James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

Roof bars will help increase storage space on your caravan holidays, so read our Summit 500 Series review to find out if this is the right product for you

Overview

Sometimes it can be a squeeze getting everything stowed before you head off on your caravan holidays. Of course, when towing a tourer, you can't hitch a trailer on the back to increase luggage space, meaning many caravanners want to make use of the space on top of their tow car. And whether you're loading sports gear, bicycles or a roof box, you'll need a pair of roof bars.

However, with so many roof bars on the market, which should you buy and what are you looking for when you buy? With this in mind, the Practical Caravan team has conducted a group test, to help you buy with confidence. All rail-mounted bars tested were supplied to fit a Volvo V70/850 Estate.

We wanted to see how easy they were to fit, especially if you tend to fit such things on your own. Vehicle-specific roof bars are often relatively straightforward to fit, but modular ones aren't always so, although they have the advantage of being able to be used on any type of car.

During this test we have concentrated on rail-fit bars and, where feasible, we’ve also reviewed the same bar fitted with mounts designed to be secured to door apertures. This latter type can be more fiddly as they work as a whole, so when you adjust one side you must do the same on the other, sometimes making them harder to fit alone.

Weight is something you must be aware of when choosing roof bars, as different products are designed to support different loads. You must make sure that you do not exceed the lower of your vehicle’s maximum roof load weights – including the weight of the bars themselves – or the bars’ maximum.

Finally, desirable features that might make a set of roof bars stand out from the crowd include locks and T-tracks, slim grooves that run along the top of premium bars that have bolts to secure the load being carried.

Here we review the Summit 500 Series roof bars, which retail for £89.95 and which can be bought in steel or aluminium. Although they are not supplied pre-assembled, you'll be pleased to hear that building these bars is quick and easy. Simply ping off the small end caps, which must be removed during fitment anyway, slide in a foot from each end, and that’s it, the bars are ready to go on your car’s roof. Adjustment and fitting is similarly straightforward.

As well as ease of use, it’s hard not to be impressed by the bars’ low weight, the respectable 75kg maximum load, and the fact that the T-track and the locks all round come as standard.

And although rather slower to build and fit, the door aperture versions of these roof bars are also worth considering, not least because of a natty adjustment that allows the bars to be set level even on heavily sloping rooflines.

Also in our roof bars group test, we reviewed the Mont Blanc Supra 004 and our five-star rated group test winner, the Thule WingBar.

Verdict

Come the end of the Practical Caravan Summit 500 Series roof bars review, our team was so impressed that this product was awarded four stars.

Conclusion

Pros

  • They're easy to fit
  • There's a 75kg load limit
  • They feature both locks and a T-track
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