Review: Axius "RackPack" Rooftop Cargo Bag
Author: Phil Hansford, July12, 2000
|The Rack Pack adds 15 cubic feet of storage space, but easily folds up the size of a loaf of bread.|
Though most SUVs have more than enough space for hauling large, bulky items, there are times when even the most mammoth machines need that little bit of extra cargo capacity. The Montero and Montero Sport are fairly generous in their storage space, but the older two door can be quite cramped, especially with rear seat passengers.
I often have three passengers on camping trips, so I decided to get a
rooftop carrier. After looking at available options, I settled upon a soft, backpack-type
rooftop bag. Here is a brief rundown on how it functions.
|When loading the bag, be sure to load it evenly.|
|Storing the bag is quite easy, given its compact size.|
The Axius RackPack is made of heavy nylon packcloth, and is made to be
used only when completely filled. When empty, the bag folds to the size of a loaf of
bread. When filled, it can accomodate over 15 cubic feet of storage space. It requires a
roofrack for attachment, and must be lashed with eight included straps on all four sides.
This attachment uses integral buckles, or quick connect hooks. Access is via a large
double zipper which opens the rear half.
|Some things to keep in mind BEFORE you buy...|
|The Rackpack can be secured with buckles or hooks.|
|If you have a bar type rack, you must add side bars|
|Accessing the cargo from the back is easy with the large zipper.|
|The bag measures 36 x 36 x 18, but still leaves room...|
When considering the purchase of a storage bag like the Rackpack, many factors must be considered. The first of these is weather. I drove through some heavy rain, and suffered some slight leakage around the seams. Some tent type sealer might solve this problem, but this needs to be considered. The other major factor is attachment: Many hard "coffin" storage boxes can be affixed independent of any roof rack. Not the Rackpack: it must have a roofrack, with bars on all sides. A factory rack will work, but the popular bar system lacks side attachment points. (I solved this by fabricating side bars out of aluminum hockey sticks, which were the same size as the main bars.)
|Pros and Cons|
This storage bag is not for everyone, but it certainly fits the bill for those with storage problems on a budget.
Foldable when not in use, for easy storage.
Soft sided, to allow for variable shaped cargo
Very cost effective: this bag cost 1/3 the price of a comparable hard plastic rooftop storage bin.
It contacts the roof, so the roof must be clean before the bag is put in place.
The rack needs a four-sided roofrack in order to attach it.
It tends to leak in wet weather.
It is best packed with soft-sided items, since the roof is not protected beyond a layer of nylon packcloth.
The straps tend to loosen over time, so they need to be checked periodically, on long drives
The Rackpack cannot be used when partially full: it must be completely stuffed, or the material will flap.
Admittedly, this rooftop storage option is not ideal under all circumstances. If you plan on using this bag in wet weather, or need to store hard items such as skates, or tools, then I'd suggest a hard-shell carrier. If you don't have a roof rack, then the savings are negated by having to buy a rack first.
If you need a cost-effective way to carry soft items, such as sleeping bags, duffle bags, tents, etc., and you don't have room for a large plastic shell around your house when not using it, this may be your ticket to maximizing the carrying capacity of your sport utility vehicle.