Once you’ve decided between a roof and rear cargo rack and have it installed on your Wrangler, you’ll need to consider how to safely and securely strap down your extra cargo. There’s really nothing worse than arriving at your destination to find out that half your luggage or your canoe has mysteriously flown off somewhere along the way (though let’s hope a flyaway canoe would be instantly realized!), not to mention an improperly secured load can be a real danger to other drivers.
So how to properly tie down extra cargo? Some may say the bungee cord, which is convenient and frequently very cheap. Even though it's their elasticity that makes bungees so convenient, it also means they will stretch and shift, causing the cargo to shift and move as well. They might be helpful in keeping a bike tire from spinning in the wind, but they are not the best means to keep a 200lb load safe and secure. Instead, try ratchet straps, which at their cheapest, are still way stronger and more reliable than bungees. An elastic cargo or basket net that uses integrated hooks will also keep gear secure within the smaller storage capacity of hitch carriers.
The next thing to consider may very well be how to keep my gear water and weather proof. At the very basic end of that spectrum is the handy tarpaulin. Particularly if you have multiple smaller items to carry up on the roof, wrapping them together in a tarp will keep them both secure and dry. You can also purchase specialty roof rack cargo covers and duffel bags, like the Rightline Gear Sport Car Top Carrier or Shield Jacket’s Roof Top Carrier Bag, which typically will include their own tie-down straps, removing that element of the overall equation.
Finally, it is important to note that the roof rack or a rear cargo hitch may not be the best option for Wranglers that want to hit very tough and narrow trails. Having that additional weight up top with a roof rack will make the Jeep more top heavy and may raise its center of gravity, while some hitch carriers have been known to scrape the trail with even minimal rock crawling. However, if you’re looking to haul gear to a campsite, travel cross-country or tackle mild to moderate off-road adventures, then the extra capacity and flexibility a roof rack and rear carrier offers is pretty significant.