Thule Roof Boxes From A to Z – A Complete Buying Guide

Thule Roof Boxes from A to Z – A complete buying guide

If you’re a passionate traveller, you’re probably very familiar with the never-ending conundrum that comes with trying to make space in your car for all the necessary gear and bags without compromising on other levels, such as comfort or safety.

Packing the car doesn’t necessarily need to be a drag, as you can expand your vehicle’s storage space with a roof box, preferably one from Thule – a brand that brings the best value for money when it comes to safe, classy and user-friendly roof racks and cargo boxes.

A roof box leaves you with extra legroom and guarantees that you will never have to wonder where you placed essential items, such as phone chargers or snacks, as all the luggage will be safely stored away, in the neat cargo box attached to your car roof.

2. What is a Thule Box?

If you are familiar with car roof boxes, you know how difficult it is to choose a quality product within a reasonable budget, as it is a large market, with lots of brands to choose from.

Thule, a Swedish brand founded in 1942 brings to the table a stellar reputation, which they obtained by producing reliable, classy, and user-friendly roof racks and cargo boxes.

If this concept is new to you, think about Thule roof boxes as secure, hard-shelled cargo boxes that are mounted on your car roof and provide you with additional storage room. They are multipurpose products that increase the comfort and convenience levels during road-trips, as you can find a perfect Thule storage box for almost every single kind of luggage or outdoor gear, from snowboards to fishing rods or camp stoves.

3. What is the Maximum Capacity of a Thule Roof Box?

If you are wondering how much luggage can fit in a Thule roof box, you are in for a surprise, as they are designed to accommodate pretty much any type of outdoor gear, no matter the dimensions.

It is an excellent choice for campers, climbers, skiers, and surfers alike, but the capacity of a Thule roof box depends on its size and shape, which in turn must be a good fit for your vehicle.

Thus, a larger vehicle can be equipped with an extra-large-capacity box, while a small family car will probably hold a roof box with a lower capacity.

The capacity range for Thule roof boxes starts from 10-12-cu ft., which is perfect for carrying luggage and gear for a maximum of two people and can reach 20-plus-cu ft. for the upper range Thule roof boxes. The latter can accommodate up to five people, but the capacity limit may vary based on the type of luggage or gear that is carried.

Families of four usually choose storage boxes in the 15-18-cu ft. range. If you plan on going skiing or fishing, you should probably opt for a longer version, while shorter roof boxes are useful when carrying camping gear and luggage.

The longest Thule roof box is the Thule Force XT XXL, and it can carry up to seven pairs of 215-cm Nordic skis. Similar to Motion XT, Force XT is an extra-large storage box, with dimensions of 35.5 inches wide and 18 inches tall, it can sustain up to 165 pounds and it has a capacity of 22 cubic feet. Even if it is 92.5 inches long, it provides easy access to the rear compartment of most vehicles.

4. Largest Thule Roof Box – Dimensions and Other Specifications

If you are looking for the largest roof box available, there are two Thule models that qualify, and you can choose one of them based on other features that you might need, such as different length, width or capacity. What is true for both models is the fact that they will probably accommodate anything you can think of, from long gear to bulky equipment.

Thule Motion XT XXL is a Thule roof box with the highest weight rating, and it will carry up to 165 pounds of luggage and equipment. With a capacity of 22-cu ft., the Motion XT XXL is 91.5 inches long and 18 inches tall, and it also has a generous width, probably the most accommodating of all Thule box models, at 37.5 inches.

Even if it has an intimidating size, users do not have complaints about it being loud on the road, and that is probably due to the fact that it has a unique design destined for massive volume and aerodynamics.

The Motion XT XXL comes with the advantage that it fits a wide range of vehicles and it does not lack in the convenience department. For most average to large-sized vehicles, it leaves enough room for effortless car-trunk access, since it would be counterintuitive to buy extra storage and then realise that you don’t have access to the rear of your car.

Most users appreciate the dual-side openings of this roof box, that have grip-friendly handles, as well as lid-lifters, to ensure fast and straightforward access to the stored luggage and gear.

5. How it is Made: Thule Cargo Boxes production process

If you’ve ever wondered how are Thule cargo boxes made, so that they provide safety, strength and resilience, you will be fascinated to find out that the roof box is constructed from no less than five layers of sturdy automotive-grade acrylic. They chose this because it is a lightweight material and has high impact resistance.

For those preoccupied with environmental factors, knowing that Thule uses up to 80% recycled materials in the production process of these roof boxes will surely be a relief.

It all starts with a large sheet of plastic that is heated and then vacuum-moulded to a specific shape. Thule melds incorporate grooves and indentations to get a higher level of strength and stability. Next, most boxes are equipped with support bars at the base, so that they provide extra firmness and weight-carrying capacity.

Given that car roof boxes are always exposed to elements for extended periods, the sun is one factor that is considered during the production process. Thus, the shell material receives an ultraviolet protection treatment, that protects it from fading and sun damage. As for the finish of a Thule roof box, glossy or matte finishes are available, in black, grey, or white, but it depends on the model. There are also different types of surface textures that Thule provides for its roof box models.

To give you an idea of what you might find, the Sonic Alpine box comes with a dimpled top, which resembles the surface of a golf ball. This feature is included in the design of the roof box to improve aerodynamics. The Thule Force line, on the other hand, has an Aero Skin diamond texture finish, that also improves aerodynamics and acts as a barrier that directs water off the roof box.

Along the sides of every unit, you will observe that there are multiple lock-down points. These Thule box lock-down systems serve as both locks and hinges so that the user can easily access Thule’s dual-side opening feature.

The product testing area of Thule’s website provides you with information on the extensive testing process that the materials go through in order to reach the final customer in a shape that can endure even the most extreme weather conditions.

Wear-and-tear simulations expose the boxes to all sorts of incidents, such as being dropped, smashed, or crashed into something, to verify the resilience and flexible strength of the materials. You may rest assured that before being approved, Thule roof boxes designs are tested in circumstances that match the most diverse weather conditions, from the harshest arctic winter cold and pouring rain to the scorching heat in the desert and arid regions, or violent storms.

6. Are Thule Cargo Boxes Waterproof?

Being exposed to various weather conditions during a trip, roof storage boxes need to be designed in a way that keeps the user’s luggage dry and clean until they reach the destination. Therefore, most customers ask if Thule cargo boxes are waterproof.

Just like most of the hard-shelled rooftop storage boxes, Thule roof boxes do offer protection during harsh weather conditions, but they are not textbook waterproof.  This aspect is just technically true because, in order to be 100% waterproof, a product must keep the interior completely dry not only when exposed to rain, but also when it goes underwater.

That being said, if all you are looking for is keeping out the moisture that comes from rain or snow, Thule storage boxes provide exactly what you need. Your luggage will be safe, as the shell materials are impermeable, and the openings are protected by seals that keep the moisture out. Other features that contribute to weatherproofing are the curved aerodynamics and the hard shell, that help direct water away from the roof box.

As long as you make sure not to overfill the box and you close it and latch it correctly, the contents will remain dry even in extreme weather conditions.

7. Mounting a Thule Roof Box – Installation instructions

Once you have bought the desired roof box, you probably do not want to find out that the mounting and removing process lasts for hours. But if you purchased a Thule roof box model, you will be relieved to find out that the attachment systems make the installation and removal of the box as easy as possible, due to the fact that they were built to ensure a safe and convenient experience.

Before purchasing a Thule roof box, make sure that your vehicle is equipped with a roof rack, to support the weight of the box. Even if many vehicles have factory-installed roof bars or a roof rack, there are also exceptions, so you will have to choose one to fit your vehicle. Usually, the design of Thule storage boxes fits most standard roof racks, but you might want to check and see if your vehicle roof can support the model you desire. Keep in mind that larger capacity roof cargo boxes require a roof rack that is rated for that weight range.

After you make sure that you have the right roof rack installed, you have to pay attention to some features that are specific to certain Thule box models. For example, in the case of boxes equipped with AcuTight bolts, the user must check that the knobs inside the box are turned in order to completely open the clamps that expand below the box. This way, the positioning of the box on the roof will be much easier.

It is useful to know that Thule’s AcuTight mounting system provides the user with tactile and auditory feedback. What this means is that when the box is securely locked in place, the system signals this with a click, in order to avoid over or under-tightening. Thule roof boxes also have a dual-side opening feature, which makes mounting even easier, because the mounting bolts can be reached from either side.

Mounting a Thule Roof Box usually requires a second person to help with lifting the box onto the vehicle roof. Once that is done, position it so that is far enough forward to avoid interfering with roof antennas and also to prevent blocking the opening of the back compartment of the vehicle. Also, make sure that the box does not sit beyond the top of the windshield. If you want to carry other items on the rack, you should position the box accordingly. Otherwise, the side-to-side position of the box should be right in the middle.

Attaching the Thule box to the roof rack does not require more than one person, but you will need to open a door to the vehicle and access the interior fastening system by standing on the step-in plate. If the model you chose features U-bolts, you should know that these are designed to wrap around the roof rack bars and then reach into the interior of the roof box.

If you choose a model that comes equipped with a sliding roof mount system, you are lucky because it enables the positioning of claw-like clamps along the roof-rack, clamps that are controlled by an easy-grip tightening knob inside the roof box. All you have to do is to tighten the bolt and the clamps close, locking the box to the roof rack.

8. Removing a Thule Roof Box – Quick and Effortless Removal Steps

If you’ve ever wondered how do you remove a Thule roof box and you are familiar with their designs, which are always convenience-oriented, you might not be surprised to find out that removing the roof storage box is very easy and the process does not last long.

If you intend to purchase a box equipped with an AcuTight clamping mechanism, removing the roof box requires accessing the interior of the box and loosening the knobs one by one, until the clamps are fully open, so you can detach the box from the roof rack. That is all there is to it.

Boxes with U-bolts and plates require loosening the easy-grip knobs and then removing the bolts. After you are done with disengaging the fastening mechanisms, you can easily detach the box and remove it from the roof rack.

Removing a Thule Roof Box usually requires two people for the job, unless it is one of the smaller models. Otherwise, you risk losing hold of it and might end up injuring yourself or the people around you. Even if Thule roof boxes have outstanding features that withstand crash testing, you don’t want to let it fall to the ground while removing it, because you might end up damaging the contents of the box.

9. Security and Convenience - Unlocking a Thule Roof Box

With built-in safeguards to prevent improper closing and locking of the roof box, Thule has proven time and again that even their locks, keys and closing mechanisms are created to meet the user’s need for security and convenience.

If you intend to purchase a dual-side opening box, you might find it useful that they have a lock for both sides and that you can access both of them with the same key. Most Thule boxes allow you to unlock and open the box in any circumstance, such as when you are wearing gloves, thanks to the key insert placed in the centre of an ergonomic comfort LockKnob. Other Thule box models feature another system, the SlideLock, which provides separate locking and closing functions. Move the SlideLock tab sideways to close the box and check for the indicator that lets you know that the box is correctly latched and closed.

Another aspect you should know about their security features it that the key does not turn if the latching mechanisms are not properly engaged. Also, if you try to remove the key from the lock when the box lid is not properly shut and locked securely, you will not be able to do so.

10. Can You Unlock a Thule Box Without a Key?

The simple answer is that you do not need to unlock it without a key. Since all Thule roof storage boxes have a key-entry lock mechanism and come with only two keys, it is not uncommon to find yourself misplacing them or forgetting them at home when you travel.

There is no need to panic though because you can easily obtain a replacement key. All you have to do is to identify the four-digit number stamped on the face of the lock core. This will help you order the correct key for your Thule box. The replacement key will be in your possession in up to a week. 

If you do not have that much time to wait for the new key, you could ask a locksmith for assistance, because it is not easy to unlock the Thule storage box without a key. This happens because Thule places security as one of their top priorities when designing roof boxes.

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you cannot open the roof box because the lock is damaged. In this case, you can find replacement locks either directly at Thule or go to another vendor.

Another situation where you might ask yourself if a Thule box can be unlocked without a key is the one where the key cannot be inserted at all in the lock. If this is the case, the only possibility would be to drill the cylinder out and replace it. When choosing this solution, you have to make sure not to drill into the plastic that surrounds it.

Thule offers replacement locks and detailed installation instruction, and you can even replace the entire lock cylinder, even if the lock is still functional. You can get a change key from Thule that will allow you to remove the old cylinder and replace it with the new on. You can find the part number for your box’s change key on the Thule website, where they match your product with the correct replacement cylinder.

11. How to Repair a Thule Cargo Box

Imagine that you pull the car into your garage and completely forget that you have the Thule roof box attached, so it ends up smashing into the garage door that is not completely open. Even if it takes a lot of wear and tear to damage a Thule box, sometimes cracking or denting the top of the box can happen because the plastic becomes more rigid when the temperatures go way down and it is more prone to snapping.

While most minor damages, such as cracks or dents can be fixed using epoxies, liquid rubber, resins, or patches, for major fissures and bumps it is recommended to have it fixed in a professional plastic repair service. If you try to fix it yourself, try following a couple of steps to get a good outcome, such as stabilizing the crack first, then filling it with the right product, curing it and finish up by sanding and refinishing it.

For fixing a Thule mechanism that is broken, you can easily get your replacement parts and kits directly from the manufacturer or other vendors. You can purchase everything from tightening knobs, lock mechanisms, hardware kits, lid lifters or sealing strips for all the roof boxes that Thule produces.

12. Best Storing Options for a Thule Roof Box

If you are looking for the best way to store a Thule roof box when you are not using it, especially during the summer months, you have plenty of options.

You can store your Thule roof box in a basement, storage shed or garage, provided that you place it on a solid and level surface. Placing a towel, a blanket or some other thick fabric underneath the box is recommended, to protect the bottom while moving it around.

If you do not have enough space to store the roof box inside, you should at least cover it with a tarp to avoid damage from the exposure to the elements. Another useful solution for those who do not have a lot of storage space available is the innovative design from Thule that allows you to hang your roof box from the ceiling of your basement ceiling or other areas you might find appropriate.

With the Thule MultiLift, you can make use of the upper third of the room space. It is a pulley system that you install onto the ceiling and this way you can store the roof box in a way that does not interfere with your daily life. The beauty of this storing system is that it can accommodate other types of gear and equipment when you are not using it to store the Thule roof box, such as surfboards, kayaks, or canoes.

Before storing it, the manufacturer recommends cleaning your Thule roof box with a gentle soap-based solution, that does not contain alcohol, bleach, or ammonia.

13. Thule or Yakima Storage Boxes – Which one is better?

While searching for the best roof box option for your budget, you may have stumbled upon another notorious brand name besides Thule. Yakima is a Washington State company, that developed its reputation by producing practical and efficient storage boxes, while Thule is a Swedish brand that is acclaimed all around the world for ground-breaking engineering and sleek models.

Some common traits sustain both Thule and Yakima’s brilliant reputations, from the fact that they produce weather-proof, functional storage boxes, to the fact that they offer similarly easy to mount roof boxes and last, but not least, the attention they invest when it comes to safety and security systems.

You will notice that even if both brands offer lifetime warranties for their products, Yakima provides a warranty that has some limited features. Also, the similarities end where users report that Thule’s signature click indicator makes their lives easier by eliminating the guessing game that is usually involved when tightening the clamps.

Also, customers generally prefer Thule over Yakima mainly because they offer roof boxes that display appealing, aerodynamic designs and distinct finishes. Another aspect that places Thule above Yakima is the fact that they offer more options when it comes to car storage products and accessories.

And if you do not mind spending a bit more to get an upgrade in style and aesthetics, you should absolutely choose Thule roof boxes over any other manufacturer.

Thule Motion XT XXL

Is a roof box with an optimised design that offers superlative space efficiency, aerodynamics, and vehicle compatibility, as well as full trunk access with minimal risk of contact with the cargo box.

It has an extra-wide, pre-installed power click quick-mount system, with an integrated torque indicator that clicks when the roof box is correctly installed.

The slide lock system with separate functions for locking and opening brings an automatic lock feature, that locks the lid in place and signals when the roof box is shut securely. Thule Motion XT XXL has a 22-cu ft. capacity and dimensions of L:91.5" x W:37.5" x H:18” and is one of the biggest roof boxes from Thule, with a dual-side opening.

Thule Pulse Medium

Is recommended if you are looking to get the best value for your money. It has a 14-cu ft. capacity, dimensions of L:67" x W:35" x H:16", and a passenger-side opening, which makes it easy to load and unload.

Made from a sturdy and rugged textured ABS material, this roof mount cargo box will make sure your belongings are well protected during transit.

With the FastGrip quick-mount system you will install it in seconds, and you can even do it using only one hand! As for safety, you can rest assured that the Central Locking system will provide the best experience, as the Thule Comfort key cannot be removed if all the locking points are not yet securely closed.

Thule Sidekick

Makes the best choice for those looking for a compact roof box. It has a capacity of 8-cu ft. and dimensions of L:54 x W:25 x H:15.5", and a space-saving design which leaves room for you to place other items on the roof rack.

Installing the roof box is made via Thule’s U-Bolt mounting system. The U-Bolt hardware is included, and you may want to check the installation manual for information on how to mount the roof box correctly.

Thule Interstate

Is an ideal option for those who want to purchase the best cargo bag on the market.

This PVC-free cargo bag is a durable choice, with IP test verified water resistance, which makes it perfect for all types of weather conditions. It comes with twin compression straps that minimize friction and noise in transit, and it has a padded base that protects the vehicle polish against friction and abrasion marks.


If you require more information, please check these references

Cargo carriers and cargo baskets , article, "www.thule.com", retrieved on, Sat 03-October-2020

Car Top Carrier , article, "www.thule.com", retrieved on, Sat 03-October-2020

Amazon.com: Thule Cargo Boxes , article, "www.amazon.com", retrieved on, Sat 03-October-2020


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Nicholas le page

Detail-orientated Auto Finance Manager who is adept at meeting customer expectations and resolving issues in a timely, professional manner.

Skilled at tracking customer balances, approving loan applications and verifying customer information. Specialise in establishing productive relationships with customers seeking financing options.

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