Whether you’ve transformed your vehicle into an adventure van for long-term living or use it for weekend camping and road trips, you can open yourself up to even more options and capabilities by installing a high-quality van roof rack.
A roof rack gives you extra storage space, an area to install other equipment, such as solar panels, roof decking, an awning, and more, but it all begins with choosing the right roof rack. This post walks you through the considerations you should make when looking for a Promaster or Sprinter roof rack so that you choose the best one for your needs.
How to Best Utilize a Van Roof Rack
While you clearly use a roof rack to store items, you may never have thought of the full range of possibilities that it can offer. Whether you travel solo or with a group or use your van for long-term living or short-term weekend trips, a roof rack increases the ease and comfort of your unique style of van life. Consider the possibilities:
- Storing extra items: No matter how you use your van, you have to make choices of what to take along because you have a limited amount of space. If you use your van for full-time living, that means keeping a storage unit or asking a friend to store extra items you can’t put in your van or simply not getting that paddleboard or other bulky item that you know you’d use if you only had a place to store it. If you use your van for other trips, adventure or otherwise, you have to carefully consider what can safely be stored in your van for the trip. With a Promaster roof rack or one constructed to fit your Sprinter van, you can safely store those bulky items and finally take that paddleboard or surfing trip you’ve always wanted to or take more people along because you can store more gear up top.
Installing solar panels: From dedicated adventurists to weekend warriors, a set of solar panels comes in handy when you need the power to run small appliances, upload your adventure blog, or sit in on a meeting while working remotely. Both a Sprinter roof rack as well as one customized for a Promaster van allow you to add solar panels to the roof of your van to maintain your power needs. Having solar power allows you to boon-dock reliably and take unplanned side trips at your leisure because you don’t have to worry about making sure you make your way to a campsite or other location for shore power. Orion makes flush mount solar panel brackets for all stealth+ racks making it easy to mount your solar panel at the correct height.
- Adding an awning: Throwing some shade isn’t kind unless you’re adding it to your campsite or roadside adventure to shield you and your group from the sun and the elements. When you get a Promaster or Sprinter roof rack from Orion, you can easily upgrade it with an awning that attaches seamlessly to the side or rear of your rack, giving you the protection you need from the elements, and doubling the amount of living space you have in less than a minute. Whether you want a bit of shade from the hot sun or a dry spot outside the door when the rain starts coming down, an awning can work to meet both of those needs.
- Adding a roof deck: This is always a hot topic. Installing modular roof deck panels on a van roof rack can provide several benefits, including extra storage space, additional living space, better views, improved ventilation, and increased resale value. There is no better way to get a better view of your surroundings, especially if you are traveling to scenic areas or want to stargaze at night.
- Attaching a roof shower: Regardless of whether you use your van for outdoor activities, long-term living, or weekend camping trips, having a pressurized roof shower gives you the comforts of home while you’re on the road without sacrificing space inside the van.
Considerations for Choosing a Van Roof Rack
Now that you know just how much more you can do with a van roof rack, you have to find the best one to meet your needs. When selecting a high-quality roof rack, be sure to make the following considerations:
- Your van’s make and model: This may sound obvious, but you know how they say you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, and the same is true of van roof racks. To best fit your van, you need a roof rack custom designed for your make and model. So if you want a Promaster roof rack or Sprinter roof rack, Orion makes sleek form-fitting and model specific options to fit both options covering all wheelbases.
- Materials: You don’t want to add unnecessary weight to your van because that affects the efficiency of its operation. Although you want to take more with you, you don’t want to pay for it by drastically reducing your gas mileage. So make sure you select roof racks made from lightweight material, such as those made from 100% premium aluminum by Orion Van Gear. These racks expand your van's capabilities without impacting your van’s efficiency.
- Adjustability: Getting a roof rack means opening up your options for storage and other uses, but if you can’t easily adjust the crossbars, you lose out on a lot of functionality when it comes to how you configure your rack around fans, air conditioning units, and solar panels. If you want to add solar panels but still have a roof deck and an air conditioner, you most likely will not be able to configure the top properly without adjustable crossbars. With an Orion roof rack, you not only get lightweight aluminum construction, but you also get fully adjustable crossbars that allow hundreds of configurations.
- Easy to install: Firstly, an easy to install rack can save you time and effort, especially if you are not comfortable with or experienced in installing roof racks. They are less expensive, as they do not not require specialized tools (like a crane), freight shipping, or expertise to install. Additionally, they will be more convenient, as they can be installed quickly and without the need for additional assistance. Orion’s racks are all designed to be do-it-yourself installs and come with everything needed for easy installation.
- Aerodynamics and aesthetics: When you add a rack to your van, you’re attaching a permanent piece of equipment that will travel with you, even if you’re not hauling something stored on top. So to minimize the impact on your van’s efficiency while traveling, you want to select a roof rack with thoughtful aerodynamics to reduce any risk of affecting this, such as your gas mileage. With thoughtful design, van roof racks from Orion not only offer the aerodynamic capabilities that keep you running efficiently, but Orion racks also offer a sleek “no gap” aesthetic to your van. Because Orion makes model specific roof racks, once installed, they look like they are part of the van instead of an aftermarket add-on.
No matter how you use your van, a roof rack customized to your make and model opens up endless possibilities for comfort and ease of use while traveling. It's important to carefully consider your needs and priorities before selecting a roof rack. By following these considerations, you can find a van roof rack and accessories to update your Promaster or Sprinter van and add extra storage, power, or protection you’ve been wanting.
If you need help configuring your van rack send us a message.