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With a 16-cubic-foot capacity, the RocketBox is the middle child of the Yakima line, which means it’s big enough for a full family outing but isn’t a sleeping walrus on top of your SUV. One big advantage is that the RocketBox lid opens slightly wider than that of the competition, making for easier loading and unloading. The two-lock system seems one lock too many. But the price won’t put your wallet in a deep freeze. Choose from models that open on either the passenger-side or the driver-side. New this year: white boxes, joining the traditional black. Cost: $339-$359. Other models: SpaceBooster, 11 cubic feet, $239; SpaceCase, 20 cubic feet, $469-$489. 888-925-0703; www.yakima.com.
If the Terminator needed rooftop ski storage, he would buy the snazzy System90. Featuring sturdy reinforced-fiberglass construction that looks like it could withstand an avalanche, the System90 blows away the competition for durability, security and strength. Dual gas shocks make for a smooth opening, with three-sided access a nice advantage. Now look inside: It’s carpeted, for goodness sake. And at 21 cubic feet, there’s enough room for today’s 24/7 mountain multi-tasker. You can even have your box custom-painted to match your vehicle. This is the Rolls Royce of rooftop boxes. And priced as such. Cost: $1,108. Other models: System60, 14.5 cubic feet, $988; System115, 30.5 cubic feet, $1,278.800-359-9870; www.packasport.com.
New this season, the Vacationer strikes a prudent balance between features and price. The box’s gas shocks and pull-down strap make for easy loading. Its 16.5-cubic-foot capacity easily accommodates either a family or a social ski trip. Standing 16.5 inches high at one end, the case offers space for tall storage, though that means increased wind resistance. It only comes in basic black, but who needs to pay more for fancy colors? Cost: $349-$399. 800-783-7257; www.sarisproducts.com.
The Vision is exactly that. Wind-tunnel developed, the sleek box actually looks good on top of your rig. It’s Thule’s gold-standard for rooftop boxes, featuring dual-side opening, which is a huge convenience when a bunch of people are scrambling to unload skis and gear. The 14.3-cubic-foot Vision also boasts internal ski carriers that keep up to six pairs of boards snug and stationary. The opening is a bit tight, which can skin knuckles, but the single-key central-lock system is a gem. And idiot-proof: You can’t remove the key unless the box is locked, which means your harebrained brother-in-law can’t lock the key inside during a blizzard. Cost: $599. Other models: Frontier, 11 cubic feet, $249; Mountaineer, 16 cubic feet, $349. 800-238-2388; www.thule.com.