Cargo Baskets - Show me how you secure your load!

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Since I've been unable to find the roof cargo box of my dreams (short length-wise, wide, low-profile, rear-opening), I'm still running a roof basket. (Currently the Surco 45x55x5 model)

I rarely have any of my stuff come more than a few inches over the top of the basket, but nevertheless feel compelled to properly secure the load. When I was using a Yakima Load Warrior, I used the Yakima bungee net, but I really didn't like it, as the double-sided hooks tended to catch on everything, so keeping the net sorted out while you added/removed stuff from the basket was a pain. For a while, I skipped the net and just used a couple of Harbor Freight ratchet straps that I "wove" over the stuff. That worked for big items, but felt "iffy" when the basket had a lot of small stuff in it. When I switched to the Surco basket, I repurposed a Safari Straps cargo net that I'd previously purchased for in-cabin storage when I was carrying a lot of heavy stuff above the bed (now below).



The problem now is that after a little more than two years of use (and really only maybe a dozen weekends in the sun), I can feel that the webbing on the Safari Straps net is started to get that crispy "uv damaged" feeling that comes just before I start breaking straps. I'm pretty disappointed in the durability of that piece, given how much it cost, but it also wasn't 100% perfect in terms of fit or convenience to access stuff in the basket.

So, those of you who have baskets - how do you secure the load? Since I'm pretty sure the cargo net will fail soon, and (not wanting to have it fail mid-trip), I'm revisiting my options. Should I just get a couple of low-ish profile boxes and bolt them to the basket (or crossbars)? Should I try again to locate a low-profile roof box? Is there a more durable cargo netting solution? Or should I just go back to weaving cheap Harbor Freight ratchet straps over everything and replacing them every year or two?
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
I'm also hoping to see some creative alternative solutions.

Since I have my solar panel mounted in a rack that lets me slide the panel out, I've thought about bolting that rack to the top of the basket and using it like a "lid" that would allow be to secure the stuff inside underneath. I do wonder about the danger of items shifting into the back of the panel, though.

Maybe I'm too obsessed with easy-access? I see a lot of people are just ratchet-strapping boxes and stuff to their roof racks, which must require undoing the straps any time they want to get at the stuff, yes?
 

mbwesner

Adventurer
What do you consider low profile? Under 15"? 12" 10"?

I hate ratchet straps and don't use them. I require security, locking the case to the rack and locking the cases, but I also want to be able to open the case while on the rack at camp.

So my solution is I use two big pelican cases, 1730's on lockable (EO)2 mounts. It is pretty tall, but about the same as a jerry can on its side. My Land Rover is pretty tall anyway, but it helps that I have flooring and can walk around up there. I can put padlocks on the pelican cases while in town, but otherwise can just open them up on the rack.





 

McCarthy

Observer
Does anyone have a quick attach setup for roof baskets in lieu of ratchet straps? For oft used things and no fumbling in the dark with them...
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
What do you consider low profile? Under 15"? 12" 10"?
Ideally, I'd like to find something around 12" or so. Even 8" might be sufficient.

The closest "off the shelf" containers that I've seen are a one-off "Mercedes" branded roof-top box that was pretty wide/flat (54x36x14)

It was on eBay and the seller wanted an absurd amount of money for it. This is about the maximum length I could tolerate since I'd have trouble reaching the front of this from the back, even while standing on the "step" I added to the rack on my rear door.

The next-best package I've seen are bicycle travel cases. They tend to come in the approximate dimensions I'm looking for and are fairly lightweight (usually) ABS plastic. I figure adding hinges, a gas spring, and a latch to one would convert it into a rectangular roof box fairly simply. If I can snag one cheaply enough, that'll be something to consider...
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Bumping this back up, two+ years later.

I've managed to put my roof on a diet, and I've rearranged things to eliminate a lot of weight up top. However, there are still a few items that occasionally need to ride up there. If I've got a bundle of firewood, or a slightly sooty firepot, etc., I don't want them in the van.

That said, I've reduced and compacted my gear to the point where my roof basket is now just the aluminum portion of a Harbor Freight trailer-hitch cargo basket, roughly 47" x 20". The upside here is that it's a LOT lighter than my last setup (offset slightly by the fact that I upgraded our solar panel), and prevents "overpacking" by virtue of being small.



I've got two issues I'm trying to sort, now:

1) Keeping the stuff in the basket:
I haven't found a sturdy cargo net (not bungee, but actual load-securing net) that fits that isn't priced off-the-charts. At the moment I'm back to weaving a ratchet strap over the top, but I'm considering cutting down a tarp to size. That should mostly work, depending on how many grommets I add and how well I can reach the lashing points while standing on the rear bumper.

2) Securing the stuff against casual pilferage:
This is, by far, the trickier problem. I know that nothing outside the vehicle (or inside, for that matter) is safe from a determined thief, but given that I always travel through civilization to get to where I'm going, there are going to be times when I need to leave the vehicle out of sight for anywhere from an hour to overnight. I feel fine leaving stuff in daylight for an hour while I eat lunch, but every all-day or overnight stop so far has included the hassle of relocating anything I wouldn't want stolen from the roof to inside the van. I put a cable lock on my recovery boards and shovel, a padlock on the solar panel, but so far haven't figured a way to even remotely secure the stuff in the basket. I've considered building a "top" for the basket - anything from a board to a raised mesh lid that I can lock in place. Hell, if I catch Harbor Freight on a sale day with a 20% coupon, I'd even consider buying a second cargo basket to flip over and make a hinged lid, except I'm not wild about adding that much weight.

I'm not looking for Fort Knox, but at least "Yakima" box level of security. (And I'm still on the hunt for a smaller roof box or cargo case I can re-purpose.)

Anyone got any ideas for the mean time? Either for merely keeping the stuff in the basket, or for some level of theft-prevention?

Thanks.
 

s.e.charles

Well-known member
sorry I can't help since you've well covered any suggestions I might have offered. reducing the gear upon high is the best step.

i'll bet a cookie that if you contact these folks https://www.strapworks.com/Straps_Tie_Downs_s/19.htm they would help you design, and then manufacture, any type of web material hold down. someone makes backpacks that are purportedly able to withstand knife cuts. I think they have some wire woven into the fabric. maybe buy a couple of yards and work that into the design? http://kovenex.com/fabric/cut-resistant-fabric
 

outback97

Adventurer
The closest "off the shelf" containers that I've seen are a one-off "Mercedes" branded roof-top box that was pretty wide/flat (54x36x14)

It was on eBay and the seller wanted an absurd amount of money for it. This is about the maximum length I could tolerate since I'd have trouble reaching the front of this from the back, even while standing on the "step" I added to the rack on my rear door.
I am not a fan of cargo trays because of some of the same reasons you've mentioned. Mainly that the items are visible and unprotected from rain. I prefer a shorter cargo box and they don't seem to be made much anymore.

If you search online you can sometimes find used ones for a reasonable price, at least you can around here (SLC). The Thule Excursion fits your size criteria if you can find a used one. We picked one up recently to replace an aging Yakima Space Cadet we've had for years. Yakima made the Space Cadet and Thule had the Weekender, Excursion and the narrower Sidekick. You may have some luck searching using those names if you haven't already tried that.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
I'll look to see if Thule made a smaller version of the Excursion, but that's one of several I currently own and it's still too big for me. From my notes, it's 56" x 36.1" x 18.5". The two problem dimensions are the length (I can't quite reach the front of it from the rear bumper of my van, even with a step welded onto my cargo rack) and the height. (Not to mention that I will never need that volume, so things inside will have room to bounce around...)

Another idea I'm kicking around is to figure out how to make my Lifetime folding table double as a "lid" to the cargo rack. It's got similar dimensions, and I'd be bringing it (inside) anyway. Just need to engineer a way to lock it down so it holds the contents of the basket in-place. (Of course, that moves 20lbs from inside the van back up on the roof, which opposite of the trend I'm aiming for...)
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
Sewing your own straps into a net should be easy. Use UV resistant thread.

Or, use aircraft cable and barrel-crimps to make a net, although tightening it might be a challenge? That might be solved with industrial safety style cable lock devices
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
That said, I've reduced and compacted my gear to the point where my roof basket is now just the aluminum portion of a Harbor Freight trailer-hitch cargo basket, roughly 47" x 20".

Sometimes I'm clever. Other times, I'm as thick as a brick. I seriously don't know why, given that I am using a re-purposed trailer-hitch cargo tray as a roof basket, it took me so long to figure out an obvious answer to keeping my roof gear secured and dry, at least: Cargo-tray bags. The answer came via lurking on theSamba.com, where the Vanagon guys use these in their forward roof cargo trays...



This doesn't solve my security concerns, but should handle the lashing and weather-proofing needs. By specs, the Rola #59102 should be a solid match size-wise (if unnecessarily tall) for my Harbor Freight "roof basket".

This is my solution for the near-term.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Why don't you just buy a piece of wire security mesh/wire security net/steel netting (you can google any of these terms) and make a piece the size you need. Alternately, you could buy one of Pacsafe's mesh bags, ex: https://www.pacsafe.com/pacsafe-120l-backpack-and-bag-protector/10190.html?dwvar_10190_color=999&cgid=portable-safes#start=1
Not really practical, IMHO . As far as I can tell from how it's constructed, the Pacsafe won't cover over a wide/flat volume (4' x 2' x 6"). It's more "bag" shaped, where you stuff your bag inside and pull a drawstring closed. I could try to cut it up and make it "flat", but I'd still have to rig a way to secure it around the perimeter.

The smallest piece of 1/8" commercial stainless netting I've found is from US Netting at 4' x 4' (double what I need) - that prices out to $600 to $800, depending on the grid size. Let's be conservative and say $300-$400 assuming someone will charge me the same price/sqft for the 2' x 4' cover I need.

I think I'm going to stick to a bag for weather resistance, and just move items off the roof if I need to park for extended periods where tampering/theft is a concern.

EDIT: Well, I may have been hasty. I felt like I owed this a second look, and it seems I may be able to buy smaller chunks of (lighter-weight) netting on Alibaba or the like. I'll keep it in mind.
 
Last edited:
Top