This review actually started as a little blurb for our winter gift guide and as I got writing I found that this definitely deserves a review of its own. We as hearty adventurers and gear sluts have no doubt amassed a ridiculous amount of gear and what's worse is that we rarely are willing to part with any of it, you know, just in case. Another thing about us is that we love to use our gear, we aren't running a museum. We love to load our vehicles up and actually get into the backcountry. One of the biggest problems most folks have is getting themselves, their buddies, and all of their gear to the trail-head to begin the adventure. Now I know we all fashion ourselves as MacGuyvers but the reality is that something will inevitably suffer as a result of our "duct tape skills". I have on more than one occasion had to stop mid trip and chase down an errant piece of gear that some how managed to untie a knot, unhook a bungee, or actually cut through duct tape! Most of the time this is simple camp fire fodder and no big deal, but occasionally it becomes a tragedy and a key piece of gear gets trashed, or worse, it silently and unnoticed frees itself and you are sitting at the TH wondering where the hell your tent went. Fortunately the folks at Yakima must be true gear nuts as well, because they have figured out every conceivable way to secure your precious cargo so that it makes it safely to and from the TH. With products ranging from roof top cargo solutions to hitch mounted racks Yakima is the one stop shop for all of your gear transporting needs. In this review I will discuss a few of my favorites; the SkyBox, Fork Lift and FatCat 6.
Weight: 52 lbs.
Dimensions: 92" x 36" x 16"
Capacity: 18 cu feet
Part sticker billboard part ultimate gear stash the Skybox series is a great way to free up interior room in your vehicle and keep your gear protected from the elements. This whale of a gear closet will swallow packs and poles and bags and really what ever you want to throw at it. And it'll keep it all safe and dry, once you're done with your nice outing you can throw all of the muddy, wet, nasty gear back into it, it won't complain a bit. Yakima has revolutionized the mounting system with their super quick and easy slide lock mounting hardware. The mounts are amazing in their ability to grab on to round, square and most factory crossbars as well as my burly 2.5" diameter ladder rack! The Skybox also features dual side opening so you can access your gear from either side and although it was initially a pain in the ass now I really like the fact the key has to be in the latch to open or close it. I wish I could speak more to the aerodynamics of it as well as what it'll cost you in drag but I have a diesel truck that, well, doesn't mind it a bit. One thing worth mentioning is that I have not been able to test the latching system in the super burly cold and snowy nonsense, I have had trouble in years past with being able to open my trucks doors so I am assuming that it would be the same for this and ANY locking mechanism in those conditions. That is why you should always try and prevent this from happening by using WD-40 inside the lock (use a towel to catch the run off) or some other technique. The Skybox comes in 12, 16, 18 and 21 cu.ft. sizes so you can get what you need for additional cargo space but make sure to use the Yakima.com handy fit kit to make sure it'll work.
Weight: 7 lbs.
Dimensions: 53.5” long
Capacity: 1 bike
Think of all of the times you've struggled to get your bike to fit just right inside your car. All of the "coaxing" it has taken the manipulating the whhoooohoooo I got it in just to realize you still have to fit the front tire in somewhere. Well those times are over thanks to this burly beast of a roof mounted bike mount. I found the Forklift to be super easy to install and really easy to mount, especially with its newly redesigned front bottom mount. This thing is universal and yes it fit around my ladder rack, so I know it'll fit on your bars. The forklift also features a sliding rear tire tray so you can move it according to where you need it to be for each individual bike. All of my bikes fit with out a worry and it was super easy to unlock or lack in the bikes. It is a completely tool less installation so out of the box to top of your car is definitely quick and easy!
Weight: 12 lbs
Usable Pad Length: 29.5"
Height: 5.25" including Universal Mounting Hardware = 3.75" from top of Crossbar to Top of Mount closed. Up to 5" max with thick skis.
The recently update FatCat 6 is the way to minimize the pain in the ass factor when heading to the slopes. You can fit 4 snowboards or 6 pairs of fatty skis in this thing and with its one gloved hand operation these is no need to freeze your fingers struggling to free your gear. Yeah I said it "gloved hand", Yakima felt your pain in years passed and has stepped up their game with this simple to operate system that allows you to operate the system with your gloves on. I simply went over a few of the items that I truly feel work well but all of these are for roof mounting, if you want to use a hitch system check out Yakima's site and it will walk you through how to fit your vehicle in a manner you feel is most appropriate. Yakima also offers a fairly compact and light weight trailer system to tow behind your vehicle…but I haven't done more than lust over it thus far! I know a great many folks out there that feel the prices of these systems are prohibitive but you should think of this as more than gear, this is a life extender for the stuff you love the most. And it is not like these break down or wear out, these babies last forever so yeah it is a one time investment but think of this simple bit of math. The SkyBox 18 will cost you roughly $450 and say you have it for 10 years (but really you'll have it forever), that equals an investment of $45/year. Which in my mind is a very sound investment especially when you know it is protecting all of your gear! Plus you can put a sweet UpaDowna sticker on it and make all of your friends jealous!
Please remember that if you park in a garage and use a roof system to make sure you have the clearance!!!