Thule Force vs Yakima Skybox – The Ultimate Comparison

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Planning an outdoor trip can be fun. Especially if your vehicle allows you to bring everything you need to be outside for a day or two. Sure, your vehicle will have enough room to carry your stuff. You can have the backseat taken up, you can have non-fragile things on your feet, or you can stack up against your bags all together where you can’t see anything from your rear-view.

No, that’s not fun. Fun is, being able to bring everything you need while your company is sitting comfortably inside the car. Fun is, having your roof cargo box take care of it for you.

Finding the perfect rooftop cargo box for your next outdoor adventure can be tough. But, that’s what we’re here for. We’ve narrowed down potential choices down to the two of the most reputable names in the hauling industry, Thule and Yakima. They both make excellent boxes, but which one is best made?

Getting a Roof Cargo Box

Thule Roof Box on top of Car with rear trunk open

Before deciding on getting a roof cargo box, make sure to have everything you need to get it set up on your roof. A roof rack system is the first thing you need. This is where your box will settle. This system consists of crossbars that bridge the width of your roof. They hold your box and support other cargo management systems like the bike, ski, or kayak racks.

You may also need towers to attach the bars and raise them off your roof. It would be ideal to get the same brand for cross bars and towers so ensure compatibility. But, you can also mix and match. Most manufacturers help you narrow your choices according to your car’s make, model, and year.

Should you get Thule Force or Yakima Skybox?

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If you find yourself in the middle of chaos, looking for what you just threw at the back of your truck, then you definitely need help to organize your gears. Thule and Yakima have two of the best of their products to help you. But, which one should you get?

Let us take a quick rundown of the things to consider in getting a cargo box. See if these products meet such factors.

First to consider is the material used. Is it made of the right material? Will it stand durable against external factors? Note that, materials shouldn’t just be able to strongly hold your items. They should also be ergonomically and aerodynamically designed to avoid rattle and noise. You may also consider its physical appearance. After all, you wouldn’t want an eyesore on top of your car.

The mounting system is another thing to consider. They should be easy to set up and put down. No one wants to spend hours just mounting up the storage system.

Loading, unloading, and security features should also be considered. No backs should break while trying to get a bag loaded up the roof. But, it shouldn’t be that easy that some muggers can just take them as you take your bathroom break at the nearest gasoline station.

Finally, the size. Whenever in doubt, always pick the next size up. There’s never too many to bring. And, its always better to have it and not need it than not have it and need it.

The Comparison: Thule Force vs. Yakima Skybox

Check out this brief comparison between Thule Force and Yakima Skybox before we dig deeper into what they can offer.

BrandsThule ForceYakima Skybox
Sizes (inches)

XT Sport – 74.75 x 24.75 x 16.75
XT L – 74.75 x 33 x 18
XT XL – 82.75 x 33.75 x 17.25
XT XXL – 90.5 x 35.5 x 18.5

SKYBOX LO – 92.00 x 36.00 x 11.50
SKYBOX 12 – 92.00 x 24.00 x 16.00
SKYBOX 16 – 81.00 x 36.00 x 15.00
SKYBOX 18 – 92.00 x 36.00 x 16.00
SKYBOX 21 – 92.00 x 36.00 x 18.00
Weight (pounds)XT Sport – 32 pounds
XT L – 41 pounds
XT XL – 47 pounds
XT XXL – 52 pounds
SKYBOX LO – 52 pounds
SKYBOX 12 – 41 pounds
SKYBOX 16 – 47 pounds
SKYBOX 18 – 52 pounds
SKYBOX 21 – 62 pounds
Volume (Cubic Feet)XT Sport – 11 cu ft
XT L – 16 cu ft
XT XL – 18 cu ft
XT XXL – 22 cu ft
SKYBOX LO – 15 cu ft
SKYBOX 12 – 12 cu ft
SKYBOX 16 – 16 cu ft
SKYBOX 18 – 18 cu ft
SKYBOX 21 – 21 cu ft
Rating5 out of 5 stars4.4 out of 5 stars

AutoAnything, an American Truck Accessories and Auto Accessories retail group, had their experts feature Thule Force Cargo Box in one of their exhibits. See what they have to say about this box on this video.

To further help you decide, we are going to run a comprehensive review to find out which box you are taking on your next trip. We will review which is the most durable, easiest to use, best looking, and best fitting your budget.

1. Ease of Use

Yakima Skybox one-sided opening mechanism

In this criterion, we looked at the factors that add to the cargo box’s convenience to use. We opened and closed them repetitively, installed them and put them down, and tried to find any assembly difficulties or special features.

Both Force and Skybox required no assembly. They were completely ready to mount out of the box. Thule Force took less than five minutes to install while the Yakima Skybox took a little longer at a 15-minute mark. It was impressive, nonetheless.

What took Yakima Skybox longer to mount was that the directions in the box weren’t easy to understand. It came with almost the same hardware as that of Thule Force, however, it wasn’t easy to find out which thumbwheel goes to which part. A good game of Goldilocks will help you. Trying out each thumbwheel and finding the right level of tightness will eventually allow you to mount successfully.

Thule Force’s mounting had the same system as its predecessor Motion XT. The only difference is that the previous was easy to hand-tighten while the latter has that “click” that lets you know you’ve tightened the box enough. The “click” wasn’t such a loss as a feature. With simple hand-tightening, you’d know how tight it should be.

When it comes to opening or closing the box, we are going with Skybox’s Superlatch handle.  It pops the lid open and never had any issue opening and closing it. It was a straightforward process. Thule Force has no handle, but only a key to turn. It wasn’t easy to use, although you must credit it to security.

Thule Force has one feature that Yakima Skybox didn’t have. The handy pull-cord. This is particularly helpful for mid-sized car owners whose opened lid is barely out of reach.

For ease of use, we’re giving Yakima Skybox 7/10 while Thule Force 6/10.

2. Durability

Yakima Skybox durable shell

How these cargo boxes withstand all of what your travels may throw at it is what we’re going to measure in this benchmark. Ideally, they should endure both drive, time and weather conditions. 

Aerodynamics is a big concern in hauling anything on your roof. Therefore, it is only important to find out whether they contribute to fuel consumption or if there will be a difference in gas mileage. Both the Yakima Skybox and Thule Force passed this part. Not much difference in fuel consumption despite having them on top of the vehicle. There wasn’t any annoying noise reported, too.

Both boxes were made with top-of-the-line materials. Yakima Skybox isn’t as thick as Thule Force, although the hinges and locks are on-par with each other.

Thule Force’s construction means longevity. It is well-made, and a lot of users reviewed they drove it a few hundred miles with no signs of wear and tear. Skybox is undoubtedly solid, too. Its manufacturers believe this product can last ages, thus offering a lifetime warranty in case it fails.

None of the two claimed full waterproofness, so as a precaution, put your valuables in drybags before trusting them into your cargo box. While they both show no openings where water can penetrate, it won’t hurt to be safe.

For Durability, both get 7/10.

3. Security

Secure Thule Locking mechanism

For anyone traveling with gears and things just hanging outside the car, it is worrisome to just leave it out while away on a hiking activity or a quick break from driving at the gasoline station. Thankfully, Thule Force and Yakima Skybox both have security systems to keep you confident during such scenarios.

Yakima Skybox has a big, burly handle that stays slanted until completely latched. This is what the Thule Force is missing. Force’s key locking system seems to make it difficult to tell if the box is latched or not. No distinguishing form to tell.

The two locking systems have keys that can not be removed unless the box is locked. That means, there won’t be any chances you lock your keys inside the box or misplace it somewhere.

Both Yakima Skybox and Thule Force will leave you confident in trusting your things inside it. For this criterion, we’re giving it to Yakima Skybox with 7/10 while Thule Force with 6/10.

4. Appearance

Bird's eye view of Yakima Skybox on SUV

While it isn’t a big factor to consider in getting a cargo box, appearance is still part of its over-all features. No one can tell the difference between your box and other vehicles’ boxes that just drove by at highway speeds. But, whether you admit it or not, you’d still love to have something stylish looking.

Thule has always made an effort in making their products look stylish and sophisticated while Yakima focused on how they perform. 

You will fancy the matte black finish of Thule Force and Yakima Skybox. Black is probably the universal color for roof boxes. It complements any color, plus your tire is black. So, it’s just a perfect balance.

It is nice that these boxes were matte finished because it easily conceals dirt or grime easily. Such can be seen in an instant on a glossy finish.

Appearance-wise, it’s a tie at 7/10.

5. Value for Your Money

Thule, with all its fame and reputation in the hauling industry, is certainly one of the most expensive brands. But, considering the features and what it can do to help you get the convenience you need during your trip, $600 will be worth it.

Thule Force is something I would get if I were not concerned with the $50 difference from Yakima Skybox. For $549, Skybox is nearly on par of the expensive ones. It is user-friendly. It has style. And, you are confident it will last the same amount of time as Thule Force.


As with most things, it is wise to dig into all the information you need before jumping on buying the gear you need. While there may be colleagues who will recommend what he uses, it may not always work with how you want it to work for you.

That’s the sole purpose of the reviews you need to read before getting yourself your cargo box. You shouldn’t decide just by looking at it. And, while you can’t buy it to experience it, feel it from other people who did.

Here’s a brief comparison of the two products we just reviewed.


Thule Force Medium Rooftop Cargo Box

Yakima SkyBox 12 Rooftop Cargo Box


round, square, aero, elliptical, and most factory crossbars
Maximum crossbar dimensions: 3-1/2 inches wide x 1-11/16 inches tall
Crossbar spread: 23-5/8 inches – 35-3/8 inches

round, square, aero, elliptical, and most factory crossbars
Maximum crossbar dimensions: 3-1/2″ inches x 1-11/16 inches
Crossbar spread: 24 inches – 42 inches

Carrying Capacity

13 cu ft

12 cu ft


Limited Lifetime


The reviews we ran hopefully gave you an insight into each item’s strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to present that in a way that will lead your decision to the best product to go for. Both are well-known in the business. But, it doesn’t mean you can just pick one from the two without careful considerations.

Weigh up appearance, durability, security, and user-friendliness. These should tell a lot about how it can live up to your outdoor lifestyle.

Check out our other related articles on Thule vs Yakima Kayak Racks, Ski Racks, and Hitch Bike Racks!

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