Cars are great for getting you and all your stuff wherever you need to get. But what if there's a lot of you (like your family) and a lot of stuff (like when you go camping, go on holiday, or are moving house)? Sometimes the boot, and everywhere else in the car you can stuff things, just isn't enough space. To that end we spoke to our mates in Sweden to see if they had any ideas, and we ended up reviewing the Thule Ocean 100 Roof Box.
Before you skip by this review, moaning that “oh, roof boxes are always sooooooo expensive!”, hang on, because the Ocean range from Thule has been designed with tighter budgets in mind. The Thule Ocean 100 Roof Box does exactly what it says on the tin, without any unnecessary frills. The sleek black and glossy box has a maximum cargo weight of 50kg, has been aerodynamically styled, and is compatible with most of Thule's (and other makers') roof bars.
The box itself features a plastic top with a metal base. The top is hinged and opens from the side, making it very easy to load and access your kit. We had ours attached to quite a tall seven-seater, but it was still easy to get to by opening one of the doors and standing on the lip. Even mounted dead-centre on the roof someone of average height can reach pretty much all the way across the inside of the box. And yes, the hinges lock into the open position, so no need to prop it open while you nervously stick your head in.
Although the lid fastens very securely, using a two-point locking system by way of a small key, the Thule Ocean 100 Roof Box also has internal luggage straps to further keep all your gear from sliding about. You thread those two straps through the screw mounts into which you fasten the attachment screws for the roof rack, so you know the whole setup is good and tough.
Getting the box up onto the roof was also simple as the Thule Ocean 100 Roof Box weighs only 12kg (when empty!), so hoisting it up and aligning it nice and straight is a doddle. Once loaded up and you're on your way, the box doesn't cause a great deal of drag and we were only slightly aware of it on the roof while driving. It seems that the sleek shape and light weight helps out in that department.
To try ours out 'in the field' we went to a great big field for a weekend of camping. We used the Thule Ocean 100 Roof Box to carry the sleeping bags, stove, bedding and tent carpets – intentionally using it for the bulky yet lighter objects. The amount we managed to pack in was impressive, and it made a huge difference to both how much we could take with us, and how much extra space was left over in the car.
And... our dear Swedish friends at Thule (which we've only recently found out is pronounced 'Two-lee' – wow) were kind enough to send us the roof bars as well, ones that worked perfectly with the Ocean 100. The Thule Wing Bars are, as you might have guessed, wing-shaped bars that the Ocean 100 can clamp very easily onto. The clever design makes them cut through the air far better than conventional bars, reducing drag – and therefore fuel consumption – as well as looking pretty cool.
Fitting them was also a breeze as the included clamps are adjustable enough to fit most kinds of car roofs. Each of the four clamps is also lockable, requiring an actual key (to go along with the key to your roof box), meaning no cheeky tea leaf can make off with the whole assembly, and pinch your sleeping bags! Oi!
Together, the box and bars work wonderfully to potentially double the amount of storage space in your car. If you're camping this summer, or driving off for an autumn getaway soon, the Thule Ocean 100 Roof Box is a must.
Ocean 100 Roof Box: £199
Wing Bars: £87