Get the inside scoop on the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite with our review. Find out if it's a good choice for road trips and whether it generates excessive wind noise when hauling gear.

Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite Review: The Ultimate Roof Box for Your Car?

Looking for a roof box? Check Out Our Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite Review

This is our Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite roof box review. The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite is a popular choice for people who want a new way to store things when they travel. It is popular with both car owners and people who like to go on adventures because it looks good and is built to last.
If so, though, why spend the money? This review will focus on the features and benefits of the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite to help you decide if it’s the best choice for your needs. We’ll also discuss what makes this roof box superior to others and why we chose to review it.
The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite could be an excellent choice for anyone in need of more capacity, whether for a cross-country move, a long vacation, or any combination of the three. If you want to know more, you should keep reading.

Medium-sized Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite roof boxes accommodate most automobiles. Its 16-cubic-foot capacity is 90 inches long, 36 inches wide, and 15 inches tall. It’s constructed of carbonite, which resists weather and wear, and has a sleek black finish that looks excellent on any automobile.

The aerodynamic Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite reduces wind noise and drag while driving. Its dual-sided aperture makes loading and unloading easy. The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite has a built-in lock to safeguard your stuff and a keyed alike system to use the same key for all your Yakima gear.

The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite outperforms comparable roof boxes. Its aerodynamic shape reduces wind noise, and its size, capacity, and durability are ideal. Its dual-sided opening and built-in lock make it a simple and secure travel bag.

Gear Capacity and Interior Space

We recommend the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite for all-season gear capacity. Their model fits most vehicles and can hold a large tent, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, a stove, and a kid’s Strider bike for a family of four. Though packing was tricky, it held a lot (especially with items that are soft-sided and compressible).
The winter box fits snowboards and skis. Yakima says the maximum length is 185 centimeters, yet it fits two pairs of 182-centimeter all-mountain skis and a snowboard. For larger vehicles and more gear, Yakima provides the SkyBox in 18- and 21-cubic-foot capacities (Switchback’s founder bought a SkyBox 21 for a huge family move).
The SkyBox 16 can only carry low-profile products due to its aerodynamic form. It’s fantastic for camping stuff, however, it’s just 15 inches tall at its height (external dimensions) and lower in front. Thus, stacking long things like camping chairs or tall ones like strollers with 16-inch wheels is difficult.
The four elevated levers that secure the box to your vehicle’s crossbars also take up room and make the floor uneven. This limits what you can fit inside, but we’re happy with the SkyBox’s gear capacity.
Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite Cargo Roof Box (open box)

Box Dimensions and Weight

The SkyBox 16 is popular since it won’t block your vehicle’s back hatch. It’s long enough at 6 feet 9 inches to fit most skis and a lot of stuff, and the clamps can slide fore-and-aft to fit a variety of cars. To make sure it fits, measure from your front crossbar to the closest contact point of the open hatch. 

My Volkswagen Alltrack fits fine (Yakima has a useful guide for nailing this down). As mentioned above, its 15-inch height (internal dimensions are about 1 inch less) limits what fits within. Finally, its 36-inch breadth fits my small Alltrack, and larger vehicles with broader crossbars can add accessories like a bike rack.

SkyBox 16 weighs 47 pounds. Due to its size, the box should be moved with a partner (see “Installation and Removal” below). Weight limits apply to both your rack system and vehicle. The SkyBox can carry rather heavy stuff at 47 pounds (my Thule rack can manage 165 pounds, and my vehicle’s roof is rated for the same).

Cargo Box Access and Security

Mid- or high-end boxes offer convenient interior access. The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite can be opened from the driver or passenger side. Both have handles that match and locks that are built in. This makes it easy to put things in or take things out of the small spaces inside. The wide clamshell box can accommodate bulky products. If the opened box is too high to reach, each side includes a central string for closure.

The locks are firm and require a strong push to open. This is reassuring—the box is well manufactured, and the levers have held up well—but we’d rather it needed less effort. The SKS keys, needed to unlock the SkyBox, cannot be removed until it is closed and secured. This feature can be divisive—if you keep your keys on a wider ring, the complete set will be attached to the box and out in the open until you seal it—but it adds security and assures you’ve closed the box before leaving.

Weather Resistance

My Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite has been used for almost three years through 100+ degree heat, heavy rain, and snow, and it has never leaked or failed. Yakima says that the box is water-resistant, and I would say that it is quite water-resistant.

With the box’s lip hanging over the opening seam, any condensation will simply run off the top. As for the latch, it hasn’t been a weak point either. However, under direct sunlight, the interior can grow quite hot.

Because there are no vents or other openings to let air escape, and because the exterior is black, a lot of heated air escapes when the car is opened after being driven in the sun. Nonetheless, this is a small gripe, and I am satisfied with the coverage as a whole.

Road Noise and Aerodynamics

Road noise and gas consumption are concerns when mounting a hefty box to your car’s roof. Quality products like the SkyBox minimize these consequences. The dimpled pattern and lowered front end make it a good performer.
My 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, with and without the box, has minimal road noise. Windless highway days make little difference. When it’s windy, the box makes a mild whooshing sound (especially in crosswinds), but I sometimes forget it’s up there. If aerodynamics or garage fit are your main concerns, Yakima’s SkyBox Lo (11.5 in. peak height) is a lower-profile design that sacrifices gear storage and vehicle hatch compatibility (more in “The Competition” below).
If there’s little wind, your car’s gas mileage doesn’t change much. My tests haven’t been scientific, but I’ve taken the same two- to four-hour trips in Washington State on two-lane roads and major highways, including through mountain passes, and my average mileage hasn’t changed much. It’s 1 to 3 miles per gallon lower on windy excursions, but close enough to not be noticed in softer conditions.

Build Quality and Durability

Cargo roof boxes, to get right to the point, are not cheap. The SkyBox 16’s price tag of $679 places it toward the higher end of the mid-range segment, and its general construction quality also reflects that position.
The Thule GrandTour ($779) and the Thule Motion XT L ($800), which both have high-end paint jobs, look better, but it’s clear that the Thule product is well-made and made to last. As I said before, I haven’t had any problems with weatherproofing because of the plastic sides.
For the past few years, I’ve kept a box on the roof of my car, taking it off for only brief periods of time. Since the SkyBox is covered by a lifetime warranty, I have no worries about its durability.


Installation and Removal

The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite doesn’t need any extra equipment to get started, so it’s very easy to use. Within a few minutes of picking it up from an Amazon store, I had it unboxed and installed on my car. With the lid up and the four internal levers open, the clamps at the bottom will expand to fit over the cross bars. With a second person’s help, you may lift the box, walk around the front of the vehicle (the open clamps will make this orientation clear), and place the box directly in front of the bars.

The highly adjustable clamps are slipped over the bars, and the clamps are locked in place by turning all four over. Yakima and other online stores have made a number of high-quality videos for people who learn best by seeing things. Detaching it is just as easy as installing it; you just have to do the steps in the opposite order. However, you’ll still need a second person to help you take it off.

Cross Bar Compatibility

Modern roof boxes almost never have problems with cross bar compatibility. SkyBox owners can use their open clamps with any Yakima rack system (round or aerodynamic), as well as factory bars from the car’s maker and the square bars found in many cheap Thule racks. 

Despite the fact that Yakima’s fit guide does not explicitly state that it will work with Thule’s AeroBlade system, the box fits perfectly in my car, which already had the Thule system installed. 

It is best to use the fit guide before making a purchase, and if there is any possibility of hatch interference, it is recommended that you take the necessary measurements.

Other Things the Yakima SkyBox Can Do

The Yakima SkyBox Carbonite comes in a variety of sizes; we tried the 16-cubic-foot version, but it is also available in 12, 18, and 21 cubic feet. The 16 cubic feet was almost ideal for our gear, but the 15-inch peak height (about 14 inches inside) was a bit of a squeeze when it came to piling on extra-long or tall items. 

We recommend the 18-inch peak height (16 in.) or 21-inch peak height (18 in.) model for individuals who are ready for a change. Last but not least, Yakima offers a Lo Carbonite version of the SkyBox that, for $649, is lower-profile and longer than the type we tested by an inch in height and an inch and a half in length, respectively (more on this below).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite 

What we like

What we don't like

Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite Review - Final Thoughts

Last but not least, the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite is a great choice for people who want a roof box. It fits a wide range of cars thanks to its medium size, high carrying capacity, and sturdy construction. Its aerodynamic shape also reduces wind noise and drag on the road. The key-like system is a wonderful touch for individuals who own many Yakima roof products and appreciate the convenience of a key that will unlock all of their locks.
While testing the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite, we were very pleased with its performance and longevity. It was resilient in a variety of climates and simple to operate and set up. From our research and testing, we’ve found that it’s a great choice for people who want a reliable way to carry their stuff while they’re on the go.
We hope that our review of the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite helped you learn more about it. We welcome your feedback and insights if you have used this roof box yourself. We hope to hear from you soon!

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Daniel Wisdom
Daniel Wisdom

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