Whenever we go on trips or a holiday adventure, we always want to take more stuff. Moreover, we also need to fit five people in our vehicle. Despite our trying hard, we can’t take all the things that we need. Using a cargo box, we can keep all of our stuff in the car.
Over the past few years, we have purchased and used different types of roof cargo boxes. Recently we bought some of the best models of currently available cargo boxes and tested them very strictly to see which roof boxes are best for 2023.
If you are in a hurry, then you can use the links below to buy the best roof cargo boxes for your car. You don’t need to worry about the quality of the products because we only recommend the best.
– Best Overall – Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier
– Best Wide Range Options – Thule Force XT
– Best Aerodynamic Design – SportRack Horizon Alpine
Our team has tested them by installing every roof box many times and driving thousands of miles with those roof boxes on different vehicles. So we can assure you that our review will be beneficial for you to see which roof box can bear more stuff, which roof box is safe enough, which roof box is best for your budget, and which roof box is perfect for you.
1. Thule Motion XT XL Cargo Box:
The Thule Motion XT XL is one of the best roof boxes. This roof box is one of our expert’s favorite roof boxes. It is so handy and easy to use. And it is available with an easy mounting system. With its mounting system, you will be able to install this roof box within five minutes. Also, it’s sturdy and functional with a locking system. If you accidentally leave your roof box unlocked that locking system can keep your roof box secured. It has a smooth and aesthetic design. And also, it is available in black and off-white colors.
It is one of the most costly roof boxes we have reviewed. If you want to go on trips frequently with your roof box, then this one could be an excellent choice for you. If its price is too high for you, you can get a less costly roof box, which will be a little more challenging to install. Including price, overall, this roof box is one of the best packages.
- Roof-mounted cargo box provides 18 cubic feet of additional packing space
- Designed for optimal space efficiency, aerodynamics, and vehicle fit
- Quick-mount system "clicks" when roof box is secure and properly mounted
- Dual-side opening for quick access from either side of the car
- Easy to open and close with grip-friendly handles and supporting lid-lifters
- Full trunk access and no roof box contact
- Lid automatically locks in place and indicates a secure closure (One Key System compatible)
- Fits 5-7 pairs of skis / 3-5 snowboards
- External dimensions: 84.5 x 36 x 17 inches; Internal dimensions: 79 x 31.5 x 15 inches
- Load capacity: 165 lbs; Product Weight: 46 lbs
2. Thule Force XT Cargo Box:
This roof box is also from Thule. The Thule Force XT Box is available with a great amount of internal storage space. It is of 21 cubic feet, so it is excellent for those who will buy a roof box for going on longer trips. You will be able to carry skis or anything this kind of long stuff.
If you want to buy a giant roof box, then you have to accept more weight. This roof box also weighs 165 lbs.
The Thule Force XT has a torque indicator connected with the Power Click system; that’s why the roof box’s installation process is straightforward. All you have to do is just gradually press it into place, that’s it. Like the Thule Motion XL, it can give you access from each side also.
You’ll want to have a crossbar height of around 15.6 inches to mount your roof box. But this crossbar can make the installation process difficult for the Thule Force XT cargo box. Because we already mentioned that the size and aerodynamic-ness of this roof-box are perfect for those people who are looking for enough space to keep lots of materials in it without shifting to bigger and heavier clamshell boxes.
3. Yakima Skybox 16 Carbonite Cargo Box:
The Yakima Skybox Carbonite is a great and outstanding roof box. It is powerful and one of our favorite roof boxes. It can keep your stuff safe and secure. Moreover, you will be able to get access to this roof box quickly. If you want an excellent roof box at a reasonable price, then this roof box could be a better option for you. The lid of this roof box isn’t floppy. And if you accidentally keep the box unlocked, the latching system will indicate that. The Yakima Skybox is available with a fantastic matte black finish. This matte black finish can help you to hide scratches and scrapes.
If the installation process is long, then it won’t be comforting if you want to use the roof box just for weekend trips only and other times keep it off from your car. So you will enjoy a roof box that is easy to mount. But if you’re going to leave the roof box on your vehicle’s roof permanently, then a lengthy installation process doesn’t matter at all, and you should choose the Yakima Skybox, which is less costly.
4. SportRack Horizon Alpine Cargo Box:
If you want something cheaper than the Yakima Skybox, then the SportRack Horizon Alpine will be the perfect option for you. It is an ideal roof box for a low budget. So you can’t compare it with an expensive roof box. But This budget roof box looks fantastic, and it is reliable and durable also. Moreover, it is easy to install, and it is so long that it can carry anything in 210 cm length.
The SportRack Horizon Alpine can give you access from only one side, and you can’t shift that to another side. There are no straps available to secure your stuff inside the roof box. Besides, there is no built-in light also. There is not so much space available in The SportRack Horizon Alpine. This roof box will be an excellent choice if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a roof box. However, it doesn’t have the same number of bells and whistles as a premium roof box, but it has enough amount of them.
- 16 cubic foot (453 L) cargo capacity
- Made from rugged, impact resistant ABS material
- Passenger side opening for easy access away from traffic
- Easy to install or remove using the quick release attachment kit
- Holds 4-6 pairs of skis (up to 178 cm) or 3-4 snowboards
- Fits SportRack Rack Systems, square load bars, round load bars and most factory racks
- Dimensions: 75.5″ x 33″ x 16.25″ / 192 cm x 83.5 cm x 41.5 cm
- Max load capacity: 110 lbs (50 kg)
- Rugged construction made from impact resistant ABS material
- Quick release attachment kit included for easy installation and removal
- Rugged construction made from impact resistant ABS material
- Quick release attachment kit included for easy installation and removal
- Passenger side opening for access away from traffic
- Fits SportRack Roof Rack Systems, square, round and most factory racks (Check Fit Guide)
- Holds 4-6 pairs of skis (up to 178 cm) or 3-4 snowboards
- L 75.9" x W 33.2" x H 16.1"
Why You Should Trust Us?
We’ve been experimenting on different types of roof boxes for several years. We are also reviewing those roof boxes wisely to help you choose the best roof box for you. We buy roof boxes to test them correctly and to check them wisely. Moreover, we don’t allow any gift from manufacturers.
We have a professional roof box testing team. Our roof box testing team had tested these roof boxes in many ways. They went on trips worldwide with these roof boxes and used them to bear different items. So while utilizing those roof boxes, they tested the aerodynamic-ness and saw their durability to review them correctly.
We start our experiment on roof boxes by unboxing them and installing them. And we also pay attention to how easily and fast those roof boxes can be installed on every vehicle’s roof. We also see the available space in a roof box during our experiment. Our experimenters drive hundreds of miles with those roof boxes installed and leave them on their vehicle’s roof for several weeks.
We also surveyed how useful they are in day-to-day use and how these roof boxes impact a car’s handling and gas mileage. We load every roof box with different items, such as a tent, climbing equipment, hockey stick, etc. During testing, we also observe if any is lacking in the build quality.
Analysis and Test Results:
Firstly we start our testing process by doing some research. We look for the best roof boxes on the market; then, we choose one that offers the right specification. Then we buy that roof box to test thoroughly. We have a full testing plan. We try every roof box from both inside and outside very strictly. We see how a roof box responds to scratches and how easily installed on the roof of a vehicle. Generally, we complete our tests in four steps. We see how easily that roof box can be used, the durability of these roof boxes, how that roof box can keep your stuff safe, and the design of that roof box. Finally, we finish our testing process by giving them a score in the range of 0 to 100.
SportRack Horizon XL and Yakima Skybox are our favorite roof boxes in the category of inexpensive roof boxes. The Yakima Skybox can give you excellent service at a reasonable budget. You will be able to carry more than one pair of skis at a time, and this roof box can be installed easily. Also, the design of this roof box is durable enough.
The Horizon Alpine is also a budget roof box, but it has a little less space than the Yakima SkyBox. But the price of this roof box is significantly less too. So this roof box is our top recommendation for anyone looking to spend very few on a roof box. The Horizon Alpine also can carry skis. Lastly, the Thule Motion XT is a premium roof box, and that roof box is straightforward to use and quite stylish. It is one of the most costly roof boxes that we tested.
Ease of Use:
If you want to use your cargo box regularly or leave that on the roof of your car for several months, there are some suggestions that will help you. We looked at the installation process, including the opening and closing of the box. This technique helped us see how much or little effort was needed to enjoy each box’s benefits perfectly.
With earning a great score, the Thule Motion is one of our favorite roof boxes. This roof box is comfortable and easily useable. This roof box came fully assembled and ready to go right out of the box. You have to tie the interior straps through its body.
With the AcuTight or PowerClick mounting systems, the installation process becomes much more comfortable, and you will be able to complete the installation process only in five minutes.
After the Thule Motion, there comes the Yakima Skybox and Thule Force XT XL with much ease of use. These roof boxes are accessible from both sides. The Thule Force comes with the same PowerClick mounting system as the more costly Thule roof boxes. But there is a little difference in these. And the handle of the Thule Force is not so good for use. But the grip of The Skybox is better than the Force but is not as easy to switch between vehicles. Overall, both roof boxes have their advantages and are relatively equal in terms of ease of use.
The Yakima ShowCase and SportRack Vista XL, and The Horizon Alpine performed not so well in the first level of our roof box testing process. These roof boxes earned an average score in the ease of use category. The handle-less design of the Yakima ShowCase 15 didn’t fascinate us at all, but it isn’t so difficult to install this roof box in a car. This roof box is available with dual-opening and quick install mounts. The Yakima Skybox is also the same.
The design of the SportRack Vista XL‘s handle is not so bad, but the lid of this roof box can be opened from the back, which makes it much harder to get access. And it is almost impossible if the roof box is in a larger car.
The SportRack Vista XL is a little hard to install because of its U-Bolt mounting system. But this is okay if you plan to leave this roof box on your car’s roof for a while. But if you plan to put that roof box on and off your car every weekend, then you should look for the Yakima SkyBox. The mounting system of that roof box is much more comfortable.
The handle of The Horizon Alpine is not so good. Still, the mounting system of this roof box is much easier than the SportRack Vista XL. The Alpine‘s mounting system is like a hybrid system between the unibody clamps of the Yakima SkyBox and the U-bolt mounting system of the SportRack Vista XL. So you can assemble the roof box on the ground. You have to install four nuts and bolts to fit this roof box with your roof rack.
If you have shorter arms or your roof racks that aren’t high enough from the car’s roof, then the installation process of this roof box will be a little hard for you. But we usually could get this installed or opened from most vehicles within 15 minutes. The lid of The Horizon Alpine can only open towards the passenger side. Moreover, there is no light or strap system available with this roof box.
The Horizon Alpine took us more than an hour to assemble it, and the installation process is not fair. This roof box also uses the U-bolt mounting system as the Vista XL. Both of them are equally hard to use. The Horizon Alpine only opens on one side, so this roof box is not so convenient. So we don’t recommend it.
All of the roof boxes are made from similar materials; we looked at the details to understand their durability. We drove each box for several weeks without any protection, so our test category is connected with the structural design and weather resistance. Every box in our review passed this test. We know what you want. You want a long-lasting roof box so that you can go on countless adventurous trips.
For the durability test, firstly, we check the lid’s floppiness—a specific category of our test. The Thule Motion XT and The Thule Force XT XL come with a tall and a little floppy design. The Horizon Alpine and The Yakima SkyBox are available with a healthy body, solid grip, and small lax system. We noticed that the Vista XL‘s giant rear-opening hatch had much more play than other products and is significantly more floppy.
We tested and found the majority of these roof boxes can protect your stuff from wet conditions. Our accessories were usually dry after driving those roof boxes through heavy rainstorms or getting sprayed with a garden hose on full power for 15 minutes when the weather wasn’t in adverse conditions.
We are a little worried about the water resistance of The SportRack Vista XL, and the SportRack Horizon Alpine. These three roof boxes use a U-bolt mounting system to fit with roof racks, and there are a series of pre-drilled holes to adjust with different crossbar spacing. More than one spot on the bottom of these boxes and water can quickly get in through those holes. To prevent water leakage, these roof boxes include some vinyl stickers to cover the unused holes. These stickers are beneficial and performed great in our test.
None of these three roof boxes showed any sign of damage through normal wear and tear, though most roof boxes showed a handful of scrapes and scratches because of repeatedly installing and uninstalling. One of our testers bent two mounting clips by not realizing it stuck out further than the car and backed into a cement wall. But the pins were affordable to replace, and there was no sign of damage on the box — just some little scratches.
Everyone wants to be sure that their roof box will keep their stuff safe. We gave the most points to the roof box with a simple, durable enough, and easy-to-operate security system to resist thieves and solid enough to trust it with our valuable stuff.
We expanded this category to how secure the roof box was and the ease of use of that security system.
Some of the boxes we tested have some significant and beneficial indicators to let you know if the box was latched correctly or not before you try to remove the key, like the red indicator of the Thule Motion XT and the big handle of the Yakima Skybox. Both of these systems can give you inner peace that your items are safe.
The unlock reminder of other boxes is all average. Those roof boxes are manufactured with installed locks, but they don’t have any extra indicators. Those roof boxes are easy to latch and unlatch, and you will not be able to remove the key remaining the box unlocked. So you won’t forget to shut the roof box or lock it when the keys are inside that box.
We know that roof boxes can be an eyesore, and you have to see that every day on your vehicle. This part of our Testing process was subjective and based on a group consensus.
Our tests are based on what we would expect from a roof box nowadays. Our test was strict but not brutal. All of the roof boxes come with a surprising amount of finishes, but we had exact preferences.
The Thule Force XT XL Matte black finish, Yakima Skybox Carbonite, and the Horizon Alpine were our favorites. The matte black finish was unique and visually rich.
This finish can handle the problem of Scratches and scuffs easily. But the roof boxes with glossy finishes have to struggle much for not to being scratched.
Moreover, Thule Motion XT and Yakima ShowCase are available in both grey and black colors. So you will be able to choose the best match for your car. These roof boxes are the only roof boxes we’ve ever tested that come in more than one color. And their appearance scores received a boost for versatility. The Motion XT with a grey finish blends very well with our tester’s white van. And The Yakima ShowCase, with a shiny black finish, looks so classy and visually rich and looks exactly like what we’d expect from a high-end roof box.
The surface texture and finish of these roof boxes are not so favorite of us—the texture of the finish on the SportRack Vista feels a little cheap. So a thought comes to our mind that it might kill the appearance of more superior cars. Despite this, if you don’t care about the appearance of your roof box or if you like the textured surface and want to save some money, then these roof boxes could be a good option for you.
Are These Going To Kill My Gas Mileage or Ruin Handling?
You have to think about the result of a roof box on your vehicle’s handling and mileage. We have a particular category for this test. After testing, we found that each of these boxes doesn’t significantly impact the handling and mileage of a vehicle. But if you put a big fatty roof box on your car’s roof, it could be a matter because all large boxes increase wind resistance and drag while driving. Moreover, if you drive a larger SUV or truck that isn’t exceptionally aerodynamic, then a roof box can impact your car’s gas mileage. Drag depends on the speed, so you can reduce the fuel economy loss by driving just a bit slower. So adding a heavy roof box to your vehicle can affect your car’s power, handling, and fuel efficiency.
We hope that our review and expert recommendations will help you to find the perfect roof box for you. All of your needs are based on the type of product you need to bear with the roof box or your budget. However, our research is always here to help you to find the perfect roof box for you.
-our editorial board has reviewed this article and has been approved for publication according to our editorial policy.
Last Update : 2023-09-29