Yakima vs Thule Roof Box: Which to Choose? [Settled]

Updated July 25, 2023
Some links within may be affiliate links where Proper Peaks will use any sweet dollars to pay our staff so they can buy lift tickets.

Roof boxes are not only a staple for skiers and snowboarders but the functional piece of car and SUV equipment can be used year-round. If you need more space on your road trips and want to free up the seats in your vehicle then a roof box is where you should look. You’ll gain back a ton of space and store your items high and dry for a trip. We’re going to look at Yakima vs Thule and settle on which roof box to choose.

Thule vs Yakima roof boxes

Yakima vs Thule Roof Box: The Debate

Thule and Yakima are two of the best know brands when it comes to roof boxes. Not only do they both make roof boxes but they also make ski and snowboard racks. Thule out of Sweden is known for its aerodynamic and stylish European designs while Yakima is known for it’s classic U.S. heritage and for keeping some of it’s manufacturing still in California.

Who Needs a Roof Box?

A roof box is designed if you are short on space in the car or SUV. Maybe you just need more space for passengers and want to keep your items out of the way for a ski trip.

Roof boxes unlike standard ski and snowboard roof racks offer protection from the weather while maintaining a lot of space and staying aerodynamic. Outside of ski season, if you climb, bike or camp then you can get a lot of use out of a roof rack.

Are Roof Boxes Good for Skiing and Snowboarding?

Not only are roof boxes designed for skiing and snowboarding but they are one of the most popular ways to get people’s ski and snowboard gear to the slopes.

Here are a few things you can store in a roof box:

  • Skis
  • Snowboards
  • Clothes for the slopes and lodge
  • Boots
  • Food

Plus, just like vehicles themselves, roof boxes lock so you can head into the ski resort and then come back to grab your gear. A good roof box completely changes the game of heading to the ski slopes.

Yakima Roof Boxes

Yakima roofbox with skis.

For their larger sized boxes, of course you are going to want a large vehicle like an SUV. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of Yakima’s roof boxes.


  • Start at sub $500
  • Universal designs and fits
  • Partially made in the U.S.A for some models
  • Low profile and skinny cargo boxes available


  • Don’t come with all the bells and whistles of other brands
  • Not as flashy as other brands

Keep in mind that if you decide on a Yakima roof box then you’ll still need a compatible set of roof bars to mount the cargo box onto. While we suggest sticking with the Yakima brand and pairing it with a roof box, you can also go with a universal brand set of bars to mount the roof box to. Roof bars are essential so your Yakima roof box doesn’t scratch the paint on the roof of your vehicle.

Yakima Skybox

Durable, aerodynamic and carries gear for 3 people.

Thule Roof Boxes

Thule roofbox on suv for skiing

You can spot that Swedish design a mile away in the parking lot of a ski slope. Thule Roof Boxes look like pieces of art and can really add to the design and function of a car or SUV that is headed to the slopes. While Thule roof boxes are undoubtedly more common on European cars like Audis, Volvos and BMWs, they are perfect for American cars too.


  • Premium designs
  • Power click locking technology
  • Fits up to 215cm long skis or boards
  • Felt-lined interiors
  • Options for integrated lighting
  • Pricing starts at sub $500


  • Minimal colors
  • Quality could be improved on some models

Thule swings for the fences on a lot of their models by adding integrated lighting which helps at night, their own power click technology to secure boxes to roof races and sliding locks. While all these features are great, it does add for more moving parts which can sometimes not live up to expectations.

Generally speaking, Thule customer service is good and they will sort you out with any issues but hopefully, you won’t have any in the first place. If you are going for looks though, you surely won’t be disappointed with Thule’s sleek designs.

Don’t Skimp on Space: Thule Force Roofbox

The Thule Force is a more affordable space saver that will put extra room in your vehicle.

How Fast Can You Drive With a Thule Roof Box?

Fortunately, with Thule you’ll probably never test the top speed of their roof boxes. It is advised that you don’t go faster than 80 MPH or 130 km/h. Any faster than this and you are putting your vehicle at risk. That said, it is plenty fast for most drivers heading to the ski resorts.

Why You Should use a Roof Box on an SUV to Go Skiing

To some people, it’s not the first thought to put a roof box on an SUV to go skiing. Once you try it and see all the extra space you have, you’ll never want to travel another way to the slopes.

While the extra space may not be needed for a solo traveler, families almost always benefit from a roof box. To get extra space without upgrading your SUV, a roof box is a simple answer.

Which Roof Box is the Most Functional for Skiing and Snowboarding?

Thule Motion roof box

Our Peak Seeker pro pick goes to the Thule Motion series. If you want a large roof box then their Thule Motion XT XL and XXL are great options. You can get over 5 pairs of skis or 5 snowboards into the XL roof box. Along with it’s sporty design, we love this model.

The Looks: Which Roof Box Looks Better – Yakima vs Thule Roof Box

For us, the smaller logo, sleeker design and overall look of Thule are our favorite. While we like a good Yakima rack like the rest of the ski and snowboard crowd, the Swedish design of Thule stands out. For a premium car or SUV, we like the look of matching it with a premium cargo box like Thule.

Yakima vs Thule Roof Box: The Verdict

Functionally, Yakima and Thule will both get the job done. They will both add the extra space and protection to get your ski and snowboard gear to the slopes. Stylistically, we give the nod to Thule with their designs. The prices come in close and if we had to choose again for our next vehicle, we are leaning towards Thule.

At the end of the day, Yakima and Thule both make great roof boxes that will solve your problem of a lack of space. Get one and try it out!

Alec Wilson writes for Proper Peaks and lives near Claremont, VT. He hardly misses a weekend on the ski slopes in the winter. If there is snow, Alec’s skis are on for a go. Look out for his stickered-up helmet and you might just meet him on the trails.

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