Instead of cramping your friends and family with mountains of cargo and luggage on your next road trip, free up space with a roof cargo box. Even in downpours and snowstorms, most boxes feature durable plastic or fiberglass material that resists rain and debris for maximum protection. You can also browse our best rooftop cargo boxes for more options.
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1. Yakima SkyBox Lo Carbonite Cargo BoxPrice: $629.00Pros:
- Ideal for camping gear, snowboards and long skis
- SuperLatch security system prevents unwanted entry
- Dual-sided opening offers convenience
- May obstruct the rear hatch on some vehicles
- Not tall enough for bulkier items
- Locking mechanism can get sticky
The low-profile Yakima SkyBox Lo Carbonite Cargo Box fits into most tight garages, so you don’t have to waste time and energy installing and removing it for your next trip. This box stands less than a foot high, which makes it easier to load and unload your gear. It’s quite similar to the Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier, but isn’t as expensive. In our opinion, the Yakima SkyBox is the best roof box for year-round use.
You can stuff more sports equipment and gear into this box than its sleek profile suggests to maximize space inside your vehicle. With 15 cubic feet of storage capacity, there’s plenty of space for snowboards and longer skis up to 215cm. Plus, it opens on both sides. This is especially handy when snow or ice accumulates on one side as you’re driving.
This SkyBox fits most roof bars, including factory, square, aerodynamic and round shapes. It’s pretty quick and easy to install – no assembly required. Yakima claims the entire process should take around 10 minutes. As you’re setting up the cargo box, make sure it’s properly positioned on the roof bars. Despite a tapered design to minimize hatch interference, the SkyBox doesn’t offer a universal fit. It can be hard to open the rear hatch on certain vehicles.
Rooftop cargo boxes can knock up to 35 percent off your vehicle’s gas mileage on the highway, one British magazine found. To help conserve precious MPGs, Yakima installed internal lid stiffeners and a textured lid. Bonus points if you’re into sustainable manufacturing practices, as the lid features 80 percent recycled Carbonite material.
As with many other Yakima products, including the popular HoldUp EVO carrier for ebikes, this box includes SKS (same key system) locks. A SuperLatch security system keeps your gear safe and deters unwanted entry.
2. Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo CarrierPros:
- Lid lock indicators let you know the lid is secure
- Designed for easy trunk access
- Cavernous interior holds up to 165 pounds of cargo
- Can be hard to carry due to its bulky size
- Material can scratch easily
- May interfere with the hatch on certain vehicles
A renowned locking system makes the Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier a practical investment for your next road trip. You’ll hear a click as soon as the lid is in place, so you don’t have to worry about the top opening unexpectedly. Thule is a recognizable name in the world of cycling, with quality products ranging from bike carriers and tailgate bike pads to cargo carriers.
You can install this Thule roof rack on most factory crossbars, along with round, aero, elliptical and square bars. Integrated dials offer tool-free installation, so you can get on your way in just minutes. A few users mention that although installation is quick and simple, it might take two people to transport this bulky carrier. This Thule rack stands 15.5 inches high and works especially well on crossovers and sedans.
Unlike many other roof boxes, you can choose between different sizes to better fit your car. The 16 cu. ft. model is the smallest available. It still holds quite a lot, however, including up to seven pairs of skis and five snowboards. Skis up to 175cm should slide right in. The load capacity is 165 pounds. Upgrade to the XL model with 18 cu. ft. or the XXL with 22 cu. ft. if you need more room. It’s more spacious than the Yakima SkyBox Lo Carbonite Cargo Box, one of the best car roof boxes for road trips.
As with most of the best rooftop cargo carriers out there, this one has an aerodynamic shape for improved fuel efficiency. You probably won’t notice much highway noise, either, unless you’re flying down the road.
You can load your gear on either side. Easy-grip handles prevent your hands from slipping and are especially convenient when you’re in a rush. When you’re done, the lid locks and lets you know that it’s secure.
A more compact alternative is the Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box. Available in compact (11 cu. ft) through large (16 cu. ft.) sizes, this cargo box shares several features with the Thule Motion XT. It’s slightly more compact and has a 110-pound load capacity (size large).
3. SportRack Vista XL Cargo BoxPros:
- Can be assembled without tools
- Easy to remove or install in minutes
- Rear access keeps you away from traffic
- Interior hinges feel flimsy
- May whistle at highway speeds
- Rear loading can be awkward
With its cavernous interior and durable ABS plastic construction, the SportRack Vista XL Cargo Box pays for itself very quickly. It’s also UV-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about replacing a worn or faded box any time soon.
It looks relatively small, but this SportRack product has an 18 cu. ft. cargo capacity. That’s a surprising amount of room for a smaller roof top luggage box. You can install it on most crossbars within the recommended spacing limits of 23 5/8″ (minimum) and 29 3/4″ (maximum). Installation is tool-free and shouldn’t take more than five minutes, according to several users. For size reference, it’s similar to several bike cases for traveling.
This box supports up to 100 pounds and can hold everything from fishing gear to camping supplies, snowboards and more. Its rear-mounted access is a bit polarizing, though. SportRack intentionally designed it this way to keep you safe from traffic when you’re loading and unloading on the road. However, it can definitely be awkward. If you’re short or have a taller vehicle, a step stool can come in handy.
The Vista XL withstands dust and rain to protect your gear on long trips. When the lid is properly closed, it overlays the lower portion to create a waterproof seal. It seems to do its job, although a few users mention slight water leakage during extreme downpours – an issue that’s easily resolved by applying a few pieces of waterproof tape.
Besides resisting impacts, the plastic cover features an angled design to reduce drag and wind noise. Some drivers notice a slight whistle at highway speeds.
4. JEGS Rooftop Cargo CarrierPros:
- Has 18 cu. ft. of storage space
- Weather-tight seal keeps gear safe and dry
- Hinges on both sides for easy loading
- Can't fit skis or snowboards
- Not for cross rail systems rated less than 150 pounds
- Latches seem flimsy
No matter what weather you encounter on the road, your gear is safe with the JEGS rooftop cargo carrier. Constructed with all-season HDPE plastic, it’s waterproof for year-round traveling. A weather-tight seal resists moisture to keep your belongings dry.
With 18 cu. ft. of storage space and a 110-pound carrying capacity, you can transport luggage, camping gear and other trip essentials. You can conveniently load gear from either side. It doesn’t accommodate longer items, though. If you want the best roof box for skis and snowboards, consider the Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box.
This heavy-duty carrier requires a cross rail system with a minimum 150-pound rating. The JEGS cargo box fits most aero, square and round bars that are at least four inches wide. You don’t need any tools, and it should only take a few minutes to assemble and install this product.
The rugged case features a UV inhibitor to avoid fading and cracking, so you can count on it for years to come. It’s built for frequent use and even comes with a limited lifetime guarantee. Each JEGS carrier is made in the U.S. and is aerodynamic to reduce noise and maximize fuel efficiency.
5. Menabo Quasar Roof Cargo BoxPros:
- Easy to install with included U-bolts
- Double-click patented closure adds security
- Covered by a limited lifetime warranty
- Only opens on one side
- Might not have enough room for larger luggage
- Only comes in one color
If you drive a compact or subcompact car, the Menabo Quasar is for you. Despite its small size, the box has a 320-liter storage capacity to haul everyone’s belongings. With a 110-pound limit, this box frees up valuable space to keep your passengers happy.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the brand, Menabo is an Italian brand founded in 1972. In addition to cargo and roof baskets, Menabo manufactures bike carriers, roof bars and other water sports accessories.
You can mount this cargo box onto any roof with bars between 14 and 29 inches. U-hooks are included to quickly and easily secure the box so that it doesn’t slide as you’re driving. As one user comments, you only need to snap four components in place for assembly.
It’s similar in size to the Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box, yet isn’t as expensive. An anti-theft lock provides peace of mind when you have to make a stop. The opening latch is on the right side for easy access to your gear.
6. Inno BRA240BK Ridge Cargo BoxPros:
- Aerodynamic design minimizes excess fuel consumption
- Triple-layer ABS protects against rain and debris
- Safety lock system prevents top from opening
- Prone to wind noise
- Too short for most skis
- Prominent side decal
The Inno BRA240BK Ridge Cargo Box provides 8 cu. ft. of extra storage for smaller vehicles. It fits most factory, round and square crossbars to make installation more convenient. This box opens on the passenger side, so you can handily load gear, luggage and other trip essentials.
Designed and crafted in Japan, this product is the ideal size for your passengers to stretch out. It’s small enough to accommodate another rooftop accessory, such as a roof bike rack or fishing rod holders.
A universal mounting system allows you to quickly and easily set up the cargo box. Included U-bolts help secure your cargo in place. After loading your gear, you can only remove the key once the box is locked. This crucial safety measure prevents the top from accidentally opening as you’re driving.
Constructed with a triple-layer ABS sheet, this box withstands rain and debris for peace of mind on road trips. It only weighs 20 pounds and is easy to remove as needed. Each product features a limited lifetime warranty.
7. TRUNX Rooftop Cargo CarrierPros:
- U-bolt mounting system fits most crossbars
- Holds up to 110 pounds of gear
- Securely mounts to eliminate highway noise
- Can't fit skis or snowboards
- Frustrating locking mechanisms
- Bulky shape isn't very aerodynamic
The compact TRUNX Rooftop Cargo Carrier securely fits most passenger cars. You can store loads up to 110 pounds inside the roomy interior to free up room for your passengers. Use the available 9 cu. ft. of space for camping equipment, luggage and even strollers.
As long as your crossbars are spaced between 22 and 28 inches apart, and aren’t over 3.75 inches wide, this carrier should fit. Pre-drilled holes accommodate non-moveable crossbars. You don’t need special tools for installation, and the system is properly secured with a dependable U-bolt mounting system.
The box stands 32 inches high when opened to maximize your storage space. Dual front and side locks keep the lid properly closed for peace of mind as you’re traveling. A redundant bail latch system secures your belongings for stress-free road trips. As long as it’s fully closed, the carrier is naturally water-resistant to keep your cargo dry when conditions aren’t ideal.
Are Roof Boxes a Good Idea?
If your vehicle feels cramped on trips with friends and family, roof top luggage boxes are a good idea. Road trips can be stressful without worrying about how you're going to fit all those pieces of luggage and accessories for everyone. Plus, you'll free up much-needed legroom for your passengers.
The best roof box accommodates your gear and fits within your budget. You can choose a longer box that fits adult skis and snowboards or a smaller one that's appropriately sized for luggage and camping gear.
With many Americans traveling at least 1,000 miles during their road trips, according to Carinsurance.com, it's smart to have extra cargo space when you need it.
Are Roof Cargo Boxes Safe?
Sometimes referred to as cargo pods, roof cargo boxes are very safe for road trips. These products feature tough material that's built to withstand highway speeds and various weather events.
As with any cargo accessory, you'll need to make sure it's properly mounted and secure before you take off. Most times, you'll need an aftermarket rack or a roof rack for installation. Many boxes feature built-in locks to keep your gear safe when you stop. If yours doesn't, drivesafely.com strongly suggests using your own for peace of mind.
If you need even more cargo space or you're not sure whether a roof box is right for you, consider a hitch cargo carrier. You can also fit larger items, including coolers, into a cargo carrier, since space isn't nearly as limited.
Which Roof Box Is Better: Thule or Yakima?
Both Thule and Yakima, which also manufacturers high-quality cargo baskets, make some of the best car roof boxes for your money. Here are a few key differences to help you decide which one is better for you.
If you need to haul a lot of cargo, the Thule Motion XT wins.
Even the smallest style has more storage capacity (16 cu. ft.) than the Yakima. Upgrade to the XL (18 cu. ft.) or XXL (22 cu. ft.) for additional room. The smallest Thule Motion XT fits skis up to 175cm. You can transport up to seven pairs of skis and five snowboards. Thule Motion XT has a 165-pound load capacity.
The SkyBox Lo Carbonite Cargo Box from Yakima has a 15 cu. ft. capacity and can fit gear for up to three people. There's room for adult skis (up to 215cm) and snowboards. Unlike the Thule, it only comes in one size. Yakima doesn't list a load capacity for its cargo box.
You can attach the Yakima SkyBox and Thule Motion XT to most factory, aerodynamic, square and round bars.
Both roof boxes open on both sides, so you can quickly access your gear from either side of your vehicle.
If you've ever wondered whether your roof box lid is properly closed, Thule's SlideLock system automatically locks it in place and indicates that it's properly secured. There's no need to second guess yourself with this innovative locking mechanism!
SkyBox has a SuperLatch secure closure system that protects against theft. As with Yakima's other accessories, including its popular HoldUp EVO SUV bike rack, this box features an SKS (Same Key System).
The last thing you want when you stop for a bite to eat or crash at a hotel overnight is to discover that someone's messed with your belongings. Thule's One Key Compatible system is similar to the SKS system from Yakima.
Both security systems can put your mind at ease and are pretty reliable, so you don't have to spend extra on your own locks.
What Are the Best Roof Boxes for Camping?
We think the SportRack Vista XL is one of the best roof boxes for camping. It's spacious and has an 18 cu. ft. capacity to store tents, sleeping bags and other camping gear. Durable ABS construction withstands rain, dust and impacts for peace of mind when you're away from home. While the rear opening can be frustrating, especially for shorter people, you can balance on your vehicle's bumper or invest in an inexpensive step stool.
If you're just heading out of town for a weekend getaway, the compact and affordable TRUNX Rooftop Cargo Carrier has plenty of storage space and doesn't cost a fortune. It's compatible with most roof racks and fits on many types of vehicles, including smaller cars. With tool-free installation, you don't need to spend much extra time setting up the cargo box.