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Building Your Own DIY Roof Rack vs Buying a Van Roof Rack

Building Your Own DIY Roof Rack vs Buying a Van Roof Rack

Once you’ve traveled or lived in a van, it doesn’t take long before you realize just how useful a roof rack would be. So if you’ve been searching for the best van racks, you’ve likely come across dozens of ideas of how to build one on your own, making you wonder whether a DIY roof rack or buying one built for your van is best for you.

While DIY may sound like the best way to customize your van’s roof, you need to consider just how well a Promaster or Sprinter van roof rack can expand your space and make adding accessories simple and easy. So this post walks you through the pros and cons of building one on your own as well as buying a premade van rack, giving you all the details to make the best choice for your van’s needs. 

Pros and Cons of a DIY Roof Rack

You can find loads of videos, reels, and blogs showing how to make a DIY roof rack, but before you hit the hardware store, you need to consider all the factors of making your own van roof rack from scratch.

Here are the pros for a DIY roof rack:

  • Cost: Building your own van roof rack can be a more affordable option than buying a premade one. However, those who tout the lower costs of DIY racks are not using high-quality materials. What you save in cost, you sacrifice not only in quality, but also in weight, longevity, and ability to truly customize.
  • Customization: While the idea of DIY is that you can design and build a roof rack tailored to your specific needs and preferences, the truth is that you can’t truly customize it for your needs. You have to continually retrofit your DIY construction to fit whatever accessories you want to attach. So customizing equals more work, and retrofitting each piece affects the level of quality of your build.
  • Personal satisfaction: Building your own roof rack can be a fun and rewarding DIY project, and you can take pride in using something you made yourself. However, this assumes it turns out exactly like you wanted and continues to meet your needs as you add accessories, which isn’t likely.

Here are the cons of building your own van rack:

  • Time: Building a roof rack from scratch can be time-consuming, especially if you don't have experience with DIY projects. Plus, you have to consider the time it takes to find the right materials and possibly wait on special orders, which is time you could be out enjoying your van.
  • Skill level: If you don't have experience with building roof racks, it can be challenging to build a roof rack that is sturdy and safe. You’re not erecting a shed for your backyard or customizing an interior space. You’re creating living space on the outside of your van that needs to handle all kinds of weather, traveling, and accessory additions. This isn’t a typical DIY build. It requires special skills.
  • Quality: Because you most likely don’t have access to the proper materials to create a safe, lightweight roof rack that can meet your needs to accessorize that space, you sacrifice the quality you need to make the investment of your time and money truly worthwhile.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Van Roof Rack

If you’re deciding between building your own or buying a premade Promaster or Sprinter roof rack, you’ve already been shopping around and probably know what you can buy. So consider the value of buying a premade roof rack for your van.

Here are the pros to buying a van roof rack:

    • Convenience: Buying a pre-made roof rack is a quick and easy solution. When you buy a high-quality van roof rack from Orion, it is made specifically for your van model, which means you can install it quickly and easily without cutting, drilling,  or using a crane.
    • Safety: Premade roof racks are designed to properly fit your vehicle. So once installed, you can be confident that your gear and accessories will be secure while driving.
    • Quality: Orion offers lightweight, ultra-form-fitting roof racks that give your van roof 360 degrees of rooftop privacy. With its all-aluminum design and quality construction in the USA, you get a strong, high-quality rack that doesn’t compromise aesthetics.
  • Customizable: One of the biggest benefits of some premade roof racks is your ability to customize and re-customize constantly without retrofitting a thing. From solar panels you can walk on to awnings, ladders, deck panels, lightbars, starlink, and more, you can purchase accessories that are made to fit perfectly onto your roof rack to store gear and create a beautiful living space. 
    • Warranty: A premade van roof rack from Orion comes with a lifetime warranty. You know you’re getting high-quality craftsmanship when you get a lifetime warranty, plus it takes the worry out of wondering how long your roof rack will last.

    Here’s what you’re up against when buying a premade roof rack:

    • Cost: While premade roof racks may seem expensive at first, you have to compare apples to apples. Compare materials as well as finishes. The roof racks from Orion are finished with premium UV-resistant black powder coating, plus the hardware is all stainless steel that won’t rust. DIY roof racks can’t match the quality, aerodynamics, or lightweight materials that all come standard with Orion roof racks. So when it comes to cost, you have to compare if you can do it as well, with the same materials, and back your workmanship for a lifetime before you can say premade roof racks are more expensive. They aren’t more expensive—they’re just higher quality with a lifetime warranty.
    • Availability: Depending on the make and model of your van, there may not be a premade roof rack that fits. That’s why Orion chose the most popular vans for the van life when creating their racks. If you have a Promaster or Sprinter van, you can find a roof rack built for you. If you own a transit, those models are coming online soon!
    While starting a DIY rack sounds rewarding, you’ll have a difficult time matching the quality, craftsmanship, and customization you get with a Promaster or Sprinter van roof rack made by Orion. Although you can make your own, when you purchase a van roof rack from Orion, you get a lifetime warranty, which means you only have to buy it once to enjoy it for a lifetime. So when considering your roof rack needs, check out what Orion Van Gear has to offer to see how you can expand your space with a van roof rack.

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