Balancing Act

Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite on a 3rd gen Prius

With the addition of a baby, we need to expand the Prius' cargo space to accommodate for the new little member of the family when we hit the road for road trips. Since I was not able to discuss the Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite in as much detail as I would like to in a previous post (First "Real" Road Trip With Our Infant in Our 3rd Gen Prius), I am dedicating this post as such and to address any questions or concerns that my readers may have about this fantastic cargo box by Yakima.

2012 Toyota Prius with Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite

It makes more financial sense for us to invest a one time fee of $450.00 (20% off at the local REI outdoor store with new REI membership at time of purchase) on a roof top cargo box than sink funds toward the deposit of a mini van or SUV and then pay $500+ a month in car payment for a vehicle that we would utilize to its maximum potential 8 times a year at most, especially when both our cars are paid off. Plus we simply just don't need a bigger car given our current life style. It's just the three of us. When it comes time where do we have a need for a larger car, say going on a road trip and bringing the in-laws with us, then we'll rent a mini van or SUV for the duration of the trip. Of course this does not apply to everyone's situation. Taller or bigger folks, for example, would find it an increasingly uncomfortable compromise to stick with the Prius.

To start, our Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite is paired with a Yakima base rack system consisting of BaseLine Towers, 50" Core Bar cross bars and a 46" Windshield fairing.

The Yakima SkyBox 16 Carbonite is constructed of mostly recycled ABS plastic (80%, according to Yakima), giving it a high durability, weather resistant and light weight finish. To some, the plastic of the SkyBox feels "flimsy," but rest assured it's anything but flimsy. It contours if enough force is applied, but bounces back to its original shape. The SkyBox offers 16 cubic feet of cargo space, which I think is more than sufficient for our needs. In our latest road trip to Joshua Tree and with the addition of the SkyBox, we were able to collectively haul our:

  • Weber Q1200 portable gas grill + portable cart / stand, grilling gears, propane canister
  • Graco Travel Lite "road trip" crib
  • Graco high chair
  • Anova sous vide cooker, spices, 3 full bags of groceries
  • Box filled with cooking gears and ingredients, Beats Pill, Philips Hue Go lamp
  • Baby diaper bag and baby travel bag, both bags filled with baby essentials
  • 12 pack of beer
  • 4 bottles of wine
  • Mini cooler with frozen baby food
  • Gift box set of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon + 2 wine glasses
  • Drone bag with DJI Phantom 3 standard and accessories
  • Manfrotto heavy duty tripod
  • Lowepro camera bag with camera gears
  • Two baggage, 1 large purse

We had space for additional  cargo in the trunk area, and if needed, the front passenger area is vacant. The SkyBox weighs only 47 lbs, but because of its dimension, it is somewhat awkward to install, remove and store with just one person.

I purchased the SkyBox from the REI outdoor store in Rancho Cucamonga and had a store associate help carry and load the SkyBox up onto the roof rack. I installed the SkyBox in the REI parking lot which took about 15 minutes of my time to properly mount, center and make adjustments which also included swapping in matching SKS locks.

I was able to unload the cargo and unmount the SkyBox on my own and I'm a relatively smaller person (5'7"). Unloading the aforementioned items by myself took me 28 minutes, and that includes unmounting the SkyBox from the roof rack and hauling it up to our 2nd floor apartment unit and storing it in the balcony storage room. In my opinion, the best and most efficient way to store the SkyBox is no doubt in covered garage with a Thule MultiLift.

I remove the roof rack setup from the Prius' roof when not in use, a task that takes less than 10 minutes. Re-installing the roof rack set up takes me between 10~15 minutes. I've had the BaseLine tower clip installation points marked down with small red tapes along the window jambs so I do not have to measure the mounting distance every time.

To ensure our cargo load in the SkyBox was sufficiently secured, we purchased a Yakima cargo box net, which stretches and attaches to several anchor points within the SkyBox. This ensures the cargo stays put if the lid was to be dislocated during travel. However, with way the SkyBox is built, it is highly unlikely to happen. The only way it can happen is if the lid is not closed and locked properly. The SkyBox has six latches (3 on each side) that engages and ensures the lid is properly secured to the box when closed and locked properly. The lid can be opened from either side of the vehicle and the SKS key can only be removed from its lock if the lid is closed properly and all the latches engaged.

As for hatch clearance, the way we positioned the SkyBox on our Prius, the hatch barely touches the back of the SkyBox when it is fully opened. The SkyBox also has four tracks inside the box which are adjustable so I could move the SkyBox forward or back to minimize hatch interference.

Wind noise was minimal, even traveling at upward to 85 mph at certain points of our journey. The only area of audible wind noise, again, negligible, was when we were passing through Hwy 62 through the Morongo basin where the massive wind farms are located. There is a never ending supply of strong cross winds in that region, no matter the time and year of travel.

MPG definitely took a hit, and that is to be expected. Hauling all the items described above plus two adults, one infant in an infant seat and traveling an average of 75 mph yielded an average MPG of 46~48.

Again, there were a lot of cross winds and uphill climbs at various points of the drive. I expect MPG to improve as we travel north to the Central Coast in May and we look forward to using the SkyBox to its full potential on our summer road trip to Seattle, WA - and that includes hauling a full size cooler, fishing rods and foldable lawn chairs. 🙂 Who knows, we may haul our bikes with our Yakima Twotimer on our Curt trailer hitch, but I'm not too sure if we'll have enough time to go biking!

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