Every couple years, it seems like a new design for a roof rack that slides off and down an SUV comes out, is really neat, and then I never hear about it again or see it on people’s rigs. Why don’t these catch on?
A roof rack is a classic off-road accessory. It makes a vehicle look extra adventurous and unlocks some space to mount toys and tools. But climbing up to a basket on top of a tall 4x4 is a challenge. So, practically speaking, racks can be a bit of a pain.
Combine that with a lift kit, and heavy cargo, and suddenly you’re trying to lob 25-pound loaded jerry cans eight feet in the air? It’s annoying at best; unsafe at worst.
I have to scramble up my spare tire on my Montero to put things into my roof basket. My Land Rover Discovery had a ladder (factory option!) to access the roof, the thing was that much of a skyscraper.
Lately, particularly after losing a lot of functionality in one of my hands, I’m less enthusiastic about loading up my roof in general. But last week I saw this really cool “prototype” for a rack just about anybody could reach, made by a company called CargoGlide:
That RoofSlide idea looks both cool and practical, to me, but immediately reminded me of all the other similar things I’d already seen, which prompted me to wonder why this hasn’t been embraced by more people.
The oldest modern example I could easily find was from Australian outfit Slider Rack, which appears defunct based on the status of the company’s website.
Cursory research turned up other stuff made since Slider Rack’s demo video was uploaded to YouTube in 2010, too. British outfit Karitek does something similar for carrying Kayaks, as does War Rack. Thule makes a sliding rack, but it doesn’t seem to be optimized for exceptionally tall vehicles. Somebody even shared a design for a powered one back in 2012:
I’m sure you could find even more variations on this theme if you kept looking. So, clearly, the slide-out-and-down roof rack idea has been bouncing around for a while. And yet, after years of off-roading and overlanding and going to meet-ups all over the world I’ve never seen anything like this in use in the field.
I’m very curious to hear theories about why this concept hasn’t gone mainstream, or at least been as enthusiastically adopted by the off-road community as roof tents, vehicle-mounted awnings and swing-out rear tire carriers. Or better yet, maybe you’ve used one and can tell me about it!