What Size Cargo Box Do I Need?

June 8, 2021

Rugged and highly efficient, cargo boxes offer lots of benefits. Instead of overcrowding your car with multiple passengers, backpacks and all your provisions and gear, a cargo box can provide more space to stretch out and enjoy the drive. It can also keep longer items like fishing poles and skis up top while driving through snow, rain and ice.

But if your packing routine involves playing Tetris with your car’s interior and you’ve never used one, you may wonder what size cargo box you need. Look no further. Pelican offers tips and advice on determining the right size cargo box and Pelican cargo cases to hold all your gear, keeping you and passengers safe and comfortable.

Take Inventory of Your Gear

The first thing you need to consider is what gear you have. Or more so, what gear you might bring along on trips. Nature-loving campers or backcountry hikers might need a cargo case for tents, sleeping pads, hammocks and more. If you have a family, a cargo case can transport a bulky stroller or sandy beach chairs. In comparison, winter sports enthusiasts or hunters might require a case that can accommodate skis or rifles.

Ultimately, what you expect to place in your cargo box can help determine the size – down to the length, width and even height.

For example, if you have bulky but lightweight gear, such as sleeping bags and camp chairs, a regular cargo box might do just fine. However, if you carry more extended gear like skis, snowboards or fishing poles, you might want to look for a longer cargo box. Take the interior dimension into account, too – not just the exterior hard shell.

Another consideration is if your gear and equipment are heavy. As a good rule of thumb, you should avoid reaching your cargo case’s max weight limit and instead keep heavy items like ice-filled coolers, jugs of water and food containers inside the vehicle. The maximum weight limit your car’s roof can support – both dynamic and static roof weight capacity – is put in place for good reason.

Make Note of Cargo Box Dimensions

cargo cases

Take a look at available cargo boxes that interest you, making a note of their length, width and height. Also, keep these tips and advantages/disadvantages in mind while on your search.


Cargo boxes are typically found at six feet in length, sometimes longer for those 180cm skis. You can find cargo boxes to keep longer cross-country skis, too.


When you consider the width, it’s safe to say the wider, the better. From camp chairs to large objects, a wider cargo box is advantageous. However, there is a downside. If you opt for a wide cargo box, this means you’ll have no side space left on your rack’s crossbars for a bike or kayak. So if these items are part of your gear, look for a narrower cargo box.


A taller cargo box obviously adds extra storage, but there are a few disadvantages. More elevated boxes add height to your car, which means you need to verify height clearances for parking garages, drive-throughs or wherever else you choose to venture off to. If your vehicle has a low profile, it’s probably suitable, but it’s something to keep in mind for taller vehicles.

How Much Gear Can the Cargo Box Hold

What is the cargo box’s gear capacity? Whether the manufacturer provides it in cubic feet or cubic inches, it can give you an idea of the storage it offers and the amount of gear it can take on.

However, it’s important to be mindful of the size of your box. A bigger box directly affects your fuel efficiency, plus it can be somewhat awkward to carry and store in a garage or shed when not in use. Some people complain about the noise levels as well.

Find Your Cargo Box Today

To help you get from Point A to Point B, explore Pelican’s variety of cargo case sizes and shapes. Designed to fit snugly into our rooftop cargo carriers, each cargo case is built rugged, durable and has been weather-tested to ensure it holds up to the elements. Each case also features a limited lifetime guarantee. And our cargo cases can be attached to not only a roof rack, but a truck bed, too. We even carry additional interior accessory solutions to make each item fit inside protected.

If you need a cargo box, Pelican offers a variety of sizes. Be sure to find the perfect fit, including a cargo case and mounting kit, that works with your vehicle make and model.

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