When I go on my outdoor adventures with my Subaru Outback, I often find myself in need of more storage space. That’s why I set out on a quest to find the best cargo box for Subaru Outback. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one that offers the best value for money. Luckily, I’ve done all the research for you, and here’s what I’ve discovered.
My Top Picks for Cargo Boxes for Subaru Outback
Subaru Outback Cargo Box Buying Guide:
Price, Value, and Brand Reliability of Cargo Boxes and Roof Racks
Let’s start with your budget. The price range for roof boxes can vary from as low as $200 to as high as $1200. While it’s true that you often get what you pay for, there are also competitive options available that offer great value for money.
When it comes to brand reliability, Thule and Yakima are the most popular choices, but they are not the only brands that manufacture cargo boxes for Subaru. In this review, I’ve included other brands like ROLA, SportRack, and Jegs. You’ll find that some of these competing brands offer excellent value despite not having the same reputation as Thule and Yakima.
When choosing a cargo box, consider factors such as build quality, design, price, value, waterproofing, security, ease of access, and installation.
Should You Get a Cargo Basket or Box?
The main difference between a cargo basket and a box is the level of security and protection from the elements. If you prefer something simple and versatile, a cargo basket might suffice. You can also combine it with a cargo bag for added versatility. However, if you want to lock and protect your gear, a cargo box is the way to go.
While a cargo basket has its advantages, such as a lower impact on gas mileage and more flexibility in terms of size and shape, you won’t be able to lock your gear or protect it from rain and snow.
How to Choose the Right Size of Roof Box
The primary purpose of a cargo box is to provide additional storage space for your gear. However, it’s essential to ensure that the box dimensions are suitable for your car and that the weight of your gear doesn’t exceed your vehicle’s weight limits.
Consider the dimensions of the box to ensure that it won’t hinder your trunk’s opening. Additionally, check if it offers enough storage space for your needs. Pay attention to the weight capacity of the box and any weight limits imposed by your vehicle or roof rails.
When packing the box, distribute the weight evenly and center most of the weight. It’s a good idea to keep heavier items inside the car and use the box for lightweight items like camp chairs. Longer boxes are suitable for carrying skis, while taller boxes can accommodate bulkier items.
Taking Gas Mileage into Consideration
With rising gas prices, it’s worth considering the impact of a cargo box on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. According to Consumer Reports, a roof box can reduce your mpg by 13-20%, while crossbars alone can lower it by 2-11%.
Depending on the size of your vehicle, the effect on gas mileage may vary. It’s recommended to remove the cargo box when not in use to avoid unnecessary impact on mpg. You may also want to choose an aerodynamic roof box or opt for a cargo basket if fuel efficiency is a priority for you.
Keep in mind that roof cargo boxes can create wind noise when traveling at highway speeds.
Do You Need Crossbars for a Cargo Box?
If you’re considering a roof cargo box, you’ll need to have crossbars installed on your vehicle. While there are soft top carriers available that don’t require a roof rack, most cargo boxes require rails and crossbars.
However, not all roof boxes are compatible with all bars. Make sure the box design matches your crossbar location or that your bars are adjustable to fit the box.
Review of 4 Cargo Boxes for the Subaru Outback
JEGS Rooftop Cargo Carrier for Car Storage
The JEGS Rooftop Cargo Carrier is a fantastic option priced at around $250. It offers excellent value for money, slightly more expensive than the ROLA Cargo Basket, but with added security. The four-corner locking system ensures peace of mind and protects your gear.
This cargo box has a dual-side opening, allowing easy access from either side. It’s both durable and waterproof. Considering the price, the JEGS Rooftop Cargo Carrier is unbeatable in terms of value.
Installation may not be as straightforward as some other options, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not a significant challenge. Just remember to have crossbars placed 24″ apart.
- Lower quality
- Harder to install
ROLA 59504 V-Tex Rooftop Cargo Basket
If you don’t need to lock or protect your gear from the elements, the ROLA 59504 V-Tex Rooftop Cargo Basket is a great alternative to a cargo box. Priced under $200, it offers a sleek and sporty look, making it an attractive option.
Keep in mind that, as with any inexpensive cargo basket, there may be some compromises in terms of quality. Applying caulking at the seams is recommended to prevent rust. However, considering the value it provides, it’s a small price to pay.
An advantage of this basket is its versatility. You can easily add a cargo bag for extra protection or use it for different purposes.
- Sleek design
- Sturdy construction
- Not waterproof or secure
- Potential for rust
SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box
If you need to store bulky items, the SportRack Vista XL is the perfect cargo box. It might not accommodate skis, but with 19″ of height, it offers ample space for large bags. Priced at around $500, this box provides 18 cubic feet of storage capacity.
As the name suggests, this cargo box opens from the rear, which can be a pro or con depending on your preferences. It allows for easy rear access, avoiding traffic or parking struggles. However, it may be a bit more challenging to access all of your gear compared to boxes that open on the sides.
- Rear opening for easy access
- Smooth open, close, and locking mechanism
- Thin lid
Thule Force Rooftop Cargo Box
For brand-conscious consumers, the Thule Force Rooftop Cargo Box is the top choice. Thule has been producing quality products since 1942, and their reputation is unmatched when it comes to roof racks and rooftop boxes. Their test center ensures high standards for all their products.
The Thule Force Cargo Box comes in various size options and can accommodate skis. With dimensions of 82.68 x 33.86 x 17.32 inches, the x-large option offers 18 cubic feet of storage space. It’s perfect for carrying multiple pairs of skis, snowboards, and more.
This rooftop carrier is well-made, durable, and can withstand extreme weather conditions. The spaciousness, ease of installation, and overall quality make the Thule Force an excellent choice.
- Easy installation
- Dual-side opening
- Doesn’t interfere with trunk access
- Not aerodynamic
- Can exceed weight limit due to ample space
What is the Best Cargo Box for Subaru Outback?
After carefully considering all the options, my top pick for the best cargo box for Subaru Outback is the JEGS Rooftop Cargo Carrier for Car Storage. Although Thule is a trusted brand, the JEGS Rooftop Cargo Carrier offers exceptional value at a significantly lower price. If budget is not a concern, you may consider the Thule Force Rooftop Cargo Box, but for most people, JEGS is the winner.
This cargo box provides security and waterproofing, unlike the slightly cheaper cargo basket option. With 18 cubic feet of storage space, it easily accommodates long items such as skis. The dual-side opening ensures convenient access to your gear. Although installation may be slightly more challenging, it’s a one-time process at the beginning of your trip.
Overall, the JEGS Rooftop Cargo Carrier combines affordability, functionality, and quality, making it the perfect companion for your Subaru Outback adventures.