Mountain biking, kayaking, backpacking and skiing bring the dilemma of where to stash the smelly, cheesy, wet gear when you get off the trail, river or slopes.
In the back of my squeaky-clean Subaru Outback? Nyet!
The Yakima RocketBox Pro 11 may look like car-top coffin but it has eleven cubic feet of waterproof storage capacity. The reason I went with the Pro 11 over the Pro 12 or Pro 14 is size. We needed something long enough to hold my husband’s 210cm cross-country skis (mine are just measly 180cm’s) and our kayak paddles.
However, the real value test came with how much the Rocketbox’s presence would affect gas mileage.
My Subie Outback consistently averages 27 MPG so a road trip was in order. Copper Harbor, situated on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is known for its world-class bike trails and sea kayaking on Lake Superior. That meant a load of gear needed to hauled 7.5 hours from Minneapolis and back.
Packing, for once, was actually less of a chore because we had extra room.
An Ibis Mojo and a Pivot 5.7 were attached to the hitch-mounted bike rack. Inside the Subie, we packed bike gear, a toolbox full of bike tools and supplies, a big ice chest and clothes for two people for five days. Upstairs, in the Rocketbox, were two sets of drysuits, PFDs, spray skirts and kayak paddles.
On that trip, the Subie represented.
It also averaged 27 MPG.
I checked my math a number of times because every calculation showed that the Rocketbox had no impact on the Subie’s gas mileage. I didn’t think that was possible. Yes, it’s aerodynamic, but it’s still a thing on the top of the car and the laws of physics state that any thing on the top of the car will create drag and cause gas mileage to plunge. Guess I’ll let the Mythbusters crew explain that one.
Anyway. Putting it on and taking it off is easy because it’s so light. I can do it myself with no problem. It fits perfectly on my factory-installed Subaru roof bars and does not interfere with opening the rear hatch once it’s on. So Yakima’s specs were spot on.
On the open road, it made noise, but it was only audible when the moonroof was open. It did not wobble, weeble or rattle. I had had apocalyptic visions of the Rocketbox popping open and stewing several thousand dollars worth of kayaking gear along the highway but that never came to fruition.
Its lean, sleek design holds an amazing amount of stuff. Even with all our kayaking gear in it, there was still room for a few more items. All this cargo capacity, and there is still room on the crossbars for a kayak or a bike. If I had Yakima crossbars that were wider, I could get an extra kayak or an extra bike on top.
Assembly. Oh, now there’s a subject oozing with controversy.
It is required and is mostly intuitive. I say mostly because I’m in the habit of winging it. I might consider the possibility of actually reading the directions after I realized I put it together backwards or inside out, but even that’s a long shot. It took me an entire weekend to piece the million littlepieces into a fully-functioning Rocketbox for the Copper Harbor trip. You could probably do it an hour.
I have one boo-hiss. It’s a pain to close and it’s not because I eschew assembly instructions. It has three latches on the inside of the box and they need to line-up perfectly with three catchers. If these don’t line up, you’ll never see your key again.
This isn’t a design flaw. I checked with Yakima on this. They fully intended for you to muscle and beat the lid down with a good smack to get it to close. The tight fit prevents leaking and the locking system is designed for security. You can’t remove the key until all three latches are secure. This minimizes the danger of your grundies being strewed along the highway.
If my experience can demonstrate anything, it’s to be patient until you get the hang of it. Eventually. On the Copper Harbor trip, I was cussing and swearing when it came time to lock the box. Now I just emit the occasional grumble.
But what I do know is that you won’t regret buying this. I’m very pleased with the storage capability and that it doesn’t impact gas mileage. Bling it out with some stickers and it will look extra cool on the top of your car.