I’m a Travel Writer, and This Is the Solar-powered Car Rooftop Carrier I Use for Camping and Road Trips

The multitasking cargo box is so popular, it sold out — but I found it back in stock at REI.

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Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box
Photo:

REI

As a travel writer, it goes almost without saying that my family is very adventurous and on the go often. Between cross-country family road trips, camping adventures, and weekend sports tournaments, I am also always hauling stuff in my car. One thing is certain on any trip: Space always comes at a premium. After having tried various kinds of on-the-roof storage solutions, I finally found the ultimate fix with the spacious Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box.

Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box

To buy: rei.com, $1,499

Right off the bat, I was impressed by how enormous this storage box is. It has 16 cubic feet of cargo space — large enough to store many kinds of gear. The grooved floor is perfect for transporting oddly shaped items like skis and snowboards in addition to your more standard suitcases and duffel bags. I was able to load three airline-standard carry-on bags on one trip and even lacrosse gear for my son’s team for an out-of-town tournament.

And, if you’re traveling light, the box has tie-down points along the edge so that you can secure the gear if the box is not full. This means the contents are not going to shift around when the vehicle is in motion. 

Related: Amazon Is Practically Giving Away This Best-selling Portable Charger Duo That’s 80% Off Today

Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box

Karthika Gupta

The Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box is also easy to access — it opens from both sides so you can get to the contents from either side of your vehicle. Additionally, it has a lock and key system that helps secure the contents of the box, unlike the soft cover storage I regularly use. This means no more unloading and loading the cargo nightly if I’m on a multi-day road trip.

Perhaps one of the best features of the cargo box is the first-of-its-kind integrated solar panel on the surface. That means that as long as there’s sufficient sunlight, you'll have power — so there’s no need to turn your car on to charge your devices and potentially drain the battery of your vehicle. This makes the Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box a great option for adventuring off-the-grid or even car camping at your favorite park.

Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box

Karthika Gupta

The solar converter inside the box has two USB ports for charging devices. All you have to do is connect the USB cable to the solar panel port on the inside of the box. The Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box produces 36 watts (or 5 volts), so I was able to charge my smartphone, iPad, and rechargeable batteries that powered my camera and headlamp on one of my road trips.  

Yakima car rooftop solar powered storage box

Travel + Leisure / Karthika Gupta

What's more, installation took less than 10 minutes. It was so seamless that my two teens were able to do it without any adult supervision. The box weighs 60 pounds, so you would need at least two people to lift the box and place it over your car’s roof cross beams. The provided torque allows for easy installation on your car’s crossbars. I also loved the fact that the torque can be stored inside of the box when not needed so I didn’t have to worry about misplacing the handy tool.

If your vehicle currently doesn’t have a roof-track system or you just want to confirm if the existing one will fit the CBX Solar 16 Roof Box, Yakima has an easy-to-use guide for checking compatibility with the model and make of your vehicle. 

Yakima car rooftop solar powered storage box

As an added bonus: It looks great too. I loved the neat angular design and matte texture of the Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box. The streamlined look makes it more aesthetically pleasing than the standard soft cover storage options on the market.

It makes the perfect gift to splurge on for the adventure-loving road tripper in your life (or even just yourself), since the multitasking box does so much more than just tote your gear. And the Yakima CBX Solar 16 Roof Box has been so popular since it’s launched that it has sold out at Yakima — however, you can still get it at REI while it’s in stock.

At the time of publishing, the price was $1,499.

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