SportRack Horizon Alpine Review
Cons: Not the easiest to install, less convenient
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SportRack Horizon Alpine
$449.95 at Amazon
|$829 List||$579 List||$660 List|
$559.99 at Amazon
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|Pros||Well-priced, decent looking, fits long skis and snowboards||Sleek, large capacity, dual-opening, flat bottom||Great value, easy to install, dual-opening||Relatively inexpensive, easy to attach, convenient to use||Simple design, lots of room, decent price|
|Cons||Not the easiest to install, less convenient||No integrated light, dedicated tool required for install||Limited to <170cm skis/boards, not the sleekest look||Won’t fit longer skis, longer crossbar spans can be problematic for install||Awkward rear opening, flimsy lid|
|Bottom Line||If you want to transport skis and snowboards on top of your car without spending a ton, this is a great option||If you are looking for a premium cargo box that's easy to use with plenty of room, this is our strong recommendation||If you are searching for a cargo box without busting your budget, then we highly recommend this option||If you are searching for a well-priced cargo box and don’t need to transport longer skis and boards, then this is a great option||This is a great value buy with a simple design and functional features|
|Rating Categories||SportRack Horizon A...||Yakima GrandTour 16||Yakima RocketBox Pr...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier||SportRack Vista XL|
|Ease of Use (40%)|
|Specs||SportRack Horizon A...||Yakima GrandTour 16||Yakima RocketBox Pr...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier||SportRack Vista XL|
|Weight||25 lbs||51.5 lbs||40 lbs||25 lbs||28 lbs|
|Volume||11 cu ft||16 cu ft||14 cu ft||14 cu ft||18 cu ft|
|Dimensions||88.75" x 21" x 15.75"||79" x 35" x 18"||74" x 33" x 16"||63" x 31" x 15"||63" x 38" x 19"|
|Additional Available Sizes||L (16 cu ft), XL (17 cu ft)||18 cu ft||Pro 11 (11 cu ft), Pro 12 (12 cu ft)||n/a||n/a|
|Maximum Ski Length||210 cm||180 cm||170 cm||140 cm||n/a|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The main benefit of the Horizon Alpine is its lower price compared to the premium models, so if you don't want to spend the equivalent of a new pair of skis on a top-of-the-line Thule or Yakima box, the Horizon Alpine is where it's at. Its 11 cubic feet of storage can hold up to six pairs of skis or three snowboards, up to 210cm in length. This sets the Alpine apart from most budget cargo boxes which are typically too short to hold any skis, boards, or other lengthy pieces of gear. Additionally, SportRack also produces an L and XL version of this box.
Ease of Use
Responsible for 40% of the final score for each tested cargo box, ease of use is our most significant testing metric. We ranked and scored each cargo carrier by how convenient and easy to use it is on a daily basis, as well as the amount of work required to install or remove it from your car. The Horizon Alpine delivered a relatively lackluster performance compared to the rest of the boxes in the review.
The Alpine comes essentially fully assembled right out of the box, but the installation process can be a bit of a pain. It uses a sort of hybrid system between a one-piece clamping system and U-bolts. You mount the metal mounting plates and one bolt while on the ground, then lift it onto your car to install the remaining bolts.
There are a series of holes drilled in the bottom of the Alpine to accommodate different crossbar spreads as well. Unfortunately, this adjustability provides plenty of places for water intrusion. SportRack does provide a set of vinyl stickers to cover the unused holes, but we wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable putting anything particularly moisture sensitive up there unless it had some additional water protection.
Installation for this box can be difficult to do solo, as holding a bolt in place on the bottom while tightening the nut can be quite a reach. It isn't too bad once you get the hang of it, and we removed the Alpine from the rack on a fairly tall vehicle and reinstalled it in 20-25 minutes without assistance. However, it took closer to an hour to install the box the first time since the directions weren't the clearest. We do appreciate that no additional tools are needed for the installation.
The lid on the Alpine only opens towards the passenger side, compared to the dual-action of the top models. It also lacks an internal light or any way to secure your cargo, so you will want to make sure you have some extra straps on hand and a headlamp when loading up. It does have a locking latch and a strap handle to help make it easier to close if you have it mounted on a taller vehicle.
We focused on the locking mechanism for our next metric. Specifically, we looked for locked/unlocked indicators, how easy the lock core was to use, and if you can remove the key with the cargo box unlocked. The Horizon Alpine again did just a bit better than average.
The lock core on the Horizon Alpine is fairly run-of-the-mill, lacking any additional handles or indicators. It feels decently solid and easy to turn, relying on a much more typical key than many other boxes, which have a large plastic handle molded right onto the key. It is a little less comfortable to turn, but the design is a bit more compact on your key ring.
As we prefer, it is impossible to remove the key while the box is unlocked, making it hard to forget to lock the box and essentially impossible to lock your keys inside of it. However, we wouldn't want to leave valuables in the Horizon Alpine for long periods, as it wouldn't take that much work to break in — but this is true for many non-premium boxes.
In this metric, we awarded points based on our overall impressions of the design and construction of each box, how floppy the lid felt, and how much wear and tear it sustained throughout our testing process. The Horizon Alpine again failed to compare to the premium products, but it still fared decently.
The actual box of the Horizon Alpine seems comparable to the vast majority of other rooftop cargo boxes we have tested. It has approximately the same wall thickness and level of rigidity. We also liked that the matte finish does a little better job of concealing scratches and scuffs than the glossy finish of some of its competitors. The mounting hardware also seems solid, though it is a little disconcerting when tightening the nuts down, as there isn't any indication of how tight to go. The bottom of the box starts to deform if you go overly tight, but you obviously want them to be tight enough to ensure the box and your gear stay attached to the car.
We did notice that the lid on the Alpine is a little floppy compared to some of the other models. It has the benefit of being one of the narrowest cargo boxes, but there is still enough play in the lid that you need to be careful when closing the box to ensure the internal locking mechanism is lined up.
We graded the looks of each cargo carrier for our final metric. While none of these products are all that stylish, there are definite differences in appearance and design, with some being far more visually appealing than others. We had multiple judges give their opinion on this highly subjective metric, aggregating and averaging their inputs to determine scores. The Alpine fared quite well in this metric.
The Horizon Alpine is one of the more plain-looking boxes of the bunch, but it was generally well-received by our judges. Its minimalistic design, paired with its long and narrow aspect ratio, matches the lines of most cars fairly well, aided by the matte finish. You might not be making heads turn with the Alpine on your car, but it's far from being an eyesore.
The SportRack Horizon Alpine is a great value, accomplishing the same basic task as other products that cost two or three times more.
If you are shopping for a cargo carrier on a tight budget, then the Horizon Alpine should definitely be on your shortlist of products to consider. It has all the basic features you could ask for and can transport skis and snowboards, all while costing considerably less than the premium products. It might not be the best bet if you constantly take your cargo box on and off your car or want the most features, but it's hard to find a better option than the Alpine for a budget-conscious shopper.
— David Wise
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