Rackmaven is reader supported. We earn an affiliate commission if you buy through our links . Learn More.
If you are an avid outdoor sports person, or you love to go camping with friends or family, you will have realized by now that your car does not have enough space for everything you need. That is where a car rooftop carrier comes in.
When we previously reviewed rooftop carriers, we mentioned that cargo boxes are stronger and more durable compared to cargo bags. This is the reason why they are fast becoming a popular choice. However, before you jump into the filling lake of people going for cargo boxes, ensure that your box fits your car, and other safety mechanisms are in place. We will get into the box-car fit later on in the article.
One of the most well known brands making cargo boxes is the Thule group. Thule is well known for impressive vehicle accessories, which began when Erik Thulin put the Thule name on a pike fishing trap. About 30 – 40 years later, they introduced their ski boxes and surfboard carriers. It has been over seven decades since they started and we are still using their products, like their range of Thule cargo boxes.
For this article, I am concentrating on the Thule Force Cargo box.
Moving with the Thule Force Cargo Box
The Thule Force Cargo Box is one of the best Thule cargo boxes. Many users have praised this product for good reasons.
The largest – XL – comes in at 56 pounds which is a fair weight to move around despite the five thick layers of ABS plastic that make up the diamond-textured AeronSkin shell. These materials also help it withstand bad weather conditions. While it is not a 100% waterproof, it does a good job of keeping items within dry; this is not only because of the materials, but also the downward design of the cover.
However, some reviewers complained that in terrible weather conditions, their cargo wasn’t protected. There are suggestions that you wrap your items in plastic bags or water resistant material. While these suggestions are great, having a cargo box that isn’t 100% waterproof is a gripe.
Also, the aerodynamic AeronSkin and shape are specifically designed to reduce drag, allowing the box to cut through the air smoothly and reduces wind noise. That is why that despite its obvious size, it is quiet during transit. As long as you don’t exceed the recommended speed limit, which is around 75mph, you wouldn’t notice any significant noise.
Its aerodynamic design also prevents any significant impact on gas mileage over long distance traveling as against a box of the same size and more resistance.
Another excellent feature of this carrier box is the ease of installation. You can install the force cargo box in less than five minutes without any external equipment but the box and your hands. You will need to have cross bars though. When you have positioned the box on your car, all you have to do is tighten the quick grip clamps around the crossbars using hand knobs in the box until they are secure in place.
As long as you don’t fit your crossbars too close together, the box can settle in right; there’s a track that enables you to move the quick grip clamps and knob on a rooftop spread of between 24 and 37 inches. This allows for adjusting the box forward if you want to open your trunk without taking the box out. Then again, if the size you have in mind obstructs your trunk in the first place, you should consider a smaller size.
We have attached a video that clearly shows you how to install the Thule force cargo box.
When you have fitted it on your car, you can load in your cargo and secure them with load straps that are attached to the quick grip mounts. Few reviewers complained that threading the straps were difficult. Once you get past that, everything else is a breeze.
One useful feature of this box is in its opening; you can open it from both the driver and passenger sides of your vehicle with the handles. You also don’t have to place your hand or a rod underneath the top for support while it is open. There are built-in lifter elements for that purpose.
When you are done placing in or collecting what you want, you can use the built-in straps at the lock area to pull down the cover. We have noticed that this strap helps you close all three opened parts easily.
Following the design of the Thule summit cargo boxes, this box is secured using Thule’s SecureLock system with a key and knob. The key cannot be taken out unless the box is closed and locked, so there’s no worry about locking your keys in the box or easily leaving the box unlocked. You can turn the knob to get it latched. Some reviewers mentioned that the knob is small which is a little problem. Some others could turn it even with gloves on. If you feel it’s too small, you can stick to using only the key.
You may also experience your loose or small cargo getting in place of the lock and preventing the box from being locked. The straps only keep bigger items in place, so you should move your smaller items far away from the area of the lock.
In terms of look, cargo boxes are not the sleekest of things. However, this box is one of the nicest looking ones on the market with its matte black finish. This design also easily hides scrapes, pollen, and dead bug build-up – which is inevitable after a period of using any cargo box.
Choosing The Box For Your Car
It is not enough to know how to use a cargo box and what it offers you, you also need to be able to choose a car that will serve your needs and car.
The Thule force cargo box comes in five sizes; the Thule Alpine, Thule Force M, Thule Force L, Thule Force XL, and Thule Force XXL. All of them has similar features, except the number/size of items you can place in them. You can carry up to seven 220 cm skis in the XXL but wouldn’t be able to get that number in the M or L.
The size of your car is another thing you should look at. You wouldn’t be able to use the XXL on a Honda Civic; drivers of big SUVs and similar-sized vehicles can use it. The L and XL are possible choices if you have Medium-sized sedans, SUVs, and Minivans. We have outlined all their sizes below:
- Thule Force Alpine: It’s 12 cubic feet with a dimension of 81.5″ x 24.5″ x 17″, and weighs 36 pounds
- Thule Force M: It’s 13 cubic feet with a dimension of 65 x 34.5 x 16 inches, and weighs 35 pounds.
- Thule Force L: It’s 16 cubic feet with a dimension of 74 x 36 x 16.5 inches, and weighs 39 pounds.
- Thule Force XL: It’s 17 cubic feet with a dimension of 84 x 34.5 x 17 inches, and weighs 44 pounds.
- Thule Force XXL: It’s 21 cubic feet with a dimension of 92.5 x 36 x 18 inches, and weighs 56 pounds.
They all have a maximum weight capacity of 110 pounds. With this variety in size, you can go for one that leaves enough space for other items like a trunk bike rack.
In fitting just about any car, a good feature of this box is its versatile rack compatibility. You can fit it in Thule rack systems, round bars, and most factory racks.
You now have all the information you need on this box. One thing we didn’t mention in the review is its price. The price varies with each size, so you could either be paying something around $499 or as high as $780. This is a tad bit expensive, but good things come at a cost.
We think the Thule Force Cargo box is an excellent option for carrying bulky items, even for a one or two-man party due to its easy to install features. It’s a strong piece of equipment that will last for a while, and its aerodynamic materials and shape will save you money on gas. It’s an out of sight, out of mind box because of the noise level. However, that is where it ends; it is functional without the extra.
One more thing, don’t try to change the locks except when extremely necessary. Changing the locks are very hard because you will need the box open before you place in your change key. But you can’t take out the regular key until the box is locked or semi-locked. To get to semi-lock is not a walk in the park.
Nevertheless, as long as you don’t go out with it when its raining heavily, fix it on properly and handle it with care, it should last you for numerous trips.