Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Paul S.
Put a roof rack on your Jeep Wrangler Unlimited if you need more room for your gear or luggage. This is a common issue with Jeeps because they lack the volume of today’s modern vehicles. If you put some friends or kids in the back seat your space is quickly taken up.
This is why many people seek out a roof rack to place on top of their vehicle to increase the amount of gear and equipment they can bring on the road.
If you don’t have time to read the entire review the Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars are our top-rated roof rack for the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. It is light and portable, and it is a cheap option for a beginner.
If you need a beefy roof rack, read on!
With roof racks, there are an array of options and accessories that can help you along. This guide has done the work for you in selecting the best of the best from the internet. We have also provided a section on what to look for when purchasing one. One size does not fit all for this Jeep modification!
We have gone through many reviews, manuals, and manufacturer specifications to understand which roof rack is right for you. Keep on reading below to find out which rack suits your needs.
Table of Contents
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Roof Rack Reviews
Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars
The Hooke Road Roof Rack bars are made of high-quality aluminum alloy and ABS plastic construction. The load capacity is 88 lbs and it is mentioned that they can be used for light off-roading. The reviews mention that they are quiet on the road and very lightweight. The bars are very sleek and aerodynamic so not only do you avoid noise while driving but they are easy to install and lightweight. If you are looking for an option that is a low-profile option then this is your best bet.
These roof rack bars are meant to be installed on your Jeep Wrangler drainage channels. This makes it an easier option for installation than some of the beefier options below and a great choice if you need to take them on and off a lot. They are not snap but 4 screws hold them down. They do not come with a locking mechanism but the screws that are used to tighten them down require a special tool to unscrew.
These are great for surfboards, most kayaks, roof boxes, snowboards, and skis. Please note that each of these items will require the purchase of another attachment that attaches your equipment to the racks.
The roof rack is compatible with the Jeep Wrangler JK, JL, and Gladiator JT 2002-2022.
- This roof rack cannot be used for a soft top Jeep Wrangler
- The roof rack is not as strong as some of the options below and this reduces the amount of gear and accessories you can place on them.
- They do make taking the top off a little harder because of the added weight. It is possible that two people can still take it off.
- The front bars attach to the front panels of the hard top so you cannot take them off while they are on.
V8 GOD Roof Rack/Cargo Carrier
The V8 GOD beefs things up a bit by being comprised of alloy steel and is finished with a black powder coat for a 5-year corrosion protection. The rack weighs 67 lbs and has a carrying capacity of up to 200 lbs so long as it is evenly distributed. This rack sits 1 inch above the hardtop.
An added perk is that they come with four 18W LED lights that include instructions and mounting hardware.
This roof rack connects to your drainage channels with four connection points, and it can be installed on the back portion of your hardtop so that you can remove your freedom panels in the front.
Because this is a more robust system with many support bars different types of attachments could be used to secure your gear.
The roof rack is compatible with the Jeep Wrangler JL 2/4 door and Gladiator JT.
This is probably best for drivers who need to attach many different things to a rack and understands how to securely attach things with ropes and ratchets. Luggage and bags would fit this best but they still could be used for snowboards, surfboards, and skis.
- This rack cannot be used for a soft top Wrangler.
- Because the system attaches to the drainage channels of the hard top it is probably best not to 4 wheel to aggressively with them attached.
- They are heavy so installation will probably require two people to ensure you do not scratch the hard top.
- This will make the hard top very heavy to remove and you may need to remove the system prior to removing the hard top itself.
Hooke Road Hard Top Rear Roof Cargo Carrier
This roof rack is very similar to the V8 God rack, but it is specifically made for the rear of your Jeep Wrangler and comes with two LED lights that are built-in.
This roof rack weighs 86 lbs and is rated for up to 150 lbs and attaches with two clips to the drainage channels on both sides and then connects to the rear window hinges that are supported by the hardtop. The windows will still function as normal and this allows for the removal of the freedom panels.
The highest point is 7 ¼ inches above the hardtop.
The roof rack is compatible with the Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited 4 Door.
- Can only be in at the rear of the vehicle.
- Cannot be used for a soft top Wrangler and is only limited to the 4 door JK.
- This is a heavy roof rack so installation will require two people.
DV8 Offroad Roof Rack
The DV8 Roof Rack has the largest footprint for the racks in this article sitting at 32.24 square feet. It covers almost the entire roof of the 4 door Wrangler! Constructed of plated steel and weighing in at 58 lbs this rack is rated for 200 pounds of extra gear you couldn’t fit in inside.
It attaches to the drainage channel with 4 clamps on each side and offers 7 support slats and many different holes for tying down your gear. Each clamp comes with a foam barrier to assist in protecting your hardtop.
The height to the top of the roof to the roof rack is 4.5” so it is a very sleek design.
This rack is great for the gear guru or if you are traveling with a lot of friends or family and want to have space inside the Jeep. Due to the size and attachment options what you can attach to this is unlimited as long as you stay under 200 lbs.
The DV8 is only for the Jeep Wrangler JL4 but does have another version that is for the JK/JL and Gladiator JT.
- Cannot remove the freedom panels off the jeep.
- Due to the size, it will take longer to assemble and attach on the roof.
- There was a review that mentioned it was noisy while driving so a wind deflector might be warranted.
Smittybilt 45454JL Defender Rack
This Alloy Steel roof rack with a black powder coat finish has a footprint of 20.25 square feet (4.5’x4.5’) and weighs in at 70 lbs. The static weight capacity of the roof rack is 150 pounds. The rack is dominated by 1” round steel tubing for the bottom and sides.
Steel plates with circles cut through them are attached around the rack providing great options for tie-down locations. One of the best things about this product being a Smittybilt product is that there are accessories and replacement parts that can be purchased for the rack.
This roof rack can fit the Jeep Wrangler JLs 2dr and 4dr and the 4 doors can be located towards the rear of the hardtop to allow for removal of the freedom panels.
- Heavy roof rack.
- Requires two or more people to install to avoid scratching the roof.
Jeep Wrangler Roof Rack Comparison Table
|Weight (lbs)||Freedom Panels Removal||Carry Capacity (lbs)||Anchor Points|
|Hooke Road Roof Rack Crossbars||12.47||No*||88||No|
|V8 GOD Roof Rack/Cargo Carrier||67||Yes||200||Yes|
|Hooke Road Hard Top Rear Roof Cargo Carrier||80||Yes||150||Yes|
|DV8 Offroad Roof Rack||58||No||200||Yes|
|Smittybilt 45454JL Defender Rack||70||Yes||150||Yes|
What To Look For When Purchasing A Roof Rack For Your Jeep Wrangler Unlimited?
Here are some of the top considerations to be on the look for when purchasing a roof rack for the Jeep Wrangler.
Removal Of Freedom Panels And Complete Hard Top
Will the rack allow the removal of the freedom panels from the front part of the hardtop? Removal of the freedom panels is a great feature of the Jeep so ensure that you are okay with them if you choose a rack that does not allow removal of the panels if the roof rack is in place.
While some options allow the rack to be placed on the rear hardtop removing the hardtop with the roof rack will add more weight causing the removal to be more difficult.
Weight of Roof Rack
Weight of the Roof Rack. If you have to assemble and install the roof rack on the roof alone this could be an issue if it is too heavy and to avoid scratching the top of your Jeep. If you have a painted hardtop the scratches could get noticeable.
Another consideration is if you need to remove the roof rack for whatever reason. Removing and replacing the roof rack weekly could get tiring and become a big hassle. The roof bars alleviate this pain point a little.
How Much Do I Plan To Place On The Roof Rack?
How much gear do I typically load up on the roof? If it is only a couple of surfboards or snowboards or skis then the crossbar roof rack could be a great option for you. If you plan on bringing friends or the kids on long trips then you might want to look at the beefier options provided.
Will I Only Be Placing Luggage And Bags On The Roof?
If this is the case, one of the roof rack baskets or cages would be the best fit so that you have plenty of support on the bottom and there are many different tie-down locations. If you have many passengers and are Overlanding or doing a long road trip then the DV8 Offroad roof rack is recommended to provide enough room for all of the luggage.
Assuming 4 people are in the Jeep for a road trip you could allow each person a 50 lb bag which would just meet the capacity of the DV8 roof rack.
The roof rack bars could work but it has to be understood the bags will be sitting on the hardtop and attached to the bars. It doesn’t seem very secure and could cause scratching to the roof.
I Need A Budget Roof Rack
For people on a budget, the best roof rack option is going to be the Hooke Road Roof Rack crossbars. This roof rack system is cheaper because it has less material and isn’t as robust as the others.
Please note that if you choose the crossbars and would like to attach sports equipment like boards, skis, or a kayak then you will need to purchase an adaptor to do so, which increases the price. You would have to buy those adaptors for the other options as well but in some cases, with the cages and attachment points, you may be able to DIY a solution.
Conclusion – Best Roof Rack for the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
The roof rack is the answer to your space needs inside your Wrangler. One other perk not mentioned is sometimes these racks can add a lot of appeal to your rig and it’s a great place for stickers you collect on your journey.
The best thing I think the roof rack does is allow for more room for friends and family on your adventures!
Our top choice is the Hooke Road Roof rack crossbars. There are many great reviews on amazon regarding them and they are a lightweight quick solution for traveling with more gear or equipment that you will need on the road or trail. They are the perfect choice for someone dipping their feet into the roof rack world.
Soft Top Roof Racks
Looking for a soft-top roof rack? Check out our article for soft-top roof racks!