James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

Practical Caravan reviews roof bars that fit any car – here's our Halfords Roof Bar System E review and test verdict to help you buy the best camping gear

Overview

If your existing tow car has roof rails, you're in luck – it's easy to fit roof bars to them and increase your luggage space during caravan holidays. While it's easy to fit all you need into a car when you're just a couple, as soon as you have children you'll need much more kit! Not everything is heavy, but a lot of camping gear is bulky. Put the camping chairs, windbreak, caravan awning and sun loungers on the car roof and you'll have an easier time packing your caravan with personal kit for family holidays.

Fortunately there are now many roof bars on the market that are designed to fit almost any car that has its own roof rails. We rounded up a good selection of brands for our roof bar tests to find out how these sets of roof bars compare in price, strength, how easy they are to fit, and what kind of weight they can support. Weight is important because you may be buying them to make family caravan holidays easier, but once you've got them, you're bound to find other uses for them as well.

In this review we'll focus mainly on the Halfords Roof Bar System E. Halfords is a popular car accessory chain store with branches nationwide, and we love the fact that branches stay open pretty late at night, which is ideal if the only time you can go shopping is on your way home from work. You can order online, too, either choosing to 'click and collect' or having items delivered. So this means you can shop at any time of the day or night to fit around everything else in your life.

While basic-looking, the Halfords Roof Bar System E bars are much more user-friendly than you might at first imagine. Supplied ready to go, they won’t even need tools to fit them.

Built into each foot’s end panel is a small lever, which is locked in place. Once unlocked, simply twisting the lever secures the relevant foot’s jaws around the vehicle’s roof rail, and locks the foot laterally along the bar, too.

Predictably enough, the door-aperture versions of the bars are a little more time-consuming in terms of assembly and fitment, plus they don’t have locks. Overall, though, these are good, tough bars, capable of supporting up to 75kg. Our only reservations concerned the quality of the plastic keys and locks.

The Halfords roof bars are made of galvanised steel and are 120cm long. The set includes two bars and four feet. 

A set of the Halfords roof bars costs £85, which is a bargain price compared to most of the other pairs of roof bars that we tested for Practical Caravan.

The best roof bar set we tested was the Thule WingBar costing £150.50 at the time of our test, a superb set of modular roof bars with an easy fitting system, noise-reduction built in, an aerodynamic shape and 100kg load. We awarded this Thule set five stars. We also liked the Summit 500 Series, at £89.95, which you have to assemble yourself, and which can take a 75kg load. We gave the Summit 500 four stars. The Mont Blanc Supra 004 roof bar set costing £103.43 is ideal if your tow car has no roof rails, because you can buy versions of it to fasten into fixed points, door apertures and roof gutters. Unfortunately the Mont Blanc Supra 004 can only take 60kg load and has no locking system, so we gave it two stars, considering the price. The cheapest branded roof bars we tested were the Spanish-manufactured Cruz SR+ 130 roof bars, which cost just £49.95 plus shipping. 

Verdict

The price of the Halfords Roof Bar System E puts it in direct competition with the Summit 500 Series, and we preferred the Summit overall. If money is no object we'd recommend that you should consider the Thule WingBar, our overall Practical Caravan roof bar test winner.

Buy the Halfords roof bars if you need to buy basic roof bars for a fiver less than the Summit 500 Series. They're ideal for you if your tow car has no roof rails. There is the added convenience of buying from Halfords, which has so many stores that there's bound to be one near you. 

We awarded the Halfords Roof Bar System E three stars. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • Easy to use, no tools needed
  • Tough bars
  • Up to 75kg load
  • Cheap price

Cons

  • Plastic keys and locks
  • They look a bit basic
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