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10 Best Cargo Boxes [Buying Guide]

Keep All Your Adventure Gear Secure With These Top Cargo Boxes

Best Overall Choice

YAKIMA SkyBox Rooftop Cargo Box

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Best Budget Choice

SportRack Vista Cargo Box

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Best Premium Choice

Thule Motion XT XL Rooftop Cargo Carrier

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best cargo boxes

As we all know, trunk space varies greatly between vehicles. When it comes to long road trips or adventures requiring more cargo space, the best cargo boxes can take packing from a headache to a breeze.

There’s nothing worse than going on an exciting trip only to have the journey spoiled because the inside of your car is filled to the brim with gear! Luckily, you can extend your car’s carrying capacity by investing in a quality cargo box. No matter the size or type of your vehicle, you’ll find a rooftop cargo carrier that’ll suit your needs in our extensive guide. Keep reading to learn all about the best cargo boxes on the market today.

Key Features To Look For In The Best Cargo Boxes

There are numerous features and factors to consider when looking for the ideal cargo box. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most important features to keep in mind when shopping for the best cargo box for you.

Size

To determine the size cargo box you’ll need for your vehicle, measure the distance between the front crossbar of your roof rack and your open hatch. Once you do that, check the cargo box specs. When looking at the size, you’ll want to look at the clearance, volume, and the actual dimensions of the cargo box itself.

Cargo Box Access

When you pack your gear in the cargo box, it’s important to know how you’ll access everything when you need it! In general, access to the cargo box will either be on one side (passenger or driver), both sides, or the rear.

Locking Mechanisms

Keeping your stuff secure is also vital. With that, be sure to check that the cargo box you purchase features reliable locks that are easy to open and lock.

Roof Rack Compatibility

Make certain the cargo box you get will fit on your roof rack. Take into account the measurements of the crossbar spread (the length between the front and rear bars) and the roof rack shape. Most cargo boxes on our guide are compatible with a wide range of sizes and shapes of roof racks — whether you have stock crossbars or an aftermarket roof rack.

Material

High-quality, durable, waterproof material is an absolute MUST when it comes to cargo boxes. ABS plastic is typically used across most cargo boxes. Along with that, you will want to look for high-quality, durable material on the hinges, locks, and handles.

Installation and Assembly

Since you’re ordering your cargo box online, installation and assembly are required. With that said, the majority of cargo boxes arrive already assembled, so the only thing you need to do is properly install the cargo box. Of course, proper installation is vital to keeping your gear secure. Be sure to follow each step carefully. Ease of installation is especially important if you plan on removing your cargo box often.

Weight/Weight Capacity

Consider the actual weight of the cargo box when purchasing. Along with that, take into account the weight capacity, or the amount of weight the cargo box can safely hold, and make certain you will not overload the cargo box with your gear.

The 10 Best Cargo Boxes On The Market

Below, we’ve outlined the 10 best cargo boxes. After our extensive guide on the best cargo boxes, we’ve also answered all of your most frequently asked questions. You can find all the information you need to get your hands on the latest and greatest cargo boxes — and make your time on the road that much more enjoyable.

Best Overall Choice

1. YAKIMA SkyBox Rooftop Cargo Box

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The Yakima SkyBox comes in numerous sizes depending on your needs, ranging from 12 cubic feet all the way to 21 cubic feet. It arrives fully assembled and includes SKS locks.

Whether you’re hauling gear across the country or transporting all the family’s luggage, this cargo box will absolutely get the job done. It opens on both sides for easy access to your gear.

The carbonite material used to design this cargo box is 80% recycled and extra lightweight, and the Yakima SuperLatch security system keeps the lid fully secure to its base. This cargo box fits Yakima round, factory, aerodynamic, and square bars.

Best Budget Choice

2. SportRack Vista Cargo Box

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The SportRack Vista XL Cargo Box is a budget-friendly option that does NOT skimp on quality. It is rear-opening and can be easily installed with the included tool-free mounting hardware. The cargo box includes a key lock to keep your gear secure at all times.

Made of ABS plastic, the exterior is durable, weather-resistant, and UV-resistant. When it gets dirty, simply clean it with mild soap and water.

This cargo box only comes in the XL size. With that, you get a 19-inch cargo box with a maximum weight capacity of 100 pounds and 18 cubic feet of storage.

The Vista XL fits SportRack Roof Rack Systems, square load bars, round load bars, and most other factory racks. To be certain it will fit your car, check the fit guide on the product listing before purchasing.

Best Premium Choice

3. Thule Motion XT XL Rooftop Cargo Carrier

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The Thule XT CL Rooftop Cargo Carrier will fit all the gear you need. Depending on your preference, you can choose either Glossy Black or Glossy Titan (silver).

With a sleek design and finish, you’ll be riding in style. Along with that, the installation is quick and easy. The quick-mount system clicks when properly mounted and fully secure on your car’s roof rack so you’ll know you’ve got it properly installed. It has a dual side opening, easy-grip handles, full trunk access, and automatic locks that are compatible with a One Key System.

And, as the name implies, this cargo box is very large. For a full table of measurements, refer to the Amazon product listing. You can choose from three different sizes:

  • Large — 16 cubic feet
  • X-Large — 18 cubic feet
  • XX-Large — 22 cubic feet

Whether you’re storing camping gear or luggage, the Thule XT will make your travel plans seamless and easy. Looking to store your cargo box in your garage when not in use? Check out the Thule MultiLift Cargo Box Lift.

4. Inno Ridge Cargo Box

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Coming from Inno, the Ridge Series Cargo Box is top-notch. The Gloss Black finish not only looks sleek but is also highly durable. The cargo box is designed to reduce noise, and the open-edge design allows for optimal storage capacity.

This cargo box opens on the passenger side. It’s on the smaller side with 8 cubic feet of storage. To secure your luggage or gear within this cargo box, the inside features a one-touch buckle belt for an added layer of security.

Installation is simple, and the cargo box comes with easy-to-follow instructions. To lock up, it comes with two identical keys. The material is weather-resistant, and every purchase comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

5. Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box

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The Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box comes in three different sizes. The large size, with its 16 cubic feet of storage, is the most popular though you also have the option of the 14-cubic-foot medium or the “Alpine” with 11 cubic feet. The design is sleek, rugged, and durable. Across all sizes, you can expect a fast-grip, quick-mount system that assembles in just minutes.

This cargo box opens on the passenger side and has a central locking system for optimal security. An additional safety feature of this cargo box is the key can only be removed from the lock when the box is fully closed and locked. This is an excellent feature so you never forget to lock up your gear.

Many people with skis or snowboards opt for this cargo box as the size large can store four to six pairs of skis or three to five snowboards. For a full table of measurements of each size, refer to the product listing.

6. SportRack Horizon Alpine Cargo Box

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The SportRack Horizon Alpine Cargo Box is crafted with impact-resistant ABS material. The secure centralized lock and the passenger side opening keep your stuff secure when it’s stored and easy to add and remove when loading or unloading. You can expect easy installation with this cargo box. It comes with a quick-release attachment kit for time-saving installation and removal.

This particular cargo box fits SportRack Roof Rack Systems. In addition, it also fits square, round, and most other factory racks. The rooftop carrier itself weighs 43 pounds and has dimensions of 76.88 x 32.88 x 17.13 inches.

7. Thule Sidekick Rooftop Cargo Box

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If you’re looking for a smaller cargo box, the Thule Sidekick is calling your name. Weighing only 3.7 pounds, the external dimensions of this box are 54 x 35 x 15.5 inches with a weight capacity of 110-pounds.

Whether you’re going on a short camping trip or hauling other gear, this compact cargo box is perfect for small loads. Plus, when you have this cargo box mounted on your roof rack, you’ll still have enough space for other roof-mounted accessories.

The Thule Sidekick features adjustable brackets and sturdy U-bolts with reinforcement plates to keep it secure at all times.  It has a passenger-side cargo opening, two locks, and fits Thule Rack Systems, round bars, and most other factory racks. All Thule products are backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

8. JEGS Rooftop Cargo Box

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For a budget-friendly option, the JEGS Rooftop Cargo Box will not disappoint. With dual-side access, you can easily pack up and unpack this car box. And the design and size of this cargo box are unique, so if you’re transporting bulky items, this may suit your needs!

To install, the U-bolt mounts attach to pre-drilled holes. This may require some adjustment to fit your roof rack — be sure to double-check your measurements before ordering. It comes equipped with a double-lock system for optimal security. This cargo box is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

9. Thule Vector Rooftop Cargo Box

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If you’re wondering if it’s possible for a cargo box to be elegant, let us introduce you to the Thule Vector Rooftop Cargo Box. This sleek, aerodynamic cargo box is specially designed to protect your gear. It even features a removable felt pad to keep your cargo from bumping around on the road.

With a 13-cubic-foot capacity, this cargo box is the ideal partner to any luxury vehicle. The Thule Vector cargo box can fit three to five pairs of skis of two to four snowboards if you’re chasing powder. The lid has a motion-activated LED for optimal visibility. And the aerodynamic shape of this cargo box essentially cancels out any wind noise.

The Vector features a flush-mount closure, reinforced lid, dual-side opening, and the Thule slide lock system that automatically locks the lid when you close it — as long as you hear the “click” noise, you’re good to go. This 65-pound cargo box has a load capacity of 165 pounds.

10. GoPlus Cargo Box

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This cargo box from GoPlus is perfect for your road trip needs. And it should fit most vehicle roof racks for an easy install. Be sure to take measurements prior to purchasing to be sure. With 14 cubic feet of space, you can up the carrying capacity of your car by a lot. It’s designed with metal lid stiffeners to keep the cargo box stable and secure at all times.

Manufactured with ABS and PC material, you can expect this cargo box to last a long time. It has a load capacity of 165 pounds and is suitable for round, square, and other factory bars. It comes with four quick connect anchors for easy installation and has dual side openings for easy access.



With These Cargo Boxes, You Can Gear Up For Your Next Adventure

Whether you’re going on a month-long cross-country road trip or a weekend camping trip with the family, these cargo boxes will let you bring anything and everything you need. Instead of getting fabric rooftop bags that are less secure and reliable, the cargo boxes in our guide are highly durable and long-lasting. And if you’re looking for a full-on rack system instead of a cargo box, check out our extensive article on the Yakima Exo Rack System.



Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose a cargo box?

First and foremost, you need to think about what kind of stuff you plan to store in the cargo box. This will allow you to decide the size, height, weight capacity, and length you’ll need to purchase.

Next, make sure the cargo box is compatible with your vehicle’s roof rack. To be certain the cargo box will fit your vehicle, check the hatch clearance and box dimensions.

Along with measuring for fit, consider the actual look of the cargo box. Do you want a sleek, black cargo box? Or do you want a larger cargo box that is perhaps a unique color? After considering all of these factors, you can choose the cargo box that works for your needs and fits your car!

Why are roof cargo boxes so expensive?

While cargo boxes do vary in price, the bottom line is that all of them are an investment. This begs the question — why are they so expensive?

Since cargo boxes are storing gear on top of a vehicle, the material must be top-notch — durable, high-quality, and engineered to perfection. The high demand for quality material means all cargo boxes are going to be pricey.

Of course, if you are often traveling with lots of expensive gear, the investment will prove to be totally worth it.

Are cargo boxes waterproof?

While cargo boxes are designed to keep the water out, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are 100% waterproof. Essentially all cargo boxes are weather-resistant, but not waterproof. This is simply because plastic cannot be deemed waterproof.

With that being said, we recommend storing your gear within your cargo box in plastic bags or trash bags for an extra layer of water-resistant protection.

How big of a cargo box do I need?

Generally, most cargo boxes are similar in length. If you are looking for a cargo box to store gear such as skis, you may need to purchase a cargo box specifically made for that purpose. For ski storage, we recommend the YAKIMA RocketBox Pro

Before purchasing your cargo box, determine what gear you’d like to place in the box and how much space you’ll need. Then, go from there.

How do you pack a cargo box?

No matter what type of cargo box you have, it’s recommended to distribute half of the weight over the top and in-between the two crossbars. Then, a quarter of the weight should be in the front, and the other quarter should be in the rear of the bars.

When deciding what to put in your cargo box, make sure you know the weight capacity of your specific cargo box. When prepping your gear to pack in the cargo box, consider wrapping everything in garbage bags for an extra layer of water protection.

When your cargo box is fully loaded up, double-check and then triple-check it is securely closed and locked. For extra security, consider tying the cargo box down with ratchet straps.

When my cargo box isn't in use, can I drive with it empty?

Driving with an empty cargo box is not recommended. The main reason? When a cargo box is totally empty, the likelihood of it detaching due to elements such as wind is more likely.





About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.

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