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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    įguila
    Posts
    1,078

    Why do roof boxes suck so bad?

    Was thinking about using the REI dividend + 20% off coupon on a roof box, to alleviate my car's interior from wet skis, sharp edges, stinky boots, sandy climbing gear and an entire summer's worth of camping gear. Don't need a ton of space, but definitely a box long enough for skis. Used last year's dividend+20 to outfit a Yakima roof rack, which has done well with bike racks, rafts and other people's boxes, but time to buy my own.

    Narrowed my choice down to three picks: the Thule Ascent 1100, the Yakima Rocketbox 11 or the Yakima SkyBox 12. Yes, these are the least expensive options, all less than $400 msrp. Yes, lowest price is a factor.

    My girlfriend recently got the Thule Ascent 1100, so I've had some recent first-hand experience with this POS. The locking mechanisms rarely work. The lid is so flimsy, you cannot open it with one hand, let alone one person. When it does close, it rarely alligns to actually close, so you've gotta spend 10 minutes f-ing with the damn thing to get all the locks and rails into place while standing on a wheel and heel hooking the roof rails wearing ski boots in a blizzard.

    Went to REI, looked at the Yakima Rocketbox 11. Same cheap ass construction, flimsy plastic, worthless locks. Why do they even have locks when you could probably just punch right through the cheap shells? Haven't specifically checked out the Skybox 12, sounds like it might be best option in this price range.

    Even though I'm looking at the "cheapest" boxes, $389 is a lot of money to me and a lot of money to spend on a hunk of crap. Are there any inexpensive options for a roof box that is not a complete piece of shit?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    JeffCo
    Posts
    976
    Save your money now and go to the next REI Garage sale and get a box for CHEAP. I got the Thule Atlantis 2100 for $160

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    25,429
    I don't think a crook would break in unless they can see if whats inside is worth stealing ?

    They are all about the same $ ,I would get the cheapest without the inner rails/locks that jam

    lube your locks & get yer skis out before you put your boots on

    they used to be double wall plastic WAY back in the day otherwise they are pretty much all the same

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    įguila
    Posts
    1,078
    A crook might not break in but it's still going to be flapping in the wind and impossible to work because it folds in half when you try to lift one side! The garage sale is a good idea but that requires advance planning to get down to the flagship and requires that there are boxes at the sale.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Idaho
    Posts
    9,905
    Search craigslist for an older Thule Adventurer. Rivet a clasp on the outside and use a padlock. It looks ghetto but the box will be stronger and more secure. Plus, if you use a combo lock, you never have to work about the lock freezing or losing your key. I bought an early 90s adventurer for $60 in 99 and it's still going strong. It's sturdy enough that I've slept in it and way overloaded the weight limit. I've drilled a bunch of holes in it to work on different racks. I've ran into car ports with it on accident.

    I'll have this thing forever I think.

    All the new stuff is super overpriced and flimsy. My girlfriend has a nice Thule whatever that was probably around $500-600 and we always use mine.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    my own little world
    Posts
    3,567
    I got a Spirit 1600 and have none of the problems that you describe. One handed opening from either side, and it closes itself.

    Not that it's in the same price range as the ones you're looking at, just saying that it doesn't have to suck, you just have to pay up.
    focus.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Pleasuretown
    Posts
    1,095
    Quote Originally Posted by Conundrum View Post
    Search craigslist for an older Thule Adventurer. Rivet a clasp on the outside and use a padlock. It looks ghetto but the box will be stronger and more secure. Plus, if you use a combo lock, you never have to work about the lock freezing or losing your key. I bought an early 90s adventurer for $60 in 99 and it's still going strong. It's sturdy enough that I've slept in it and way overloaded the weight limit. I've drilled a bunch of holes in it to work on different racks. I've ran into car ports with it on accident.

    I'll have this thing forever I think.

    All the new stuff is super overpriced and flimsy. My girlfriend has a nice Thule whatever that was probably around $500-600 and we always use mine.
    +1

    Find an old one. I've had the same Thule (don't remember the model number) since 96-97, and it is still going strong. In hindsight, I can't believe how many days it has lasted in all weather conditions, baking in the sun, getting yanked open, frozen shut, fully loaded, and re-drilled to fit new racks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Pyongyang
    Posts
    680
    http://www.naturescasket.com/Denver%20Post.pdf

    How about building yer own? Here's a guy in CO selling pine casket kits. And if you don't make it back one day...

    The dude looks like he's a skier btw.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    PDX
    Posts
    775
    I have a Thule Ascent 1100. Flimsy, yes. Locking mechanism awkward, yes. But I've gotten used to it and know how to open/close it without any problems (smack it before opening, pinch closed while locking). It's one of the few low-profile/lightweight boxes that's 200 cm long. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    where the beer flows like wine
    Posts
    2,402
    if you really care about your gear AND/OR ease of use, spend the money on the thule spirit or thule boxter. well made, super strong, open easy with one hand, etc. think of it as an investment. it will be the last cargo box you ever need to buy.

    most of the closure issues with the ascent 1100 are due to the short height of the box. you really can't fit that much in it. even if it is a little too full or some gear in interfering with the lock/closure mechanism, it won't shut easy.

    if you don't want to go for spirit/boxter, at least upgrade to the atlantis series. much stronger lid.
    Big skis from small companies at Backcountry Freeskier

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    872
    i have a yakima skybox 12- got it on CL after looking for an older one. so far so good, def works with one hand, easy to install. it is a little flimsy but not overly so, the lock mechanism seems ok, not fort knox or anything but i keep it on my street parked car in nyc and nothing yet at least. over 85 mph it starts to shimmy a little even though its cranked down tight- kinda annoying. overall i am pretty pleased. some of the older ones have to give off more wind noise, that is how i justified getting the skybox.
    negli alberi

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Live Free or Die
    Posts
    2,093
    I give my Spirit 1600 a 7 out of 10 stars. The lid is a bit flimsy but you can handle it with one hand. The locks are easy to use. The grabber clamp claws are a good idea but even if I crank them as hard as I can on my Yakima round bars the box eventually shifts horizontally a few inches across the bars if the box is on for an extended period of time (a week or more.)

    The biggest peeve I have is not specific to this model box; it's the GOD DAMN marketing sticker Thule uses on their boxes. I can't fucking peel the fucker off!!! It's all picked away and half peeled off and looks so fucking ghetto. This is the second Thule box I've bought and the other one did the same thing. Can't they use a fucking sticker that has easy peel glue? Fuckers.
    Dollar sign that bitch.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    LV-426
    Posts
    18,613
    IMHO roof boxes are one of those items that it might be worth the extra $ to buy from REI, for the customer service/ warranty aspect. The locks and latch mechanisms on both Thule and Yakima boxes are somewhat flimsy. If/when it breaks, at least REI will help you warranty it through Thule/Yakima, or they'll just give you a replacement under REI's own service policy.

    I have a Yakima Skybox that I bought from REI during a 20% sale. No issues yet, but it mostly lives on the garage ceiling and gets used only for long trips.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Beautiful BC
    Posts
    2,902
    Strong & rigid would also mean heavy. I'd guess most people want something they can get on and off without needing two strong friends.

    I got my Thule for $50. The two lock system is a little awkward but I load/unload skis BEFORE I put my ski boots on. Once it's closed it's solid. It even has air vents where a previous owner kissed a garage door.
    If you have a problem & think that someone else is going to solve it for you then you have two problems.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Somewhere around the west
    Posts
    2,588
    Most boxes suck because, well, because they just suck. I currently have a Votex Box (Yuropee'n). It's double walled so it isn't flexy. It's fairly light. And the best part is that it's got a burely cable system that is lever mechanized, vs. a key.

    They are not the easiest to find.
    Johnny's only sin was dispair

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Huh?
    Posts
    10,915
    My Thule has been great for years. That said, if you don't want flimsy these look awesome:

    http://www.packasport.com
    "I knew in an instant that the three dollars I had spent on wine would not go to waste."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    In a parallel universe
    Posts
    4,796
    Watch craigslist for a Packasport.
    I see them come up every now and then for around $150 ~ $200.
    I've had mine for over 10 years. Locks securely enough, offers one handed opening and closing and is sturdy.
    I've refinished it once, the only down side that I can think of.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    The Other Side
    Posts
    745
    Quote Originally Posted by AlpenChronicHabitual View Post
    Watch craigslist for a Packasport.
    I see them come up every now and then for around $150 ~ $200.
    I've had mine for over 10 years. Locks securely enough, offers one handed opening and closing and is sturdy.
    I've refinished it once, the only down side that I can think of.
    Second on the Packasport. I inherited one from my folks three years ago but it's easily 15 years old and I can't see it ever wearing out. Nice industrial carpeting on the inside super sturdy. Wife has driven into the garage door twice this winter, and the door looks way worse than the box. Plus if you can get them from like the early 90's people still skied on 200 cm skis so they will fit anything

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    728
    I have a Thule box. I love it. Opens from both sides. Never had any issues with the hinges or locks or anything else. It's easy to put on and take off. I have just the opposite feeling toward it compared with the OP. Every time I use it, I think of what a quality, well designed piece of gear it is.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    4,971
    I have a Skybox 16 that's held up fine; would imagine a Skybox 12 would be OK. Get it from REI so you can return it if it sux.

    Keep it out of the sun when you can because the sun's rays cause the materials to deteriorate faster.

    Packasports seem way nicer, but also more expensive at retail prices.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
    Posts
    16,077
    i have a thule frontier which is subject to all the OP's complaints...but it's worked well enough for me that i'd recommend it to anyone asking

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Tahoe
    Posts
    926
    Quote Originally Posted by El Chupacabra View Post
    IMHO roof boxes are one of those items that it might be worth the extra $ to buy from REI, for the customer service/ warranty aspect. The locks and latch mechanisms on both Thule and Yakima boxes are somewhat flimsy. If/when it breaks, at least REI will help you warranty it through Thule/Yakima, or they'll just give you a replacement under REI's own service policy.

    I have a Yakima Skybox that I bought from REI during a 20% sale. No issues yet, but it mostly lives on the garage ceiling and gets used only for long trips.
    Bingo. I bought the first gen yakima box pro 12 at REI during the 20% off sale, used it for like a 1.5yrs, then took it back and returned it for a brand new one FOR FREE after the opening mechanism got finicky. In the 2nd gen version Yakima had redesigned it and fixed the issue.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aspen, Colorado
    Posts
    2,651
    I have a Thule Cascade XT on my Vehicle. It has worked well, but I have one grievance with it. The only latch is the key lock. I got tired of digging out my keys every time I wanted to open the box, so I tied a key to a string and left it in the lock. The string was tied to a quick release buckle and was removable in case I needed security. One day I was going down the interstate and the key rotated to the open position. The box opened somewhat violently, and now the top and end hinges are broken. I know the damage is my fault, but the latch really sucks. You should be able to shut the damn thing and have it stay shut without a key. I will be shopping for a used replacement as I cannot justify $400+ for such a flimsy, plastic, pop riveted POS.

  24. #24
    Hugh Conway Guest
    They suck because they've conned plenty of suckers into buying them so they don't have to crowd their golden in the back of the Outback.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aspen, Colorado
    Posts
    2,651
    I like having one for skis, and for camping trips. All the bulky yet light stuff like bags, pads, tents, chairs go up on top and that leaves more room in the 4runner. Four of us took a two week touring trip in the eastern Sierras and up to Shasta, and we had two boxes on top of my 4runner. Pretty handy for crowded conditions like that

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