Suppose you’re looking to transport a mattress from point A to B and don’t want to hire a truck — it’s a tempting thought to strap it to the roof of your car. But before you do that, please read this helpful guide on safely securing a mattress to your roof rack.

To secure a mattress on a roof rack, you’ll need two ratchet straps, a ladder, and a strong helper. The idea is to tie the bed snugly enough, so it does not flap around in the wind — but not so tight as to damage the mattress or car paint.

This article will guide you through the process of strapping a mattress to your roof rack step-by-step. This method will work in a pinch, although it’s not the safest or most recommended way to transport a mattress. However, you can do it safely and effectively by following my expert tips — let’s dive right in!

1. Make Sure You Properly Secure Your Roof Rack to Your Car

Before you even think about putting a mattress on your roof, you must ensure you have adequately secured your roof rack to your car. If it’s not, the whole setup could come crashing down on the highway, landing you in a potentially tight spot with law enforcement.

To check if your roof rack is adequately secured, grab it from the middle and try to wiggle it back and forth. It should be snug with no movement. If loose — tighten the bolts or straps holding the roof rack.

You might also want to check the manual for your specific roof rack to see if there are any special instructions on securing it properly. For example, some roof racks need special tools to tighten the bolts correctly.

If you notice damage like rust or cracks, it’s probably a good idea to replace your roof rack before putting anything on it. After all, you don’t want your mattress crashing down on your windscreen because of a faulty roof rack.

2. Remove Anything on the Car That Could Poke the Mattress

Most cars and SUVs come with an antenna or some other kind of protrusion on the roof. And while these might not seem like a big deal, they can cause a lot of damage to a mattress if you don’t remove them before strapping it down.

I made this rookie mistake once. I was moving a mattress and didn’t remove the antenna from my car before securing it to the roof rack. As you can probably guess, the antenna ended up poking a hole in the mattress. And let me tell you, it wasn’t fun trying to patch that up.

I ended up having to buy a new mattress, so learn from my mistake and remove anything that could potentially puncture your mattress before strapping it down.

3. Have Your Helper Take Position on the Ladder

Ok, so this is where things get a little physical. You will need a helper to strap a mattress to a roof rack. And not just any helper, but someone strong enough to lift the mattress onto the roof with little help.

Once you’ve found your helper, have them sit on the ladder next to the car. They should be close enough to the roof rack to reach it but not where they’re in danger of breaking your windows.

However, it is essential to remember that ladders can be dangerous. If you or your helper are uncomfortable using one, please don’t attempt this method. You could pursue other ways to transport a mattress that don’t involve heights.

4. Place the Mattress on the Roof Rack

Once your helper is in position, it’s time to load the mattress onto the roof rack. You first want to center it on the roof rack, so it’s evenly balanced. You don’t want it hanging off to one side or the other, leading to stability issues.

If the mattress is too heavy for your helper to lift on their own, you can try rolling it onto the roof. But be careful not to damage the mattress or your car.

Also, I don’t recommend transporting a king-size mattress on top of a small car. It’s just too big and unwieldy. If you have a king-size bed, you might consider renting a van or truck for the day.

5. Use Straps or Ropes to Secure the Mattress to the Roof Rack

After the mattress is in place on the roof rack, it’s time to secure it so that it doesn’t fall off while you’re driving. The best way to do this is with ratchet straps.

You can get these at any hardware store, and they’re inexpensive. Just make sure that you get the right size for your mattress. You don’t want the straps to be too loose or too tight.

I suggest getting 15-foot long straps to have sufficient length to work properly. These straps will handle anything you throw at them, even two mattresses. Always get quality straps that won’t snap on you while driving.

I highly recommend the AUGO Ratchet Tie-Down Straps. This 15-foot ratchet strap set offers secure S hooks that are rubber coated to protect your vehicle and possessions and a quick-release latch for extra fast tightening. They also come in a 4-pack and offer 2,200 pounds of breaking strength which should secure your cargo!

If you don’t have access to ratchet straps, you can also use a rope to secure the mattress. But be warned, this method is not as reliable as using straps. Rope can stretch and come loose over time, so it’s not the best option if you’re looking for a bullet-proof solution.

Once you have the straps, loop them around the mattress and through the roof rack. It would be best to do this near both ends of the mattress. Then, tighten the straps so the bed is snug against the roof rack. You don’t want it to move around at all.

If you’re using rope, tie it off as tightly as possible. Ensure the knots are secure and won’t come undone while driving. Also, take into account weather conditions such as high winds.

6. Drive Carefully and Watch for Overhanging Objects

Now that you have secured the mattress to the roof rack it’s time to hit the road. But before you do, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Drive carefully: You don’t want to go around corners too fast or make sudden stops. The mattress could shift on the roof and come loose.
  • Be on the lookout for low bridges or overhanging objects. It could be damaged beyond repair if the mattress hits one of these. So take it slow and be careful.
  • Have someone in the passenger seat who can keep an eye on the mattress and ensure it’s still secure. But if you’re driving alone, you’ll have to be extra careful.

7. Unload the Mattress Carefully From Your Roof Rack

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, it’s time to unload the mattress. Here’s how you can do it safely:

  • Make sure that the area is clear. You don’t want anyone or anything to be in the way when you unload the mattress. Some mattresses can be heavy, especially spring mattresses.
  • Take your time. Securing your mattress is not a race — if you rush, you could damage the mattress or your car. You also want to coordinate with your helper, so everyone knows what to do at what time.
  • Be careful not to drop the mattress. Ideally, you should have someone there to help you lower it down gently. But if you’re alone, take your time and be careful.

Once the mattress is on the ground, remove the straps or rope, and your work is complete!

Things to Know When Transporting a Mattress on a Roof Rack

Is It Illegal to Carry a Mattress on Your Roof Rack?

The short answer is: No; you will not get in trouble with the police for carrying a mattress on your roof rack. But you might get some unwanted attention.

Carrying a mattress on top of your car is legal — as long as it does not obstruct your vision and is securely tied down.

If the mattress is not adequately secured, it could fall off while you’re driving and cause an accident. This negligence amounts to reckless driving, and you could be ticketed or even arrested — so be sure you properly secure your cargo!

So, it would be best to take the time to secure the mattress properly using high-quality straps. If you do, you shouldn’t have to worry.

Do You Need a Special Roof Rack to Carry a Mattress?

No, you don’t need a specialized roof rack to carry a mattress. Any roof rack will do, as long as it’s big enough to fit the bed and you have straps long enough to go around the mattress and secure it to the rack.

You also want to be particularly careful of the front strap. It is the most likely point of failure, so ensure it’s tight and secure. You also want to ensure it is as close as possible to the mattress’s front edge.

What if You Don’t Have a Roof Rack?

Yes, you can strap the mattress to your car even if you don’t have a roof rack. You can use ratchet straps or rope to secure the bed to the car. However, the securing strap will have to pass through the car’s interior, so it’s essential to ensure that it won’t damage the car’s upholstery.

It’s also essential to ensure the mattress is secure and won’t slip off the car while driving.

If you’re not confident in your ability to strap the mattress to your car, you can always ask for help or watch a few Youtube videos on how to use ratchet straps,  such as this handy tutorial:

When to Hire a Van or Moving Company

Here’s the thing:

Hiring a van or moving company is probably not worth your time or money if you only move one mattress and its box. You can easily transport this setup on top of your car with planning and effort.

However, if you’re moving several items or your mattress is very large or heavy, it might be worth your while to hire professional help. They’ll have the proper equipment and experience to do the job quickly and safely.

So, if you’re moving a mattress, ask yourself if you need a van or moving company. If not, save yourself some money and do it yourself. You can also hire or borrow a van or truck for a day if your car is not suitable for the task.

Can You Fold the Mattress and Squeeze It Into the Back Seat?

You cannot always fold a mattress. For example, you cannot fold spring mattresses. But if you have a memory foam mattress, you might be able to fold and squeeze it into a reasonably tight space.

The idea is to wrap the mattress in plastic or hold it down with a ratchet strap, so it stays in place after folding. Then you can then try to squeeze it into the back seat. But be warned – this is not as easy as it sounds.

The mattress might not fit, or you might have difficulty getting it into the car. And even if you manage to get it in, there’s a good chance it will be damaged.

So, unless you’re desperate, we wouldn’t recommend trying to fold the mattress and squeeze it into the back seat. It’s just not worth the hassle.

Final Thoughts

That’s all there is to it. Now you know how to strap a mattress to a roof rack. Remember to take your time, be careful, and use ratchet straps or rope to secure the bed. Then you can hit the road with your mattress in tow.

Also, if you’re not confident in your ability to strap the mattress to your car, you can always ask for help. The experienced person will strap it down for you so that you can hit the road with peace of mind.

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