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Sherpak Elite – Car-top carrier

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The trunk space in my mid-size sedan rarely accommodates my weekend adventure gear requirements. To add some capacity, the Sherpak Elite from Seattle Sports Company attaches to the car’s rack and provides up to 15-cubic-feet of space in a water-tight container.

Made of a thick vinyl material, the car-top gear stow can handle rain, snow and sleet and will stay supple in cold weather. The Sherpak Elite’s seams are welded via a radio-frequency method, which Seattle Sports Company says eliminates needle holes and keeps it 100 percent waterproof.

Sherpak Elite

It attaches to most factory-installed roof racks and after-market racks from companies like Thule and Yakima. Hooking it up is as easy as snapping some plastic buckles and pulling them tight to fit. For vehicles without a rack, the company sells a kit to connect the Sherpak Elite to a car’s rain gutters or window channels.

Camp chairs, sleeping bags and tents are obvious candidates for stowing in the container’s spacious compartment, but ski boots, life vests, climbing gear, water jugs and even golf clubs will fit easily. After loading it up, the Sherpak Elite seals closed with a heavy-duty zipper and cinches tightly shut with three compression straps.

The Sherpak Elite, which comes in 10- and 15-cubic-foot sizes, is the flagship model in a line of car-top gear stows Seattle Sports Company sells. With prices in the line starting at around $80, the company offers a nice alternative to hard-side gear boxes from Thule and Yakima, which cost hundreds of dollars more.

Soft-side containers do have some disadvantages, however. They cannot be locked securely like hard-side boxes, and they are not as aerodynamic. You have to be careful to keep the bottom of the vinyl container clean and free of sand and dirt to avoid scratching the car’s roof.

When not in use, soft-side containers can be taken down and folded up into a small package. You can leave it in your car’s trunk or on a shelf in the garage. When the trunk fills up, take out the vinyl container, unfold it and throw it on the roof to significantly upgrade the vehicle’s carrying capacity.

Price: Sherpak Elite, $146.
Contact: Seattle Sports Company, 1-800-632-6163, www.seattlesportsco.com.

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