Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite Review

Gear capacity:

16 cu. ft.


47 lbs.

What we like:

Extremely versatile design, quality build, and competitive price.

What we don’t:

Stiff latch can be a challenge to open; can’t accommodate tall items.



Gear Capacity and Interior Space

There’s a variety of cargo boxes and shapes available We’ve come across an item called the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite is the perfect fit in terms of gear capacity and versatility to be used in all seasons. Its compact size can be fitted to most vehicles It also the capacity to hold a lot of camping gear for four people with a big tent with sleeping bags, sleeping pads and even stove (plus a child’s Strider bicycle). It was a bit of a challenge to pack however, it holds an incredible quantity (especially when it comes to items that have soft sides and are easily compressible). For winter use, the box effortlessly takes in skis and snowboards. Yakima lists the maximum size at 185 centimeters. However, I’m able confirm that it’s only long enough to hold two 182-centimeter mountain skis that are all-mountain, as well as snowboard. It’s important to note that for those who have bigger vehicles and the need to carry more gear. Yakima provides the SkyBox with larger capacities of 21 and 18 cubic feet. (Switchback’s founder purchased the SkyBox 21 for a large household move).


The most important thing to bear in mind when using SkyBox 16 SkyBox 16 is its aerodynamic design limits the amount of cargo you can carry to things that are low-profile. It’s ideal for camping gear however, it’s only 15 inches high at its highest (and these are the dimensions on the outside) and it’s a little lower toward the front. This means that you’ll have issues stacking items that are tall (like camping chairs) or particularly tall (some strollers with large wheels that are 16 inches wide won’t work). Additionally the four levers that are raised which secure the box to the crossbars on your vehicle can take up some space in the interior, and prevent it from remaining flat. It also affects what you can put inside, but it’s not a major breaker, and we’ve been extremely satisfied by the volume of equipment the SkyBox can accommodate.


Box Dimensions and Weight

The dimensions of roof boxes is a crucial consideration. You need to ensure that it won’t hinder your vehicle’s rear hatch. This is among the most significant benefits of SkyBox 16. SkyBox 16. It’s a good size to be 6’9 inches long, which is enough to hold the majority of skis and a decent amount of equipment, but with the ability to move the clamps forward and backward the box, it can be used with a range of cars. I’ve not had any problems with fit with the Volkswagen Alltrack, but to ensure that it fits it, take measurements from the front crossbar to the nearest contact point of the hatch ( Yakima has a useful tool to help you nail this measurement down). Also, we mentioned the height in the previous paragraph, however with fifteen inches (interior dimensions are 1 inch lower) however, it comes with some restrictions on the amount of stuff that can fit inside. Its 36-inch width can be used with narrow vehicles such as my Alltrack and gives you the option of adding accessories such as bicycle racks on vehicles with more wide cross bars.


When it comes to weight SkyBox 16 weighs in at 47 pounds. SkyBox 16 clocks in at 47 pounds. In addition to the size of the box you should move the box in conjunction with the help of a companion (more about the subject further in ” Installation and Removal” below). The weight is something to keep in mind when choosing a rack system — whether made by the manufacturer or an aftermarket retailer, as and your particular vehicle has weight restrictions. However, at 47 pounds the SkyBox offers plenty of space to carry fairly heavy objects (for comparison the size of my Thule rack can hold about 165 pounds, while my car’s roof is classified for the same).

Cargo Box Access and Security

One benefit of choosing an expensive or mid-priced box is the ease of access to the inside. For instance, with this model, the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite that means you are able to open it from passenger or driver part of your vehicle. Both come with identical handles and lock mechanisms that are integrated, allowing users to effortlessly take small items off or put them in that you’ve stored inside the interior’s nooks, and crannies. The box is able to be opened in a clamshell and has ample space to allow for the removal of large objects. To close the box, every side is a string that hangs to the middle, which you can pull when the box can’t be reached due to its height and is hard to reach.

A minor issue with access is that we discovered the latches to be relatively rigid and require a strong upward push to unlock. In some ways, this is comforting–the box appears to be well built, and the latches are holding up well so far, but we’d like to see less effort. The SkyBox comes with an assortment of SKS keys that are needed to open the box, and can’t be taken away until it’s been completely sealed and closed. This can be a controversial feature. If you store keys on a bigger ring, all of them is connected to the box and left on the street until you shut it down. However, the SkyBox does offer a decent level of security, and will ensure that you have closed the box properly before you leave.


Weather Resistance

Over the course of three years of usage the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite has endured everything from 100+ degrees temperatures to pounding snow and rain storms, and hasn’t let up or fail. Yakima says that the box is water-proof, and I would consider it to be on the upper end of the scale. The lip of the sides of the box extend over the seams when it opens. This means that water is able to flow across the top. Its latch hasn’t been any weakness, neither. On the other hand the inside isn’t the most comfortable when exposed to direct heat. The lack of openings for air to escape along with the black finish ensures that a lot of hot air escapes when you open the door after a drive on a sunny day. Overall, it’s an insignificant issue I’m pleased with the protection all around.

Road Noise and Aerodynamics

One of the most frequent concerns when you strap an enormous box onto the roof of the car is the effect it has on road noise and also a significant increase in the gas mileage. The great thing about purchasing a high-quality product such as SkyBox SkyBox is that the effects are minimal. The exterior may not have the luxurious look of a model, like Yakima’s GrandTour 16 However, the dimpled design and shape (with an lowered front end) make it a sturdy performance.

From road noise to the differences between the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack with and without the box is very minimal. On windless roads it’s very little or no difference. If it’s a bit windy there’s a howling sound that comes from wind (particularly the cross-winds) However it’s not so loud that I often forget the box is in the middle. If you’re worried about aerodynamics, or fitting into garage space, you can select a smaller design such as the Yakima SkyBox The Lo (11.5 in. maximum height) however, that design has a few drawbacks, including car hatch compatibility as well as storage space for gear (more about that later in ” The Competition” below).


It’s the same thing that is true for the fuel efficiency of your car If there’s not much wind, the effect is extremely small. While my experiments aren’t completely scientific, I’ve re-run similar two to four-hour routes on major and two-lane highways across Washington state, including over mountain passes. I’ve noticed only slight dips in the average mileage. When it’s particularly windy the mileage will range from between 1 and three miles for each gallon less when the conditions are milder, but it’s enough that you don’t notice a significant difference.

Build Quality and Durability

Let’s cut to the meat of the matter Cargo roof boxes can be expensive products. With a price of $679 The SkyBox 16 falls at the middle of the market and its overall quality is evident in that. It’s not as sleek as the stylish design of high-end model like The GrandTour ($779) as well as Thule’s motion XT L ($800) which sport high-end paint finishes, however everything is made well and constructed to last. The sides of the plastic are robust enough to stand up to the elements and, as I stated earlier, I’ve not had any problems with the weather protection. I’ve had the SkyBox placed on top of my car for a few years and only taken it off for short periods of time (I put my vehicle in the garage and my regional weather patterns in central Washington state can vary from being desert-like in summer to a snowy winter. winter). In all I’m not concerned regarding its longevity and SkyBox is a good investment. SkyBox comes with an unbeatable lifetime warranty (wear and tear excluded).


Installation and Removal

Initial setup for your Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite is as simple as it gets , with no tools needed. I purchased mine at the REI store, took it from the packaging and was able to put it in my car within a few minutes. To install it, you’ll need to raise the lid , and make sure that all four internal levers are fully open (you’ll notice the clamps on the bottom extend to accommodate bar cross-bars). With another person, you simply lift the boxand walk towards your vehicle with the car facing forward (the open clamps will make the position clear) and place the box directly before the bars. After that, you’ll be able to move the clamps (they’re very adjustable) over the bars, and secure them by flipping the four clamps over. For those who are visual learners there are a variety of high-quality videos created by Yakima and other online retailers. Removing it is as simple as reversing the procedure, and it’s equally easy. But there’s someone else to assist you get it off.


Cross Bar Compatibility

In contrast to the past, crossbar compatibility is not an issue for the latest roof-mounted roofboxes. For SkyBox, cross bar compatibility is not an issue. SkyBox, Yakima claims its open clamps can be used with its rack systems (round as well as aerodynamic) as well as the bars from the manufacturer of the vehicle, as well as square bars (commonly used with the entry-level Thule set). My vehicle was equipped with Thule’s AeroBlade system and, while the fit guide doesn’t specifically state that it’s functional however, the SkyBox fits perfectly. It’s best to consult the fitting guide before purchasing the item, and we strongly recommend taking the time to go through the process of determining whether there’ll be any possible hatch interference.

Other Capacities of the Yakima SkyBox

We tried the 16 cubic-foot model of Yakima SkyBox Carbonite, and it comes in 12-18 and 21 models based on the amount of storage you require. We found that the 16-cubic-foot model to almost perfect for our needs with regard to gear however, the 15-inch peak height (about 14 inches. to the inside) was quite limited for stacking objects over items that are large or tall. We recommend moving up to 18 inches (peak height: 16 inches.) (or 21 (18 inches.) model. Then, Yakima offers the SkyBox with the model called the Lo Carbonite version priced at $649. It is slimmer and more substantial than the one that we tested at 11.5 inches high and seven feet eight inches in length (more about this in the following).


Sustainability: Recycled Materials

Roof boxes aren’t generally recognized for their emphasis on environmental sustainability, however Yakima added a new dimension with SkyBox 16 Carbonite. SkyBox 16 Carbonite by making use of recycled materials during the production process. Particularly, the box makes use of the highest percentage of recycled ABS in its construction (as do the other models that are part of SkyBox). SkyBox range). With the amount of plastic used to build the roof of a box, it’s a nice thing to see, and also an option you don’t see on their main competitor (Thule).

What We Like

  • The design is perfect for use in all seasons It’s a size that can fit in most cars with plenty of space for large camping equipment and skis. equipment.
  • Accessible by the passenger and driver sides.
  • Setup is simple, without tools, and removal.
  • The impact of road noise and the gas mileage aren’t too bad. In fact, I frequently overlook that my box sits located on my roof.

What We Don’t

  • A stiff latch may be difficult to open.
  • Aerodynamic shape and a relatively small maximum height of 15 inches limit the items you can transport to items that have a low profile.
  • It doesn’t have the sleek design of a premium roof box such as Yakima’s GrandTour and Thule’s Motion XT (although for the cost SkyBox is a great value). SkyBox is extremely well-built).


Comparison Table

Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite $679 16 cu. ft. 185cm 47 lbs. 15 in. 6 ft. 9 in.
Thule Force XT L $700 16 cu. ft. 175cm 41 lbs. 18 in. 6 ft. 2.75 in.
Thule Pulse L $600 16 cu. ft. 181cm 36 lbs. 16.5 in. 6 ft. 4 in.
Yakima SkyBox Lo Carbonite $649 16 cu. ft. 215cm 52 lbs. 11.5 in. 7 ft. 8 in.
Yakima GrandTour 16 $779 16 cu ft. 180cm 51 lbs. 8 oz. 18 in. 6 ft. 7 in.
INNO Wedge 665 $700 14.1 cu. ft. ~182cm 51 lbs. 12.9 oz. 15.7 in. 6 ft. 8 in.

The Competition

Yakima’s SkyBox 16 offers an impressive combination of capacity as well as ease of installation and off-road performance. Thule’s ForceXT will be the closest SkyBox competition and is comparable in terms of carrying capacity at 16 cubic feet. It comes with key features like dual access as well as an aerodynamic shape as well as being quick and simple to set up and take down. What makes the two models different is in the dimensions: The Force is higher, with an 18-inch top height (the SkyBox is 15 in.) but shorter at 6 feet 2.75 inches (6.25 in. smaller that it is Yakima). This means that the Force is only available on skis that measure 175 centimeters longer this could be a problem for those who use larger skis (myself including myself). Thule Thule is also higher priced at $700, but its plastic-like appearance isn’t as elegant as SkyBox’s. SkyBox (although it’s an individual preference). I personally think the SkyBox’s shape is the winner and both are well-made and beautifully designed designs from the top brands of roof boxes.

At the opposite side of the spectrum is Thule’s Pulse L for $600. When compared to the SkyBox it offers the same amount of space in 16 cubic feet. It also has a more imposing peak height of 16.5 inches as well as a lighter weight (by more than 10 pounds.) at 36 pounds. But, the Pulse is smaller in comparison to it’s counterpart, the SkyBox with a length of 6 feet and 4 inches. It is only accessible on the passenger side that is a major difference in the efficiency (we love dual access for SkyBox). SkyBox). The Thule can save you about $80, however we believe the Yakima’s additional entry point makes it worth all the weight charges.


As we’ve mentioned Yakima also produces the SkyBox with the low Carbonite version that is less and wider than the model we tested and is ideal for those who are concerned about aerodynamics. As for specifications, you’ll receive 3.5 less inches in height, but an additional foot in length, in length at seven feet eight inches. Based on the vehicle you drive and garage’s height it could mean the difference between keeping your car outside or inside. The main issues lie in the compatibility of gear storage and compatibility because long lengths are more susceptible to interference with hatches, while the lower peak height can be limiting for bigger and taller objects. We believe that SkyBox 16 is a better choice. SkyBox 16 is the more versatile design overall. However, it all is a matter of individual preference (as as garage dimensions) and the type of objects you’ll be hauling.

The Yakima GrandTour 16 offers the similar cubic-foot capacity however it is a step higher in their range and will cost more than $100. At the cost it offers a more expensive coated shell and a broader floor , tiedowns and an increased height to the top of the mountain with an 18-inch height. However, the GrandTour weighs more , at 51 pounds 8 ounces . It will only fit skis that are 180 centimeters or more in length with its 6-foot-7-inch width (vs. the SkyBox 16’s 185cm maximum or SkyBox 16). SkyBox 16). Both boxes have two-sided openings that allow for ease of access from the driver and vehicle sides, SKS locks for added security, and simple tool-free removal and installation. The bottom line is that the case is strong enough to be built for both boxes, however we believe that it’s the SkyBox is the best overall price (plus that GrandTour 16 isn’t available). GrandTour 16 is hard to locate as of the time of publication).


The last but not least of them last but not least is last but not least is the Inno Wedge 665 that is at the upper end of the market thanks to its elegant design and sleek look. In comparison to SkyBox 16, SkyBox 16, the Wedge 665 is a bit taller at 15.7 inches, yet weighs more weight at 51lbs 12.9 ounces, and is smaller in length, in length at just 6’8. But it’s an excellent choice for skis as it’s built to hold up 8 to 10 pairs (or up to four snowboards)–and it’s extremely well-constructed all over. But that the INNO isn’t as well-known or an established model than the well-known SkyBox as well as it’s expensive for the value of $700 (plus the fact that stock is unpredictable recently in addition, the Wedge 665 was not available at the time of writing). With a price of around $20 We’d recommend the Yakima due to its comparable capability, but at a lighter weight.

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