By JILL ADLER
You can pretty much give up on the idea of ever parking underground in a public garage when you add a cargo box on top of an SUV. At least that’s what I thought until Yakima came out with its low-profile SkyBox LoPro model about two years ago.
The box, which is one of Yakima’s most expensive products, adds a little more than a foot to the height of my small SUV, making the vehicle’s clearance hover at about 6 foot 8 inches high. This is about 2 inches lower than many standard parking garages.
Beyond its low profile, the LoPro is one of the nicer gear boxes on the market. Yakima touts it as the “finest rooftop cargo box ever made,” and it retails for a hefty $699.
It’s a great box, no doubt. But worth the ching? For me, the answer is a “yes,” especially considering that I’ll potentially bounce the LoPro from car to car for the long foreseeable future, a couple decades maybe, with the aid of Yakima’s lifetime warranty.
Some of the box’s niceties include a stiff, dual-sided lid and an integrated solar light that turns on when you open the box to dig inside — a cool touch if you’re removing gear at night. The box’s exterior finish and ABS plastic construction are top notch. For example, I regularly grab the base to hoist myself up as I’m removing gear, and it’s solid under my weight.
I have struggled closing loaded gear boxes in the past. On the LoPro, Yakima’s “Super Latch” system makes opening the box a one-person job — you pull down on the lever (aggressively) and push up on the lid with your other hand without ever having to change positions. The box, in a nutshell, is bomber.
Complaints? Initially, the locks seized up on the box. When I finally got the key in to extract my gear, I couldn’t get it out. I called Yakima’s customer service, and they immediately sent new locks. I’ve used them for two seasons now without issues. Also, one thing I would love to add: A mirror in the lid to see gear that’s out of view would have been another nice “visual aid” to build into this design.
I use my LoPro every day in the winter and for road trips in the summer. Its 15 cubic feet of space enables me to squish five sets of skis and poles inside. The box measures at 92 × 36 × 11.5 inches.
Is it the “finest rooftop cargo box ever made,” as Yakima touts? Hard to say. For me, it’s the LoPro and nothing else. It’s a pricey case for sure. But there are online deals now that peg it at around $550. That price might make the buy a lot easier to digest, especially if you plan to use the box, as I do, for the long haul.
—Based in Utah, Jill Adler is a Level-III certified ski instructor. As a writer, she covers skiing, adventure sports, and travel for publications including Sunset, SkiPress, Salt Lake magazine, FuelTV, and MSN.com.