I did a boat load of research for top of the car cargo racks before we landed at Yakima’s doors one afternoon last fall. I was spending more time in New York than California at the time, and we had already gotten a Yakima Bike Rack in for review (we love it btw) over the summer however I was open to other brands for a cargo rack — in other words, just because Yakima manufactured a top notch bike rack didn’t necessarily mean they’d do a stellar job with a cargo rack.
Given the car model and year we had, Yakima was one of only two options and since we had such a great experience the first time around, we thought, why not give Yakima another try?
The above shot was taken in rural Virginia towards the beginning of our cross country trek.
Yakima was a great choice as we later learned after traveling several thousand miles across country with two Yakima products in tow during January of this year. Even after putting one of their bike racks to the test over the summer, we extended its use on our cross country trip, where it continued to perform flawlessly.
Bottom line, their products rock when it comes to long term treks. A combination of their feature set, functionality, material quality and durability all make Yakima a perfect go-to brand for long haul travel. Introducing the Yakima SkyBox, a great solution for storage on your journey — I’d advise storing things in your SkyBox that you don’t readily need access to every day to avoid having to reshuffle things and repack at every stop.
Before we get into our journey where Yakima performed as advertised without a glitch across 14 states, let’s get into the nitty gritty, shall we?
We decided to go with the SkyBox 16 Carbonite, a mid sized solution given our packing needs. Remember that the boxes have weight limits as well, so going with a bigger box may not necessarily serve you if the load is too heavy for your car to handle. Be diligent here and check before setting up so you don’t have to deal with a safety issue several hundred miles into your trip.
The SkyBox 16 Carbonite boasts a new textured lid, touted as the next evolution of the SkyBox series. Versatile, yet sleek and aerodynamically designed, the latest model helps to reduce drag and wind noise. Once assembled, its well-designed latch makes it easy to open and close.
We opted to have it assembled professionally, largely due to lack of time before our trip and winter weather conditions on the East Coast in the heart of January. REI and other places can do it for you or as we were told by the folks at Yakima and from several reviews, assembly isn’t that complicated and there’s a video walking you through the steps, as well as this nifty instruction guide.
The strong durable material is worth boasting about since reliability is one of the key areas where the Yakima folks take pride. The SkyBox includes durable internal lid stiffeners, which add rigidity whereas the very cool SuperLatch ensures that extra security you so want when you’re on the road and changing destinations frequently.
The quick-release mounting hardware fits most crossbars although the Yakima site walks you through compatibility as soon as you land on their site – you simply type in your car model and year and it will tell you which products will work with your car and which ones won’t, making the selection process both handy and efficient.
The SkyBox is perfect for hauling gear for up to 3 campers and while we didn’t use it for sports gear, it’s great for snowboards and skis up to 180 cm. We chose to pack things into the SkyBox we didn’t need access to every day to avoid having to open it too much, however there is a dual-sided opening for easy access on either side of your car. The rear of the cargo box is also tapered for improved hatch clearance.
I mentioned safety above, which was an important factor for us considering the fact that we were planning to hit a number of urban cities in addition to our rural hit list. Yakima has an integrated SKS lock system, making it harder to tamper with. The 16 model, which is the one we toured with, is 16 cubic feet although it is also available in 12, 18, 21 and Lo sizes.
The Yakima SkyBox 16 was priced at around $479 at the time of writing this article. More information can be found at www.yakima.com. If you’d like to see some of our photos on social media throughout the course of our journey, check out #WBTWxAmerica on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You’ll see through our feeds how much we love Yakima products and we genuinely mean it! They perform as advertised – in other words, durability and reliability are core to their raison d’etre, which is an absolute must for a long journey. Did I mention the mileage?
Now for a l’il fun, shall we?
The Yakima SkyBox kinda became family on that long term journey, together with Vinny, the New York-born Pontiac the cargo box sat on for several thousand miles. Join me on a visual journey across America, where you’ll see Vinny, the Yakima SkyBox and bike rack, and us in full form against a myriad of different backdrops. Sometimes we were elated and invigorated, other times exhausted, hungry and spent. Regardless, we were resilient and Vinny and Yakima were part of our team and helped to make an otherwise tough trek, that much easier.
Above — Dunkin Donuts anyone? Along Bruckner Boulevard in New York City’s Bronx at the start of our journey.
Alongside the Road in Virginia.
More Rural Virginia.
Route 40 West, from Nashville to Memphis Tennessee.
In Front of the Madison Hotel in Memphis Tennessee, a great boutique hotel worth staying at when you hit Memphis. Check out my Madison Hotel review.
In the parking lot at Stax Museum in Memphis Tennessee.
Detour! About to cross the Mississippi State Line.
Inside the town of Clarksdale, Missisippi, home of the Delta Blues.
Heading West Out of Clarksdale Mississippi.
One of our goofier moments — you’ll see that our reliable ole Yakima rack isn’t very far away! A Selfie taken in rural Mississippi.
Inside Ouachita National Park in Arkansas
Discovering Serenity & Great Light in rural Arkansas.
Filling up the tank on the long road to Oklahoma.
Dusk has an eerie but beautiful presence in rural Oklahoma. Peaceful. Surreal. Alive. And, eventually calming after the afternoon Oklahoma winds subsided. Even our trusty Yakima and Vinny were able to unwind.
Finally, we hit the massive state of Texas.
We came across a few spots of snow on the ground in Northern Texas, even though we had relatively warm days.
A big state calls for silly selfie moments. Ever driven through Texas?
This Road is Lonnnnnggg, with many ‘a winding turns……did I mention that Texas seemed to go on forever?
But, finally we reached beautiful New Mexico, where we hung our hat for awhile.
The High Road to Taos New Mexico before we hit the snowstorm.
Oh yeah, then we hit snow — a lot of it and it came teaming down for two straight days. Yakima and Vinny kept going strong.
It started to clear as we were ready to leave New Mexico.
Heading from New Mexico to Arizona along Route 40.
Driving Through Arizona’s Petrified Forest and Painted Desert.
Side of the road as we made our way across the California border and through the dry heat of the Mohave Desert.
Heading South from Flagstaff Arizona.
Taking the scenic route from Holbrook to Sedona Arizona.
Alongside the road in Arizona.
That insanely mountainous road from Flagstaff to Sedona Arizona.
Even the cacti are hot – the Mohave Desert and beyond in Eastern California.
Making our way to the California Coastline.
About to leave Paso Robles in southern California.
Note: Yakima did provide the rack for our cross country journey, but I can assure you all opinions expressed are entirely my own. We LOVE Yakima products and have had nothing but positive experience with both the bike rack and the top of the car Yakima Skybox.