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APPLICATION to Test Yakima SkyBox Pro - R Lyon

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  • richardglyon
    Please accept my application to test the Yakima SkyBox Pro cargo box. I have read the BackpackGearTest.org Bylaws v. 0609, the Appendices, and the BGT Survival
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2007
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      Please accept my application to test the Yakima SkyBox Pro cargo
      box. I have read the BackpackGearTest.org Bylaws v. 0609, the
      Appendices, and the BGT Survival Guide., and I shall follow all
      requirements. This test will not conflict with any of my other
      current tests (listed below) nor impose too heavy a report-writing
      burden. I've always submitted my test reports on time and I shall do
      so with this test. I have a signed Tester Agreement on file.
      Richard Lyon
      Male, 61 years old
      6' 4" (1.9 m) tall, 200 lb (91 kg)
      Dallas, Texas USA
      rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com
      Personal Information and Backpacking Background: I've been
      backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the Rockies
      since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-
      day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000
      to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long
      hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced
      marches too. Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm
      not yet a lightweight hiker, and I usually choose a bit of extra
      weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.
      Preliminaries: I drive a 2002 Yukon Denali XL. According to Yakima's
      website the factory rack is all that's needed for any size SkyBox
      Pro. If anything else is needed for a bell or whistle I'll purchase
      it. There's a Yakima dealer about eight miles from my home.
      If selected I'd prefer to discuss the proper size SkyBox with my
      Yakima dealer, if that's possible. My Denali is a battleship and
      will take any of the SkyBox Pros (verified with a dealer), and all
      sizes appear to be long enough for my longest skis. I'll need a
      SkyBox that I can remove when not in use, to fit the Denali into my
      garage and various parking venues for my day job. From Yakima's
      website and my conversation with the local dealer this doesn't
      appear to be a problem with the SkyBox Pro series, but my intention
      of installing and removing regularly might suggest a particular
      size.
      My trips will be weekend or long weekend destination jaunts and
      maybe a longer ski trip, requiring plenty of Interstate miles but
      back roads and dirt roads once at my destination.
      Background Applicable to This Test: By sheer coincidence, just
      before this Test Call was announced I went to my local Yakima dealer
      (which also carries competing products from Thule) for a tutorial on
      car racks and roof boxes. I've used cargo boxes and other rooftop
      storage on rental vehicles and friends' cars, particularly when
      skiing, but have never had one on a vehicle that I owned. I'm
      considering a cargo box for a number of reasons, all backpacking- or
      at least outdoor-related. A fishing buddy has joined a club with
      private spring creek water in Tulsa (four hours away by car) and we
      intend to make use of his membership. I'm advising a college in the
      Texas Hill Country (five hours away) on backpacking and volunteer
      work, and will likely be taking some weekend trips with the students
      soon. Most importantly, most of my backpacking now involves a plane
      flight. I plan to change that, both to see more of the outdoors in
      the great State of Texas and because I'm seriously considering a
      career change or employer change to the public interest sector. If
      I make either of these moves my disposable income will drop
      significantly, meaning less for my principal indulgence, long
      weekends in the Rockies. Which in turn means more trips by car or
      SUV if I'm to support my outdoor habits, so I'd better get ready.
      This will be good practice for retirement too.
      Test Plan. As noted, I don't plan to use the SkyBox Pro for
      everyday activities. All my use will involve backpacking, car
      camping, or fishing trips, and maybe a ski trip. We'll have two,
      three, or four adults (including me) and various camping or fishing
      gear, or both. Fishing trips mean car camping, which means camp
      chairs, dinner table, coolers, a bigger tent, a tarp or two, and
      comparable cooking equipment. We don't travel light. While propane
      stove and tank will go into the cargo area of the Denali, anything
      else is a candidate for the SkyBox Pro. Fishing kit – waders,
      vests, boots, rods and reels – is well suited to box storage. It's
      not fragile, it's easy to stuff, and it isn't needed until I'm on
      the stream.
      The test period will run into the winter, so in addition to the hot,
      dry, and dusty fall conditions common here in the Southwest I
      anticipate cold weather, including ice and snow, especially if I
      drive to Big Bend National Park, a trip now on the drawing board for
      December.
      Ease of Use. How easy is it to install and take down? Is this a one-
      or two-person job? How easy is it to open and close when installed,
      not only by me but by those more vertically challenged? Must I pack
      carefully to get the doors to shut easily and without a big slam, or
      can I be my usual sloppy self and just toss things in? Are there
      effective means of keeping a less-than-full load from slipping
      around inside a loaded SkyBox? This a particular concern with
      skis.
      Security. I don't want the SkyBox to be too easy to install and
      take down, as I don't want a stranger to be able to do it when the
      box is full and on my SUV. If I install the SkyBox properly is
      there any risk of a practiced thief's taking the entire box? How
      stout and reliable are the locks? Are they affected by rain, cold,
      or ice?
      A second security element is the reliability of the mechanism
      locking the SkyBox to the roof rack. I don't want anything falling
      off or even slipping backward or forward on the rack rails. How
      much maintenance is needed to keep nuts, bolts, locks, and SkyBox in
      place and functioning as advertised? Will removing and re-installing
      the SkyBox regularly make this more or less likely to occur?
      Driving. Does use of a SkyBox create excessive noise to the SUV's
      driver and passengers? Is noise level affected by placement on the
      rack or the weight of the load, or items sliding around inside the
      box? Does increased wind resistance from a higher profile cause
      vibration that can cause discomfort or safety issues? How does wind
      resistance affect gas mileage? (I keep detailed records of mileage
      and gas purchases for tax reasons, and the Denali's on-board
      computer also calculates mileage, so I can measure this fairly
      easily.) Will it reduce my comfortable driving speed on the
      highway? Will it make the SUV top-heavy and more unwieldy on dirt
      roads? Will there be any impassable low clearances with the SkyBox
      atop an already supersized vehicle? Will it make cornering at
      (reasonable) speed or turning difficult, dangerous, or hair-raising?
      How long will it take for me to get used to driving with a taller
      profile and heavier load?
      Durability: While I'll report on wear and tear on the SkyBox's
      exterior and its impact on the roof rack, I'm more concerned about
      the inside which, after all, is going to collect detritus from heavy
      outdoor activity. How will the interior react to muddy fishing
      boots, damp waders, smelly hiking clothes, and dirt, grime, body
      oils, stove fuel, and lord-knows-what else? How often must I clean
      the inside, and how easy (or not) is it to do? Will cleaning remove
      odors?
      Other Pending Application: MontBell Thunder Dome tent.
      Tests in Progress (4): ULA Mist Overmitts (LTR stage); Primus
      EtaPower EF Stove (LTR stage); r2 Custom Backpack (in process of
      designing pack)
      Selected to Test (1): Gramicci Flash Henley and Long Johns (still on
      the data base but almost certainly cancelled)
      I have completed eleven Test series and have filed 27 Owner
      Reviews. My reviews are collected at
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/tester_reviews/richardglyon.
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