Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The SkyBox Carbonite is a good buy. You can expect exceptional value, especially compared to the more expensive boxes on the market. The opening/closing handle is one of the best we tested, and the matte black finish is one of our favorite looks. The main downside we found with the SkyBox is the mounting system. If you plan to mount the box and leave it, we bet you'll quickly forget about the annoying twenty minutes you spent mounting it and will spend months enjoying all the great other features, including the cash you saved over the premium models.
Ease of Use
We love the handle of the SkyBox and found it extremely easy to open and close, a key factor in its enjoyment score as we packed for a big climbing trip. The box came fully assembled, which we were grateful for, but we were less than impressed with its mounting system. Despite being familiar with the system after testing similar products, we were still left frustrated. The directions given with the box are difficult to understand, and we had to turn to the Yakima website for an instructional video to understand the multi-tiered approach. Compared to a U-bolt system, this one is significantly easier, but compared to unibody clamps, we were a little disappointed. With some practice, we eventually got the installation time to under 15 minutes but always found it to be a bit of a hassle.
This cargo carrier is also available in a couple of smaller volumes than the one we tested. There's a 12 cubic foot option and a low profile 15 cubic foot model — both of which can still fit skis up to 215cm. And if you want to go bigger, there's also an 18 and 21 cubic foot option.
The mounting system for the Skybox includes two thumbwheels and a big, sturdy lever. We weren't instinctively sure which of these three things to do in what order, and it took some playing around to find the right level of tightness for the thumbwheels. Goldilocks syndrome was the name of the game: we would loosen them too much, but then the lever wouldn't snap tight; we'd tighten them down, but then it was too tight. Snapping down a too-tight lever also left the box extremely difficult to remove from the car. That said, many people who use roof boxes install them once and leave them there for a long time. In this case, the savings may be worth the one-time annoying install, especially since the rest of the features of this box scored marks almost as high as the top products overall.
Once we got the box on our tester's car, the SkyBox started to shine. We love its latch handle, which is easy to turn and click. The handle pops open the lid, which is both sturdy and easy to open due to the big lip that overlaps the bottom of the box. This is one of the sturdiest of any in our test, and we thought it above-average in simplicity and elegance (if a cargo box can be elegant).
As a full-time road tripper, our main tester was understandably worried about leaving her beloved skis and climbing gear in the Skybox while away on overnight missions. The locking mechanisms left us confident, though, and by the end of testing, we felt completely comfortable trusting in the box's security.
One of the things we appreciate about the SkyBox is how easy it is to tell if the box is properly latched or not. The big, beefy handle stays tilted until perfectly latched. Like most of the boxes we tested, the key cannot be removed until the box is latched and locked, but we especially like the clear "click" the SkyBox makes to let you know you've closed it right. With the help of the big handle, we can tell from a glance if the box is locked or not, a nice feature that adds to our sense of confidence in the security of our belongings.
For this metric, we looked at how well each cargo box could withstand time and weather. We drove around in harsh conditions and waited out numerous rainstorms watching movies while the SkyBox kept our beloved gear safe and dry above. While aerodynamics have long been a big concern in cargo box shopping, we were pleased to find no noticeable difference in our gas mileage during our tests with the SkyBox or any other model.
Against the elements, the SkyBox is superb. Yakima's mounting system has no openings in the box, leaving us completely confident in its waterproofness. One evening, we sat through a big wind storm on the Eastside of the Sierra and thought we could hear the box bumping around. When we peeked our heads out, however, we could see that the only movement came from the flexing factory roof bars themselves; the SkyBox was undoubtedly solid. We should note that since the manufacturer doesn't claim full waterproofness for this box, it would be smart to take extra precautions for your electronics, just in case.
The construction materials of the SkyBox are top-of-the-line, and we love how easy to open and close it is due to its sturdy lid. While it doesn't feel quite as thick as some of the burliest products, we were still able to open the box with one hand. Its hinges and locks feel on par with the rest of the boxes in this review. The handle is high quality, burly, and firm. We have no doubts that this box can be with you for ages, but if you don't believe us, Yakima offers a lifetime warranty as long as it remains with the original owner.
We know, we know: all the boxes in this review look pretty similar. At highway speeds, you may not even be able to tell one box from the other. But we know looks matter, and we love this box's matte black finish and timeless finish. Marketed for its aerodynamic properties, we generally like the slightly less flashy but equally classy look of the matte, and the textured finish hides dead bugs and minor scratches easier.
We think this box is an exceptional value for its price. While its performance is light years ahead of the cheaper boxes, it is also nearly on par with the most expensive ones. The SkyBox provides excellent user-friendliness, cool style, and long-lasting confidence. Taking the box on and off the car may not be quite as easy, but we think this can be overlooked if performed rarely.
We feel the Yakima SkyBox Carbonite is a solid cargo box that won't disappoint. Its ergonomic handle is easy to open while also letting you know if the box is latched properly or not. The matte black is our favorite look of any box, and we were impressed by its durability and solid construction. While not without its quirks, the mounting system is significantly easier to use than the cheaper boxes in this review, so unless you take this box on and off your car every weekend, we can wholeheartedly recommend this product.
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