BikeRumor.com – Yakima Goes Premium w/ New StageTwo Tray Rack

From BikeRumor.com by Zach Overholt

Yakima StageTwo

It’s taken a while, but it seems like bike racks in the U.S. are catching up to their European counterparts. Well, at least in terms of lighting, that is. That’s probably because having lights and a license plate holder isn’t a requirement in many parts of the U.S.—or it is a requirement, but generally isn’t enforced. However, to improve vehicle safety when carrying bikes, and give police one less reason to potentially pull you over, more brands stateside are offering racks with integrated lighting—like the new Yakima StageTwo with the optional SafetyMate package.

Yakima is taking an interesting route here, as the lights aren’t included in the base model StageTwo. Instead, they’re offered as an additional accessory package that sells for $219. That package includes full rear lighting with tail, brake, and turn signal lights along with a rear license plate light for the external license plate bracket. We’ve seen new racks with lights from Kuat and Saris recently, but both of those omit the rear license plate holder which may or may not be needed. The whole point to any of this is that a bike on a bike rack can block your taillights and license plate. Repositioning them keeps them visible, and keeps you legal depending on the local laws.

The SafetyMate uses a standard flat 4-way connector, and the wiring harness routes through the frame of the rack.

Due to the positioning of the lights, Yakima designed them to rotate 90° so that they’re still visible when the rack is folded up.

For those that don’t want the lights, the new StageTwo tray style rack will be sold without the SafetyMate package and starts at $749. The rack gets a premium Anthracite or Vapor Grey finish, and a few updates that position it at the top of the Yakima range.

A new tilt lever offers access on either side of the handle for easy access in either position.

There’s also an updated speed knob that tightens the rack down in the hitch and locks it to the vehicle with their SKS (Single Key System).

Locking is also available for each bike with SKS cable locks at each upright, and there’s an additional lock loop on the body of the rack to add a burly chain lock for secure storage when you need it.

Each tray is positioned with ‘stadium tiering’ and staggered trays to make loading multiple bikes easier. The trays have a 52″ maximum wheelbase, and will fit up to 3.25″ tires before you’ll need the additional fat bike strap for bigger tires. In terms of the weight limit, Yakima has the StageTwo for two levels of use: there is a 60lb per bike maximum tray capability or a maximum of 36lb per bike if using the rack for RV or off-road use. A two bike add-on will be offered in each color for another $549.

There will also be a Ramp Up accessory offered for $99. This ramp connects to the tray and allows you to push your bike up the ramp into the rack for easier loading. It does not store on the rack, so you’ll need to install and remove this every time you want to use it while storing it inside the vehicle between use.

Do It Yourself – Install a Yakima Roof Rack Without Attachment Points

From GearJunkie By Nicole Qualtieri

You can install your own roof rack even if, like me, you have a smooth roof with zero attachment points for a Yakima Roof Rack System. Here’s how it went.

I have two things we need to talk about. The first is the limited size of a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a topper. And the second is way too many hobbies. If I were to accurately organize and travel with all my gear — let’s be real here — I’d need a semi-truck with two of those trailers. But that seems unreasonable.

So, I’m currently working on solutions. The first big addition for me is putting a Yakima roof rack with a DoubleHaul fly rod carrier onto my truck topper. The small footprint of the DoubleHaul will also leave room for more storage or carrying solutions should I need them.

It also gives me the option to leave rods strung up for easy fishing when on the road. This is what I’m most excited about.

But I was certainly intimidated when I looked at the smooth top of my truck’s topper. Initially, I thought about getting it done professionally.

After watching a few videos and reminding myself that I’m consistently capable of a lot of strange things, I decided to dig in and try it. After all, I’d only ruin a very expensive truck topper.

Anyway, here’s how I DIY’d my Yakima rack prior to adding my DoubleHaul to the system. Here’s the before pic, and enjoy my instructions.

The before pic of my rig, starring Bob the Boykin

Installing Your Yakima Rack, Tracks First

The Custom-Fit Yakima SkyLine System

I’ll note that the rack that I installed is the SkyLine system, but most of these instructions will work if you need to install tracks, landing pads, and more for your Yakima rack. Yakima has a few different systems and depending on your specific vehicle, you’ll need the one that fits best.

I will say, this was one of the tougher installations because of the smooth exterior of my topper. But if I can do it, most people can.

I needed the following components to build my custom SkyLine System rack:

  • Yakima 60″ Tracks for Custom Fiberglass Installation — There are multiple options for tracks if your rig doesn’t have tracks or built-in rails, side rails, or connection points. Reach out to Yakima to figure out what’s most suitable for your vehicle.
  • Yakima Landing Pads — These connect to the tracks in order to create a platform for your rack. One box contains a set of four, which is all you need.
  • SkyLine Tower Set of Four — The towers then build the setup for your cross bars. Four are included with the set.
  • JetStream Cross Bars — Cross bars make the rack happen.
  • Power Drill — With a 1/8-inch drill bit and ¼-inch drill bit.
  • Pocket Knife — For cutting rubber. More on this to come.
  • Measuring Tape — Really gotta get this stuff (mostly) perfect.

Installing the Tracks

First, I decided that it would be easiest to fully remove the truck topper and work on all of this stuff from the ground. I was mostly right. I don’t like ladders, and I wanted to adjust the fit of my topper anyway. So, I pulled the four clamps and asked for help to get the topper to ground level.

The most nerve-wracking part of laying the tracks is that you must drill holes to make the connections from track to topper. But it’s fairly straightforward.

You simply lay the tracks down, measure with the measuring tape for equidistance on both tracks, and straighten them as much as you can. Use a permanent marker to mark every other hole; there should be six holes in total for each track. Then, you drill each hole with the 1/8-inch bit, followed by opening the hole with the ¼-inch bit.

I was worried I’d get this wrong. But I didn’t. It was pretty easy. You do have to add silicone to the holes prior to installing the screw/washer system, so it can get a bit messy.

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GearJunkie – Double-Decker Hitch Rack Hauls It All: Yakima Exo Review

From GearJunkie.com By Berne Broudy

Mounting Yakima’s EXO modular hitch rack is like moving from a studio apartment to a house with a garage.

I do a lot of sports and multi-activity adventures that require a lot of gear. So when I head out for the weekend, my Toyota Rav 4 Prime is loaded so full I can’t see out the back window. What’s more, my dogs have to sit uncomfortably atop duffel bags, bike shoes, climbing ropes, a cooler, toolbox, and more.

Thankfully, that all changed since I mounted Yakima’s EXO rack on my hitch. The fully modular rack has dry, secure storage; bike and ski racks; a burly basket that holds coolers and duffel bags (and also converts to a handy wheeled wagon); a bamboo table — the list goes on.

The EXO is a unique rack that fits any 2-inch hitch receiver. It offers one or two levels of carriage: the EXO SwingBase serves as a kind of lower deck that can be paired with the EXO TopShelf that sits above. Both decks both hold any of the EXO storage baskets, boxes, or racks.

Yakima EXO Modular Hitch Race: Setup

It all starts with the SwingBase, built on a swing-away that connects to a hitch receiver with a locking screw-in pin. Its two folding arms have tracks for any of the EXO system accessories (more below).

With the SwingBase installed, storage and mounts slide into tracks on the arms and tighten down with locking screw knobs. The rack rotates away from the vehicle for hatch access hatch. And a burly, overbuilt screw handle secures the closed SwingBase when it’s closed.

When it’s open with loaded racks or storage, a quick-install leg supports the open rack.

Next, the SwingBase has a receptacle for EXO’s TopShelf, the upper deck storage and rack holder. It locks to the base. It also rotates independently of the base when the two aren’t locked together.

Yakima EXO Accessories

DoubleUp Bike Rack & GearLocker

Most of the summer, I’ve used EXO’s DoubleUp bike rack on the upper deck, and its GearLocker on the lower deck. I keep all my riding gear in the dry, locked storage box. That keeps dirt and stink out of my car, and keeps all my gear where I can grab it fast at the trailhead.

The DoubleUp bike rack is the only mount that has to be installed on the TopShelf if you’re running both upper and lower decks. Every other mount can be used on whichever level you prefer.

In the setup I’ve been running, the GearLocker box won’t open unless I rotate the upper deck with the bike rack away from the lower deck. While it’s a minor annoyance, having the extra storage has proven worth it.

So when I use a GearLocker on the lower deck, instead of using the locking bolt to secure the top level to bottom level, I secure the two levels to each other with a quick-to-remove pin and a knob.

GearWarrior Basket

When I didn’t need locked, dry, dustproof storage for my gear, I slid the GearWarrior basket into the lower deck mount.

Yakima sells wheels and a handle that can convert the GearWarrior into a wagon. If you’ve ever hauled heavy coolers, six-person tents, firewood, and other camping gear for any distance, you’ll understand the value of this system.

The WarriorWheels install in minutes tool-free, and they can support up to 110 pounds. So not only was the basket spacious and easy to load and unload, but it also helped me get my gear to camp when I couldn’t drive to my site.

BackDeck

One of the mounts I was unsure I’d use was the EXO’s BackDeck. The bamboo tabletop, which comes in a protective carry case and must be stored inside the vehicle for transport, ended up being one of my favorite EXO accessories.

Post-ride beers were even more awesome served on this table. It had space for a cooler, snacks, a Bluetooth speaker, and gear. I also used the BackDeck as a work stand to hold tools, chain lube, rags, and more for field repairs.

And, when I parked to catch a sunset over Lake Champlain, I set it up on the EXO’s lower level where it was the perfect camp chair height to set drinks and food while kicking back.

Exo LitKit

Because the rack will block your taillights and your license plate, Yakima also makes the LitKit, a license plate holder with taillights that mounts on the rack where it’s visible to other drivers.  Note: You will need a wiring harness.

If you’re installing this rack on a vehicle other than a pickup, which likely came with a wiring harness, you’ll probably need to have one installed by a mechanic.

All of the parts and pieces of the EXO system lock to the EXO SwingBase and TopShelf. The GearLocker and bike and ski racks also lock, and the SwingBase and TopShelf lock to each other.

Yakima EXO Review

The biggest downside to the rack is that it’s heavy. And when I’m using both upper and lower decks, it’s hard to see out my rear window. On many vehicles, the system also blocks the backup camera.

Of course, the big downside is the price. The SwingBase and TopShelf are around $930, and that’s before adding the GearLocker ($419), GearWarrior ($349), DoubleUp bike rack ($499), or BackDeck tabletop ($129). All mounts are specific to the EXO base rack, which can be installed on a 2-inch hitch only.

From my perspective, even if I get all the mounts and storage options, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new car with more space. As an incurable gearhead who wants to be ready for any adventure that presents itself, this system has been invaluable to me.

And my dogs say that hitting the trailhead, crag, and put-in has become a lot more comfortable since I mounted the Exo on our hitch.

The EXO systems isn’t perfect, but it’s user-friendly, easy to operate, and gives me space I’ve only dreamed of. And because it’s modular, I’ve added mounts as I need them and as the budget allows.

So, I’m building a customized system that meets all my needs that can also be transferred to another vehicle if I’m traveling with a friend, or when it’s time to trade in my wheels for something new.

Yakima Rack Pack – Meet Rachel Strait

Meet Rachel Strait

IT RIDES…IN THE FAMILY

Growing up with a motorcycle racing dad, Rachel Strait didn’t have to go far to discover a love of two-wheeled speed. When she was young, her family followed the race calendar and all participated. After each race, dad would pin their number plates on their travel trailer door and have the kids write down their place, how they did, and their goals for the next race. Twenty years later, the same thoughtful approach defines Rachel’s way of training, racing, and living. She’s created an approach that allows her to take a holistic view of time on and off the bike.  

A BALANCED PROGRAM

“I used to be all-in on racing cross-country, but as I get older I want to try new things,” says Strait, “At first, I focused on Enduro, but I’m branching out and trying other areas as well: Dual Slalom, Pump Track, Air DH.” Her newfound embrace of a broader range of riding has allowed her to put energy into one of her favorite things: progress. “I love the challenge of bringing my mental state in-line with my ability on the bike, and vice versa,” she says, “So often we hold ourselves back in our head when really, our bodies can achieve what we’re aiming for.” 

Strait is no stranger to pushing herself to perform. But as she’s gotten a little older, her attitude has evolved as well, “I’m fortunate that my sponsorship relations are not all based on my results,” says Strait, “I have clear goals that I want to achieve, and I want to be stoked on how I ride my races, but not get overly worried about my exact placings. Inside, though, I want to make the podium every time I line up.”  

HangOver 4 Vertical Bike Rack + BackSwing

REAL LIFE=REAL GEAR

Living a life around bikes means taking them places. For Strait, that’s even more true, given travel for training, racing, and just plain old playtime. “For daily use, it’s the Dr. Tray. I love that rack. It makes traveling with bikes so easy and convenient,” she says. When it’s time to load up for more extended road time, Strait and her husband, professional rider and two-time Red Bull Rampage champion Kyle Strait, kit out the vehicle to make things smoother.

“Longer trips call for a more detailed set-up,” she says, “When we travel, we’ve got the HangOver, the SkyRise HD, and the SlimShady. They make being on the road super easy. We did two Baja trips last year and brought boards and bikes. Having a mobile base camp makes it super fun,” says Strait, “And when we go to Whistler, we bring so many bikes that on the way home we always make a couple stops, just to ride and have some adventures. It’s so convenient to have the tent on top and just be able to pick your spot.”

Dr Tray Bike Rack

IMPROVISING

2020 was on track to bring more of this to life, with another season competing on the CrankWorx tour. But then everything changed. Everywhere. For everyone. With the global impact of COVID-19, Strait’s schedule for the year went on hold.  “The CrankWorx events were pushed up a bit. We had less time to prepare and were a little bummed initially, but now in the scope of things we’re thankful for that. It meant we were lucky to get to do the first stop of CrankWorx in New Zealand, before everything shut down.”

As for what’s next, Strait is in the same spot as all of us: waiting. “For now, I have the same schedule planned, just a little postponed,” she says. For anyone who’s active, the current situation can take its toll. Being inside, staying away from favorite spots to ride and taking extra precautions is hard, but necessary. It’s no different for the Straits, “It’s been pretty hard. We’re making sure we’re really cautious any time we do ride. We live on 10 acres and can ride on the property,” says Strait, ”We’re trying to eat really healthy as well, to keep our immune system strong, and just trying to lessen our trips out.”

Off the bike, Strait’s also trying new things, “I’ve been tapping into my crafty side,” she says, “Which I didn’t know I had! I started to macramé, which is pretty cool. I don’t think of myself as creative, but it appeals to my analytical side.”

RIDE HARD, BE NICE

Now more than ever, Strait is spending time and energy on mental health, ”It’s easy to get down and feel depressed,” she says, “Riding is such a great way to keep your endorphins up and your system strong. Getting into some sort of routine makes such a difference, keeping up those connections however you can.”

Last, but most, she’s emphasizing something we can all rally behind in uncertain times, “Most importantly: Be kind. Even when you’re scared,” she says. For someone used to managing her fears as part of her profession, those are important words. 

Rachel Strait | Yakima Rackpack’r | @rachelstrait1

Yakima Racks Camping Weekend Getaway: Big Bear, CA

Andrew Villablanca is a Los Angeles based outdoors enthusiast. If he isn’t mountain biking, he’s out on an adventure in his truck to explore the Southwest. His 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 is equipped with a Yakima SkyRise HD rooftop tent, SlimShady Awning, and OutPost HD rack.

LA Weekend Road Trip

Leave the Home Office Behind

For a lot of us, the past year has been anything but what we expected. With all semblance of a routine gone, it’s been hard to keep track of the little things, like working out or grocery shopping, much less trips or getaways. While I had planned countless trips, each month has come and gone without me leaving the office, aka home. After months of staying put, my girlfriend and I decided it was finally time to get out. While flying was obviously out of the cards, we figured why not take the social distancing thing to the woods, to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.

Living in Los Angeles means that we have a laundry list of interesting places to explore, but this time we set a two-hour perimeter for ourselves to keep things a little more manageable. We set our sights to the north east of the city looking for a mountain escape.

Just a couple of hours from LA, Big Bear, CA is a mountain oasis that feels far removed from the bustle of the concrete jungle. The winter months are perfect for desert trips to Joshua Tree, Mojave or Anza-Borrego, but the heat of the summer makes the mountains east of Los Angeles the perfect getaway. Big Bear is one of my favorite day or weekend trips to get out and enjoy some elevation. While the main drag of town gets crowded during the summer, hundreds of miles of forest, single track hiking, and dirt roads await those willing to go a little farther. It’s always nice to trade the noise of the city for the gentle whir of the wind through the pines.

Camping In The Skyrise Rooftop Tent: Ready For Rain Or Shine

We left early in the morning, hoping to set up camp by midday so we could get out and take in the scenery. The hot day and humid conditions gave us a welcome thunderstorm as we rolled into town. As we drove over to Holcomb Valley to find a spot to set up camp, the rain intensified. It seemed like our day of hiking was going to be cut short, but we decided to truck on in search of the perfect camp site. Eventually after a few miles of driving we found a spot protected by tall pines and nestled up against a large rock feature. Like magic, the rain subsided to a gentle drizzle as we rolled up to camp and started to open the tent and get out our gear. It only took a few minutes to open the tent, set up the rainfly, and unfurl the awning to provide protection from the drizzle. When you’ve got the right gear, you’re never unprepared, which means a little rain isn’t the end of a camping weekend!

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Ford Bronco Sport Ultimate Outdoor Rig

The Sky Island region of southeast Arizona is among the most biologically diverse areas in North America. From parrots to jaguars, this desert oasis is beautiful, fragile and worth taking the time to explore. Four friends set off on a 220-mile bike relay in their all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport to test their ability and introduce people to a place they know and love.

In episode one, learn tips for getting the Ford Bronco Sport ready for your next trip — what to pack, how to organize, and installation tips for rooftop tents and bike racks.

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Gear Junkie – The Best Rooftop Tents of 2021 – Yakima SkyRise Medium

From GearJunkie By Berne Broudy

The Best Rooftop Tents of 2021

If you’ve never slept in a rooftop tent, it’s hard to imagine how different it is from sleeping on the ground.

For overland adventures, life on the road, or just an elevated and more comfortable campout experience, rooftop tents are the way to go. As options for car- and truck-mounted tents expand, it can be tough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are our picks for the best rooftop tents.

If you’ve never slept in a rooftop tent, it’s hard to imagine how different it is from sleeping on the ground. Rooftop tent (RTT) sleeping feels safer and more secure than sleeping in a tent on the ground.

Plus, RTTs offer a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings, airflow that’s unheard of in a traditional tent, protection (and peace of mind), and generally superior comfort for sleeping.

The drawbacks: Unlike a ground tent or a tow-behind camper, when your tent is on your roof, you have to break camp before you drive away. And, for those who make nighttime visits to the loo, there’s a ladder to negotiate between you and relief (unless you’re willing to get creative).

Also, if your dog gets to share the human bed, practice your one-handed ladder climb before you attempt to hoist them up. Multiply that effort if you have more than one dog.

Not every rooftop tent fits every vehicle nor every budget. But some tents work for almost every car or truck. Rooftop tents are all pricier than even the plushest backpacking tent, but if you’re able to invest, you won’t regret it.

Best 3-Person Rooftop Tent: Yakima SkyRise Medium

Two of the biggest barriers to entry for campers considering a rooftop tent are weight and price. Yakima’s SkyRise ($1,599) is not only relatively light, but it’s also competitively priced for a three-person tent. And it’s the most similar to backpacking and car camping tents that many backcountry enthusiasts are already familiar with.

The SkyRise is made from the same stuff as most tents you’d pitch on the ground. The 210D nylon is light and breathable, with mesh ventilation panels that double as windows into the Milky Way. All the windows and the two skylights have solid and mesh panels that zip open for ventilation and views.

Much like a standard ground tent, the SkyRise’s waterproof fly is polyurethane-coated, and the tent can be set up with the fly on or off. Aluminum poles give the tent structure. They’re strong, pre-set, and easy to engage once you manually flip this tent open.

Consider a three-person tent if you’ll be sleeping with a child. This is also a good option if you’re a dog owner whose dog climbs ladders, or if you’re willing to shuttle your pooch into your rooftop nest. Everyone will appreciate the plush, 2.5-inch-thick, wall-to-wall mattress.

And after this tent gets some use, you’ll also appreciate that the mattress has a removable cover for easy cleaning.

The SkyRise M is one of the easiest tents to mount on a roof rack. It goes on and comes off tool-free.

It also locks to your roof with the same system used in all Yakima bars and mounts, SKS lock cores, which are included with the tent.

  • Dimensions open: 56″ x 96″ x 48″ H
  • Dimensions closed: 58″ x 48″ x 16.5″
  • Sleeping footprint: 56″ x 96″
  • Weight: 115 lbs.
Pros:
  • Super easy to mount
  • Locks to your roof
Cons:
  • Lighter fabrics may flap more on windy nights

For the other tents that made the list checkout GearJunkie.com

Dropping In With Robin

Dropping In With Robin

We caught up with pro snowboarder Robin Van Gyn to get her winter report.

November 2020

Professional athletes are just like normal people, except for, you know, being faster and stronger. So, just like for everyone else, this year has been strange and challenging for those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around getting outside and getting after it. This is especially true if your work involves flying around the globe chasing winter storm cycles in search of blower pow and untracked lines, which is pretty much snowboarder Robin Van Gyn’s job description. But being flexible and having a good attitude are also part of the what it takes to perform at the highest levels, and those two attributes are at the core of how Van Gyn takes on the world. We caught up with her during some down time at home in British Columbia, as she prepares for a winter season unlike any other she’s faced.

It’s been a crazy year, but winter is almost here. What have you been doing to prepare? (Have you been treating it differently?)

Normally, I’d be in gyms, in workout classes, at the resort early. This year, I’m sort of grounded and doing my training from home. With COVID and not being able to travel the way we normally would, we have to pivot to be in our homes and learn how to do our jobs within those confines.

For me, it’s been interesting to stay home and really explore my own backyard. I fly a lot, so now I get to travel by car. In the spring, I went out into the B.C. backcountry and felt like I was seeing things I’d never seen before. I realized that when it comes to my own area, I really don’t know it all. I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg.  So, I’m stoked to expand my exploration of B.C. and really get into my own backyard more. There’s so much to see—you could never see it all!

It’s a really good reminder that we don’t need as much as often think. We can live a bit more simply if we just get creative.

What are you looking forward to this season?

I’m really excited for the Natural Selection contest series. Travis Rice has been scheming up this backcountry-focused contest tour for a long time, and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition. There’s three events—B.C., Jackson Hole, and Alaska. I’m not totally sure how they are going to manage it, but I’m really stoked to see what it looks like.

Personally, I’m in the middle of shooting and producing a 5-part series about women in action sports called “Fabric.” It’s a two-year project, and I’m working hard to make it come to life. Filming, production, and post-production will all be a challenge this year, for sure. For us, it’s all about funding. There’s so much uncertainty, which makes it hard for sponsors to commit, but I’m confident and optimistic about it coming to life.

Things will look a little different on the mountain this year. What’s your approach to tailgating or overnighting in the parking lot or at the trailhead?

I’m a veteran tailgater! So, this is in my wheelhouse. I’m excited to see the larger community embrace this kind of approach and spend a little more time outside together. I’m a backcountry rider, so that’s what we always do. We end the day at the trailhead and celebrate the day and our time in the mountains. For resorts, I think it will simplify things. There’s a lot of expense involved with resort skiing, and this approach brings the mountain experience back to its roots. You come together in the lot, have some snacks, have a beer, talk about the day. I love it.

What are your must-have items for the winter tailgate?

I always have a cooler. Mine’s bear proof, so I can leave it the back of the truck. Inside: hot lunch; cold drinks; lots of snacks. It’s something I love to have—a mobile snack situation. I love having it as a way to gather people together.

Do you have any advice for people heading into this winter in particular?

Be patient. I’m pretty used to being outside, so I know how to be out and be comfortable for long periods of time. But for a lot of folks, it’s not that way. It takes a little bit of getting used to. Don’t give up! You’ll learn what you need, whether it’s better gloves or more layers or embracing the sweat of going uphill.

I truly encourage people to stick with it. Being efficient in the outdoors takes a little time, but once you start to get it, you love it and you never let it go.

Pictured with Yakima OverHaul HD truck towers with HD Bars Medium (60”), and SkyBox 16.

Yakima ‘EXO System’ Turns Your Car Into a Pickup

From GearJunkie by Berne Broudy

Bike and ski racks, gearboxes, even a BackDeck to grill out — with the Yakima EXO system, it’s all on the hitch of your car.

The secret behind Yakima’s latest innovation — the EXO System — lies with its modular rack system. With it, car campers of all levels can enhance any vehicle’s storage and organization with seasonal parts and pieces, like bike and ski racks, that swap with a click.

“Inspired by the overlanding space, we saw an opportunity to do something on the hitch that hadn’t been done before,” said Yakima product manager Jonny Wood.

The foundation of the system is the EXO Swing Base, which mounts to any 2-inch hitch receiver and cleats to EXO’s various parts and pieces, tool-free. The Swing Base sits on a swing arm that levers toward the side of your vehicle to move the base and attachments away from the trunk, allowing you to access your hatch or tailgate.

But it doesn’t stop there. Another attachment, the EXO TopShelf, turns that EXO Swing Base into a double-decker rack. Add it to the Swing Base for two levels of gear storage; install a box or basket on the bottom and a bike or ski rack on top.

Yakima EXO System: Accessories to Match Your Needs

The EXO system has parts and pieces to personalize a system that meets your needs. Accessories include the Gear Warrior basket, Gear Locker storage box, DoubleUp two-bike tray rack, Snowbank ski/snowboard carrier, organizer totes, a bamboo tabletop that turns the rack into a camp table, and Warrior Wheels, an adapter kit that converts the cargo basket into a wagon.

For example, the EXO GearLocker has the functionality of a rooftop cargo box, but positioned for easy access. It detaches, even loaded, so you can carry it to your campsite for watertight storage. It also means no unloading and reloading until you actually need something inside.

GearTotes fit inside the GearLocker to keep things organized. Durable, collapsible, and dividable, they’re made from ripstop nylon with a weight rating of up to 50 pounds. Load them with groceries, sport-specific gear, or your camp kitchen.

The EXO TopShelf, meanwhile, holds the two-bike DoubleUp tray rack at a height that keeps the bikes out of road grime. When you’re not carrying a box or basket, the rack also mounts on the bottom shelf. The TopShelf also holds a ski/snowboard rack where it’s much easier to load and unload than on your vehicle’s roof.

Yakima EXO: More Extras

One of the most clever and unexpected pieces of the EXO system is the WarriorWheels accessory. Unclip the WarriorBasket from your base and clip it to these wheels, and you have a wagon to transport heavy, bulky stuff — like firewood, an oversized cooler, or your overloaded Gear Warrior basket. The WarriorWheels and handle attach while the basket is still on your base rack, so you can drop it and go.

If you live or travel somewhere where cops get cranky when they can’t see your plates, you’ll appreciate EXO’s LitKit. Mount it on the SwingBase, and it gives any vehicle taillights and a license plate a mount where they’re most visible.

Last, but not least, the EXO BackDeck may actually tie the WarriorWheels for “cool and surprising” innovation. Mounted to the rack, it becomes a work surface for bike wrenching, food prep, or a backcountry bar. And when you’re not using it, it stores in a bag inside your car.

Yakima EXO System: Price

When I mapped out the pieces I’d like, it’s not cheap. The EXO Swingarm Base costs $499. Add the top shelf for $379. The Gear Locker adds an additional $399 with organizer totes at $49 each.

Then, the two bike rack costs $479, while the back deck table runs $129 — that’s nearly $2,000 for a three-season EXO system. And all that before adding a ski rack or the basket and wheels. It’s close to the same cost of buying a premium roof box and rack to hold it, along with a hitch-mounted bike rack.

So, it’s sure to give some potential buyers sticker shock. But the convenience and versatility could well make the price worth it for some.

Stay tuned for more on the Yakima EXO.

Introducing – Yakima EXO

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