Guide: Choosing a Van Roof Rack

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When you're looking for a van roof rack, life suddenly seems to get confusing.  With so many different styles, fitments and manufacturers, selecting the correct one can be difficult.  

We've put together this guide to talk you through some of the key things you should look out for so that you can choose the right roof rack for your van.

PICK A STYLE

First up, you need to think about what you'll be using the roof rack for - i.e. will you be carrying ladders? Materials? Both?

Generally, there are 2 styles of van racks; gallery roof racks and roof bars.
Rhino Aluminium Roof Rack
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Rhino Aluminium Roof Rack

Gallery Roof Racks

A gallery roof rack is pretty much the stereotypical roof rack. They tend to cover the entire surface area of the roof and are usually made from steel or aluminium.  As they're made up of multiple roof bars, they're great for carrying heavier or larger loads.


Most have the capacity to carry 8 x 4 sheets and built-in rollers to make ladder carrying easy, they're incredibly versatile.  We recommend going for a gallery rack if you carry a wide range of heavier loads.

Examples of gallery roof racks include the Modular rack from Rhino Products and Van Guard Maxrack.
Van Guard ULTI Bar Roof Bars
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Van Guard ULTI Bar Roof Bars

Roof Bar Systems

Roof bars systems are made up of a number of individual steel or aluminium bars depending on the size of the van.  They're lighter, easier to fit and less expensive than gallery racks.  If you're looking to carry ladders, lighter loads and long length items (like pipes & conduit), then aroof bar system is for you.

IS IT FIT FOR PURPOSE?

Now that you've got a style mind, you need to find a roof rack that's fit for purpose; you'll want something that's up to the job and built to last.  Here, you need to look for a couple of things. 

First up, weight rating.  It's likely you'll be carrying heavy ladders or materials and a standard roof rack from eBay just won't cut it.  You need something that has been properly tested for commercial use - look out for roof racks that have a capacity of 50KG or more per bar.  It's also worth doing a bit of research on the brand, if they're mainly focused on the leisure market, chances are it isn't going to be robust enough.  

Finding something that's built to last is also important.  Racks that have been cobbled together using low-grade materials will bow and/or rust over time.  Find a roof rack that is made from a high-tensile alloyed steel - like the Rhino Delta System - or aluminium like the ULTI Bar fromVan Guard, both are light weight materials that are incredibly strong and will not rust.
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IS IT EASY TO FIT?

You obviously don't want to spend ages fitting your roof rack so making sure it comes with a fitting kit and instructions is a must.  Without these, fitting can take an eternity and all the while your van will be off the road!



Equally, making sure the fitting kit is vehicle specific is important - these are designed to be installed on the manufacturers dedicated roof rack fittings.

All of our Rhino & Van Guard roof racks are all supplied with specific fixings and instructions.  You can get an idea of the fitting process by watching some of our video guides here.

IS IT EASY TO EXPAND?

Whilst it might not be important straight away, a roof rack that is easy to expand makes it future proof.  For example, if a job comes along that requires 2 sets of ladders, you can just buy and additional set of Load Stops and you're set.

Accessories for Rhino & Van Guard roof racks include load stops, pipe tubes, ladder rollers, roof platforms and much more.
Range of Accessories from Van Guard
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Range of Accessories from Van Guard
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Range of Accessories from Van Guard
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