When it comes to choosing the best roof storage rack it really boils down to Thule vs Yakima cargo boxes. Both brands make excellent boxes, but one may suit you better depending on your road adventures.
In the world of storage for your adventurous expeditions, there is a battle that rages on, and the question of which is better when comparing the Thule vs Yakima cargo box is at the forefront of every journeyman’s mind.
Before even planning your expedition, there needs to be a consideration for how you’ll store all of your cargo and today, this is where our focus will be.
Going on a road trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and spend some time with nature, or indeed visiting relatives and loved ones, is usually a pleasant experience. What can derail this pleasure, however, is the burden of luggage.
Typically, a suitcase will not suffice, as this will either not be large enough, or simply be too cumbersome to take around with you, so instead, the search for the best rooftop cargo box begins in earnest.
This accessory allows you to take every necessity, as well as some things that may fall into the “just in case” criteria, without feeling like the luggage is a burden. Instead, you can simply relax, safe in the knowledge that your gear is locked away securely above you.
- How To Choose the Best Cargo Rack
- Thule vs Yakima: Find the Right Cargo Rack for You
- Thule Cargo Box Reviews
- Yakima Cargo Box Reviews
- Cargo Carrier Buying Guide
- Other Cargo Box Brands to Consider
- What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cargo Box
- Thule vs Yakima – Who Makes the Best Cargo Box?
How To Choose the Best Cargo Rack
The next question will naturally be how would you select the best cargo box for your needs?
As with most things, there’s almost too much information and it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for; you end up very much with the “needle in a haystack” scenario, scything through brand names, model names, and jargon that makes no sense at all.
Don’t panic, we’re on hand to give you a breakdown of the basics to look out for when finding the best cargo box for a car, so skip ahead to our cargo box buyers guide for some detailed information.
Thule vs Yakima: Find the Right Cargo Rack for You
Back from the buyer’s guide? Okay good – let’s take a look at what we’ll be using as our barometers as we compare and contrast the two juggernauts in the industry: Thule and Yakima.
It needs to be made of the right stuff. This means, what has been used to construct the cargo box and how does this factor into its durability?
Noise will also play a role here, as poor materials will lead to a noisy roof cargo box rattling around and causing you to either turn your radio up louder or get very annoyed with the constant banging around above you.
Aesthetic qualities are also a consideration because, at the end of the day, you don’t want your cargo box to be an embarrassing eyesore.
A sleek design is far more desirable, so this factors into our list of parameters.
A vital piece of the puzzle is how easy it actually is to install and affix your cargo box to the vehicle.
A nightmare scenario would be you spending hours trying to desperately mount your storage system onto your motor and get so disillusioned with the whole process that you simply give up.
That is completely avoidable and when looking at the best cargo boxes, ease of installation is a must; it shouldn’t be an arduous task but rather a seamless transition.
Loading and Unloading
Following on from mounting, another potential banana skin is the process of loading and unloading the cargo box.
The ideal example will be a seamless process, involving minimal input from the user and one that takes a short amount of time.
To that end, considerations such as whether the box is dual opening, hydraulic opening, and any other variation will play a huge role into how easy it is to get things moving and your gear stored quickly and safely.
Ease of access is a sub-section that falls here too, as once again, spending time searching for the opening is an unnecessary burden that can be avoided rather easily.
Security and Other Features
It’s important to factor in how secure your luggage will be in the cargo box, so things like a locking system need to be considered.
Of course with technology advancing as rapidly as it is, there are a multitude of impressive options here that extend beyond the traditional padlock and key, which again need to be assessed properly to determine if it adds or subtracts from the overall package.
In this instance, size does matter. Not only for fitting the vehicle, but also what load can the box carry?
For instance, if you are traveling to a mountain resort to partake in some snowboarding, you’ll require a rooftop cargo box that can accommodate the necessary equipment.
Rack lines usually come with varying measurements to cater for this very reason, so this is again something that will be explored with the reviews.
Thule Cargo Box Reviews
We’ll begin our debate of Thule vs Yakima by focusing on the former first and exploring their range of products, but before we get there, a brief introduction is warranted.
Thule originated in Sweden and their mission statement is to “bring you closer to the world and your passion for life”.
The brand has expanded internationally and its employees are bound by one tying bond; their passion for helping active families and outdoor enthusiasts.
Thule’s goal is to assist their customers with transportation of anything and everything with style and finesse in order for people to fulfill their active ambitions.
We begin with the Thule Hyper XL Cargo Box and as the name implies, it has a whopping capacity of 17 cubic feet and a weight capacity of 110lbs.
Cargo Box Material
This Thule cargo box is comprised of a five-layer ABS plastic, topped with an aesthetically pleasing acrylic design which gives a sleek, executive, and modern look. The material itself is resistant to impacts, weather, and even UV rays.
The Hyper XL employs a “claw” system, which by default are all the way tightened, so be mindful of this when you are mounting to your rack crossbars. In order to loosen the aforementioned claws, reach inside and adjust the knobs as desired and repeat the process for the other side of the box.
When you tighten the clamps, the instruments will make a “ratchet” sound when fully tightened, giving a clear audible indicator that you have sufficiently stabilized the unit. As a final tip, in order to give the cargo box stability for affixing the clamps to the crossbar, make sure to close the lid.
Once fully clamped in place, the Hyper XL can be moved accordingly in order to give adequate clearance for your hatch to fully open as required.
Loading and unloading couldn’t be easier, thanks to a dual-sided open lid, meaning your Thule cargo box can be loaded up from either side of the vehicle, saving time and effort.
As explored earlier, the clamps will slot onto your rack, but two straps provide additional support and stability. These can be integrated into the clearly visible grooves and then wrapped around gear such as skis, or indeed delicate objects that require extra protection and fixings.
Sticking with the theme of straps, there is one that hangs from the roof of the box, which is especially helpful if you have a tall vehicle, as it will enable you to close the lid without having to clamber awkwardly onto a step ladder, taking up more time than necessary.
Security & Other Features
The Hyper XL comes with Thule’s one key system lock as its security measure. Due to the aforementioned double-sided opening capability, this locking system is present on both sides of the unit.
The key can only be removed once the lock position is engaged and locking can only occur if all of the latches are correctly in place.
An auxiliary feature here is the bright LED light which is emitted once the box is opened. This is obviously extremely useful for loading at night and provides an additional benefit of safety. The light will automatically shut off once the lid is closed.
Finally, it was briefly touched upon earlier, but bears inclusion in depth; the style of the Thule cargo box is such that the rear is angled in order to provide adequate clearance for opening and closing the hatch.
Thule clearly has the owner in mind here, as it’s something that could be easily overlooked and lead to an annoyance that you would have to rectify every time you wanted to open the hatch, by moving the entire box.
To recap, the Hyper XL weighs in a loading capacity of 17 cubic feet and a weight capacity of 110lbs. The figures look impressive and in reality, this translates very well indeed.
You can easily fit in skis, multiple bags, a snowboard and anything else you might require for your outdoor adventure.
Thule Hyper XL Cargo Box Specs
Volume: 17 (cu ft)
Weight: 57 lb
Locking System: Yes (SecureLock)
For the best cargo box, Thule is an obvious choice and the Thule Force line is a very logical next step.
Coming in with a backed brand name that ensures quality, the Force has that usual high durability, pleasing aesthetic and well thought out design that you would expect.
Let’s see then if it can rank as another win for Thule in the battle of supremacy between Thule vs Yakima.
Cargo Box Material
This is a tough unit. The lid is diamond textured and it’s construction lends itself to withstanding knocks and bumps and shrugging off impacts due to its five layered plastic compound construction. The end result is that it is both durable and lightweight, a winning combo.
When it comes to affixing your cargo box to your rack, simplicity reigns supreme. The last thing you want is to shoving your unit on your crossbar and exerting lots of energy, both mentally and physically, completing what should be an easy task.
Thankfully, Thule has this covered, adding an easy mounting system that will cause you minimal grief.
It’s tool free, meaning it can be set up within minutes thanks to Thule’s “Quick-Grip” knobs which are intuitive and easy to use. The bottom of the box also has raised flooring which gives further enhancements to the grip.
Having the ability to access your gear quickly and easily is again a major consideration and once again, Thule have set the bar high with their dual-side access.
In practice, you can reach your gear from either the passenger or driver side, which provides immediate convenience.
As well as this, the box comes complete with inbuilt lifters that allow the lid to be opened hands-free, so you can safely retract or load your gear with both hands.
Security & Other Features
Leading on from the simplistic loading capability is the locking mechanism. When you’ve successfully put your luggage in, or taken it out of the cargo box, you simply need to close the lid and it snaps itself locked, which is part of the Thule SecureLock technology.
Stylistically, the sleek black design is both striking and functional, as it is aerodynamically designed. This means you won’t lose out on fuel economy through excess drag.
The lid itself has also been made with noise in mind as well as it’s functionality, another example of the care given to customer experience.
For recognition as the best rooftop cargo box, a myriad of sizes at your disposal is a must, and once again Thule has it nailed with this range.
This means you can select an appropriately sized cargo box for your needs, without thinking it’s far too big or too small. Here’s a quick glance at the sizes and their capacity:
• The medium size has a capacity 13 cubic feet.
• The large size has a capacity 16 cubic feet.
• The x-large size has a capacity 17 cubic feet.
• The xx-large size has a capacity 21 cubic feet.
Thule Force Cargo Box Specs
Weight: M (35 lb), L (39 lb), XL (44 lb), XXL (56 lb)
Locking: Yes (SecureLock)
The Thule Motion XT Cargo Box is the perfect choice if you are looking for a high-end, do-it-all cargo box. This cargo box is built strong and easy to use, making it a great choice to safely haul your gear on any adventure.
It comes in four size options, including an Alpine version specifically designed for carrying skis. Plus, it’s designed for ease of use and includes all the features you’d expect from a higher end rooftop cargo box.
When it comes to comparing Thule vs Yakima, the closest match to the Motion XT is the Yakima RocketBox.
Cargo Box Material
This rugged Thule roof cargo box is constructed using thermoformed ABS plastic, which is as lightweight as it is strong.
It has a sleek, aerodynamic design, which reduces wind resistance and keeps the turbulence to a minimum. The Motion XT even has steel reinforcements in the base to reduce any wear on this high-stress area, ensuring your cargo box will last longer than anything it carries.
But Thule has added a glossy black finish to the outside of this large cargo box, making it look as good as if functions.
The Motion XT uses Thule’s PowerClick mounting system, which is as quick-mounting as its name suggests. It uses an integrated torque indicator that actually makes a clicking sound when you have it mounted properly on the roof rack of your vehicle. All you need to do is mount it onto vehicle racks of any size, and then turn the rubberized knob to tighten up the hardware until you hear that little click.
As well as being a fast, easy job, this system is as secure as they come, so you never have to worry about losing your Thule cargo box on the road.
Another great feature of the Motion XT is the dual-opening lid, which allows you to access your gear from both the driver’s side and the passenger side of your vehicle.
The outer handles have a grip-friendly design for added comfort as well as easy maneuvering of the lid. There are even dual force lid-lifters to take some of the burden off of you, making it easier to find what you need or add more into the cargo box.
Security & Other Features
When driving at high speeds down the highway, the last thing you need is to have your cargo box fly open, scattering your gear to the four winds. That’s why this roof mount cargo box uses Thule’s SlideLock system, which has separate functions for locking and opening it up.
This means the locking mechanism is actually separate from the lid release, so you will never question which function you’re using. The SlideLock also locks automatically when you close the lid, so you won’t ever have to stop on the road to make sure it is secure.
The design of the Motion XT is also aerodynamic, which reduces wind resistance, plus has a lid to base overlap located at the front of this cargo box, so the wind will not get between them and cause “fish mouthing” in this area.
Another handy design feature has the Thule roof rack cargo box sitting more towards the front of the vehicle, giving you full access to your trunk without scraping it on the back of your cargo box.
There are four sizes to choose from when purchasing a Thule Motion XT cargo box.
All four of them are perfect for carrying multiple pairs of skies or a few snowboards, making them great choices for trips with the family or a group of friends. Here’s a quick breakdown of the four sizes and their capacities:
- The Alpine has a capacity of 16 cubic feet.
- The Large has a capacity of 16 cubic feet.
- The X-Large has a capacity of 18 cubic feet.
- The XX-Large has a capacity of 22 cubic feet
Thule Motion XT Cargo Box Specs
Sizes: Alpine (16 cu ft), L (16 cu ft), XL (18 cu ft), XXL (22 cu ft)
Weights: Alpine (55 lb), L (42 lb), XL (46 lb), XXL (55 lb)
Box Opening: Dual side
Locking: Yes (SlideLock)
Yakima Cargo Box Reviews
You can’t compare Thule vs Yakima cargo box models with discussing the Yakima brand.
Those at Yakima don’t care what type of outdoor activity you’re partaking in, they want to make sure you have whatever gear you, your family, and your friends need to make it a great one.
They focus on the challenges their customers may face when packing their necessities, creating innovative products to eliminate as many of them as they can.
They believe in freeing up your car space, giving you the room you need outside the vehicle for your stuff, so you can pack more friends into every adventure, to create memories instead of hassles.
The Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Boxes come in 5 sizes to meet the needs of any traveler, no matter how many people are riding with you.
They have a sleek design that screams high-end but is built for rugged trips to the great outdoors. Best of all, they are easy to use in every single way to reduce your stress and boost your enjoyment.
Cargo Box Material
Materials are one of the most important features since they lend durability and strength to any cargo box. This one uses almost 80% recycled ABS plastic, which helps protect the environment and your gear.
The lid is textured Carbonite, with lid stiffeners inside that not only keep your lid intact and free of damage, but also make it easier to open and close it when packing or unpacking your stuff.
The sleek design does more than just look good, though. It also makes your Yakima cargo box more aerodynamic for reduced drag.
This helps with fuel efficiency since your vehicle won’t have to put up that extra fight to maintain its speed. This feature also keeps the noise level down to a minimum, thanks to the secure hold on almost any roof rack.
The Skybox uses a quick-release mounting system that requires no assembly or tools to install or remove it from your roof rack. This means no struggling or cursing yourself for forgetting to bring your toolbox with you.
This mounting system has also been designed to fit Yakima square, round, factory, and aerodynamic crossbars, making it easier to attach it without having to buy replacement bars.
The Yakima roof cargo box has made it even easier to access your gear when you reach your destination, thanks to its dual-opening lid that can be accessed from either side of the car. This lets everyone get their stuff without circling the car to find the right side to get into the cargo box.
And those lid stiffeners mentioned above? They help to keep the lid rigid, rather than it buckling as you lift it and interfering with your gear extraction.
Security & Other Features
To ensure your lid is tightly closed and your gear won’t go flying out as you drive down the highway, Yakima has installed a SuperLatch security lock on the outside of these cargo boxes.
But when comparing the Yakima vs Thule locks, the Yakima is a bit less user-friendly. Instead of a simple slide, it has a turn handle to secure it and requires the use of a key to unlock and lock the lid. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, though, unless you forget the key at home.
The internal stiffeners keep your lid open when you need to get your gear. The Carbonite textured lid has an aerodynamic design to keep the wind flowing freely.
There is also a tapered design at the back of the cargo box to reduce hatch interference, so you damage the hatch of the box when you need to get into the back of your vehicle.
There are 5 different sizes of Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Boxes to pick from, depending on the number of people in your group and how many pairs of skis or snowboards you’ll need to be toting to your favorite resort. The list of sizes and their capacities are:
- The Skybox Lo, which has a capacity of 15 cubic feet.
- The Small size is the Skybox 12, which has a capacity of 12 cubic feet.
- The Medium size is the Skybox 15, which has a capacity of 16 cubic feet.
- The Large size is the Skybox 18, which has a capacity of 18 cubic feet.
- The X-Large size is the Skybox 21, which has a capacity of 21 cubic feet.
Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box Specs
Sizes: Lo (15 cu ft), S (12 cu ft), M (16 cu ft), L (18 cu ft), XL (21 cu ft)
Weights: Lo (52 lb), S (41 lb), M (47 lb), L (52 lb), XL (62 lb)
Box Opening: Dual Side
Locking: Yes (SuperLatch)
The Yakima RocketBox Pro vehicle cargo box is “like a second trunk for your roof.” It has room for all your luggage, camping gear, and even has two models that can carry your skis and snowboards.
With three sizes and shapes to choose from, you’ll be able to find the right one to fit any type of car or SUV, with room to spare. And the tool-free design makes it quick to install, so you have more time to enjoy yourself.
Cargo Box Material
The best cargo roof box won’t fall apart, even under the strain of heavy cargo and strong winds.
The RocketBox Pro meets these standards, thanks to the recycled ABS plastic that makes up the body. This plastic has a matte-black finish for a stylish look that draws the eye, even without the shine.
The aerodynamic design reduces wind noise, so you won’t have to scream at your friends in order to carry on a simple conversation inside the car. The cargo box also has a flat bottom, making it much more versatile for fitting various crossbar sizes.
If you have to struggle when mounting your cargo box, you won’t use it more than once and will regret spending money on even the cheapest model. Yakima has taken this into account, giving you a tool-free mounting system that uses knobs on the inside and clamps on the outside to secure the box to the rack.
And when you need to remove it, it is just as easy to do in only a few minutes. Then you can store it safely until your next group adventure.
Like many aerodynamic cargo box models, this one has a dual-sided opening. This gives you easy access to the cargo stored inside your roof box, regardless of which side of the car you’re standing on. And the push-button opening is close to the bottom of the cargo box, so you don’t have to strain to reach it from the ground.
There are also levered arms located at the front and back of the cargo box’s interior. This makes it easy to lift the lid, plus holds it up while you’re packing it up or rummaging around for a needed item or bag.
Security & Other Features
Besides the push button opener, there is a keyhole, which allows you to lock the box and protect your gear from potential thieves.
This feature is extra cool because it uses an SKS, or Same Key System, which allows you to use just one key for all your Yakima products. Fewer keys to carry, fewer keys to lose.
These cargo boxes are all compatible with Yakima Wispbar racks and most factory racks, as well as round and square bars.
All three models also leave extra room behind the box, so you can open your hatch without slamming it into the bottom of the cargo box. This means less damage on both and less frustration for you.
There are three sizes of RocketBox Pro cargo boxes, and which to pick depends on the size of your vehicle and what type of cargo you’re carrying.
The RocketBox Pro 11 is quite long and skinny, perfect for skis and snowboards up to 210 cm in length. This size has a capacity of 11 cubic feet, making it the best size for only 1 or 2 people’s gear.
The RocketBox Pro 12 has a capacity of 12 cubic feet. But the design is short and wide, making it a better choice for those who prefer to spend their time off the slopes.
The largest size is theRocketBox 14, which has a capacity of 14 cubic feet. It has the most room but it isn’t as long as the 11 or as wide as the 12. It can be used to carry your skis and snowboards, provided they are 170 cm or less. But you can bring a third person and still have room to spare.
Yakima RocketBox Pro Cargo Box Specs
Sizes: S (11 cu ft), M (12 cu ft), L (14 cu ft)
Weights: S (38 lb), M (30 lb), L (40 lb)
Box Opening: Dual Side
Locking: Yes (SKS Locks)
You don’t need to have half a dozen cargo boxes in the line to pick from to know you’re getting the best Yakima cargo box around, as the ShowCase models have proven.
There are only two sizes to choose from, but they still have the room you need to store every item on your list.
Best of all, it can be used for almost any type adventure, from skiing to camping to road trips with a great group of friends.
Cargo Box Material
Like the other Yakima lines in our Yakima vs Thule cargo box comparison, this line is made of durable ABS plastic. When you open the lid, it seems a bit floppy and flimsy, but be assured this material is quite durable. It won’t scratch or dent easily, no matter what you do to it.
Also, despite the thinness of the cargo box, it won’t rattle around, causing excessive noise while you’re driving. In fact, you shouldn’t hear a thing, and may even forget it’s up there until you need something out of it.
The ShowCase cargo boxes have a high-gloss automotive quality finish, which looks sleek and stylish in any setting.
The biggest issue with the mounting system is the instructions included with the cargo box. Those who have tried it found them rather confusing, but when you actually try to mount the cargo box, it isn’t as difficult as it seems.
There are four clamps on the inside, each with a knob on the clamp and one in front of it. The knob on the clamp opens up another clamp beneath the box that grabs onto the crossbars. The knobs in front of the clamp allow you to slide the whole clamp system forward or backward as needed.
Once you get the clamps positioned properly, and the cargo box moved as close to the front of the vehicle as you can, just tighten the knobs, close the inside clamps, and you’re ready to start loading it up with gear.
Like the other five cargo boxes in our Thule vs Yakima comparison, this one has a user-friendly dual side opening, giving you access from the driver’s and the passenger side of the vehicle.
There is a push button opening, which takes a bit for those used to a handle to get used to, but it is quite easy to manage. Just push the button with one hand and lift the lid with the other.
Inside, there are lid stiffeners that are meant to make it easier to lift and close the lid, but the flimsiness of the material make this a bit harder than it should.
This doesn’t mean you can’t open it, just that you may need a hand on the front and the back to get it to open up properly. Once it is open, though, you can load it up with ease.
Security & Other Features
Next to the push-button opener is a keyhole, which uses Yakima’s SKS lock.
This means you can have just one key for all your Yakima products, so you don’t have to carry a huge ring of them like a medieval dungeon master. There are a button and lock on each side, to give you access no matter where you’re standing.
There is a tapered tail to give you more tailgate clearance, though you still need to make sure you’re cargo box is positioned closer to the front of the vehicle, or you may bump the box with the hatch.
The ShowCase cargo boxes also work with a wide variety of crossbars, so you should have no trouble finding some to use for your next adventure.
There are only two sizes to choose from in the ShowCase line. The small one is the ShowCase 15, which has a capacity of 15 cubic feet and can hold skis and snowboards up to 190 cm in length.
The ShowCase 20 has 20 cubic feet of space inside, plus can fit larger skis and snowboards, as long as they don’t go over 220 cm in length. This one may even fit a surfboard, making it great for summer use as well as for the winter sports.
Yakima ShowCase Rooftop Cargo Box Specs
Sizes: S (15 cu ft), L ( 20 cu ft)
Weights: S (56 lb), L (60 lb)
Box Opening: Dual Side
Locking: Yes (SKS Locks)
Cargo Carrier Buying Guide
Now that you’ve checked out our Thule vs Yakima cargo box comparisons, it’s time to consider just what you need to look for when buying your next cargo box.
What Type of Cargo Carrier Do You Need?
The first thing you need to think about is what type of cargo carrier you need. This will all depend on the type of vehicle you’re using, plus the type and quantity of gear you’ll need to take with you.
Rooftop Cargo Carriers
Rooftop cargo carriers, or cargo boxes, are enclosed and lockable, protecting your stuff from theft while giving you ample space to store your gear.
They come in both long or short styles, with the longer ones meant for winter gear like skis and snowboards.
They are ergonomically designed to reduce wind resistance, so they won’t affect your fuel usage. This also keeps noise levels down for a quieter ride.
Hitch Cargo Carriers
The platform carrier is like a large rack that extends from the back of the vehicle. They may come with a folding function which allows it to collapse inward when not in use.
Enclosed cargo carriers are a bit more secure since they can be closed and locked, preventing loss and theft.
Some can be removed from the tray, which may be able to tilt up when you aren’t using it to reduce space. Many models also have a bottom drain to reduce weight in rainy weather.
No matter which you choose, you’ll need a trailer hitch. The size of the hitch will affect the type of carrier you can use, so be sure to match them up when buying them.
Rooftop Cargo Bags
The best rooftop cargo bag is lightweight and easy to install on the rack of your car.
It looks like its name suggests, which means a large bag you can fill with gear to free up your trunk and back seat for other essential items. And when you’re trip is over, you can take it down and fold it up for easy storage.
The downside of the cargo bags is that they aren’t as durable as a cargo box. They are prone to tearing if they are scrapped with sharp objects, so you need to be extra careful when you’re filling it.
The upside is that they protect your stuff from rain and snow, so you don’t need to worry about damaged belongings during your travels.
Other Cargo Box Brands to Consider
Just because you’re comparing Thule vs Yakima cargo boxes, it doesn’t mean you can’t browse other brands. Here’s a few to look at if you want to widen your search.
Sportrack Cargo Box
Sportrack was founded in 1980 and is based in Granby, QC, Canada. They manufacture a wide variety of products, including cargo boxes, hitch-mounted products, trunk-mounted products, and different types of bike carriers. They became a subsidiary of Thule, AB in 2006.
They only have 3 cargo boxes available, the Horizon, which has 3 sizes, the Vista, and the Skyline. All of which are high-quality products with insanely low prices, making this brand a great choice for those who travel on a budget.
Inno Cargo Box
Inno is the car rack division of a larger company called Car Mate. Though Car Mate was founded in 1966, Inno didn’t launch until 1976.
Since then, they have prided themselves on INNOvation, creating car racks, and then moving on to other accessories, like roofboxes, bike carriers, and even accessories for water sports.
The first two are best for skiers, snowboarders, and surfers. The Ridge is a shorter cargo box, better for travelers and campers who need the space without the length.
Rubbermaid Cargo Box
Rubbermaid has been in business for almost 80 years, delivering quality products to simplify life. Their products are for home, gardening, seasonal use, and even commercial use. They have even earned the name “Brand of the Century” due to their constant innovations.
Though they don’t have the roof rack or hitch cargo boxes described in our Thule vs Yakima comparison, they do have their Action Packer line, which gives you ample storage space for your gear. The downside of these is that though they can be strapped down in the box of your truck or to the roof of an SUV, they don’t have their own attachment system.
But they still offer weather protection, are lockable, and use impact resistant material that even withstands freezing temperatures.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cargo Box
What Type of Trips Will You Be Taking?
When you’re comparing Thule vs Yakima, or checking out other brands of cargo boxes, the first thing you need to be thinking about is what exactly you’re going to be using it for.
If you’re planning a weekend trip with your spouse or a friend, you probably won’t need a big cargo box.
But if you’re traveling with a group of friends and need the extra space inside the vehicle for them, a cargo box can give you the room you need to store the whole group’s gear.
These handy cargo boxes also have a variety of other uses, for road trips that last for weeks, camping trips, winter sports, or to help you take fewer trips when you’re moving.
What Gear Will You Be Carrying?
The beauty of the models in our Thule vs Yakima comparison is that they can be used to hold all types of gear, no matter what your favorite activities are.
There are models that are long enough to carry your skis and snowboards for winter sports or your surfboard or paddles for your favorite summer pastime. The Thule Motion XT Alpine is perfect for winter sports.
A decent cargo box can also be used to store a variety of bags, including suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, and any other type of luggage you need.
You can use it to carry smaller boxes if you’re moving to a new place, provided they aren’t too tall. You can even throw sleeping bags, tents, and air mattresses in it for your next camping trip.
That’s the beauty of the best waterproof cargo box, it can carry almost everything you’ll need for any type of trip, leaving the seats of your vehicle free from a few extra friends.
Cargo Box Size
Cargo boxes are made to have a large capacity to give you the room you need to carry all of your belongings without having to sacrifice anything because you can’t fit it in.
As you’ll see from our Thule vs Yakima cargo box reviews, the models range from 11 to 22 cubic feet of space inside. This means you can have one to fit not only your needs but the size of your vehicle.
The dimensions are another thing to consider. There are long models meant for carrying skis, snowboards, or other sports accessories that would be awkward to fit in a trunk or a backseat.
But there are also the shorter, wider models that can fit a variety of bags, boxes, and even your camping gear.
Before you buy, make sure to decide just what sort of sports or activities you’ll be using it for, and this should tell you the size and style you should choose.
Cargo Box Material
The best cargo boxes around use high-quality plastics, like the ABS plastic found on all six of the models in our Thule vs Yakima reviews.
Better plastics give the cargo box a more rigid construction which adds durability against impacts, damage, and even UV rays.
Inferior plastics won’t be able to hold up under the pressure and could break down far too soon, cracking in cold temperatures or under the slightest strain.
Most mounting systems for cargo boxes are quite easy to use, requiring absolutely no tools of any kind for the installation.
This not only reduces the stress of trying to sort through your tools to find the right one, but it also means you can put it on or take it down anywhere you are, with little fuss.
The mounting system should be adjustable, so you can fit it properly on the crossbars of the vehicle’s roof rack. There should also be some sort of clamp on the bottom which attaches to the crossbars to stabilize the cargo box.
The Thule models all use internal knobs, and a couple of them have added noise indicators that tell you when you’re cargo box is installed properly.
The Yakima models also use the clamp system with internal knobs, but you have to be a bit more careful since there is no such indicator system in place for any of their models.
There are a few different ways for a cargo box to open, and you may want to think carefully before buying it. It may not seem like a big deal until you’re constantly circling the vehicle to get your gear down.
Some models open on one side, either the passenger or the driver’s side.
Again, it may not seem like a big deal, but if you are the driver, and have to constantly go to the passenger side to load or unload, or just to check to make sure you didn’t forget anything, you may be a bit frustrated in the end.
All of the models in our Thule vs Yakima comparison are dual-side opening, which is the most convenient.
This allows you to open the cargo box from both sides, giving you full access no matter where you park or what side of the vehicle you’re sitting on. They also have locks on both sides for added convenience.
Aerodynamics are extremely important to the design of any cargo box, and our Thule vs Yakima comparison is no exception.
Wind resistance adds extra drag on your car, making it work harder to maintain its speed. This means extra gas, and with the price of fuel going up almost daily, you need to keep your costs as low as possible. The more aerodynamic your cargo box is, the less drag there will be, meaning less fuel consumption.
Another reason you want an aerodynamic cargo box is because of wind noise. The more your cargo box rattles around on top of your vehicle, the louder it will be inside the car.
A box that stays put, even when up against the high winds created when driving down the highway, will be much more relaxing to use.
When you have your cargo box loaded with gear, you want to make sure it isn’t going to be accessible to anyone other than you. That’s why most cargo boxes have included a security lock next to the handle.
Some models have the system integrated with the handle itself, locking automatically as soon as the lid is latched.
Others won’t allow you to remove the key until all the latches are secure, so you won’t lock one side and leave the other side wide open.
Some companies, like Yakima, even use an adapted key system, which lets you open all of your Yakima products with just one key, so you only need to add one key to your keyring.
No matter what type you prefer, make sure your cargo box has some type of lock on it, to keep your belongings secure at all times.
The warranty of a product protects you from paying for repairs that you were not responsible for. Some companies have shorter warranties for only a month or so, while others offer lifetime warranties.
The warranty may also be different for different products purchased from the same company, so be sure you know just how long it lasts and what it covers before you buy.
The color of your cargo box is actually quite important, especially since you will be placing it on top of your vehicle. If the colors don’t look good together, you may have just created an unwanted eyesore you hate traveling with.
That’s why all of the cargo boxes we’ve reviewed come in more neutral colors, like black, grey, or silver. These colors won’t clash with your vehicle, and are pleasing to the eye, on or off your car’s rack.
When you’re packing all your gear, you want it to be as protected as possible. One advantage of the plastic material used in most cargo boxes is that it keeps the water off your stuff. But the lid also needs to secure tightly to the base, or leaks will occur, soaking everything in the cargo box in a puddle of water.
Most cargo box manufacturers have taken this into account, creating completely secure boxes that keep moisture out, even in the heavy rainstorms pushed up against the box by the wind.
But be sure to check out the specs and any reviews you can find to make sure you have a tightly sealed box for your gear.
Aside from the features mentioned above, there are a few others you could look for, regardless of whether you’re comparing Thule vs Yakima or adding another brand to your search.
Universal clamps that can hook to a variety of different crossbars is a good idea. Then you won’t have to search for one specific type of crossbar or risk buying one that won’t work with your new cargo box.
Decent handles or opening systems are also something to look for. Some use push-buttons, some use turning handles, so you need to decide which you prefer.
Internal lifters or some type of hydraulic system make it easier to open and close the lid, plus can keep it up while you’re loading the cargo box so you don’t have to balance the lid and your gear at the same time.
No matter what brand of cargo box you buy, it won’t be a cheap addition to your travel gear. For instance, in our Thule vs Yakima category, even the cheapest model on our list, the Yakima RocketBox Pro, was about $400 for the smallest model in the line.
But the high cost doesn’t just cover the brand. A decent model that uses great materials and has amazing features will cost a bit more than a substandard model.
You get what you pay for, after all, and with these two brands, you won’t regret spending the extra money.
Thule vs Yakima – Who Makes the Best Cargo Box?
Cargo boxes can be a great addition to any trip, whether you’re heading out to the slopes for some skiing, or to the woods for a week of camping with the family.
They are even great for road trips or reducing the trips needed when moving.
The six cargo box lines we reviewed in our Thule vs Yakima comparison are high-quality models that are great for a variety of outdoor adventures, but each has its own benefits that make it a great choice for anyone.
The Thule Hyper XL Cargo Box only comes in one size, but it has an innovative mounting system that makes a ratchet sound when secured properly, plus an LED light that comes on if the latch is open.
The Thule Force Cargo Box has its SecureLock system, which locks automatically when the lid is latched. It also has the raised flooring and a Quick-Grip mounting system for easy installation.
The Thule Motion XT Cargo Box has steel reinforcements for added strength, the PowerClick mounting system, and a lid to base overlap that keeps the lid from pulling upwards in high winds.
The Yakima models are all much cheaper, and though they lack the extra features found on the Thule models, they still offer decent cargo boxes for the money.
The Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box comes in 5 sizes and uses recycled plastic for the body. It also has a quick release mounting system for fast installation.
The Yakima RocketBox Pro Cargo Box has both short and long models in the line, giving you even more options for buying than any of the other models we’ve reviewed here. It also has a push-button opening and SKS locks.
The Yakima ShowCase Rooftop Cargo Box only comes in 2 sizes, but they may be all you need, depending on your favorite adventures. It has a high-gloss automotive finish, which is sleek and stylish, plus a tapered tail for more hatch room.
While you’re at it, be sure to check out my other guides on the best outdoor waterproof packs, finding the best hiking sandal with my Chacos vs Tevas comparison, and top waterproof duffel bags that you can even straps to the top of your car.