Thule Atlantis 1800 Review
The accumulation of gear for just about every sport has two downsides. Finding a way to store everything and transporting it to your destination. A 2 car garage or storage unit can alleviate the first problem and the Atlantis 1800 from Thule solves the other.
Carpooling to the slopes or trails is great, but can be problematic when you need to take 4 people and all the gear. During a short trip to ski country in my small S.U.V. I had to play a serious game of Tetris just to fit the gear around the people. I am still apologizing to one passenger for having a ski continually hitting her in the head. A simple and effective solution is the cargo box. Roof cargo boxes are a great way to take along skis, snowboards, bags and other miscellaneous gear while leaving room in the car for passengers. The Atlantis 1800 from Thule carries a lot of gear and has some great features that make it easy to use.
The Atlantis series comes in many sizes that will carry anywhere from 12 to 21 cubic feet of whatever you can cram in there. It also comes in either black or silver for those that want to color coordinate with their vehicle. For this test, I had the Atlantis 1800. With 18 cubic feet of storage, the 1800 can carry up to 8 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards with a maximum length of 198 cm. Of course it can also take gear like helmets, bags, boots, jackets and poles. On one recent trip I had 3 pairs of skis, 2 pairs of boots, a bag, a helmet and 2 sets of poles with room for more. While cargo boxes are most often used for winter sports, they are also great for bringing along tents, backpacks, and other summer gear. The weight limit on the Atlantis 1800 is 110 lbs. which is plenty.
Installation of the box is incredibly easy. There are four clamps that simply open and close with the turn of knob housed inside the box. Each clamp slides forward or backward to accommodate the length between your crossbars. These clamps work with most factory cross bars, round bars and of course Thule sells cross bar kits to fit any vehicle. My S.U.V. has side rails, so I used Thule’s cross bar kit. This was also very simple to install. The footing attaches to the rails via a rubber strap that you tighten down by screwing down and allen bolt. This kit will work with any side rails. Once the crossbars were in place I simply lifted the box on top of the rails, adjusted the clamps and turned the knobs to close the clamps. The process took me less than ten minutes. I was also able to put the Atlantis on my wife’s Subaru, which has factory set crossbars. The sliding clamps made it easy to adjust the fit. At 47 lbs. it’s not the easiest thing to put on and off, but I was able to do it by myself.
Now a cargo box seems pretty straightforward to use. Simply open it, throw stuff in and close it. Well, there are some details to the Atlantis that make it easier to use. First, it opens and closes from both sides. A nice touch that makes access a snap. Second, the locks are ergonomically designed and easy to turn. Thule puts a knob around the lock slot so when you insert the key you twist the knob, not the key. This makes it easy to use with gloves on, a key in cold weather. Closing the box is made easier by a simple strap that hangs down so you can just pull the lid closed. Opening and closing actuation is smooth and fluid.
Driving with the Atlantis in the roof I did notice some more wind noise, but not more than I expected. At just under 17 inches tall it will add to your vehicle’s height, but you should still be able to clear most parking garages. What surprised me the most while driving was that my M.P.G. only dropped by 1 to 1.5 gallons. This is something that is very dependent on the vehicle,so your experience may be different.
There were only two downsides I found in using the Atlantis 1800, and one of those is minor at best. First, being on top of an S.U.V., the cargo box can be hard for shorter folks to operate. Of course this is not a design flaw of the box, but is still going to be an issue for some. Thule does sell a step that goes over the wheel to help, but this would need to be stored in the car to be useful. The second, and admittedly small nitpick is that due to the length of the box it covered most of my sunroof. Using the sliding clamps I had the box as far back as it would go to no avail. I don’t think this would be an issue for large S.U.V.’s though.
The Atlantis 1800 can solve your gear transportation dilemma and allow you to do more carpooling. Think about it, what good is being able to carry 5 people if you have so much gear you only have room for 2? At $599.95 it isn’t cheap, but considering the cost of the gear you place in there it is a good way to protect your investments. For more information go to www.thule.com