The 6 Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers & Roof Box – [2021 Reviews]

Carry much more in a safe and secure box, we break down this year's top cargo carriers & roof boxes

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

This article narrows the field down to the 6 best rooftop cargo carriers and roof boxes. These are top-rated for quality, fit diversity and warranty. For the criteria we used see our buyers guide entitled, Rooftop Cargo Carriers Buying Guide.

Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers

 Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo CarrierYakima Skybox 16 Carbonite Cargo BoxSportRack Horizon Cargo Box
editors choice
Size Options16, 18, or 22 Cubic Feet12,15,16,18 or 21 Cubic Feet 11 Cubic Feet
LockSlide Lock System with separate locking functions SKS Lock SystemSlide Lock System with separate locking functions
Special Features Pre-Installed Power Click Quick-Mount SystemThumbwheels/Lever Easy-Snap Mounting System
Customer Ratings4.5 / 5.0 Stars4.4 / 5.0 Stars4.0 / 5.0 Stars

 SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo BoxThule 682 Sidekick Rooftop Cargo BoxJEGS Performance Products Rooftop Cargo Carrier
Size Options 11 Cubic Feet 8 Cubic Feet18 Cubic Feet
Lock Slide Lock System with separate locking functions2 Locks 2 Locks
Special FeaturesEasy-Snap Mounting SystemU-Bolts Tool-Free
Customer Ratings4.4 / 5.0 Stars3.8 / 5.0 Stars4.4 / 5.0 Stars

Also see: Rooftop Cargo Carriers – Price Comparison Table

 Quick Answer: The 6 Top-Rated Rooftop Cargo Carriers & Roof Boxes

  1. Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier
  2. Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box
  3. SportRack Horizon Cargo Box
  4. SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box
  5. Thule Sidekick Cargo Box
  6. JEGS Performance Products Rooftop Cargo Carrier

Rooftop Cargo Carriers and Roof Box Reviews

Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers

#1 Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier

rooftop cargo carrier reviews

Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier at a Glance:

  • Size Options: 16, 18, or 22 Cubic Feet
  • Lock: Slide Lock System with separate locking functions
  • Compatibility: Factory Rack
  • Mount: Pre-Installed Power Click Quick-Mount System
  • Colors: White, Black, Titan
The Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier is hands-down one of the best cargo boxes out there. Thule is a company known to consistently produce the highest-quality products, and this model is exemplary of that.

The user-friendly design is easy to use, thanks to the quick PowerClick mounting system and overall ease of installation. It’s hard to believe that it literally took just a few minutes to have everything mounted and attached. If you’re going to be taking it on-and-off frequently, just toss this one in you’re your shopping cart now.

best cargo carriers box reviews

Weighing in at 42 pounds, it’s a bit lighter than your average car top cargo carrier. The Thule cargo box is pleasant on the eyes, coming in three different colors: White, Black, and Titan (steely grey). The design is sleek and modern, with a shiny finish.

The red stip locking indicator of the SlideLock handle will put you at ease, making sure your belongings are nice and secure.

The large handle facilitates opening and closing with just one hand, and the interior pull cord is great if you’re vertically-challenged or just have a huge vehicle.

As far as durability goes, this thing can take a beating. While there are super tiny holes on the bottom for latching systems, it’s still just about as waterproof as car top cargo carriers can get.

Taking it through the elements won’t be an issue at all, no matter where you go.

#2 Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box

Yakima Skybox Carbonite Cargo Box at a Glance:

  • Size Options: 12,15,16,18 or 21 Cubic Feet
  • Lock: SKS Lock System
  • Compatibility: Factory Rack
  • Mount: Thumbwheels/Lever
  • Colors: Black
Another one of the car roof boxes, is the Yakima Skybox Carbonite. We loved it almost as much as the Thule Motion XT, save for the difficulty of mounting. However, it’s quite a bit less expensive, so if you’re looking to save a bit of money give this one a try.

In fact, for this price tag, you’ll be receiving one of the top 5 available today. Made of 80% recycled Carbonite material, it’s eco-friendly and super lightweight. The aerodynamic design makes your gas go further, and doesn’t weigh your car down.


The user-friendly design practically makes up for the mounting complications, and looks amazing. Let’s talk a bit about the mounting system, since we keep mentioning it. It is a bit difficult, but if you aren’t planning on taking it off, then there’s really no worry.

Now, let’s get to the part we really loved: the ease of opening and closing the best car cargo box. The handle is easy to grab onto, and the SkyBox opens on both sides. It closes tightly with the SuperLatch secure closure system, but what’s more is the integrated SKS Lock system will always keep your equipment safe.

In terms of durability, it’s pretty impressive. As there are zero openings/holes in the box, it is completely waterproof. Take it in rain, snow, or sun, and you’re covered.

#3 SportRack Horizon Cargo Box

SportRack Horizon Cargo Box at a Glance:

  • Size Options: 11 Cubic Feet
  • Lock: Slide Lock System with separate locking functions
  • Compatibility: After-Market, Factory Rack
  • Mount: Easy-Snap Mounting System
  • Colors: Black
The SportRack Horizon Cargo Box is a cheap roof box for those who need high quality. In addition, it’s easy to install, thanks to the Easy-Snap mounting hardware. It may take a minute to figure out, but the actual process is simple.

It does have pre-drilled holes for the U-bolts used, but as they include vinyl hole covers the interior is kept untouched by the weather outside.

The vehicle cargo box is quite compact, with a smaller size and a streamlined low profile to minimize wind resistance. It’s compatible with most rack configurations, as well.


Made of ABS plastic, it’s nice and durable. While it is easy to open, it only opens on the passenger side. This is because it’s the safer side to open on, when parked on the side of the road or camping.

However, once it’s open the lid will stay open for your convenience and safety.

The integrated lock cylinder along the box opening keeps your gear safe, locking the box to your roof rack.

 Best Roof Boxes

#1 SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box

SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box at a Glance:

  • Size Options: 11 Cubic Feet
  • Lock: Slide Lock System with separate locking functions
  • Compatibility: After-Market, Factory Rack
  • Mount: Easy-Snap Mounting System
  • Colors: Black
The SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Roof Box is overall one of our favorites, but there are some potential downsides. Let’s cover the good, first.

If you’re not necessarily an avid adventurer but rather need something to hold extra belongings for special occasions, this car roof storage box could be great for you. ABS construction is both durable and UV-resistant. However, we would like to note that the lid is pretty flimsy.


The U-Bold hardware mounting kit isn’t easy, nor really complicated. It is a bit inconvenient if you plan on taking it off and putting it on various times, but if you’re just going to keep it on your car it isn’t that big of a deal. The ergonomic handle is easy to open and close, and it latches smoothly.

As far as being waterproof, well, it’s not. There are various holes in the bottom, and while you can use vinyl stickers, they come off easily.

The locking mechanism is average. You can feel secure with your items in there, but the manufacturer does note that it’s not really meant to prevent theft so take that as you like.

So, if you’re looking to occasionally take a trip out-of-town to the family’s or something, this is a good option. If you plan on keeping your expensive or valuable adventure gear in there and use it every month, you’ll want to keep on scrolling to another vehicle cargo box.

#2 Thule Sidekick Cargo Box

Thule Sidekick Cargo Box at a Glance:

  • Size Options: 8 Cubic Feet
  • Lock: 2 Locks
  • Compatibility: Roof
  • Mount: U-Bolts
  • Colors: Grey
We’re back again with the best another Thule roof box; this time, the Sidekick. The Sidekick is one of the most compact out there, and is actually the smallest that the brand makes. The size makes it great for carrying camping gear and whatnot, without taking up all of the roof space. If you have a smaller vehicle, you may like this one.


The appearance is nice and sleek, coming in a neutral grey color. Mounting it is pretty simple, with the standard U-bolt system. It does well in the wind, and with rain or snow we wouldn’t say it’s 100% waterproof but sufficient for non-electronic item protection.

The price is jaw-droppingly affordable – especially for such a popular brand as Thule. We can’t say that you won’t “pay the price” for this in other ways, though. Namely, the serious assembly required (around an hour) and the sub-par lock system.

The Thule box requires the use of two locks rather than one, which can be a bit of a hassle for some although it could theoretically add to the security of your items. Lastly, the Thule top box is pretty flimsy, which can attest to the durability of it overall.

#3 JEGS Performance Products Rooftop Cargo Carrier 

JEGS Performance Products Rooftop Cargo Carrier at a Glance:

  • Size Options: 18 Cubic Feet
  • Lock: 2 Locks
  • Compatibility: Roof
  • Mount: Tool-Free
  • Colors: Black
JEGS doesn’t have the same kind of name the others have, but we still found their 90098 Rooftop Cargo Box to outperform plenty of those which have a big name associated with it.

The straightforward design is nice and convenient. Putting it together wasn’t hard at all, and mounting it requires zero tools.

It also only weighs a mere 28 pounds, so lifting it shouldn’t be an issue for most people. The carrying capacity is at 150 pounds, which is great if you’re using it for casual road trips.


Although it isn’t as thick or hard as some other roof boxes, it’s still pretty solid as it’s made of plastic. While it does work on round, square, and aero bars up to 4” wide, it can only work on cross rail systems rated at 150 pounds or more.

We were a bit surprised at how large it was, so if you have a small vehicle make sure to take measurements accordingly. All-in-all, you can’t really beat the price of this American-made large roof box.

If you’re on a budget, then don’t rule this one out because it has a lot to offer!

Rooftop Cargo Carriers – Price Comparison Table

Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers
 Size OptionsLockSpecial FeaturesCustomer Ratings
Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier16, 18, or 22 Cubic Feet Slide Lock System with separate locking functionsPre-Installed Power Click Quick-Mount System4.5 / 5.0 Stars
Yakima Skybox 16 Carbonite Cargo Box12,15,16,18 or 21 Cubic Feet SKS Lock SystemThumbwheels/Lever4.4 / 5.0 Stars
SportRack Horizon Cargo Box11 Cubic Feet
Slide Lock System with separate locking functions
Easy-Snap Mounting System
4.0 / 5.0 Stars
Best Roof Boxes
SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box11 Cubic FeetSlide Lock System with separate locking functionsEasy-Snap Mounting System4.4 / 5.0 Stars
Thule Sidekick Cargo Box8 Cubic Feet2 LocksU-Bolts3.8 / 5.0 Stars
JEGS Performance Products Rooftop Cargo Carrier18 Cubic Feet
2 Locks
4.4 / 5.0 Stars

Rooftop Cargo Carriers Buying Guide

Whether you’re a regular camper or always find yourself outdoors going on an adventure, then running out of space in your vehicle is a big hindrance.

Even if you have an SUV, Jeep, or minivan, you may still find that there’s a lack of space for your belongings.

Sure, you could get a trailer, but those are often costly and can be a hassle. So, what’s the best option? Getting one of the best rooftop cargo carriers or roof box.

If you’re still a bit unsure as to which would be the best rooftop cargo box for you, there’s no need to worry. While all of the products reviewed above are excellent, only one can be the ideal product for your needs.

best cargo carriers box review - guide 1

That’s why we’ve come up with the user-friendly buying guide, below. We’ll take you through each step of the process to make sure you’re successful in your endeavors.


One of the first things to look into when getting a new rooftop cargo box, is the size or capacity. They’re typically anywhere from 10 – 25 feet, so you have quite a few options to choose form. First, consider how large your vehicle is. If you have a Smartcar, obviously your options are pretty limited. If you have an SUV or Jeep, you will have quite a few options to choose from.

Next, consider what you’re going to be bringing along for the ride. Choose the size from there. If you’re bringing along snowboards or a golf bag, make sure you choose one that’s a bit longer. If you’re carrying wider items, opt for a wider one rather than longer.


When considering the car roof storage box for you, also think about the shape of it. Not the length nor the capacity, but rather in terms of how high/tall it is. This is because it’s going to affect the aerodynamics of your vehicle depending on the height. It’s never a bad idea to opt for the more aerodynamic choice.

This will reduce wind noise, and also make sure your gas goes the farthest it can. Taller cargo boxes will create drag, and during long road trips, choosing the more low-profile product could seriously save you some money.


Since it’s going to undoubtedly be exposed to the elements (even if it’s just sunlight and wind) you’re going to need to take into consideration the durability and sturdiness of your storage. This will be more or less important to you, depending on how often you’ll be using it. If you’re using it every weekend, then this is crucial. If you’ll only be using it a few times a year for road trips, then not so much.

The most widely-considered “best” material for these, is ABS plastic. It is hard and protects your gear from snow, rain, and more. Also take into consideration how “waterproof” it is. If it has holes are doesn’t seal watertight, then you’ll have to think about if all the equipment you want to store in there will be fully protected.


Hard boxes are obviously going to come with locks. The fact that they’re made of tough material will be a deterrent to most thieves, alone. However it’s always a good idea to have a lock on top of that. Not all locks are equal, and it’s always nice to have one that gives you some kind of indicator that it’s locked. Some have a little red strip, for example, that lets you know your belongings are secured. Some also have two locks, rather than one. Some may see this as an inconvenience, while others may see this as an added layer of security. It’s up to your preferences.

Ease of Assembly / Mounting

Assembly will vary widely among rooftop cargo carriers. Some will require absolutely no assembly at all, while others will make you want to pull out your hair in frustration. Generally, the more complicated ones will also be the less expensive ones. The upside to this, is that if you aren’t going to be removing the box frequently, you won’t need to deal with this often.

Mounting is the same thing. Some require no tools at all, and attach in literally a few minutes. Others, in contrast, require tools and multiple people to attach it to your vehicle. If it’s heavy, this will just add to the difficulty. Again, if you plan on just leaving the car cargo box on your vehicle, this isn’t much of an issue. There are also videos online that show you easier ways of going about doing this, and most manufacturers include detailed instructions.


Some cargo carriers can only be opened from one side, others from the rear, others from the front, and others from both sides. Which one you like, will depend on your and your vehicle. Often the most convenient is opening from the front or the passenger side. The reason why, is because when you’re pulled to the side of a road, the passenger side is the safer side, and often the side facing the campground.

Also keep in mind that if you’re shorter or have a very tall vehicle, you’ll want a carrier that lets you easily access the gear inside. If they have tall walls or open oddly, then this may end up just being more of a hindrance than a benefit.


How much are you willing to spend on one of the best cargo carrier boxes? It’s a good idea to have a number in mind before you start shopping. If you’re on a budget, set that budget now, and do not go over it. Even if you’re 100% satisfied with the product, if you spend more than you’d like, you may end up with buyer’s remorse and no one wants that!

If you’re not on a budget, we’d recommend selecting a cargo box that’s at least $500. That’s not to say that anything that costs less is bad; not at all. However, at this price point, you’ll see a big boost in durability and convenience. If you are only thinking of using it a few times a year, then you can opt for a more affordable product as durability and convenience isn’t going to mean as much.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are all assembly and installation parts included?

Yes, they are. If they are not, make sure to contact the manufacturer.

Q: Are locks included?

With all of the products on our guide, yes.

Q: Can I paint my car top cargo carrier?

You technically could, but we don’t really recommend it. The reason why, is because many feature a UV stabilizer which resists fading and protects against other types of weather. If you paint it, it could render this worthless.

Q: How do I know where I should mount my carrier on the cross bars?

There are typically pre-drilled holes – often 22” apart from the center. Simply adjust your cross rails to match, and align the carrier’s pre-drilled holes so they line up.

Q: What should I do with my cargo carrier when I’m not using it?

If you use it regularly, you can probably just leave it on your vehicle. If not, most pack away quite easily, as they nest neatly together to take up a minimal amount of space.

Q: How fast can I drive with my carrier mounted to my vehicle?

There’s really no limit, however depending on the weight or size of the equipment you’re carrying, it can change the way your car moves or behaves.

Q: What is the best way to load my cargo box?

It greatly depends on what you plan on loading up. However, a good general rule is to try to evenly distribute the weight of your load as evenly as you can, on both the carrier and your vehicle. Try to secure all baggage items to make sure they aren’t sliding around. Always anchor skis and snowboards to ski holders, with the front ends aiming towards the back.

Buyers Tips

#1: Always make sure to follow your car weight ratio.

Each vehicle has a particular weight ratio. You must know this before you get started, because if you exceed this number, you can cause accidents and damage to your car. Most cargo carrier boxes will have a weight limit anywhere from 75 to 250 pounds.

#2: Make sure to maintain visibility.

This means that you should make sure you’re not obstructing others’ view of the road, or access to the road in any way. Always make sure you don’t have equipment hanging or protruding from the sides of your car.

#3: Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

When you add on extra weight, it can have a negative affect on your tires’ pressure. Again, always make sure the load is distributed evenly to make sure some tires aren’t taking more weight than others.


So, which one of the best car roof pods will be accompanying you on your future adventures? We hope that our guide has helped you select the perfect one for you and your needs. While each of these are excellent products, the only thing that matters is that you enjoy it. Thank you for tuning in, and we will see you again shortly!

Thanks for reading The 6 Best Rooftop Cargo Carriers & Roof Box Reviews. We hope our review article will help you pick the right product for your needs from among our top picks for best off road and safety LED light bars. Wherever you’re headed stay safe out on the road and enjoy your travels.

And if you’re shopping for other gear take a look at these related review articles from Outside Pursuits:



How We Researched

To come up with the top rooftop cargo carriers and roof boxes, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as 4×4 Magazine and Outside Online Magazine along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The staff authors have a wide and varied background in offroading, motorcycling, and auto mechanics. They are eager to share their knowledge with readers.

To help narrow down the selection we used personal experiences along with recommendations from fellow auto-enthusiasts and industry experts.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.


Notice: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Richard Moore

Richard is a co-founder of and major contributor to Outside Pursuits. He has trekking and survival experience throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Richard contributes his extensive travel and outdoor experience to the editorial topics and content on Outside Pursuits including outdoor gear, motorcycle accessories, auto/4x4 accessories, and tools. In 1998, he survived in the wilderness for over a week without food or specialist equipment. He was stranded on the northern coast of Honduras following Category 5 Hurricane Mitch.

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