One of the problems with Jeep Wranglers is the limited storage space, so in comes the N-Dure roof rack system.
The N-Dure roof rack system for the 2007-2015 Jeep Wrangler is by no means a light weight thing, and once mounted to the Jeep, is not something that one will be taking on an off in a hurry, as it requires the removal of the rear after market bumper, or drilling into the body of the Jeep. It arrives in two large heavy boxes, probably the one with all the verticals and mounting hardware, the other with the longer cross and side bars. Assembly can be done by one person, and was in this case, but would be easier with two, at least for part of the assemble as per the instructions. The vehicle this was mounted to was a 2008 Jeep Wrangler (JK) which was already somewhat modified with a 4 inch lift kit, 17 inch wheels, aftermarket front and rear bumpers, winch, fog lights, etc. In design it is very similar (read identical) to the Body Armor and Barricade roof racks which market for about $100-200 more. This rack system is one of the lower cost units retailing for between around $290 to $375 the full MSRP or $440.
So what does the system comprise of?
First it is all steel, the major vertical portions out of 2 inch round tubes, has a 2 year limited warranty, with a rated 250 lb load rating. Both front and rear cross bars conveniently are set up with tabs and holes for mounting lights, so serve also as light bars, and it has three other cross bars that are also round. The front and rear cross bars are also equipped with holes for running wires down through them, and rubber plugs for where they are not used for wiring. One of the benefits of this system is that the with the mounting system attaching to the windscreen corner mounts, and to the frame underneath the vehicle, it is possible to remove the hard top without having to remove the rack system, as it is entirely outside and unattached to the hard top. One other system looked actually attached to the hard top, which meant that when the hard top was removed so was the rack.
How difficult was it to install?
There are two different mounting methods for the rear portion of the rack. The first requires the removal of an after market bumper if fitted, the second requires drilling into the corners of the body. Since this modified Jeep already had armor wrapped around the corners (see pictures) it was decided to use the lower (attached to the frame) methodology. This presented a few problems in-so-much-as the after market bumper wrapped around the Jeep so far it would not allow the installation of the rear vertical members of the roof rack. This is neither a criticism of either the bumper or roof rack design, however, one should look closely before buying one or the other without doing some measuring. This minor problem was overcome simply by cutting off some of the bumper, which added a 1/2 hour to the installation. Since the Bumper and the roof rack use the same bolts for attaching them to the frame, it is a little fiddly aligning everything, but before one can get that far, the wrinkle finish paint on both the roof rack leg and on the bumper caused it to be so tight that it was necessary to grind it off of both items and spray with oil such that the rear bumper could be pounded into place with a small sledge hammer. Needless to say, once this was done, there is no possibility of any rattling or such ;-) Again this is not so much a criticism of either the bumper or the roof rack, just that tolerances can lead to added difficulties. One other minor difficulty encountered was that there are two other bolts that secure the rear leg portions of the roof rack in addition to the two that also secure the after market bumper, where again due to tolerances, the head of the bolt provided rubbed on the leg itself, such that it could not be tightened. This was a small (less than 1mm (1/10th of an inch) misalignment of the leg when welded to the mounting plate. Again a simple solution was to go to a round Allen type bolt. It is this reviewer opinion that the task would without these added complications have taken less than 2 hours to complete, as it was, it was closer to 4 hours. One final small problem was that the three additional cross bars are mounted using a plastic knob which has a nut inside it, nice idea for quick mounting or moving, but the nuts strip inside the plastic. They were removed and a standard locking nut put in their place, as the likelihood of one moving them or removing them is slim to none, and they would also just increase wind noise and drag.
How does it perform?
So, having driven around with the roof rack on for a few days at speeds up to 65 miles per hour, what has been observed is that the rack is solid, and appears to have no movement, however, as yet, the torque test of an off road experience has not yet been performed. There is some noticeable increase in wind noise, but that is hardly something a Wrangler owner with aggressive mud/snow tires is concerned about. One thing that has been noticed is a drop in mileage of about 1 mile per gallon, down to about 18.5, and one can feel the added weight to the vehicle in that it leans ever so slightly more when cornering than it did before, which is to be expected, and of course when loaded up with the 250 lbs of carrying capacity would do so even more, requiring more judicious driving.
Since the aforementioned comment regarding weight, wind and judicious driving would apply to any roof rack system, it should not be regarded as a deficiency in this system. In general this user is pleased both with the “Safari” look the rack has given the Jeep, and with the performance so far. Certainly it is one of the most cost effective ways of enhancing the look of a Jeep. This unit will soon have the addition of a “Barricade” or similar basket and lights to complete the look and usefulness of the rack. Some of the lighting systems to check out are here and here
Many Jeep accessories can be found here
There are several images of the N-Dure roof rack here, although, as usual with things posted by the general public on the web, many of the images are not N-Dure products, so be advised to check the slide show for the actual usage on this Jeep.