Are Inflatable Roof Bars Any Good?

Written By: Jen

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Roof bars are an essential part of many outdoor adventures. They make it really easy to haul large items like bikes and kayaks to your destination without needing a large truck or van. Plus, they tend to be relatively easy to install.

But inflatable roof bars are now becoming more popular – but are they any good? Or is this a gimmick that puts your valuable equipment at risk?

a car in mountains

Do Inflatable Roof Bars Work?

Inflatable roof bars are effective at supporting heavy loads including surfboards, kayaks, and canoes. They are strong and can fit almost any car, and offer a number of advantages over traditional roof bars.

Inflatable rook bars have air tubes that are resistant to puncture. These create a soft cushion between the bar and the load being transported, which protects your car and your items during the drive. They have strong straps which keep everything tied in place, even at high speeds.

Inflatable Car Roof Rack
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Do Inflatable Roof Bars Offer Stable Support?

You can use inflatable roof bars to carry all kinds of large objects on the roof of your car, providing you buy the right type. They’re extremely sturdy, as well as easy to use and store.

Additionally, they’re compatible with most car models and easy to adjust. Also, unlike the traditional roof bars, inflatable roof bars are less likely to scuff and damage the roof of your vehicle.

They also reduce noise – whereas metal roof bars can rattle, especially when driving at speed, inflatable bars will actually dampen the noise of the load.

There are drawbacks though. Inflatable roof bars don’t currently support bikes, and they aren’t permanent fixtures too. They’re prone to wear and tear, and can also be punctured.

However, this also means that they can be removed and attached to another vehicle – great if you can convince your friends to do the driving this time. And they’re really easy to roll up and store away when you’re not using them too, taking up a lot less space than solid metal bars.

Quick and easy to install

A smart alternative to metal roof racks

Cushioned design reduces vibrations and wind noise

Comes with a drawstring storage bag

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How To Select The Best Inflatable Roof Bars For Your Car?

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind before buying inflatable roof bars:

Weight Limit

You’ll need to check a couple of things related to weight.

Firstly, weigh the items you’re planning on hauling (or find their weight online if you can, that’ll be easier for bulky items). Then check your car’s roof weight limit. It’ll be in the manual.

Once you know whether your car can handle the weight, you then need to find inflatable roof bars that can support that weight limit. Otherwise, the items may be too heavy and could break out of the restraints.

cars in parking lot

Roof Bar Purpose

There are a few different types of roof bars, and you can’t always get an inflatable one that’ll suit your load.

Inflatable roof bars are suited to longer, flatter items that can be pinned down by straps. So think canoes, skis, snowboards, surfboards, and paddleboards.

They can also be used for large suitcases too, if you’re moving home and need to carry some of your belongings separately from the moving guys.

If you want to transport bikes though, or other cumbersome bulky items, then an inflatable roof rack might not be suitable. You may need a fork-holding, frame-holding, or tire-holding rack designed specifically for bikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a roof bar cause damage to the roof of your car?

Both inflatable and solid roof bars can damage your car if they aren’t installed correctly. It’s very rare with inflatable bars though, but metal ones often cause issues. Always check the user manual for instructions on securely installing the bars.

Can you leave inflatable roof bars on your car?

It is okay to leave your roof bars on your car for a short period of time. However, they can be damaged by UV exposure. Many roof bars come with storage bags for when you aren’t using them.

How do I deflate inflatable roof bars?

Inflatable roof bars have valves where you can inflate and deflate the air. Just open the valve and they’ll deflate. You can speed it along with a pump that has a deflate mode but it’s not necessary – roof bars don’t have a lot of air in them.


For transporting longer, flatter items like kayaks, surfboards, paddleboards, and more, inflatable roof bars could really be the future. They protect your car from damage, are sturdy enough for heavy loads, and they’re easier to store when they aren’t being used.

Hopefully, we’ll see more inflatable roof bar designs in the future, which will allow for things like bikes to also be transported without the heavy metal bars we currently use. For now, though, inflatable roof bars are limited to items that can be strapped down flat.

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Jen is your go-to expert on all things inflatable, from pools to tents and beyond. A former hot tub rental company owner, she's experienced the ups and downs of inflatables firsthand. Nowadays, she writes practical guides on maintaining and enjoying inflatables. A mom of young enthusiasts, her family's favorite outing is the inflatable fun park!

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