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Top Considerations to Make When Buying a Van Roof Rack

Top Considerations to Make When Buying a Van Roof Rack

When you want to purchase a roof rack for your van, it’s important to get it right. Whether you live in your van—or plan to—or just use it for day trips or camping, you need a van roof rack that fits perfectly on top of your van and one that perfectly meets your unique needs.

Thinking through all the details can be challenging, so we’ve come up with all the things you need to consider before getting a roof rack for your van.

Getting the Details Right

When buying a roof rack, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Compatibility: Make sure the roof rack you choose is compatible with your vehicle. When you purchase a roof rack from Orion, you can be confident that your Sprinter or Promaster roof rack meets the specifications for your make and model.
  • Flexibility: A roof rack needs to adjust to your ever-changing needs, so you want to find a roof rack that can easily change things up when you’re ready to upgrade and add deck panels, solar panels, and more.
  • Size and reliability: Not all roof racks are made equally. While you may find several sites selling Sprinter and Promaster roof racks, you need to find the rack that accommodates the most space in either length or width. After all, you want to maximize every inch up top! You also want one with UV coating and one that includes high-quality materials that don’t promote rust.
  • Aerodynamics: A roof rack can increase wind resistance and reduce fuel efficiency. Look for a rack that is designed to be aerodynamic to minimize the impact on your vehicle's gas mileage. Racks that are form-fitting and allow for flush-mounting accessories, such as solar panels, add value to your rooftop without compromising your fuel efficiency.
  • Installation: Consider the ease of installation and whether it requires special tools or expertise to install. Some roof racks may require drilling into the roof of your van. So choose a rack that you feel comfortable installing yourself. With roof racks made by Orion, you can be confident in your DIY installation that requires no special tools or drilling.

Anticipating Your Van Roof Rack Needs

When you’re reading to get a roof rack, you may be new to the van life and wonder how you can figure out your roof rack needs without much experience. Even if you’ve been using your van for some time, you want to make your investment into a roof rack worthwhile, so you want to be sure you think about all factors that impact how you use your roof.

Anticipating your van roof rack needs will depend on a few key factors, including your specific use case, the type of gear or equipment you plan to carry, and the size and shape of your van's roof. Here are some tips to help you anticipate your roof rack needs:

  • Think about your intended use. Think about the types of activities you plan to use your van for, such as camping, biking, or hauling cargo. This will help you narrow down the types of gear or equipment you will need to carry on your roof rack.
  • Determine your part-time or full-time needs. If you plan to simply do weekend or day trips only, your part-time van use may not require as many items, such as solar panels, on your rooftop as someone who will be living in it full-time. For full-time use, you may think about how to balance your needs, such as solar panels and deck panels, to maximize your roof’s space.
  • Plan for future needs. Think about what types of activities or gear you may need to carry in the future and choose a roof rack that can accommodate these needs. For example, if you plan to start kayaking or paddleboarding, choose a roof rack that can easily carry these items. Of course, you may not be able to anticipate everything you’ll do in the future, so finding a roof rack that is functional and versatile for your expanding needs is a must.

Configuring Your Rooftop

Putting your rooftop and all the accessories together is the fun part. After you’ve installed your roof rack, you get to lay out your space just like you would an interior room, considering functionality and storage into the equation. 

Although configuring your roof rack will depend on the specific type and model of the rack you have, here are some general steps to follow:

  • Determine the spacing. Decide how far apart you want to space the crossbars based on the size and shape of the items you will be carrying. 
  • Install the side rails and crossbars. Start by installing the side rails, deflectors, and crossbars on the roof of your van. These are the horizontal bars that run across the width of the roof rack. Follow the instructions to ensure proper installation.
  • Install any accessories. If you plan to use accessories, such as solar panels or a ladder, install these according to the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Test the configuration. Once everything is installed, make sure you have added threadlocker to all bolts and tightened, then test the configuration by loading your gear onto the roof rack and securing it in place. Double-check that everything is secure and won't shift or fall off while driving.
  • Adjust as necessary. If you find that the configuration isn't working as well as you'd like, make adjustments to the spacing or accessories as necessary. You may need to experiment a bit to find the best configuration for your specific needs. Of course, with an Orion roof rack, you can be sure that as your needs grow and change, you have the flexibility to switch up your configuration as needed.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines when configuring and using your van roof. Orion provides videos and other instructions so that you are fully equipped to not only install your roof rack but also upgrade your space easily with accessories.

Van life is more rewarding when you can add value to your van’s space without compromising on quality or efficiency. With the right van roof rack from Orion, you can install a high-quality roof rack to expand your space and add functionality to your van life while giving you the option to upgrade with a variety of accessories as you need them.

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