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Best Thule Cargo Box – Our pick

In a hurry? The Motion XT is our pick for the best Thule cargo box on the market. See below for detailed reviews, or check the price of the Motion XT here.


Whether you are headed on a long haul road trip, or simply going away for a weekend camping trip, you are likely going to make use of a cargo box. Modern cargo boxes make traveling a breeze with their sleek designs, durable build, and large capacity for storage. However, simply buying the first cargo box you find could prove disastrous if you don’t have an idea of what you are looking for.

Cargo boxes come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are better for large capacity loads, some are better for saving on gas mileage and aerodynamics, some are easier to install than others, etc,. Choosing the right one for your needs is always going to be a bit of a tricky process. Luckily, companies like Thule make a wide range of options to choose from.

Thule cargo boxes are consistently rated near the top in performance, value, and durability. If you are in the market for a cargo box, we are here to help you decide which is the best Thule cargo box for you. Let’s take a look at some of the best Thule cargo boxes for you to choose from.

How To Choose The Best Thule Cargo box

Before we dive too deep into the best options, let’s talk about what makes a cargo box great. Cargo boxes are designed to simply carry excess cargo on top of your vehicle. This simple functionality can be done in a variety of different ways. Ultimately, you will want to consider how you value a few different factors.


Cargo boxes will come in anywhere from 10 – 20+ cubic feet of internal capacity on average. Of course, there are other outlier sizes, but this is the general range you will find on the market. Which size you need is going to largely depend on your own carrying needs. A general breakdown could be:

  • 10 – 12 cubic feet = cargo for two people.
  • 12 – 18 cubic feet = cargo for two to three people.
  • 20+ cubic feet = cargo for up to five people.

Considering these sizes, you can have a general idea of how much you need for capacity. Remember that the internal size of the cargo box will also play a role in length and width. This is important to note for car size as well. A Hyundai Elantra wouldn’t be able to hold a 21 cubic foot sized box, for example. You should always consider the actual size needed, and weigh it against the size your car can carry.


If you are planning on carrying snowboards or skis in your cargo box, you should always make sure the length of the box is sufficient. Cargo boxes can come in a variety of different length options, and one should always consider how much length you are going to need. If you are only anticipating carrying small camping gear and equipment, you might be able to get away with a shorter box. However, as we mentioned, for skis, snowboards, surfboards, etc, You are going to need a longer box.

You also need to consider the length of your car, and if the car’s mounting brackets and size will handle a long box.


In general, cargo boxes can come in two different varieties. That is, a hard shell, and bag. Bags are made from tough canvas that is designed to keep water out, and keep everything tightly packed together. Hard shell boxes are similar except with the hard external shell.

Hard shells are going to be more expensive than bags. However, in general, hard shells are almost always the way to go if you are worried about the safety of your cargo and the overall durability of the box. We recommend sticking to a hard shell if at all possible.

Once you have determined the capacity, dimension, and durability needs of your cargo box, you can then get started on actually shopping for one. Let’s take a look at what Thule cargo boxes have to offer.

The Best Thule Cargo Boxes

We have taken the time to carefully examine a handful of Thule cargo box options. We have considered what they do well, and what they don’t do so well, and have compiled the best performers together here. We have chosen each option based on what niche they will fit best for their users.

Thule Pulse 615 – The Best For Small Cargo


The Thule Pulse 615 is an excellent choice for anyone who needs a compact, and sleek cargo box. At 14 – 16 cubic feet capacity, this model is perfect for single person use, or dual person use. It can hold enough equipment or cargo for most needs within reason.

The compact and sleek design is perfect for mounting onto almost any sized vehicle. Whether you own a massive Hummer, or a small Subaru–the Pulse 615 will fit just fine.

The Pulse 615 is made from exceptionally durable ABS thermoplastic polymer. That means that this little guy will be able to take a serious beating without allowing any damage to be done to your cargo. It is completely waterproof, and would probably survive a hit from a sledgehammer!

The Pulse 615 is super simple to install, and comes equipped with extra large easy grip mounting knobs. These make screwing the cargo box into the mounting brackets easy for any size hands, and won’t leave you frustrated and in pain. It also comes with the Thule standard SecureLock technology that makes it extremely hard for anyone to access your cargo without your knowledge.

Overall, the Pulse 615 is great for those who are looking for something small, but durable, that will last for thousands of camping trips or road trips to come.

Pro’s & Con’s


  • Extremely durable.
  • Simple, compact, elegant design.
  • Easy to install.
  • Budget friendly


  • Only two sizing options.
  • The locking mechanism isn’t the best on the market.


Thule Force XT – The Best Design

The Thule Force XT is perhaps the most popular option on the market as far as design and functionality is concerned. This sleek and modern design looks great mounted on top of any vehicle. Despite most cargo boxes being clunky and a bit of an eyesore, we believe the Force XT is the most attractive on the market.

The Force XT is among the top of the line when it comes to Thule cargo box models. That means that not only is it more packed with features–it’s quite a bit more expensive as well. However, we believe that price is worth it if you have the cash.

The Force XT comes in 11, 16,18 and 22 cubic feet, and packs a wallop as far as functionality goes. The extra spacious inside capacity doesn’t harm the overall sleek and low profile nature of this cargo box. With a smooth taper on the front, this cargo box is extremely aerodynamic and won’t produce any drag or noise. In addition, the angled rear provides extra space for a rear hatch to open.

The Force XT also comes with dual hinge functionality that allows you access to your cargo from both sides of the vehicle. Paired with one of the easiest mounting mechanisms on the market, and you can see why the Force XT is considered premier. This cargo box can be set up and installed within five minutes, and you can be on the road in no time.

Overall, this is attractive, and comes with tons of bells and whistles.

Pro’s & Con’s


Extremely easy to install. Attractive design.
Low profile.
Plenty of additional features.


We didn’t find any!


Thule Motion XT XL – Best Overall Value


The Thule Motion XT XL is by far the best ‘bang for your buck’ when it comes to functionality weighed alongside cost. While not the cheapest option available, it falls squarely into the mid-range as far as price is concerned. However, the functionality and performance of this cargo box is premier to be sure.

The main drawing point for the Thule Motion XT XL is the installing process. This quick install mechanism comes separately with secondary clamps and the mounting device. However, the process of installation is so simple a child could do it–seriously, we didn’t even need the instructions.

The PowerClick install mounting system allows you to easily remove and reattach the cargo box in seconds. This makes it ideal for those who don’t wish to keep their cargo box mounted all of the time. In addition, the extra large handle and dual-hinge function makes accessing your cargo easy from anywhere on either side of the vehicle.

The Thule Motion XT XL is 18 cubic feet, and can carry enough for up to 4 individuals. This means you can have plenty of room to bring the entire family camping, or on the ski trip.

Pair this with the multi-color optionality when buying, and you have a great cargo box that can fit almost any need universally.

Overall, the Thule Motion XT XL is a great all purpose option for those who need a little bit of everything. It doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles of the Hyper XL, but it definitely isn’t a slouch either.

Pro’s & Con’s


  • Easiest install on the market.
  • Multiple color options.
  • Easy grip access handle.


  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as other options.


We rate the Motion XT as the best Thule cargo box for most users. Thule have been trusted for decades at what they do–and they do it well. You simply can’t go wrong with any Thule, no matter what you choose. However, the three we mentioned above are uniquely positioned to satisfy certain needs and functionality desires.

We feel confident that the three models above are the best of the best, and that you will get years of cargo hauling fun out of any of them.

Related Reviews

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Thule Force XT Vs Thule Motion XT

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