Yakima Skybox 21 Review (2020)

Posted: 1 April 2020

A Yakima Skybox 21 review


When it comes to traveling with your gear, you have several options. The best for families are often roof-mounted cargo boxes. They are made to be aerodynamic, and hold a large amount of gear at the same time. The Yakima SkyBox Cargo Box is one of the top choices for many travelers. We are here to tell you why. For the purpose of bringing you the best of the best, we want to discuss the largest model of cargo box in the series, the SkyBox 21 Carbonite.


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As you may have guessed, the “21” in name stands for the 21 cubic feet of space that is now available on your roof. This is assuming you have the base racks available on your roof for mounting purposes. If you do not, you will need to look into installing them before choosing your cargo box.

Its carbonite body allows for a firm and tough option, while being as durable and lightweight as possible. The lid’s lifters are positioned and designed so that the SkyBox can be opened from either side of the vehicle. The lifters are designed to work well under extreme weather conditions, and be a quick access to store or access your gear.

The latch used to close and lock the lid is also special in a few ways. One, it is made from durable and safe steel ideal for theft protection. Secondly, the lock will not allow you to engage it unless the keys are in it. This is to keep you from locking the keys into the cargo box. A firm click tells you the lid is decisively shut, and the lock is locked. You can also upgrade the lock cylinders for the crossbars and other accessories in order to keep the keys universal for the entire vehicle.  

Yakima SkyBox 21 dimensions:

  • 62lbs
  • 21 cubic ft. storage space
  • L 92.00” x W 36.00” x H 18.00”
  • Material: Carbonite
  • Finish: Textured

Why Yakima

Yakima has been designing quality cargo options for vehicles since 1979. As a small business catering to the local Washington town of Yakima, it was sold to the owners who have grown it to the successful company it is now. As a US based company, they are dedicated to creating quality and unique solutions to everyday outdoor needs. Their large inventory of innovative ideas will make you rethink how much fun there is to have outdoors. No matter what your sport, Yakima has a product to help you get there and do it right. This is why we love Yakima as a company, and why we rate them so highly.


Other Models

12- This model houses 12 cubic feet of internal space. It measures: L 92.00” x W 24.00” x H 16.00”. Its minimum and maximum crossbar spreads is 24” – 42”. The cargo box holds gear for up to 3 people, and skis or snowboards up to 215cm.

16- This model houses 16 cubic feet of internal space. It measures: L 81.00” x W 36.00” x H 15.00”, and weights 47 lbs. Its minimum and maximum crossbar spread is 24” – 36”. It fits gear for up to 3 people, and holds skis and snowboards up to 185cm.

18- This model houses 18 cubic feet of internal space. It measures:  L 92.00” x W 36.00” x H 15.50”, and comes in at 52lbs. It has a minimum and maximum crossbar spreads of 24” – 42”. It will hold gear for 3 people, or skis and snowboards up to 215cm.

Lo 15- This model houses 15 cubic feet of internal space. It measures:  L 92.00” x W 36.00” x H 11.50”, and comes in at 52lbs. It has a minimum and maximum crossbar spreads of 24” – 42”. It will hold gear for 3 people, or skis and snowboards up to 215cm. It has a lower profile than the other models, making it more aerodynamic and less noisy.


Installation of a SkyBox is relatively the same no matter what model of box you purchase. The cargo box comes completely assembled and ready to attach to your crossbars. Once you lift the cargo box onto the roof, pick it up slightly (to not drag it across the roof) and push the universal clips into place. These clips are specially designed to connect to round, flat, and angled crossbars. They are designed to work best with the Yakima crossbars, but will work perfectly fine with all other brands.

Once in place, you will want to tighten down the thumb wheels, and fasten the retaining clamps into place. The SkyBox is ready to go! You may have realized that there are no tools needed. If you can lift the cargo box into place, and reach the retaining clamps afterwards, you can install the SkyBox by yourself.

Pros and Cons


  • Fits most crossover bars
  • Dual-sided opening for easy access
  • Replacement parts are easy to come by
  • Made in USA
  • Made with up to 80% recycled materials


  • Need the right model to work properly with your car
  • Bulky, and some might need help to install
  • May not attach to all factory crossover bars

Other Considerations

The cargo box may be in the way of your liftgate or hatch on certain makes and models. You must make sure you purchase the right model of SkyBox in order to avoid this. There may be models of vehicles that these are not ideal for. Most cars, SUVs, and crossovers can be fitted to one or more of the SkyBox options. This will need to be verified before purchase, or you risk your time and effort.

Some have asked how to store the Yakima SkyBox in a garage. The answer however is in your own hands. Storage options vary from hanging, to sliding under or on a shelf, to setting up against a well. It depends mostly on where you have the most room, and where it makes the most sense for your home.


In Conclusion

The SkyBox by Yakima is one of the best options for your cargo needs. It is ideal for outdoor sports and travel. We love the fact it is American made, and it has been homegrown from the outdoors of Washington state. By design they are easy to open and unlock from either side. It is virtually impossible to lock your keys inside of them, and they are perfectly aerodynamic. We highly suggest the Yakima SkyBox for anyone looking for a cargo box for their vehicle.

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