Benefits of a Cargo Box
As road-trips became more frequent this past year, and the distance driven became longer, I found my family craving more space, organization, and a true system for hitting the road. After one long-haul drive in particular, where overnight bags became buried under all the camping gear, snacks got lost in the shuffle, and every single pit stop comprised constant rummaging for missing items, I decided it was time to leave this cramped, chaotic lifestyle behind.
Enter a cargo box. Those domed carriers I previously had associated only with the avid skiers, golfers, and intense campers, soon became the most welcome addition to our family. The extra storage offered by the box not only meant a much more comfortable interior, but also an organized, less chaotic ride, with our luggage and gear organized throughout the whole trip. Days of spending hours putting together our packing puzzle, let alone rummaging in the trunk at every stop. Now we’re able to hit the road with only what we need within arm's reach, the rest safely stowed away up top.
What do I need to know when picking out a cargo box?
Once we decided we were ready to upgrade our road trip storage and organization game, we were eager to find the cargo box best fit to our needs. A few key considerations shaped our decision:
- How we’ll be using the cargo box: while our primary aim was to increase storage for general road trips, we also wanted flexibility for potential future camping and beach adventures. We did not anticipate needing to tote any extremely long gear such as golf clubs or skis, so we knew we’d have flexibility when picking box size. For those planning to carry heavier items, be sure to check the recommended maximum load for your vehicle.
- Gear capacity: since we weren’t as concerned about length of the box, we searched by gear capacity, which is simply equal to the width and height of the box. We found that for 4 people, a 453-liter gear capacity box should be more than enough space to carry everything we need for even a more involved trip.
- Vehicle fit: the most important measurements we needed before ordering were hatch clearance and how the box fits on our roof rails and cross bars. For the first measurement, we first moved our crossbars as far forward as we could. Without adjustable cross-bars, this would be very difficult. Then, we measured from the center of our front crossbar to the open back hatch, ultimately comparing that number to clearance information listed on the roof box of choice.
Tips for installing the cargo box
The day before our big Thanksgiving road trip, our cargo box arrived at our door. We were eager to start packing so we headed to the driveway immediately. While our Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box came with instructions, the first major step was to ensure our cross bars were in the right position. We measured the length of the box fasteners, and then adjusted our cross bars to that position.
- We then followed the manual to attach the top of the box to the bottom.
- Once assembled, we (recommend this as a two-person job!) placed the box on top of our vehicle to center it on our roof rails and cross bars.
- Once we were happy with the position, we followed the rest of the instructions to securely fasten the box.
This is by no means an exhaustive guide, but our big takeaway was to plan for enough time for the assembly before a trip. The process in total took around 2 hours, after which point, we needed a break before actually packing the vehicle!