Roof Rack Technology Just Got Its First Interesting Tweak In A Long Time

Illustration for article titled Roof Rack Technology Just Got Its First Interesting Tweak In A Long Time
Screenshot: ARB
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Off-road overland outfitter ARB has basically taken GoPro’s best business idea and applied it to roof racks. The company’s BASE rack looks slick and, more significantly, comes with its own ecosystem of accessories. It gives you lots of customization potential; it gives ARB lots of revenue potential.

The BASE (“Build. Attach. Set. Explore.” Sure, why not.) rack system starts with a pretty standard (but elegant) flat plane made of slats. It looks like every other roof rack, though it also looks well-made and robust which is consistent with ARB’s products in general. This company is well-established and everything in its catalog trends toward the higher end of build-quality and price. (You might have also seen bumpers, air compressors, locking differentials, and other overland accessories from ARB. They’re all generally considered pretty solid.)

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The BASE rack’s main value proposition, besides build quality, is billed as: “revolutionary dovetail mounting system that makes attaching and removing loads and accessories easier, faster, and more secure.” What that means is that each slat in the rack is effectively “guttered,” so that ARB’s numerous attachment offerings fit perfectly into many little slots for nearly infinite customization options.

The result is that it’s very easy to make your own sweet-looking cargo securing setup on your vehicle’s roof. ARB is also offering light bars, special mounts for popular accessories like high-lift jacks, and many types of side railings. There are way too many options and offered dimensions of all these things to get into here, so if you’re interested, just peek at ARB’s site.

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For the record: I’m not a big fan of roof racks in general because of how much fuel economy they suck up and how little weight many SUVs are really supposed to carry on their heads. It’s hard to access roof-stowed cargo, it creates a lot of wind noise, and doesn’t do a tall vehicle any favors for stability. That said, roof racks do look cool. And I recognize that if you want to go boondocking with four people in a 4x4, you sometimes need more gear than can fit behind the second row of seats.

It seems like ARB might have noticed GoPro making a huge range of peripherals designed specifically to work with the little cameras and applied the same logic to roof racks. It’s a great idea, and many overlanders I know are a particular bunch, so many will surely enjoy configuring these racks just so. You can also run cables through some of the rack’s gutters so light hookups could be made to look very clean indeed.

I can’t say all this seamless integration really offers a huge practical benefit over, you know, just strapping junk down to standard rack slats, but the ease-of-use and elegance of design definitely have some appeal.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL

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DISCUSSION

jalonpniklaus
Jalon P Niklaus

So what we have here is a fancy new way to pile more stuff on top of an SUV in order to overland all the way to work during the week, and to the mall on the weekends? Can’t wait to see some gas tanks and Hi-Lift jacks mounted way up high for the daily commute.