When it comes to trunk management, organizing the many loose ends of a trip or shopping expedition into one, easy-load, easy-carry container that doesn't look cheesy, and will stow away in use presents a challenge that only one company, MountainSmith, has managed to master -- until now. Thule recently introduced the Load & Go system and, being connoisseurs of organized adventures, the SNEWS® team put a Go Box to the test -- even using it as the main container for the support crew assisting one of our own, Therese Iknoian, complete a successful Western States 100 ultra recently.
The one we tested was the medium-size, measuring 18" x 14" x 12" for a manageable 3,000-cubic-inch capacity (the larger size is 4,000 cubic inches in capacity and 24 inches long). The Go Box struck us as being designed well to efficiently manage the clutter of gear and supplies during trips (kayaking, camping, biking, adventure racing) or when running errands (grocery shopping) inside your car trunk, van, station wagon, or truck cab or back bed.
What we noticed immediately, and quickly appreciated, was that the entire box folded down into a 14-inch by 12-inch square for easy stowing when not in use. Deploying the box for loading required nothing more difficult than pulling it open and pushing down the plastic base liners which, combined with the semi-rigid ends and middle divider, give the box its structural integrity.
Made with a waterproof tarpaulin, the base has rubber no-skid pads, meaning when loaded, the box is less likely to go sliding around the back bed of a truck in search of things to bump up against. It also means that if you put the box down in the snow, or a wet surface like wet grass, the contents will remain dry -- very smart. The box is an open-top format with no formal lid, making it very easy to access either when loading and unloading, or searching for something you need quick access to. Beefy handles provide secure and comfortable handholds for hefting a fully loaded box into and out of vehicles and onto any surface you need to place the box for access.
Large grommets in the corner of the box are perfect for securing it to the side of a truck bed for additional no-slide security or for locking it to an object to prevent someone from simply walking off with the box in hand. (But since there is no lid, accessing the contents of the box remains very easy.) Two bellows-type pockets on either end of the box and one pocket in the middle divider create additional storage/organizational options for the box.
The Go Box does have one major flaw -- something that knocked it off the near-perfect pedestal we were quite prepared to bestow on it. While it has a nylon cover, it is apparent the cover was one of those design after-thoughts as in, "Ooooo, we need a cover. Quick, slap something together in the factory and call it good." This box is so good, it deserves a removable cover, similar in design to the elastic-sided one in use now, that is a bit sturdier, and will remain in place around the sides of the box when in use, rather than lifting or pulling up and letting contents drop out if the box is tipped or overloaded. A few strips of Velcro along the sides, or a few grommets and hooks, something, anything, to help secure the sides would be a major improvement.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $60 (size medium), $75 (size large)
For more information:www.thuleracks.com