By TC WORLEY
Thule, a leading maker of roof-top gear boxes, has upped the ante with its Boxster 611. The high-end box sports a glossy, two-tone finish and more than 18 cubic feet of cargo space — a veritable “second trunk” that was enough to haul gear, suitcases, backpacks, and travel items for our dog on a recent 2,600-mile road trip I took with my family to North Carolina.
The box has a sleek, “European-inspired” look intended to appeal to higher-end customers who want a box that compliments the look of their vehicle. I gotta say, my friends were impressed when I rolled up with this box on top of my car. It was definitely a departure from the utilitarian boxes I have owned in the past.
Now the tough part: The Boxster 611, which could easily swing on a BMW or Saab stationwagon, costs a sky-high $799. Most people who do not own a luxury vehicle will scoff at the price tag.
But if you can afford it — I was only demo’ing the box — the 611 is bound to please. Mounting the 62-pound box was a cinch compared to previous models I have owned. Thule designed it with four sets of “claws” to grab a rack. They clamp down on your load bars with the twist of a knob inside the box. On my car, the box was in position in less than two minutes, including a few small adjustments to get it centered on the vehicle.
While not the largest box Thule makes — it measures about 85 × 16 × 37 inches — the box can fit skis, snowboards, golf bags, fishing poles, and other large items. As mentioned, the 611 was big enough to hold the equivalent of a trunk-load of gear on my family’s recent road trip. Indeed, it seems to have been designed for a customer who needs SUV-like storage but owns a stationwagon or smaller “cross-over” vehicle like my 2009 Scion XB.
This box not only swallows a lot of items, but it really holds them well. It comes equipped with removable tie-down straps to lash the luggage in place. A quality keyed lock keeps items safe when the vehicle is unattended.
For convenience, it opens from either side of the vehicle — a single lock opens the box and a hinge on either end holds it ajar until you are ready to pull the rubber-grip handle to close it up again.
Overall, I had no complaints with this box from a functional stance. The price tag definitely puts the Boxster 611 in a “premium” category and out of reach for many adventurers. But in my test, the simple, stylish and well-made box rode quietly and securely for thousands of miles on my trip. If form and function are both top priorities, and you have the money to make it happen, this may be the box for you.
—TC Worley is a freelance photographer in Minneapolis.