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Survival Gear Review: Rooftop Cargo Box

In any type of disaster situation, there is a chance that you will be forced to bug out.  If you end up bugging out, you will want to take as much food and supplies as your car or truck will carry.  An option for improving your carrying capacity is the Rooftop Cargo Box. 


These boxes provide several advantages for your bug out vehicle over the traditional “strap stuff to the roof” option.  The 1st thule-yakima-cargo-box-comparisonadvantage being that these boxes are weather proof.  The contents of your box are protected from rain, snow, sleet, and the sun.  The 2nd advantage is your contents are somewhat safe from thieves.  In a SHTF situation, if you have to leave your vehicle unattended for a period of time, these boxes provide an extra level of security over the back seat of your SUV or Truck.  While the trunk of a car would probably provide the best place for your gear, if you own an SUV or a Truck, these locked hard plastic boxes will deter a “smash and grab” of your gear and supplies.  If someone really wants to get in the box and they have time and tools, the box will not hold them back.  The 3rd  advantage to using these boxes is that they are aerodynamic.  While this is not a huge advantage, in a SHTF scenario every mile per gallon will count and with their sleek design, wind drag is reduced verses a traditional cargo bag on top of your car.  The 4th advantage to these boxes is that they are capable of opening on either side of the vehicle.  This is a nice feature that makes accessing equipment quick and easy for both sides of the car or truck.  The 5th advantage is that they hold a lot of gear!!!  Looks can be deceiving, these boxes look long and thin but at 21 cubic feet of storage, I have been able to pack 5 suitcases in my cargo box for road trips.

I have actually owned both brands of these boxes so I feel that I am uniquely qualified to review both of them.  I owned the Yakima Skybox 21 a few years ago and I now own the Thule Atlantis 2100.  These are the larger versions of the rooftop cargo boxes made by both of the respective companies.  They both add about 21 cubic square feet of cargo space to your vehicle.

My experience with the Yakima Skybox 21:

The overall useability of the Yakima Skybox was excellent.  Yakima has locking crossbars and a system where you could get the same yakima cargo box reviewkey for all of your locks (box & the cross bars).  The clamps that attach the skybox to the cross bars are very robust and easy to operate from inside the box.  I took the Yakima box on many camping trips and snowboarding excursions in the Northwestern United States and never had one problem with my gear getting exposed to the elements prior to me opening the box.  I really enjoyed using the Yakima box and felt it was a quality product.  The one painful experience I had with the Yakima Skybox was with a large sticker they put on the side of the box.  I am not sure what the deal was with this sticker but I tried every substance known to man to remove this sticker and ended up scratching up the side of the box.  I took the box back to REI and asked them if they could remove the sticker.  They took the box in the back and after an hour they came back and offered to give me my money back because they could not get the sticker off either.  I have never seen anything like it.  It seemed like the sticker was baked on to the side of the box.  They told me that they would report it to the Yakima rep and see if it was an ongoing issue.  I have not heard of anyone else having that same problem so it was probably either corrected or maybe I got a weird sticker.  Either way, I was irritated with the time I wasted trying to get it off and decided to get my money back go with another product.

My experience with Thule Atlantis 2100:

After my sticker experience with Yakima I decided to go with the Thule Atlantis 2100.  I have to say that I have been less thanthule rooftop cargo box review impressed with the Thule rooftop cargo box.  I have had a number of issues that may or may not be my fault but I expect my gear to be tough enough to with stand a few bumps and bruises.   The first issue I had was that I broke the key off in one side of my Thule box, so now I can only access gear from one side of the box and I only have one key.  I also dropped the box once while trying to put it on my SUV and one of the clamps broke that attaches to the cross bar.  I feel that the clamping system on the Yakima is superior to the Thule system which I feel is more fragile.  The next issue I had was with the “Effortless Opening System” on the Thule.  This is a system inside the box that assists you in opening the box and holds it open while you load your gear.  I can’t remember how I broke this system, but it broke and now have to use a 2 x 4 board to prop open my box.  Other people may have had a better experience than me with their Thule box and I will admit that I am tougher than most on my gear since I spend a lot of time in the mountains camping, hiking and snowboarding.  As for the quality of other Thule products, I also own a Thule trailer hitch bike rack for my mountain bike which has been great, no complaints.


These boxes can provide a ton of extra secure storage space for a SHTF event.  They are light weight and can be stored in a variety of rooftop cargo box reviewplaces.  They also come in handy for vacations, camping trips, moving, skiing and hauling items around that you don’t want in your car/suv.  These boxes may be the perfect solution for city dwellers who own smaller cars and are forced to flee with limited room for gear and supplies.

The Rooftop Cargo Box Review:


Element protection of your gear
21 cubic square ft of added cargo space
Modest security for your gear
Light weight and durable
They come in different sizes to suit your car and needs
Quick loading, you can literally throw things in


Expensive ($200 to $600)
The larger boxes can be awkward to mount by yourself
If overloaded they can make your vehicle top heavy (rollover danger)
Reduced fuel efficiency

Photos by:
SurvivalCache Team

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