Maybe you are planning to go on a long trip around the country, and you packed all your bags. But you can't seem to fit all your things inside your car. So, you are considering getting a rooftop cargo box. But, with all the different cargo boxes currently on the market, you are not sure what to get.
In this article, I will go over the best low profile cargo boxes on the market as well as provide you with a detailed review of each of them. I will also include a buying guide to help you pick the right cargo box for you. So, please read the article till the end.
Before you jump into the review, take a look at the specifications of the roof cargo boxes I am going to discuss in this article.
The 5 Best Low Profile Roof Box
Roof cargo boxes are important as they allow you to bring more luggage and protect you well. But with all the cargo boxes on the market, picking one that fits can be very difficult. That is why I have prepared a list of the best low-profile cargo boxes.
1. Thule Force XT L Rooftop Cargo Box
The Thule Force XT is a quality rooftop cargo box. And its versatile shape makes it an all-rounder. This versatile shape makes it perfect for carrying camping gear, skis, suitcases, etc. At this price point, it's very impressive.
It also has other premium features. Such as its power click mount that is easy to install. Other features include its built-in stiffeners, six tie-down points, and dual-sided openings. The built-in stiffeners provide more rigidity for added loads. It provides bearings for up to 165 pounds.
But the Thule Force XT does come up short in some areas, mainly in the finer details of this rooftop cargo box. Aesthetically, it is not as pleasing as another Thule product later in this list. As for the LockKnob mechanism on it, it is hard to use and fragile. And it also lacks a proper handle to grip while opening and closing the box.
The Thule Force XT is quite an impressive cargo box with its numerous features. However, when taking a closer look at it, it does fall behind in the finer areas, making it an interesting pick.
- Dimension: 74.8 inches X 33 inches X 18 inches
- Access: Dual Sided
- Capacities: 11(sport), 16, 18, 22 cubic feet
PowerClick mounts: One of the best qualities of the Thule Force XT is how easy it is to install due to its power click mounts. When in place, it will give a satisfying click sound.
Built-in Stiffeners: The built-in stiffeners make this rooftop cargo box quite durable and capable of bearing an added load of up to 165 pounds.
Versatile Shape: Its versatile shape allows you to fit everything from camping gear to skis, suitcases, and more inside it.
- It has a very versatile shape.
- Easy to install
- Very durable due to its built-in stiffeners
- Flimsy latch
- No proper handle to grip while opening and closing
- The locking mechanism is also hard to use
The SportRack Vista is a budget-friendly roof box for your carrying needs. And even at this price point, the SportRack Vista can offer you some great features. Unlike some other budget boxes, SportRack Vista comes fully assembled and you can install it rather quickly.
Also, this sports box comes with a decent capacity of 18 cubic feet for its price point, allowing for more storage at this price. As well being very tall at up to 19 inches is also a plus. Make it your go-to choice if you plan to bring large and bulky items on your trip.
But it still has its downsides. One of its glaring weaknesses is its rear opening. When talking about the length, it also comes up short at 63 inches. As a result, you will not be able to carry your skis in it.
As you would come to expect from a cargo box at this price point, the lid is quite flimsy. And the U-bolt mounting system is not as appealing as more modern clamping systems. Not to mention, aesthetically, it has little to no appeal to it.
- Dimension: 63 inches X 38 inches X 19 inches
- Capacity: 18 cubic feet
- Access: Rear
Fully Assembled: Unlike some other budget rooftop cargo boxes the SportRack Vista comes fully assembled for quick installation without any extra tools.
Light: The cargo box is very light, making it easy for you to get it on top of your car by yourself and install it.
Capacity: It also has a decent amount of capacity for this price point, allowing for a decent amount of storage.
- Decent storage capacity at 18 cubic feet
- You can pick it up and on your car by yourself due to how light it is
- Comes fully assembled and can be installed quickly without any extra tools
- Rear opening
- Flimsy lid
- It is not aesthetically pleasing
- Not long enough to carry skis
3. Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite
The Yakima Skybox 16 is one of the best choices if you are looking for a rooftop cargo box. This cargo box provides you with a durable storage box and an installation process that does not require any tools. This also comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from 12 to 21 cubic feet. And even a low clearance model that leaves enough space on your rack for your bike.
The Yakima Skybox is an amazing cargo box due to its rugged and durable build. As well as its aerodynamic shape that tapers at the back. But the Yakima has some drawbacks to it as well. Firstly, the turn handles are rather stiff. Thus, they need more force. This makes it very difficult to use with only one hand.
Also, though the installation does not require any tools, it can get annoying to get it into the right position. This can become quite a hassle if you plan to remove and reinstall it frequently.
- Dimension: 81 inches X 36 inches X 15 inches
- Capacity: 12, 15 (Low Clearance); 16, 18, 21 cubic feet
- Access: Dual-sided
Low Clearance Models: The low clearance models give you enough space to add your bike to your rack.
Aerodynamic Builds: Yakima Skybox has an aerodynamic build that reduces any excess drag caused by it.
Build Quality: It has excellent build quality, with the plastic sides being more than enough to handle the elements.
- Low Clearance models
- Excellent build quality
- Aerodynamic build reduces drag
- Toolless installation
- Hassle remove and reinstall due to positioning
- Stiff handles make one-handed use difficult
The market in 2022 for a roof cargo box is very versatile and has no shortage of options. The Motion XT from Thule is a highlight, with a precise fit and finish. It has four capacities ranging from 16 to 22 cubic feet and is easy to install and operate. Compared to other Thule cargo boxes I reviewed, this one is more expensive but also much sleeker.
Thule's roof racks are the finest in their class, and with PowerClick mounts that make an audible "click" when in position, you can secure most roof racks in minutes. But the fact that it is not economical when compared to the other cargo boxes on this list can be off-putting.
With big grips on both sides, the Motion XT is simple to open, close, and secure. The nose design is excellent, with an extra-firm foundation and enough overlap. Overall, the Motion XT offers little opportunity for improvement for the average user. It's the year's best all-around cargo box.
- Dimension: 84.5 inches X 36 inches X 17 inches
- Capacity: 16, 18, 21 cubic feet
- Access: Dual-sided
Large Handles: The large handles allow for a better grip when opening and closing the cargo box. A clear win for it when compared to the cheaper Force XT with a lack of proper grip.
Very Secure: The smooth lock and sturdy lid on the Motion XT will keep your things nice and safe.
Easy Removal and Reinstallation: The PowerClick mounting on the Motion XT allows for quick and easy installation, making removing and reinstalling it on another car easy.
- Decent grip due to large handles
- Sleek design
- Smooth lock and sturdy lid for a more secure box.
- East installation and removal
- An Upgrade to the Thule Force XT
- On the expensive side
- Is not available in smaller form factors
Lastly, the Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 is for those of you who cannot bring themselves to choose. Perhaps you are interested in boating, surfing, or biking. If that is the case, you would want to take them with you on your trips. As a result, you would be hard-pressed to find space on your car's roof as it is. But add a cargo box to the mix and this becomes more difficult.
And that is where the Rocketbox Pro comes in. Its width of only 24 inches makes it one of the narrowest cargo boxes currently on the market. As a result, it creates enough room on top of your car for your various sporting needs. It is also one of the most affordable cargo boxes on this list that allows you to store skis in it.
The Rocketbox also comes with some other features, such as a tool-less installation. Two separate locking and latching mechanisms, which for this price are rare. But being at this price point also has its limitations.
The most notable of these limitations is its rather flimsy build quality. As well, the design of the nose is not great when dealing with the weather.
- Dimension: 89 inches X 24 inches X 16 inches
- Capacity: 11, 12, 14 cubic feet
- Access: Dual-sided
Narrow Build: The width of this cargo box being only 24 inches allows for more than enough room on your car for other equipment.
Ski-capable and affordable: While keeping its low price tag it remains ski capable. As a result, it makes it the cheapest ski-capable cargo box on this list.
Latch and Lock: The latching and locking mechanisms on the RocketBox are separate from each other which is rare on the cheaper models.
- Narrow build
- Separate latch and lock
- Ski capable
- Flimsy build
- Not that weather resistant
Above, I have provided you with a list of the best low-profile rooftop cargo boxes. However, how will you decide which of the above to pick and which one will best fit your demands? For this very reason, I am going to provide you with a small buying guide to help you with your purchase.
Things To Consider Before Purchase
Before buying a cargo box, you need to first decide what you are going to store in it. If you plan on storing a lot of different items, I recommend getting a large cargo box. But if you are planning to carry things like skis and snowboards inside the cargo box, I would pay close attention to the length.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is how big your car is, what kind of roof rack it has, and what the hatch clearance of your car is. Taking hatch clearance into account is important. Therefore, if the hatch clearance is too high for the size of the cargo box, you can end up limiting your access to the rear hatch and damaging the box or the hatch each time you open it.
Another important factor is how often you plan on using it. As a result, it will have an impact on how much money you spend on it. For longer and more regular use, paying a little extra might be the right choice. This will give you a quality product that will last for years.
What Features Should You Look Out For?
You should look out for dual-sided access on your cargo boxes. These cargo boxes are easier to open from either side of your car, not to mention that they are much easier to install and remove when compared to single-sided openings.
You should also consider the kind of mounting systems in place for these cargo boxes. Well-known brands such as Thule will use clamps or quick-release systems that are easy to install and remove. But other mounting systems, like U-bolts, also exist. These are a hassle to install and often require two people to do it.
Another thing you should take note of when purchasing is the durability of the cargo box. As a result, I recommend looking for ones with stiffer plastic. These are usually made to ensure ease of opening and closing the box while limiting cracking.
I am going to remind you to look for decent brands when buying your cargo boxes as well. Despite the fact that it might require a splurge, they also have years of trust and assurance behind their product.
Also, two of the brands I would recommend are Thule and Yakima. I have mentioned two of their cargo boxes in this article. Not only are they well-known brands, but they also provide amazing customer service, including customer service support, lifetime warranties, and a supply of replacement keys. But do consider the other features when making your purchase and not just the brand.
Considering all the different types of roof cargo boxes, it can be very difficult to choose the best low-profile roof cargo box. But to make things a bit easier for you, I have done the research and given you a list of the 5 best cargo boxes.
To give you a better idea of these products, I went over each of their features in detail and mentioned something I liked and did not like about each of them. Lastly, I even provided you with a small buying guide to help you make your decision on your purchase. Thank you for reading the article. I hope it was informative. Thanks for stopping by!
Last update on 2022-06-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API