When we started out this review, there were three clear competitions: the cheap, short and stumpy Thule SideKick versus the SportRack Vista; the mid-range, matte black Thule Force versus the Yakima SkyBox Carbonite; and finally the glossy, high-end Thule Motion XT versus the Yakima ShowCase. We wondered if their scores would align with their price tags, but we were stumped when it came to the ShowCase. With the second highest retail price of any of the six boxes in our review, we genuinely liked the mid-range boxes better, not just in terms of their value. Regardless of price, we found quite a few things that we didn't like about the ShowCase, including a difficult mounting system and frustrating handle-less design, and though still scoring higher than the two smaller, $300 roof boxes, we have a hard time recommending the ShowCase over its competitors.
Yakima ShowCase 15 Review
Cons: Expensive, frustrating installation, hard to open and close
#5 of 7
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
As we've said before, the devil is in the details for this review. Since every box we tested would effectively move your things from one place to another, we looked to the finer points of each product to make detailed comparisons. We really like the look of the ShowCase, but it pretty much stops there. With no handle, a difficult-to-press button, and a frustrating mounting system, we were generally disappointed with this product and would much more highly recommend our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Motion XT.
Ease of Use
For this category, we were mainly concerned with assembly, mounting, and opening/closing. Interestingly, each product we tested had very difficult systems for each, making it easy to draw comparisons. The ShowCase requires no assembly, but its mounting system and lack of opening and closing ease were baffling to our testers. With the same mounting system as the SkyBox Carbonite, we were originally pleased: compared to the U-bolt systems of the cheaper models, this installation was a breeze. The directions were confusing, yes, and it did take us a little longer than expected, sure. But what an improvement, we thought. That is, until we tested the Thule boxes. The mounting system found on both the Force and Motion XT is leaps and bounds easier than that of the ShowCase or SkyBox.
Once we figured Yakima's mounting system out, it wasn't so bad, but at least we knew exactly what to do with the simple U-bolt systems of the SideKick and SportRack. We read and re-read the directions and found it pretty difficult to install on anything but the tiniest of cars. We needed to have two hands on, compared to the one-handed install of the Thule boxes, and this was hard to do while installing the box on a big car. While we wouldn't go as far as to say it is a horrible system, it is significantly more frustrating than that of the Thule boxes and left us feeling generally confusing and disappointed, especially for similarly priced products.
We didn't mention weight in any of the other reviews, but while the three other "long and lean" models all weigh in between 42 and 47 pounds, the ShowCase is a whopping 56, making it significantly more difficult to mount, especially if you have to lift it above your head. The woes continued once the box was mounted. We liked that the turning of the key and the pressing of the unlatch button was two different actions, but the button itself was difficult to press and we had a hard time unlatching the box. And once the box was "unlatched" via the button, we still couldn't open it! Because of the lack of handle and the glossy finish, we found ourselves needing to pinch the edge of the box to open and close it. We were stumped. Closing the box, unfortunately, wasn't any easier, as the lack of handle forced us to push down on the very top of the lid to get it to latch which was difficult because of both reach and materials.
We drove this box up and down the beautiful 395 corridor on a spring skiing and climbing adventure and found it completely unscathed. Like the other products in this review, we didn't hear it rumble or whisper once, our gas mileage was unaffected, and it suffered not a scratch (though there were quite a few dead bugs on the front).
Through rain and wind, the ShowCase was unaffected. There isn't a single hole in the box for water to seep into, and no water test could possibly get your belongings wet. If your main concern is that your beloved gear stays warm and dry, you won't be disappointed with the ShowCase's performance. We should note, though, that since Yakima's won't claim complete waterproofness, neither we will, and it would be wise to store your electronics in a drybag before putting them on your roof. Despite feeling burly and thick, the plastic lid is actually floppier than we expected it to be compared to its competitors. We occasionally had a hard time lining up the lid to latch it properly, and its floppiness made us concerned about its durability.
Because all four "long and lean" models in this review had adequate security systems, we extended this category to include every aspect of the system, little details and all. We would have no doubts trusting the ShowCase to keep our things secure — once we got the lid latched, that is. Other than that, we found the button and key system annoying in relation to its competitors.
While we liked that the opening of the ShowCase is two steps, we didn't like that you can't tell at a glance if the box is latched or not. While the Editors' Choice Award-winning Motion XT reverberates a satisfying click when it latches and has a bright red indicator strip, letting you know your things are secure, the ShowCase has no such thing. We noticed that we had to press down harder on the top of the box to latch it due to the lack of a handle. Generally speaking, we were unimpressed with the finer details of the ShowCase, including its locking mechanisms.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: looks matter. While we know you're looking for performance over appearance, if two boxes score exactly the same in our functionality tests, wouldn't you pick the better-looking one? We couldn't help but include appearance as a small part of our scoring, and this is one area where the ShowCase excelled.
We did prefer the matte black looks of the Force and SkyBox, but we can't deny that the ShowCase is sleek. Available in classic black and gray, we thought it looked timeless and classy — potentially even too nice for our lead tester's old van! We gave it extra points for being one of two boxes available in more than one color. The ShowCase is a crowd stopper-- we just wish its performance matched its looks.
Despite not being a terrible product, we have a hard time recommending the ShowCase out of this stiff lineup. Its expensive price, annoying design, and frustrating mounting system leave us unable to come up with a reason to pick this box, unless you scored a screaming deal on it.
As the second most expensive box in this review, we're a little puzzled. We expected tough competition with the Motion XT and found none. Truthfully, we liked the less expensive SkyBox and even the Force more, making this the only box in this review whose price seems out of line. While not a completely disastrous product, we'd gladly take it off your hands for, say, $300, but its $699 price tag feels unjustified. We do admit that it's a better product than either the SideKick or the SportRack, but for more than double the price, we simply can't put in a good word for it.
The ShowCase found itself in a disappointing fourth place out of a six, and its expensive price tag was unmatched by its inferior performance. Between the lack of handle, hard-to-press button, and confusing mounting system, the only thing we really liked about this box was its sleek look.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 14, 2017
Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...