Tying a mattress to a car roof rack is a relatively safe and simple procedure. However, you must do it absolutely right if you don’t want to both lose your mattress and endanger someone else on the road.
This article will explain how you can tie a mattress to a car roof rack. I’ll also clarify if it’s safe and legal to do this in the first place.
Let’s first talk about your equipment before you start preparing anything.
You have to use a high-quality roof rack that’s also wide enough to accommodate your mattress.
A standard king-size mattress is 76 inches wide and 80 inches long. Of course, it’s normal that the mattress sticks out a bit.
But if it sticks out too much, you’ll need a wider and longer car with a larger roof rack. A small Honda Civic won’t cut it for this job.
Assuming you have an SUV, all you need is a good roof rack to transport it. Strong, thick rails are a must to transport anything heavier than a mountain bike.
If you don’t have high-quality roof racks, I recommend the Thule AeroBlade Mount Rack (available on Amazon). It’s ridiculously well-built and features an aerodynamic design that looks fantastic.
If you’ve bought a brand-new mattress, it’d most likely come in plastic wrap. If not, you’ll have to do it yourself.
A plastic wrap will prevent the mattress from getting dirty or torn. It’ll also reduce sliding.
You should use a thick mattress bag for the best results.
One of the biggest dangers of using bad plastic wrapping is that air can get caught. The mattress already creates a ton of drag when you drive on the highway.
Poor plastic wrapping will catch air, which causes even more drag that can rip the mattress straight off your roof rack.
You can get the MovingHost Reusable Mattress Bag (Amazon). It’s heavy-duty, and you can use it multiple times. It’s leakproof, so air won’t get trapped inside of it.
Most cars still use long car antennas. It’s handy when you want to tune into your favorite radio show, but it’s only a hindrance in this case.
Thankfully, you can probably unscrew it by hand. Simply grab the antenna by the base and turn it counter-clockwise.
If it’s not loosening, check your car instruction manual. Maybe it has a different mechanism.
Once you remove your car antenna, put a large piece of styrofoam or sponge over the antenna base.
It’ll allow you to tie the mattress tighter. Plus, the base won’t rip a hole in your brand new mattress.
You’re now ready to do the most important parts.
Large mattresses are pretty heavy, so you’ll probably need to ask for help to put it up. Have a family member, neighbor, or friend help you put it onto the roof.
If you have a tall SUV, get onto a platform of some sort. You can use a ladder or a heavy crate.
Once the mattress is on the roof, the hardest part is over.
It’s now time to slide the mattress into the middle of the roof. It must be dead center. Also, pay attention to the windshield.
You’ll still have to drive once the mattress is strapped onto the car roof, so slide it back slightly.
Also, make sure the mattress isn’t covering your rear windshield. It would be very dangerous to operate a vehicle without being able to see what’s behind you.
5. Use Ratchet Straps to Tie the Mattress to the Roof Rack
Many people will tell you to use any kind of rope to tie your mattress to the roof rack. They’ll say, “Use the thickest rope you can get, and you’ll be fine.”
But that’s bad advice.
The regular rope you find in a hardware store is slippery, too thin, and can’t hold a lot of weight because you’d be using simple knots.
Since it’s so thin, it’ll hold the mattress extremely tightly in one place and not keep it down at all in another. This causes the front of the mattress to lift.
You can see what I’m talking about in this brief YouTube video:
The driver has a large SUV with a roof rack, so he could theoretically transport any large mattress. However, he used to rope, plus he didn’t even secure it.
The best way to prevent that? Use high-quality ratchet straps.
They’re designed to hold stuff on your roof rack. You can reuse them thousands of times to transport everything from motorcycles to mattresses.
If you don’t have ratchet straps, get the AUGO Ratchet Straps. You get four high-quality straps with a spring-loaded release latch and two bungee cords.
Before you tie the mattress, put a long piece of thick cardboard under each spot where you’ll put a ratchet strap.
This will give the strap a much larger surface area to hold it tightly. It’ll also prevent slippage.
Use at least two ratchet straps for an average-sized mattress. You may want to use three or four just to be extra safe.
Now comes the most important part.
Here are the steps:
- Put the ratchet strap along the length of the cardboard on the mattress.
- Pull it through the first roof rack.
- Grab the end from the other side and pull it through the second roof rack.
- Hook the hooks to each other. Make sure to hook each end through the circular part of the other, not the hooked part.
- Strap the ratchet strap tightly by pulling the ratchet handle up and down. You’ll hear a satisfying clicking sound if you’re doing it right. Do this until it’s completely tight.
- Close the ratchet handle to lock the mechanism.
- Repeat all steps from above for each ratchet strap.
- Check if the mattress is sitting tightly against your car. If there’s any wiggling room whatsoever, you need to make it tighter.
Again, make sure that your mattress is centered and doesn’t cover the front or rear windshield. Pay close attention to the front ratchet strap as this is the most important one.
You should have 4-5 inches (10.16 -12.7 cm) of space between your front ratchet strap and the edge of the mattress.
And if you don’t understand how to use ratchet straps, I strongly recommend that you watch this YouTube video and use the straps a few times before you transport the mattress:
6. Transport the Mattress to Your Destination
You’re now ready to transport your mattress safely.
Make sure to drive a bit slower than usual. Make stops every 10-15 minutes to check if anything has come loose.
It’d be great if you could have someone drive behind or next to you to let you know if the mattress is lifting away from the car.
Once you arrive at your destination, undoing the straps and removing the mattress is a piece of cake. Simply unlock and lift the handle on each ratchet strap to loosen it.
Is It Safe to Tie a Mattress to the Roof of a Car?
It’s safe to tie a mattress to the roof of a car if you do it correctly. You have to use a high-quality roof rack and ratchet straps to secure the mattress. However, if the mattress is much larger than your car or you don’t know how to tie it, rent a pickup or hire a moving company.
If you have a friend, family member, or neighbor with a pickup truck, ask them to lend it to you.
It’s much safer and easier to transport the mattress in a large pickup bed than your SUV’s roof.
If you don’t have a pickup, it’d still be much safer to have it shipped to you. You can hire a moving company or ask the mattress retailer to transport it to your address.
Is It Illegal to Tie Something to the Roof of Your Car?
It’s not illegal to tie something to the roof of your car. However, you must do it safely. Improperly securing a mattress to your roof could be devastating and even fatal to the person driving behind you. If that happens, you’ll be arrested and prosecuted.
Surprisingly, you can tie a mattress to your car legally. You don’t even need a roof rack, but it’s strongly recommended.
If you do everything correctly, there’s no reason for a police officer to give you a ticket. They might stop you to check if the mattress is secured, but that’s about it.
Tying a mattress to your car roof rack isn’t difficult at all. You just have to be very meticulous and careful to do it correctly.
Never use a piece of rope to tie it. Instead, use high-quality ratchet straps, and don’t skip any other step if you don’t want your mattress to fly off the car and hit the vehicle behind you.