If I have come to learn anything throughout the years, it is that overlanders love to put stuff on top of their vehicles. That said, they are very particular about how they do so. Lashing piles of gear to the roof in a manner reminiscent of the truck from The Grapes of Wrath is curiously acceptable, but the use of a sleek and aerodynamic cargo box is not. Oddly enough, the same people so quick to define good roof top taste often dress like they’re on the lamb from the fashion police. A cargo box is out, but a shirt with 19 pockets is in? Anyway, I digress.
There are a number of reasons why the modern rooftop container is such a convenient storage solution. They are quiet, fuel efficient, easy to load and unload, protect your possessions from prying eyes and sticky fingers, and defend against foul weather. They can also be mounted or removed in a matter of minutes without tools or a second set of hands. There isn’t a great deal of downside, particularly with nicer systems like Yakima’s new Showcase 15.
On a recent three week road trip, I opted to augment our storage capacity with Yakima’s latest hauler and it performed beautifully. With 15 cubic-feet of volume, the Showcase was a perfect size to accommodate a complete assortment of camping goods from tents and pads, to sleeping bags, camp furniture, and all the trimmings. There was ample room to spare and during our 3,400 mile jaunt, everything within remained dry, clean, and readily accessible.
This is not my first Yakima cargo box and I can’t dismiss the fact they continue to get better with each successive generation. The latest models feature improved aerodynamics, recessed latches, quick-release attachment points, and like previous models has dual sided hinges allowing the case to be opened from either side.
At just 46 pounds, the Showcase is easy for one person to lift onto even a tall roof without much effort. The 80-inch length positions the bulk of the box forward of the mounting points providing ample clearance at the aft end for most vehicle lift gates to clear the lower aspect of the box. The 14.5-inch height is not the most low profile on the market, but creates enough internal volume to accommodate bulky items like my two North Face duffels. At 36-inches in width, the box allows for ample load bar space to also fit at least one bike mount.
When mounted to Yakima’s new aerodynamic Corebars, the Showcase was extremely quiet and by my best guess reduced my fuel efficiency only by an imperceptible amount. Mounted to a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a diesel engine, we still achieved 29.1 mpg over the course of 3,400 miles. In the best run without the box, we only scored 29.8 mpg. On the bumpy backroads of Wyoming and Montana the box produced no rattles or squeaks and I’m amazed that as dusty as the vehicle was, the interior of the box was immaculately clean.
There are several other fine touches Yakima applied to the Showcase. When locking the lid, the key cannot be withdrawn from the lock core until the latches are securely fastened. This eliminates the possibility of driving off with the lid open or unlocked. The internal clamps that fasten the Showcase to the load bars have pre-set tension knobs which once set, allow the clamps to be secured by simply folding them in the closed position. I can have the box mounted or removed in less than two minutes.
It’s another nice storage solution from the rack experts at Yakima. Whether deployed as a temporary hauler for the occasional trip or used day to day, the Showcase 15 is a proven winner. Better yet, you don’t look like the Clampetts rolling into Beverly Hills with all of your junk strapped to your roof.