Sportrack (Thule) Aero 1300 Roof Cargo Box Review

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phunky.buddha

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Sportrack Aero 1300 Roof / Cargo Box

Amazon link: Amazon.com: SportRack A26395 Aero 1300 Roof Box: Sports & Outdoors

Manufacturer link: Aero 1300 Roof Box - SportRack®

So I bought one of these to go on top of the 5 to drive all over the wonderful state of Texas through the winter holiday, and thought I would write up a short review with crappy pictures so everyone can see what $230 gets you.

Sportrack is Thule's value division. When the box showed up, it had "Thule" stamped on the outside. FYI, Thule is the company that makes the OEM roof rack for our Mazda 5.

The box is advertised as a 13 cubic footer that's 75 long x 23.5 wide x 16 tall (inches) and weighs 33 pounds. You can see from the pictures what kind of profile the MZ5 takes on with the box mounted. With the OEM roof rack, I had the box mounted as far back as possible (5 holes available at each corner). I had about 18 inches from the rear end of the box to the antenna, so if you wanted to spend more cash on a longer box you could still fit it onto the car.

The box mounts with sandwich bracket arrangement using thumb nuts inside and bolts on the outside. The higher dollar boxes use nice clamp systems that don't require any tools to attach. I don't care to spend another $300 for some nice clamps. The cheapo clamps on this box do have slots that allow you to attach/remove the box without completely removing all the hardware though, so at the very least, you don't have to worry about keeping track of the pieces when the box isn't installed.

Once the box was mounted, there wasn't any noise while driving around empty unless I hit a really bad bump at speed, and then it was just a dull thump from the two halves bouncing together. No big deal. The attachment system held well- there was no movement of the box under full-throttle acceleration or emergency stops either empty or full. I didn't notice any wind noise at highway speeds (90mph+) - at least not over the rumble of my out-of-round tires (suspension replacement coming soon to remedy this) and Texas highway road noise.

The box opens only from the passenger side. The more expensive boxes have the option to open from both sides, but again- not something I'm willing to drop another few hundred for. The lock is dead center, and the key only comes out when the lock is in the closed position. The three sets of bolt covers you see on the outside of the box correspond to the triple latch system- it works quite well, but you do have to have the box completely closed in order for the lock to engage. If you pack it full (we had a ton of Christmas presents in it), make sure you mash it down and clear the lock rods so that you can lock the box and remove your key!

We had some pretty heavy rain while running highway speeds (if you live in Texas you know the rain I'm talking about), and there was no water intrusion into the box- none whatsoever. This is the kind of rain where your wipers can't even begin to keep up at the highest setting. One of the reviewers on Amazon says that he put weather stripping in the gap- I don't think it's necessary. There's over an inch of overlap between the two halves of the box, and it's more than sufficient to keep out the rain.

Removing the box took all of 15 minutes by myself. I'm about average size- 5'9" and 180 pounds- so it shouldn't be too hard for most of you to do it without assistance.

Hopefully this review helps those of you who are in the market for a roof box. For the $230 SHIPPED it costs on Amazon, I think it's a hell of a deal.

Pics:

Mounted on the OEM rack:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_01.jpg


From the passenger side:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_02.jpg


From the rear so you can see its mount footprint on the OEM rack:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_03.jpg


Front:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_04.jpg


This is the mounting system from underneath:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_07.jpg


Mounting system from the top:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_08.jpg


Open box (passenger side only):
sportrack_aero_1300_m_09.jpg


One of the three latches in the lid:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_10.jpg


Locking mechanism viewed from inside the box:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_11.jpg


Hinge:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_12.jpg


Metal rail that houses the locking assembly for the three latches:
sportrack_aero_1300_m_13.jpg
 

phunky.buddha

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Thanks for the review!

What do you normally carry in there?

So far, I've only used it to haul all the gifts around during the Christmas holidays running the Dallas -> Houston -> Austin -> Dallas triangle between all the families.

The plan is to use it any time we go out of town- that way we can shove Sam in the rear and keep one of the center row seats open for Katie to jump back and tend to Annie. Her being able to go back and mess with the baby makes those 5 hour road trips MUCH more tolerable.

Before the box we had to fold down the third row to get all our bags in. With the box on we don't have to worry so much, and if we get stuff in Houston/Austin from the grandparents, there's no worry that it won't fit. I still have things I need to bring back from my parents' house.

Dead bodies.

Nice review!

Thanks and thanks! :D I was going to say "dead bodies" when I read B's post in my email notification. ;)

-----

Oh, since I forgot to put it into the review- no measurable decrease in gas mileage. Hauling ass from town to town and fully loaded down (trunk and roof box totally full) we were still pulling 25mpg on the highway. That's not bad, considering that some of the speed limits have gone up to 75mph and everyone drives faster than that. ;)
 

E_SolSi

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Oh, since I forgot to put it into the review- no measurable decrease in gas mileage. Hauling ass from town to town and fully loaded down (trunk and roof box totally full) we were still pulling 25mpg on the highway. That's not bad, considering that some of the speed limits have gone up to 75mph and everyone drives faster than that. ;)


thats the part i was waiting for... :thumbsup:

i figured you didnt have the figures yet


excellent review :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
 

99sidude

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Keep an eye on all of the fasteners if you plan on leaving it up there. Over time they work themselves loose.
 
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