The venerable Jeep Wrangler and its many iterations are a fan favorite for hitting the trails, making the addition of a Jeep JK roof rack a smart purchase. Most gearheads know the JK is an affordable way to find yourself in control of a machine with great off-road chops and the looks to match. It’ll surprise no one that the aftermarket is awash in accessories for these things, to the point where Jeep now stocks an entire catalog of parts straight from Mopar.

Arguably one of the most popular things to bolt atop a Wrangler JK is a stout roof rack. After all, if you’re hitting the road or wandering off into the trails in search of a few day’s adventure, packing all the essentials (plus a few bonus items) is a must. The roof racks presented in this post represent a variety of options, from the simple crossbars to hefty metal platforms.

1. Editor's Choice: Rhino-Rack Backbone 3 Bar System for Jeep JK

Rhino-Rack Backbone 3 Bar System for Jeep JK

This company has been around the industry for ages, so it makes sense they’d have a yaffle of products on tap for popular off-road rigs. In particular, this Jeep Wrangler JK roof rack deploys a trio of crossbars intended to provide a resting point for any number of long items owners would want to place atop their Jeep, such as surfboards and the like. The company’s Backbone product is part of an ecosystem that strengthens the roof structure of a Jeep, permitting the addition of a roof rack system (sold separately) on your factory hardtop. Frame brackets install around the Jeep’s inside window frame and along outside window jamb; note that you’ll be poking holes in your rig because some drilling is required.

2. JeCar Roof Rack Hard Top Molle Panel

JeCar Roof Rack Hard Top Molle Panel

Looking for all the world like those off-road traction boards that desert racers brake out when they’ve sunk their rig to its axles, this Jeep JK roof rack is one of the few that actually provides functionality inside the Jeep as well as topside. Fitting to a JK’s between its middle roll hoop and the windshield area, this panel permits loading a few items on its surface when driving with the roof off. What’s neat is that items can be strapped to it from underneath (read: inside the cab), permitting Jeep owners to get small items off the floor to make room for the overlanding gear they just bought. Able to bear 120 lbs, the panel is made of heavy-duty aluminum alloy with a powder coat which is anti-rust and anti-corrosive.

3. Rugged Ridge Sherpa Roof Rack

Rugged Ridge Sherpa Roof Rack

Any off-road gearhead worth their weight in tow straps knows the Rugged Ridge name. This roof rack lives up to the first word in its brand, options are available to permit its use as a Jeep JK 2-door roof rack, meaning those of us who are living the 4-door Unlimited life can play as well. Rugged Ridge says the rack requires no modifications to the body of your Jeep, which is always a huge plus. The unique tilt feature allows drivers to access the Wrangler soft top with ease, and the hard top or freedom panels can be taken off without removing the rack system. The latter is a huge plus, since the addition of some racks can scupper one of the main points of buying a Wrangler in the first place – open air wheeling.

4. Smittybilt Basket for JK

Smittybilt Basket for JK

Yeah, ok; this rack technically doesn’t go on the roof of a Jeep Wrangler. But you’re also technically not a doctor and that didn’t stop you from using it as a pick-up line at the bar, did it? Instead of living atop the roof of a Jeep, this rack mounts to the tailgate of a 2007 – 2015 Wrangler and is completely bolt on, meaning there’s no need to bust out your Stanley FatMax cordless drill. Its two-stage textured matte black powder coat finish looks good, and the thing is crafted from heavy-duty 16 gauge, fully welded 1-inch steel tubing. The basket itself sits roughly roof level over the JK’s spare tire, measuring almost three feet wide and well over a foot deep. A 4-inch lip surrounds the platform to provide tie-down points and help prevent your stuff from sliding away.

5. Snailfly Cross Bars Roof Rail Racks

Snailfly Cross Bars Roof Rail Racks

If the triple-action roof rails mentioned at the top of this list are either too spendy or simply complete and utter overkill for your needs, this two-bar system is worth a look. Said to fit all years of hardtop Jeep Wrangler JK (but not with a soft top), the package comes with two cross bars that have a black powder-coated finish plus a quartet of clamps and all necessary fitting hardware. It’ll bear up to 165 lbs of evenly distributed weight, making it perfect for the likes of bicycles or a cargo carrier when equipped with the right clamping accessories for those items. Installation involves using the hardtop’s rain gutters, meaning there’s no drilling holes or modifying the Wrangler’s hard top. The seller says the rails are made from an aluminum alloy and were wind tunnel tested, suggesting the manufacturer gives a toss about aerodynamics.

6. CheroCar Mesh Cargo Net

CheroCar Mesh Cargo Net

We’ll wrap the list with a cargo net to fit between the roll bar rails of your Jeep JK. Making for a good space in which to store some lightweight items when the roof’s on your Wrangler, there are plenty of pictures showing real world customers lying down in this thing – like a hammock – after removing the top from their JK. There are some reports of the net sagging, which would be annoying as a tall driver, but that seems to be the exception and could certainly be the result of user error. The net requires no drilling and is said to be sized perfectly for a Wrangler JK.

How much weight can a Jeep JK roof rack hold?

That answer firmly depends on the specific application you have purchased, so make sure to carefully read the manual that comes with the rack and don’t exceed recommended limitations. Some racks are only good for the weight of a well-fed human while others can bear much more. In either instance, always be sure to even distribute the load and remember that – by placing items atop your Jeep – you’ve slightly changed the machine’s center of gravity.

What can I put on a Jeep JK roof rack?

A lot of customers use these racks for extra storage while wheeling or overlanding, placing spare parts or a jerry can up there. Others go ahead and use them for transporting items that wouldn’t fit in their Jeep’s interior, like a surfboard or pair of skis. If you’re planning to mount a rooftop tent topside, be sure the Jeep JK roof rack you’ve purchased can bear not just the weight of the tent but also the people who’ll be sleeping inside.

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