The Ultimate Guide to Thule Roof Boxes

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Maneuvering enough space in the car for your bags and gear without sacrificing comfort and safety is the road-tripper’s Rubik’s cube. If you have come to dread packing the car, it might be time to consider expanding your vehicle’s storage capacity with a roof box, and when it comes to roof boxes, Thule is a name you might have already heard of.

By investing in a Thule Roof Box you know you’ve got a quality cargo carrier for your car.

Regularly voted “best-in-test”, Thule has long been one of the market leaders in rooftop cargo boxes and car storage solutions. And with their safety record, wide range of roof box sizes and use of durable, high quality materials it isn’t hard to see why.

This guide to Thule’s car roof boxes will give you the information you need to decide whether a Thule car roof box will work for you.

Car roof boxes have been around for quite a while now and it is an ever-growing market, which makes it more and more difficult to know what to buy and how to get value for money. Thule was founded in Sweden in 1942 and has been building their reputation for safe, stylish and easy to use roof racks and cargo boxes ever since.

Thule roof boxes are durable, hard-shelled cargo boxes that attach to your car roof. These versatile products are designed to solve a vast range of storage needs while making road-tripping more comfortable and convenient for you and your passengers. From camp stoves to snowboards, deck chairs to fly rods, there is a Thule storage box for nearly every type of luggage or outdoor gear.

The invention of rooftop storage has been a revelation for road travelers, and for good reason. Their versatility, on many fronts, is impressive. You can get a roof box in so many shapes, sizes, colors and designs. But Thule does it particularly well. Thule roof box construction is fairly consistent across models but can vary slightly depending on your desired strength, rigidity, and finish. Most Thule roof boxes provide dual-side access making loading and unloading super convenient.

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How Much Can a Thule Roof Box Hold?

Thule’s range of roof boxes are designed to accommodate almost any outdoor equipment you need; long and thin for skis and fishing rods to big and bulky for all your camping and outdoor gear. Campers, climbers, skiers and surfers will all find box sizes and shapes to hold their equipment, outdoor gear or luggage. The amount of gear your storage box holds will depend on both the shape and size of the box, i.e. the larger your vehicle, the larger the box it can hold. Your Prius may not be able to accommodate one of the extra-large-capacity boxes, but your Suburban will have no problem.

So how much can a Thule roof box actually hold? Well, the capacity range for Thule rooftop storage starts with 10-12 cubic feet boxes that generally accommodate gear for one or two people. On the upper range are the 20-plus cubic feet boxes that can accommodate five people, or more, depending on the type of luggage or gear.

The most popular storage boxes fall in the 15-18-foot range, and will generally accommodate a family of four. Longer versions work great for skis and fishing poles, and shorter boxes are usually adequate for most camping gear and luggage.  You can even use a box to transport things like tools around, however you may struggle to get large items like Wheelbarrows in a roof box.

An average-sized roof storage box has about the same capacity as the trunk of a Honda Accord. You can double your storage space as well as the length of items you can carry. Even a trip to the DIY store can be a breeze with plenty of room in your roof box for bulky lumber, supplies and tools.

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If length is most important to you, the Thule Force XT XXL, at 92.5 inches, is the longest Thule roof box. Your 215-centimeter Nordic skis will do fine in this box, and it can carry up to seven pairs. Like the Motion XT, the extra-large Force XT can support 165 pounds and is quite spacious with 22 cubic feet of capacity.

Despite its length, the design allows for easy access to the rear compartments of most standard vehicles. This long Thule box is 35.5 inches wide and 18 inches tall.

What Is the Largest Thule Roof Box?

Two Thule models fit the description of the largest box available. Depending on whether you are looking for length, width or capacity, these two large-capacity boxes will accommodate even the longest and bulkiest equipment.

The Thule box with the highest weight rating is the Thule Motion XT XXL. It will hold up 165 pounds of gear and has a capacity of 22 cubic feet. This choice also boasts the most accommodating width of any Thule box, at 37.5 inches.

The Motion XT XXL is 91.5 inches long and 18 inches tall. At 55 pounds, it is lighter than many larger-sized boxes. The Motion XT is uniquely designed for large capacity and aerodynamics and will fit a wide range of vehicles. Despite its size, it is reported by users to be quiet on the road.

As for convenience, the Motion XT XXL allows for easy car-trunk access and plenty of clearance with most average to large-sized vehicles. You wouldn’t want to pay for extra storage and then lose access to the rear of your vehicle. The dual-side openings are equipped with lid-lifters and grip-friendly handles to allow for quick and easy access.

How Are Thule Cargo Boxes Made?

Thule roof storage boxes are known for their safety, strength and durability. The box itself is constructed from five layers of super-strong, automotive-grade acrylic, often used for molding applications because of its light weight and impact resistance. If environmental factors are included in your storage box wish list, you will be pleased to know Thule incorporates up to 80% recycled materials into many of their products.

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A large sheet of the plastic is heated and vacuum molded to the desired shape. Thule molds are designed to provide additional strength and stability by incorporating grooves and other indentations. Most boxes are fitted with embedded support bars in the base of the box for added rigidity and weight-carrying capacity. Dual-function struts ensure that the box firmly closes and easily opens without having to be held or propped. You will also have plenty of choices that affect the appearance and functionality of your roof storage box.

When in use, car roof boxes have almost constant exposure to the elements, including the sun. The shell material is treated for ultraviolet protection to prevent fading and other sun damage. Glossy or matte finishes are available in black, gray or white, depending on the model. Thule makes several types of surface textures. For example, the Sonic Alpine box features a dimpled top, similar to the surface of a golf ball, designed for improved aerodynamics. The AeroSkin diamond texture finish sported by the Thule Force line aids in the aerodynamics and also directs water off of the box.

Most Thule boxes have multiple lock-down points along the sides of the unit. These mechanisms are uniquely designed to serve as both locks and hinges, to facilitate Thule’s dual-side opening feature.

The materials used in Thule storage boxes endure extensive testing through a range of parameters. Visiting the product testing area of Thule’s website is an adventure. Thule goes to great lengths to ensure their materials will endure every possible type of extreme weather.

The boxes must tolerate wear-and-tear simulations including drop, shock and crash testing to confirm the durability and tensile strength of the materials. Before a Thule box design is approved, it virtually travels the globe, through the harshest arctic cold, pelting rain, desert heat and high winds.

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