Thule roof boxes or Roof rack and bag?

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00
ThreadID: 1505 Views:5979 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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We need to store some of our gear on the roof. We have 3 kids, therefore lots of clothes, bedding etc. We are concerned that the bag may leak, not be dust proof, is not lockable, so contents may be stolen.
The roof top box offers theoretical advantages, but have not spoken to anyone that has one. Would love to hear from anyone with experiences of either or both.
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Reply By: rob c - Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00
my brother has a lockable thule on racks, hes happy with it but imo the mounting system to the racks looks flimsy as well as the hinges.
AnswerID: 4917

Follow Up By: Pvb - Thursday, Sep 05, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Sep 05, 2002 at 00:00
Thule now make a 4WD box which has a load capacity of 75kgs. It is called the X1 box. They are meant to be tough....
FollowupID: 2849

Reply By: Mark - Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00

We have used both and really I would say it comes down to what you carry. It sounds like from the description of what you intend to carry you would be best suited to a "Hamburger Bun" (roofbox), they seal well and are like having a big suitcase on the roof. We now however have a rack sack and alloy mesh type roof rack, the reason is we needed to carry a bit more up top and the weight rating on the roofbox was well below what we now carry. The rack sacks are a bit more hassle to pack stuff into but we have had no problems with dust or water (other than the time we forgot to close it). If you do go the rack sack its a good idea to fit a thin sheet of ply to the base (inside) to stop items rubbing through the alloy mesh, round the corners of the ply sheet with a jigsaw first.
AnswerID: 4919

Follow Up By: At4wd Adventures - Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2002 at 00:00

I agree with Mark on everything he has written and we have done exactly what he has suggested to you and have never had any problems. The bonus of this combination is the durability and loading of the roof rack which is in our case is an ARB product. I think the roof boxes probably won't stand up to much vibration for extended periods off road + you can't throw a spare tyre case in one either. Stuart
FollowupID: 2104

Reply By: Stan - Thursday, Jul 18, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Jul 18, 2002 at 00:00
I had exactly the same problem about eight years ago and I purchased a "Mont Blanc" type pod (same as Thule). I have used it on three different vehicles now and it has been great, fully weather proof and lockable, and only takes me about 20 mins to fit the racks and pod - great if you park your truck in the garage. I load mine with soft canvas bags full of everybody's clothes, leaving heaps of room in the back of my cruiser. I have not done a "Canning Stock Route" type trip yet so I can't comment on their offroad durability, but if you are not going to do this type of trip I reckon these types of pods are great.
AnswerID: 4934

Reply By: Mark - Friday, Jul 19, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Jul 19, 2002 at 00:00
As far as durability is concerned, a friend of mine used one these boxes when we went on a trip with him through the Pilbara then up through the Gibb River Road (including the very corrugated track to Mitchell Falls) and returning back to WA via the Great Central Road. He did not have any reliability problems.

As a precaution every so often he would check that the mounts had not rattled loose. He did however get a little bit of dust inside the box. But I think that this can be overcome by fitting a foam seal around the seams, similar to the draft seals used on doors for homes.


AnswerID: 4949

Reply By: MikeyS - Friday, Jul 19, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Jul 19, 2002 at 00:00
Andrew. I faced the same choice a few years ago- bag or box. I went with a bag for a couple of reasons. First, the capacity of a 6'x4' bag was greater than any of the boxes on the market. Second and more importantly, the bag is literally more flexible and can accommodate stuff that might need very careful placement in a box. For example, there is bound to be a pedal or handle bars of the kid's bikes or some other irregularly shaped thing that would stick out to stop you from closing the lid of a box where the bag just zips up. If you are only putting squishable stuff in the box then this wouldn't be a problem but I couldn't be stuffed to do the 3D jigsaw puzzle thing every time I load up.
Never had any problem with dust entry, even through truck loads of dust at Cape York. Only problem is water leakage through the canvas in heavy downpours when driving at 100k's. Kepping the sleeping bags and mats in plastic bags solves this. Plus the bag folds down to nothing when not in use which was an important consideration for me. I always feel a little vulnerable to theft but even in Bourke the rascals broke a window rather than raiding the bag (who keeps good stuff in a roof bag anyway? Nothing stolen due to quick acting vigilant locals).

More food for thought.

Mikey S
AnswerID: 4956

Reply By: Eli - Sunday, Jul 21, 2002 at 00:00

Sunday, Jul 21, 2002 at 00:00
Andrew. We have 5 kids and we’re traveling 4WD for some 15 years so most of our cargo is on the roof. The rule of thumb is: Soft stuff in a soft beg and hard stuff in a hard box. Our solution is a 2 meter roof rack (Rhino Rack) half with an American maid soft bag (100x90 cm. “Cabela’s”, never leaked under any conditions. We put a 12 mm foam mattress under the soft bag to protect it from direct contact with the alloy plates of the rack. At the other part of the roof rack we put hard stuff like spare wheel, Jerycans etc. You can buy very good sealed boxes from ARB in different sizes and use them if you need more weatherproof space.
Happy trips
AnswerID: 5017

Reply By: Michael - Wednesday, Jul 24, 2002 at 00:00

Wednesday, Jul 24, 2002 at 00:00

I don't have a roof box/pod but I picked up excellent roof racks from an Aussie manufacturer that sells direct at
Their racks look almost identical to the Rola black sports racks but they're stronger at 100kg per bar and are telescoping so that they transfer from one vehicle to another. They also keylock so they won't get pinched. The telescoping crossbars probably add even more to the strength. They have an accessory that is basically a set of four mounting plates that slide and lock into tracks in the crossbars and let you mount almost anything up there. To strengthen the box you could add a sheet of ply, drilled for the four mounts, then put the box on top and fasten the mounts inside the box.
Best thing about telescoping bars is they will fit your next vehicle, unlike the cut-to-size alternatives. You get different ends to fit different roof styles and even these can be changed for half the price of new racks if you go from gutters to no gutters. I've got gutters so mine have a brilliant over-centre cam fitting that gets them on and off the roof in seconds and they're really secure under load. Everyone who's seen them reckon they're tops.

AnswerID: 5102

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