof rack is the ease of installation and use, requiring less than an hour to install and then mere minutes to strap down equipment.
The Mule measures 48 inches by 39 inches, with 5 inches of height.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Roof Racks
Launched in the 1993 model year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has served as a staple of the midsize luxury sport-utility for nearly two generations.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has graced many suburban driveways and college campuses, offering owners a sporty athleisure image. The typical owner tends to maybe use the competent vehicle to get groceries or coffee and bagels. Yet many choose to upgrade this more expensive suburban SUV with a steel carriage roof rack suitable for a safari.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Roof Rack Standard Basket, including the 2018 Jeep Cherokee roof rack, runs 48 inches in length by 60 inches in width and 5 inches in height, at 65 pounds.
The stylish standard basket is built with US-made cold-rolled steel tubing with a quality powder coating, made specifically for 2010-2021 models.
The style allows you to pack as much equipment as you wish atop the roof rack in whatever arrangement you prefer. The product offers you the ability to carry lots of campaign equipment or extra cargo bags. You could even help a city friend move to a new apartment!
Jeep Grand Cherokees without roof rails or those who prefer an after-market installation can consider a steel overhead Maxtrax Jeep kit.
2012 Jeep Liberty Roof Racks
The Jeep Liberty line ran from model year 2001 to 2012, originally put into production as a replacement for the Jeep Cherokee but maintained because of its popularity. It’s a compact SUV, but like many Jeeps, it has gained a following for the unique attributes it brings to the company.
Unlike the Cherokee, the Liberty wants its riders to embrace freedom, and its slightly louder V6 engine only reinforces that. This is a vehicle that runs better in the wild than it does in the city, so you’ll want a roof rack that encourages that.
A 2012 Jeep Liberty roof rack is a prime example of this freedom from modern life fixtures without giving up the capacity to carry them. Look to its cousin, the slightly more luxury Jeep Grand Cherokee Roof Rack, for a streamlined example of a basket-style roof rack that will fit with the Liberty or make a great 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee roof rack, too.
Start with carrying capacity, that’s 200 lbs of stuff you can pile into the basket and take on adventures. Be mindful of how you load it.
Consider a Jeep hitch rack made of durable steel tubing if you need more room for bulky items like bikes and sports equipment.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee standard basket roof rack model measures 26 inches by 50 inches, with 5 inches of height.
Best Jeep Roof Rack for Other Models
The remaining three Jeep models—the Renegade and the Compass—offer varying mixes of power, style, and curb weight.
Any roof rack fit for the Jeep Wrangler soft top, and the Grand Cherokee would work for the Compass, too. But the Jeep Renegade, befitting the name, is a bit different.
First discovered in the wild in 2014, this new Jeep species of subcompact SUV crossover seems to have pushed the defunct Patriot to near-extinction, as fewer are seen on the road and off. This smaller sporty model is found in North America, Europe, Brasil, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and China.
Now it’s fair to say the online marketplace has become saturated with roof rack options as well as after-market ideas for your Jeep. So why not take your Renegade in a new direction?
The Universal Roof Rack—The Megamule measures 64 inches by 48 inches and is 5 inches in height. The 66-pound roof rack is composed of US-made steel tubing with an aluminum wind deflector. Like similar models, it’s rated to hold up to 300 pounds of cargo.
Lastly, while you’re considering roof racks and hitches consider lighting options. Although it bears another brand in its name, the F150 LED light bar bumper mount works well on Jeeps and adds illumination to all your adventures.