Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Easy to use and install, looks good, well-thought out details, high quality construction
Cons: Heavy, finish scratches easily
Best Uses: Long road trips, carrying skis and light bulky items
We drove this box all over the mountains of the Eastern Sierra, and from California to Canada and back, and think it's great! The Yakima Skybox Pro 16 is our Editor's Choice Award winner because of its high quality construction, ease of use, and stylish looks. The latch handle is our favorite feature out of all of the boxes we tested, and makes it easy to pop the box open and to know when it is closed. We love the way the Skybox's Titanium finish looks on our tester's Toyota Matrix, although we noticed it does scratch easily. We think the Skybox is a high quality roof box, which shows in the stiff lid that makes it possible to open and close with one hand.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This roof box's construction is high quality, and a lot of thought was put into its design features. We love the easy to use handle and stiff lid that makes it easy to open and close. It has plenty of room for long haul moves or short trips to the ski hill. We highly recommend this model cargo box, which is why it wins our Editor's Choice award.
The Yakima Skybox Pro 16 is one of the highest construction quality models that we tested. We especially love the stiff lid that does not flop around at all when we open and close it, like some of the other boxes we tried. This box comes with a few extra details that make it seem higher quality, such as its latch handle, as well as the interior box pad and cargo net. The Skybox held up well through all of our testing and seems very durable. We never had any problems with any of its parts. The only problem we noticed was that its finish scratched relatively easily, but is not very noticeable when the box is on your car.
This is the best looking box in this review. We really like the Titanium color finish on this one, especially on our tester's light blue Toyota Matrix. Its shape is relatively standard, but looks sleek for its 16 cubic foot size. It's about the largest box we would recommend for a medium sized car like the Matrix, something bigger like the Rhino Rack Master Fit seemed too large. The Skybox sat well on the Matrix, it didn't hit the centered antennae on the back and wasn't affected when the hatch was open. It will suit other medium sized cars as well.
Ease of Use
This is the category where the Skybox Pro 16 really exceeds. Due to its high quality construction, the lid is easy enough to open and close with one hand. The Skybox's latch handle makes it much easier to pop open than the button on the Yakima Rocketbox Pro 14 or just turning the key on the Inno Racks Shadow. We also like the handy string that is attached to the lid of the box, making it easy to close for shorter people, which is also a feature found on our Best Buy winning Thule Sonic Large. The box conveniently opens on both sides and also has a handle on both sides for easy use. The handle makes it easy to see if it is securely closed. All of the roof boxes had their difficulties when they were stuffed to the max, and we noticed that the Skybox is difficult to pop open when we really stuffed it. We learned that we shouldn't over pack it. But, it can still handle a large load with a volume of 16 cubic feet, and even when we didn't stuff it to the max we were able to pack in food for 8 people on a 6 day backcountry trip.
Installation of the Skybox is relatively easy. It is the heaviest model we tested at 47 pounds, so it helps to have a second person to help you heave it on your roof racks. The Skybox has a hook and clamp mounting system that takes a bit of time to figure out, but once you get it set up, it is easy to mount on your racks. We prefer the preassembled clamp mounting systems that the Thule Sonic and Rhino Rack Master Fit 550 use, but the Skybox's thick hook and clamp mounting system seems solid once attached.
We put a lot of miles on this box, and really put its aerodynamic design to the test. The Skybox Pro rates in the middle of the pack as far as road noise. On the highway at speeds over 60MPH we always heard a bit of extra noise. As far as handling, sometimes we forgot we had it on our roof, (which can be dangerous when entering parking garages!) but sometimes we felt buffeted around in high winds. When driving around town we didn't hear any road noise or rattling, but driving on the highway with high crosswinds we noticed a lot of noise – but this probably would have happened in these conditions with any box. It is the heaviest model we tested, which could affect gas mileage – although this box will interact with each car model differently.
The Skybox seems like a very secure roof box. Its roof is very stiff and would be difficult to bend open. Its 3-point latching system makes it very apparent when it is closed properly. The handle snaps into place when all latches are closed. We never had any problems closing and locking this box.
This is a great road tripping roof box because it is so easy to use and has lots of space for your extra cargo. We trucked it all the way to Canada and back, and found it the perfect sidekick. You can pack in skis or bulky light items like sleeping bags for trips to the mountains. It can fit well and work on both small and large vehicles.
We think the Skybox Pro 16 is good value at $599. It is less expensive than the Rhino Rack Master Fit and the same price as the Inno Racks Shadow 16, but we think it is higher quality than both of those boxes, so more worth the expense.
The Yakima Skybox Pro 16 is our Editor's Choice Award winner because it is a high quality product and is the easiest roof box to use. We like the stiff lid, which makes it easy to operate with one hand, and think its latch handle is really useful. We like the look, style, and volume of this box for hauling all kinds of cargo.
There is a whole line of the Yakima Skybox Pro series in both "onyx" and "titanium" colors, from 12 to 21 cubic feet. They are listed below.
The Skybox Pro 12, $550, is smaller in size and less expensive. If you're looking for something bigger, check out the Skybox Pro 18, $650, or the Skybox Pro 21, $700.
— Jessica Haist
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Most recent review: March 28, 2015
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