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In a nutshell

A smart, stylish and high quality roof box from trusted Swedish brand Thule that adds 300 litres of additional storage space to your car – perfect for families travelling with sports equipment or prams. Fits easily and securely to Thule roof bars and has a safe central locking system.

Dimensions: 190 x 63 x 39 cm

Volume: 300 litres

What will fit: most foldable prams, two-three large suitcases, three-five pairs of 175cm skis, or three-four snowboards

Colours: Deep gloss black or Titan (silver)

Price: £320 for the Touring Sport roof box; wingbars from £93; fitting kits vary in price, depending on vehicle (see helpful guide)

Pros

  • No need to trade in your saloon-style car for a boring family estate!
  • Takes the stress out of travelling with a baby – you can pack everything
  • Roof box is easy to attach to wingbars; it’s a one-person job with no tools required
  • Aerodynamic roof bars mean better fuel economy
  • Robust and secure lock

Cons

  • The box opens from the middle, which can be fiddly
  • The surface is a smooth, gloss black which looks smart, but shows scratches
  • Long roof box, so tricky to store if you don’t have a garage or attic

Best for: Parents with babies/active families with sports equipment who want to be able to pack everything the family needs, without having to invest in an MPV.

Even before my daughter Annie was born, I already knew I’d be doing a lot of travelling with her – not least because her mum is a travel writer! I’d also been warned that babies come with a lot of stuff (prams, cots, highchairs…) and I was dreading the day I’d have to trade in my beloved Mercedes sports coupe for a spacious (boring) family MPV.

When Annie was five weeks old, I was offered the opportunity to test out a roof box on a family trip from London to Norfolk and naturally I jumped at the chance. The box arrived and as soon as I saw it was a Touring Sport model by Swedish brand Thule, I had a feeling it was going to be good – I’ve already got a Thule suitcase, which I love. The Sport model has a generous 300 litre capacity, which I hoped would be more than enough for little Annie, my wife and me.

The roof boxes in Thule’s Touring range come in various sizes, including an Alpine model which houses a whopping 420 litres – more than enough room for the whole family’s skis. The boxes come in two colours, sleek gloss black and textured aeroskin, and you can choose between aluminium and black bars, or plain black.

To fit the box to the roof of my Mercedes, I first needed to mount the wingbars. The bars and mounts come in one kit and all the tools required to fit them are included. The instructions were simple to follow and I had the wingbars in place and the roof box attached within 15 minutes. I found the whole process so much easier than when setting up my previous, cheaper (non Thule) kit.

My car is a Mercedes CLS 55 AMG and I used the Wingbar 969B and Rapid System 751, but the Touring Sport roof box can be fitted to any car, thanks to Thule’s extensive range of roof bars and mounting kits. Once mounted, the roof box can only be opened and locked from one side, but I was glad to discover that my sunroof still opened below the box. The lid is light and lifts easily, but unless you’re tall like me, you may find it tricky to reach.

This was our first trip with the baby and my wife and I didn’t hold back with packing. As nervous new parents, it was a relief to be able to pack all those ‘just in case’ items as well as the essentials. We took two large cases, a travel cot, baby bouncer and our large Stokke Trailz all-terrain pram, for walks on the beach. The only thing that didn’t fit in the roof box was the buggy, but the Stokke Trailz is a particularly huge model, built for off-roading, and I have no doubt that most foldable prams and pushchairs would fit. Inside the box, there are two good-quality straps, which fitted around our luggage and held everything in place.

Thule’s wingbars have an aerofoil profile, which dramatically reduces sound. My previous model, a standard box-section roof bar, made an irritating humming sound and I could feel the vibration when I was driving. This time, driving down the motorway I could hear the Thule sport roof box, but the whistling sound was so faint it’s hardly worth mentioning.

I particularly like the fact that the box’s keys cannot be removed unless all the locking points are securely fastened – a reassuring security and safety feature for a sleep-deprived new parent. In fact, the only downside to the Thule roof box is finding a place to store it, but that’s true of its rivals too. Plus, if you have a garage, Thule offer a kit that allows you to hang the box from the roof.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll know that Thule has a reputation for producing superior quality racks and carriers, and I found the Touring Sport was no exception. This easy-to-use and stylish box has essentially transformed my pre-baby saloon into a practical go-anywhere family vehicle – I’m thrilled that I haven’t had to trade in my beloved car!


Summary

The Thule Touring Sport roof box isn’t cheap, especially once you factor in the wingbars and mount, but when you consider the superior quality, style, ease of use – and the fact that it will last a lifetime – for active families who travel with a lot of stuff, it’s an investment worth making.

 

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