Building for Adventure Part 2: Rooftop Storage
In this installment of Building for Adventure, I'm sharing my experience with rooftop storage for the 200 build. Even with the best interior storage system, disappears quickly when you have front and rear seats plus a fridge. After maxing out the interior storage on the 200 I realized that I was going to need to utilize the rooftop for multi-day trips.
I've had several cross bar and roof rack setups in the past and while they each had their benefits, their individual drawbacks left me mostly unsatisfied. I had ARB and never liked the profile. I got sucked into Frontrunner because of all their accessories and cool product videos, only to find most of it was unnecessary. And their hardware rusted and corroded very quickly. I've had Rhino Rack Vortex crossbars and while great at certain things like carrying a rooftop tent, they were horrible for smaller items like boxes and bags. For the 200 I knew I wanted a rack with a low profile, good powder coating, and lots of options for securing items both large and small. The Gamiviti rack checked all the boxes.
I first saw a Gamiviti rack back in 2018 at Hundreds in the Hills 8. I had read about them online at ih8mud.com but never actually seen one in the wild. I was impressed by the build of the rack plus all of the different options and configurations guys were running them in. Then the real kicker was meeting Tim, the owner and builder of Gamiviti racks. I found out that Tim is a huge supporter of the Land Cruiser community and really walks the walk. He got out there and led trails then hung out with everyone at the potlucks and dinners. Just another Cruiserhead. Tim sponsored the opening night party and donated a huge amount of product to the raffle. I could tell he runs his business because he enjoys it and every product he designs and builds is for a reason, to fill a real need. He's also just a great guy.
So I knew the Gamivit rack was the way I wanted to go. It's the lowest profile rack available for the 200 and its STOUT. The powder coating is nice and thick and tie down points are basically endless. I called Tim and we talked a little bit about options and what would best suit my build. Within hours he sent an email to me with a schematic of the rack for my approval. It was very easy and being able to talk with Tim directly was really helpful and reassuring.
I'll be doing a separate review of the rack so I won't go into a ton of detail on the rack build here. Basically I ordered a full Gamiviti rack with the drop down basket option. The drop down basket is an area of the rack that is recessed about 1.5" and has a heavy duty mesh type floor. Its perfect for throwing a bag or box on or even for transporting fire wood. I tend to use a lot of firewood at camp and that was my main reason for the basket. When I'm out on the trail its super nice to be able to throw wood up there and move it to camp without even tying it down. Even with the basket, the top of the rack is a flat plane so you can slide and secure lumber, plywood, kayaks or whatever on it when not transporting other items.
Forward of the basket are the crossbars. I ordered my rack without a sunroof cut out because I wanted to be able to utilize that space for storage. In my case, I mounted a 100 watt Renogy Eclipse solar panel at the front of the rack above the sunroof. Immediately behind the solar panel and forward of the basket is an area I planned to use for storage boxes.
For rooftop storage boxes, my go to is the Front Runner Wolf Pack. I've been using them for almost five years and they have been all over the country with me, They are tough, stackable, plus dust-proof and water-proof. The boxes do come with 4 small holes in the bottom for breathing or liquid drainage, but I sealed those with tape and have had zero issues over the years. Three of these boxes fit perfectly across the rack in between the solar panel and the basket. If more storage is needed, I made sure that I could fit more Wolf Packs in the basket, or other items like recovery bags, duffels, or even a swag.
I use my interior drawers for tools so I need to keep most of my camping items in the boxes on the roof. I find its nice to break the boxes down by category when packing.
Box 1- Food Items: canned goods, stock, boxed food, bread, potatoes, onions, etc.
Box 2-Cooking Supplies: aluminum foil, ziplocks, plates and bowls, utensils, spices, cutting boards, pots and pans, soap, collapsible basin, etc.
Box 3-Fire and Stove supplies: fire starters, welding gloves, Biolite Stove and grill, wood pellets, lighters, propane, small fire tongs, etc.
I find it best to label the boxes so they are easy to pull when needed. Also, the box used most gets put on the driver's side outside of the rack because that's the first box I pull. I will sometimes place a 4th box in the dropdown basket on a long trip and pack it with whatever is needed.
I also use the rack to attach my Ironman awning and carry my portable ARB twin compressor and ARB recovery bag.
I've put about 25k miles on this rooftop storage setup with the awning and boxes now. I've ran rainy, muddy, tight east coast trails, and dusty, rocky Colorado trails. The setup has seen insane angles at Moab. I've done 80 mph for thousands of miles on the interstate and 60 mph bombing desert roads. Through it all, the rack and boxes have been great.
Rooftop storage can make adventure traveling a lot easier and more fulfilling if it's done right. If you decide to purchase a roof rack, I highly recommend putting pen to paper and really figuring out how you plan to use it. I thought it out and knew exactly what I wanted out of the rack for the 200 build. Previous experiences with my 100 also helped. Over the years it basically took me 4 tries before I finally decided to slow down and have a "custom" solution built instead of buying an off-the-shelf rack. In the end, the little extra time and effort really paid off. This storage solution has been perfect for my needs.