Yakima Pro 12 Cargo Box

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As is typical, when we heard the PR spewing about the revolutionary ease of installing and uninstalling the new Yakima Pro series of cargo boxes from our vehicles, and one-handed operation, and unparalleled versatility, our eyebrows went up about three inches.

After testing a box and putting it through some serious use paces, our eyebrows are now firmly replanted in place -- the Pro Series boxes are quite sweet. For this review, we tested the Platinum Pro 12, which is the smallest of four models (in two color schemes) that all share the same features: dual-side opening, central handle and rapid attachment.

The ability to open the cargo box from either side is a great benefit. This gives you the flexibility to position the box where it is most convenient; perhaps in the center during the winter and to one side in the summer when bikes or boats are carried. We found that it was nice to carry Nordic track skis on one side and telemark skis on the other, while having easy access to the box stowed in the center.

The central locking handle is particularly nifty because it allows one-handed operation. You can unlock and relock the box, then open it, load or unload, and close it. Until you push the handle back into its seat, the box is still accessible; a great convenience since keys can be stowed right away.

The rapid mounting hardware is a vast improvement upon older designs that use U-bolts to attach to roof racks. It now takes only five minutes to adjust the rack to the vehicle the first time; including 4 inches of fore-aft adjustment. Once dialed in, just pop the four levers and lift the box off -- no more dinking around getting holes lined up. This system works on round bars as well as rectangular bars and factory roof racks.

All of the Yakima cargo boxes are made of ABS plastic. The Blacktop series, as the name implies, are merely black so contents will tend to bake in the summer. The Platinum series have a thin layer of acrylic over the ABS to make them shiny and protect the metallic silver color; it calls it "Airalite" to sound fancy and help justify the extra $100.

Whether you choose economical black or spendy silver, the Pro 12 boxes are ideal quivers that will easily hold five pair of alpine skis (or 10 pair of Nordic skis). These are also narrow enough (24 inches wide) that you can still fit two bikes on the rack for long road trips.

We do have several nits, though. One concern is the loud popping sound the box makes when it is opened -- it hasn't happened yet, but we keep expecting something to explode on a particularly frigid day. Another issue is the difficulty in closing the box securely -- you must listen carefully for three clicks to ensure it won't blow open on the highway. When the box is snow-covered, we found it even harder to close because there is no good flat surface on the lip to press down. Lastly, it sure doesn't do as well in a crosswind as that original Space Case, but this is true of most current boxes on the market.

Without a doubt, the Yakima Platinum Pro series is one of the premier cargo box lines on the road today. While it may be hard to spend an extra C-note just for the silver color, your gear will stay almost as cool as you look -- and in a hot sun, that's worth more than you can imagine.

SNEWS® Applause Meter: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $400

For more information:www.Yakima.com

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