This will be the third summer we’ll be rolling out on several road trips with the Thule 611 Boxter cargo rack. So far, it’s seen almost 20,000 highway miles and plenty of city scenery, too. Last summer, we took it from our home base in NC to Florida, then made our way to Crankworx in Whistler, BC, by way of IL, SD, WY, ID, OR, WA and with stops in CA, CO and AL on the way back east.
The 611 Boxter is Thule’s top of the line rooftop cargo box. It’s not the biggest at 18 cubic feet (their Atlantis models top out at 21 cu.ft.), but that missing three cubic feet comes from its lower profile. The benefit is 7′ parking garage clearance and improved mileage. In fact, on all those highway miles, we couldn’t really tell a difference in gas mileage with or without the box on top. Seriously. Believe me, I checked continuously.
Fortunately, it’s still plenty big enough to house a ton of crap that you don’t want filling up the car on long trips. Things like sleeping bags, tents, a bike stand, hydration packs, helmets, tools, etc. that aren’t used while driving or riding are kept safely dry and out of the way of important things. Like the cooler.
With all those miles of admittedly over packing it and cramming it shut, did it hold up?
In a word, yes. Other than some bug skid marks, it’s literally as good as new. Above, the low profile still lets you pack it in thanks to a slightly wider footprint. It measures 87″ x 36″ x 15″ and weighs 54 pounds. The rear end is flared up to improve tailgate opening clearance, more important on station wagons than a minivan. It’s rated to carry up to 110lbs, but you’ll also need to double check your vehicle’s max roof top load rating. The size also means its delivered via freight truck; a very good reason to order it through your local bike shop and let them take delivery.
Construction is tight, and it has a number of excellent features that make use both safer and more convenient than cheaper models:
It mounts to your roof racks with four twist-to-tighten claws that provide plenty of overlap around the cross bars. The claws are metal for strength, but coated so they won’t scratch your paint. Once tightened, they’ve never come loose at any point during our two-plus years of use. The latest version, updated since we got ours, has dials with a built in torque measuring mechanism that clicks to let you know when it’s fully tightened.
The hinges are strong, running almost the full length of the box to keep everything tight. It opens from both sides and rests fully open on two strong, oversized pivots. Having access on both sides of the car makes it much easier to get what you want, particularly on taller vehicles where it’s a bit of a stretch to get to the back of it.
It comes with two keys, and once opened, the key is held inside the lock cylinder so you don’t lose it. Their “SecureLock” feature ensures the box is fully closed and all locking points of engagement are secure. If you try to cram it too full and all of the locks (three on each side) aren’t able to fully close, the key won’t turn all the way to lock it shut. Open it back up and start rearranging. My, um, “testing” shows that it has quite the capability to hold down an overstuffed load as long as you can get it arranged to close fully. Even being maxed out, there’s no bulging or gaps that could let rain in. Not a single drop of water has made its way into our gear!
Internal straps let you cinch down less-than-full loads so it won’t slide around. Pull handles on both sides make it easier for shorter folks to close it. Note that it does protrude above my precious sunroof. I can still open it, but the wind noise makes it less enjoyable. Closed, there’s no noticeable wind noise from the cargo box.
The mounting claws slide fore/aft a considerable amount, making it likely it’ll fit whatever car you have. They’ll also mount up to Thule’s round cross bars.
Despite the low profile appearance, it’s taller than you’d think. My daughter’s 16″ bike fits in with room to spare above the pedals. Getting cumbersome items like this out of the interior of the vehicle makes the trip more bearable. And safer.
Overall, I have nothing but praise for the Thule 611 Boxter. The only thing that might stop you from running out and grabbing one today is the price. US retail is $940, including a storage cover. That’s a good $220 more than their next most expensive model.
For me, it also comes with a ton of convenience. And peace of mind. After traveling for years with a cheap X-Cargo and having the lid fly open, the lock fail and having to put up with miserable mileage from the blob-like form, the Thule is worth its weight in gold.