Finding the right roof rack is key to getting the most out of your Honda Element.
With a roof rack, you can skip the trailer and quickly strap down your kayaks, snowboards, suitcases, bikes, etc. to head to the beach, over a pass, or across the country.
Whether you’re looking for a simple set of crossbars to tie down your fishing kayak or a more elaborate set-up for luggage or other gear, roof racks let you take all your adventure gear on the road and frees up more space for people in your vehicle.
Whatever cargo you need to carry and regardless of your vehicle’s year, there’s a gear rack solution for you. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to narrow down your options.
Here’s our quick guide to the top four roof racks for your Honda Element and a quick run-down on what makes each rack a good choice.
|Ranking||Product Name||Weight||Capacity||Model Year||Review||Price|
|#1||Honda Genuine Factory Roof Luggage Rack 08L02-SCV-100B||13 lbs||75 lbs||2003-2011||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#2||VioletLisa Roof Rack for Honda Element||12 lbs||120 lbs||2003-2011||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#3||Rightline Gear 100S20 Sport 2 Car Top Carrier||7 lbs||Up to 18 cubic feet||Any||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#4||AUXMART Roof Rack Cross Bars||10.27 lbs||150 lbs||Any||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
Selection Criteria & How We Ranked Our List
Roof racks range from simple plastic cross-bars that just provide a platform to strap other things onto, all the way through complicated strap and basket contraptions. Which is best for you will vary based on what you want to carry, the year of your vehicle, and how willing you are to undertake challenging installations.
Aside from being able to physically attach your gear to the rack, you’ll need to make sure that the rack’s weight capacity is high enough to hold everything you plan to carry on your roof. Kayaks, rafts, bikes, and other heavy gear can be too much for some inexpensive or plastic racks.
Durability is also clearly important. More expensive racks tend to be built from aluminum, steel, and other lightweight sturdy materials.
If you plan to use the rack on rough terrain, for many years, or with heavy items, it’s worth paying a little more for increased durability. A weak or poorly installed rack can be a serious safety hazard on the road.
However, if this is a starter rack used to tote lightweight gear, you can often find significantly cheaper models.
Honda Elements vary slightly in shape and size by year. Most of the racks on this list were designed specifically to fit this vehicle, but your results may vary depending on how old your car is. It’s helpful to double-check the measurements of any rack before making a purchase.
All of these considerations should factor into deciding which rack is best for your SUV. Durability, price, or ease of installation may be more or less important to you depending on your needs.
In short, we ranked our list to prioritize roof racks which would:
- Maximize load bearing and durability
- Minimize resistance/provide an aerodynamic profile
- Maximize value (to get you the most functionality for your dollar)
- Minimize installation difficulty
Ratings and Reviews
Here’s our list of the top roof racks for your Honda Element, ranked and optimized with the best first.
Our Number 1 Pick: Honda Genuine Factory Roof Luggage Rack – 08L02-SCV-100B
- Weight: 13 lbs.
- Capacity: 75 lbs.
- Models: 2003-2011 Honda
- High points: comes directly from Honda, sturdy, easy installation
- Low points: a bit pricey, relatively low weight capacity
Why it’s Our Top Pick:
This is a versatile, reliable rack manufactured by Honda. In part because it’s built by the original manufacturer of the vehicle, it fits perfectly. It also looks higher quality compared to similarly priced racks due to the design.
Most people find it easy to install with household tools – essentially just popping four pieces into place.
It’s also a long-lasting and lightweight option, has a low profile, and can carry multiple types of cargo easily.
What the Experts Say:
Because it’s manufactured by the OEM, you get a higher degree of security that the parts will fit properly. Honda has a good reputation for customer service, and this product is designed specifically for the Honda Element.
Users note that it blends in well with the car (where some other manufacturers can look cheap), and clicks in to the existing mounts in the car’s roof. Some people do report difficulty installing this rack. However, there are instruction videos online detailing how to “snap” the feet of this rack securely into place.
The rack feels long-lasting, and works well for anything from furniture to bikes. It’s designed for 2003-2011 models, though it may work on slightly newer years; be cautious when gambling on buying a rack for a model year it isn’t designed for.
Out-of-date racks are often cheaper, but there’s no guarantee they will fit or work safely – it’s worth calling Honda or measuring your car to make sure it will still fit.
Features and considerations
These bars are made of heavy-duty plastic. While durable, lightweight, and waterproof, this material does limit the weight capacity of the rack; it’s only rated to 75 lbs., which can limit what you can haul with it. Most kayaks, for example, will be too heavy.
It’s also a bit pricier for what you get than other options due to the name brand. However, for most types of cargo, you can’t go wrong with going for the original option. It can be worth paying a few extra dollars for more peace of mind.
The Next Best: VioletLisa Roof Rack for Honda Element
- Weight: 12 lbs.
- Capacity: 120 lbs.
- Model years: 2003-2011
- High points: Simple hardware – attaches to factory holes without drilling, made of durable aluminum
- Low points: Can look cheap and takes a while to install
Why it’s a Top Pick:
This rack is sturdy enough to carry kayaks, sups, and other gear securely. It’s lightweight and fairly straightforward to install, but much less expensive than the top-end models.
Unlike universal models, this product is also designed specifically for the Honda Element SUV, which allows the rack to easily be installed on factory mounting points without modification.
What Reviewers Say:
VioletLisa is not as well-known as some other manufacturers on this list, but among those who have chosen it, it’s a well-reviewed option.
It’s fully removable, which can be a nice feature if you need to install different racks for different functions or just don’t like the idea of permanently altering the profile of your vehicle. It does stand out a little more than other racks, and the power-coated surface, while durable, can look cheaper than other racks.
The installation hardware it comes with may not be sufficient to easily install it yourself. The company recommends professional installation, but with installation instructions and additional tools, most people should be able to figure it out on their own.
Features and Considerations:
This rack is combination of aluminum and ABS plastic and rated to 120 lbs., which is enough for most items from boxes up through small kayaks. You would likely have difficulty toting multiple boats, but this rack works well for pretty much anything else up to that point.
For most people, this is a low-stress, secure way to tote gear on top of your Honda Element. It’s hard to beat the value and functionality of this rack in the mid-price range.
- Weight: Varies
- Capacity: Up to 18 cubic feet
- Model year: any
- High points: Waterproof, easy to use, versatile
- Low points: Less durable material, makes noise when packed improperly, doesn’t fit very large gear
Why it’s a Top Pick:
This is a great choice if you need to haul smaller items that won’t fit in your trunk or which would damage the inside of your vehicle. The company makes several size options ranging from 9 cubic feet through 18, so it can fit most items which you’d want to store on the roof of your vehicle.
It’s waterproof, easy to install and works with virtually ever model year.
What the Reviewers Say:
This is a popular and easy-to-use choice which works well right out of the box. The hardware is easy to attach to an existing cross-bar system, but even without that, the straps can attach directly to the car ports of the vehicle.
The waterproofing feature works well, with both a urethane coated zipper and a built-in fabric flap which keeps water from getting into the bag. However, the car clips, when used without a roof rack, can cause leaking into the main body of the car on some older car models.
Features and Considerations:
Though the large capacity is nice, it’s worth looking into finding the minimum size you’ll need, as under-packing the bag can make the cargo shift around or cause an annoying noise when driving at high speeds.
It comes with four attachment car clips which will attach to most doors.
Because of the relatively bulky profile of this bag, vs. more aerodynamic racks, you may see reduced fuel efficiency when using it over long distances.
Overall, while different from standard roof racks, this is a well-known, affordable, and highly functional transport solution for any small to mid-sized cargo.
- Weight: 10.27 lbs.
- Capacity: 150 lbs.
- Models: Any
- High Points: Affordable, durable, and lightweight, doesn’t need hardware
- Low Points: Difficult to install, quality can be variable
Why it’s a Top Pick
This model is built with durable, high-weight aluminum which blends in well with the vehicle and can hold over 150 pounds, significantly higher than some other models.
It’s a universal bar that uses plastic pads to avoid damaging roof paint, and is less than half as expensive as other options.
It’s one of the best options for starter racks for many SUVs (including the Honda CRV) without sacrificing stability.
What the Reviewers Have to Say
This is a fan favorite entry-level rack. It doesn’t require drilling holes in the roof, works with a wide range of Honda Element model years, and has a sleek, minimalist design.
Some people report quality control issues and quality variation between different shipments of this model; make sure when purchasing that you choose the original factory brand to minimize the chance of defective parts.
The company is known for responsive, helpful customer support, but it can still take time to provide replacement hardware needed for full installation.
Features and Considerations
Installation can be difficult, but if you’re willing to do a little DIY work, it’s possible to figure out on your own. Depending on the year of your vehicle, it may not fit perfectly, but it works with most Honda makes and models.
If you’re looking for a good, inexpensive starter rack, this one has great value for the price.