Yakima RocketBox Pro 14 Review
Cons: Limited to <170cm skis/boards, not the sleekest look
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Yakima RocketBox Pro 14
|Price||$579 List||$699.95 at Backcountry|
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$559.99 at Amazon
$449.95 at Amazon
|Pros||Great value, easy to install, dual-opening||Simple installation, sleek matte finish, great shape for skis||Great handle, cool appearance, less expensive||Relatively inexpensive, easy to attach, convenient to use||Well-priced, decent looking, fits long skis and snowboards|
|Cons||Limited to <170cm skis/boards, not the sleekest look||Clunky shape, inconvenient handle||Frustrating installation with finicky cam clamps||Won’t fit longer skis, longer crossbar spans can be problematic for install||Not the easiest to install, less convenient|
|Bottom Line||If you are searching for a cargo box without busting your budget, then we highly recommend this option||This is an above-average product that is very spacious and easy to use||An exceptional value because of its top-notch user friendly design and sleek good looks||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||If you want to transport skis and snowboards on top of your car without spending a ton, this is a great option|
|Rating Categories||Yakima RocketBox Pr...||Thule Force XT XL||Yakima SkyBox 16 Ca...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier||SportRack Horizon A...|
|Ease of Use (40%)|
|Specs||Yakima RocketBox Pr...||Thule Force XT XL||Yakima SkyBox 16 Ca...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier||SportRack Horizon A...|
|Weight||40 lbs||47 lbs||47 lbs||25 lbs||25 lbs|
|Volume||14 cu ft||18 cu ft||16 cu ft||14 cu ft||11 cu ft|
|Dimensions||74" x 33" x 16"||84.5" x 36" x 17"||81" x 36" x 15"||63" x 31" x 15"||88.75" x 21" x 15.75"|
|Additional Available Sizes||Pro 11 (11 cu ft), Pro 12 (12 cu ft)||Sport (11 cu ft), L (16 cu ft), and XXL (22 cu ft)||Lo, 12 cu ft, 18 cu ft, and 21 cu ft||n/a||L (16 cu ft), XL (17 cu ft)|
|Maximum Ski Length||170 cm||200 cm||185cm||140 cm||210 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The RocketBox Pro 14 is a bit smaller and — we feel — has an overall appearance that is slightly less sleek and stylish than some of the premium options. It has a matte, dimpled texture instead of the smooth, high-gloss surfaces of many competitors. However, we feel this surface helps conceal dirt, scrapes, and scuffs better. While this box has a lot of space, it might not be the best if you routinely transport extra-long pieces of gear, given its shorter interior length.
Ease of Use
This metric encompasses how convenient it is to use each cargo box for carrying gear and how difficult the installation and removal process are. The RocketBox Pro 14 did quite well in this regard, earning an above-average score for its user-friendly features and relatively painless installation process. However, we noticed a few things we felt could be improved upon.
The RocketBox Pro 14 is fairly easy to install, with a tool-free system that uses four clamps. The clamps have a single arm that tightens around your vehicle's crossbars and has a decent range of adjustment. That said, the single-arm system can make it more difficult to install if you have larger crossbars, particularly third-party or generic square bars, as you have to open the clamps close to their limit to fit them around the bar.
The internal part of the clamp has a pair of fasteners with plastic knobs. One is used to adjust the forward/back position of the entire clamp assembly, and the second is used to tighten the clamp arm around the crossbar. To install the cargo box, you loosen both knobs until the clamp arm can slide over the crossbar and the assembly moves freely, then slide the clamps into position around the crossbars, lock them in place, then tighten the clamp arms the appropriate amount.
We like that the installation process is tool-free, and the clamps are a single piece, making it much easier than other models' U-bolt and plastic knob systems. The internal portion of the clamps also maintains a relatively low profile, though the pair of knobs can catch straps or handles when loading gear. One aspect of this installation system that we didn't like is that it can be a little hard to determine how tight each plastic knob should be. The installation manual states a specified amount of torque for each one, but there is no mechanical clutch or integrated indicator to let you know when they are sufficiently tight. In general, we found the installation and removal process took around 10-15 minutes once we got the hang of it, mainly by learning how loose the clamp arm knob had to be to fit over our test crossbars.
When it comes to actually using the RocketBox Pro, it has all the critical convenience features we expect from a high-end cargo box. The 14 cubic feet of storage can usually accommodate the gear needs of 2-3 people for a trip with a medium-sized car, and it can house items up to 170 cm long. Unfortunately, this probably isn't the cargo box for you if you are planning on transporting longer downhill or XC skis.
The Pro 14 can be opened from both sides, a feature that we would be hard-pressed to live without after getting used to it. The lid opens and closes quite easily, without a ton of effort required to align any locking tabs or mechanisms. However, there isn't much of a handle to open and close the lid, just the raised lip running along the entire edge.
For this metric, we looked at the locking system, opening and closing mechanism, and the lid's overall rigidity — focusing on how easily we thought the box could be pried open. Now, don't get us wrong; we are quite sure that a dedicated thief could probably break into all of these cargo boxes given enough time and the proper tools. We recommend you consider this when deciding what to leave in your cargo carrier, where you park, and how long you will be gone. Fortunately, the RocketBox Pro 14 instilled more confidence in us regarding its security than most, earning it a solid score.
This cargo box has a lock on both sides, with a fairly typical key system. Yakima offers similar lock cores on many of their cargo boxes and racks, allowing you to create a single-key system, replacing the cores to all work with the same key.
The latching mechanism is activated by a single red button on either side, with a noticeable click when engaged or disengaged. We like how solid the latching/hinge system combination feels, as this gives us some confidence that the cargo box would be fairly resistant to being pried open. Like many cargo boxes, the key can't be removed when unlocked, preventing you from forgetting the box is unlocked.
For our quality metric, we scored and compared how impressed we were with the overall build quality of each product. We did our best to put these products through the wringer, driving in inclement weather and packing them to the brim with gear. Points were awarded based on how sturdy and rigid the lid for each box is, how well it handled our abuse, and if there were any component failures or other damage. The RocketBox Pro 14 continued to do quite well in this regard, earning a solid score for its quality performance.
This cargo box didn't suffer any significant damage throughout our rough and tumble testing — only some cosmetic scrapes and scratches. The lid is quite rigid and never presented much of an issue with the latching mechanisms failing to align. We also like that the dimpled texture and the more matte finish do a better job of hiding cosmetic blemishes and dirt than some of the glossy finishes, though the dimples can make it a bit harder to clean.
While appearance can be a highly subjective metric, we did score each rooftop cargo carrier on some common factors. Mainly, we looked at the overall profile and how each cargo box looked on different cars. The RocketBox Pro 14 did decently well in this metric but was far from the top performer.
Our judges found this box to have a less sleek profile. It looks more stubby, particularly when compared side-by-side to the premium offerings. It still looks fine overall; we feel it's a bit plain.
Overall, we think this roof box is a great value. It offers all the critical features that we would want while costing considerably less than the high-end models.
If you are searching for a top-tier cargo carrier without paying top-tier prices, then we highly recommend the Yakima RocketBox Pro 14. It's convenient and easy to use, with an easy installation and removal process. It feels secure and well-made and doesn't look too shabby, even if it isn't the most stylish or sleek option we have seen. It's a great option for someone looking for a no-nonsense cargo carrier that won't break the bank.
— David Wise
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