When it was time to replace my shabby old cargo carrier, I wasn't really impressed with what I was finding. Cargo boxes didn't seem to have changed all that much. They were still made of the same flimsy plastic that was difficult to open and close. Most of them had oddly shaped bottoms that were awkward to load, only a few offered tie-downs, and the color choice was...limited. With the exception of a few minor changes, these were essentially the same boxes from 25 years ago.
I knew I could do better. So I built my own.
That first box was a little crude, but showed me the possibilities. So, I refined the design for more volume with a more efficient shape, and I tweeked the glassing schedule to optimize the strength to weight ratio . The boxes continued to evolve as I used them. I added a cork liner to pamper my cargo, and to keep it from sliding around. Closing was made easier and more secure with a shock cord hold down system. I've even designed drop in racks for skis and fishing poles!
These boxes have proven themselves - over thousands of miles - to be a huge upgrade from the plastic pod. They don't make any noise, they're easy load, and most importantly everything arrives clean and dry.
They've also been a hit with others, as well. It doesn't seem to matter where I am - the trail head, or the mall parking lot - people ALWAYS ask where I got it. It quickly became clear that I wasn't the only one looking for an alternative. So for all of my fellow free-thinkers, makers, DIYers, eco-warriors, soccer moms or dads, dirtbaggers, week-end warriors, fishing bums, or anyone else who is looking to break out of the plastic mold, these are for you.
One of the first questions people ask about my roof boxes is about their weight. Most assume they will be heavy - until they lift one. Then they are shocked at how light they actually are.
Our wooden boxes weigh about the same, or often LESS THAN a comparable plastic box.
The shot above shows the weight of our largest model. It clocks in at about 45 or 46 pounds. The same size plastic boxes range from 46 to 57 pounds. A fiberglass model of the same size is a whopping 93 pounds!
Our four models range in weight starting at about 30 lbs. for the smallest, increasing to 35, 40, and 45 pounds respective to their size.
They may be light, but they are not flimsy. The wood frame is stiff so there is no awkward twisting or flopping of the lid when you go to close it. That rigid frame also keeps the box from bouncing around at highway speeds like plastic sometimes does.
These cargo boxes are tough. We use the materials, the adhesives, and building techniques that are used to build wooden kayaks and boats, surfboards, airplane frames, and even high performance racing bicycles.
The frames are assembled with thickened epoxy, and stainless steel screws. The panels are also installed with thickened epoxy, and all joints are then further strengthened with an epoxy fillet.
Once the parts are assembled, the tray (the bottom half) gets laminated with 6 ounce fiberglass for added strength and durability . The whole assembly is then saturated with 3 - 5 coats of epoxy which further strengthens and stiffens the box , while at the same time creating a barrier to moisture.
If you want extra protection, go ahead, add that extra layer of glass. Maybe to the inside of the lid this time. You're building it, you build it as tough as you like.
The final finish, whether it's paint or varnish, adds yet another layer of protection from moisture and UV degredation.
It's wood, and it's renewable. But there are some things we can do to bump up its' eco-cred a notch.
Each of our roof boxes was designed with three goals in mind: They had to be spacious, they also had to be efficient with standard sized materials so there was little waste, and they had to be aerodynamic so they wouldn't be a drag on your mpg.
We use FSC certified lumber when we can, and all the epoxies we use are low
in VOC's. We recomend you do, too.
Don't stop there! Upgrade your roofbox with a full length natural cork liner to pamper your gear. They don't soak up water, and they keep things from sliding around in transit. If it gets dirty, just hose it off.
Unlike plastic, there's no need to break out the duct tape if you somehow damage your wooden roofbox. You can easily fix it! Most repairs can be nearly invisible. Refresh the finish, and your box will like like new. Even if you never damage your box, a fresh coat of varnish or paint every now and then will keep it looking new for many years. It may even out last you!
We have sizes to fit just about any vehicle, from full sized SUV's to compact wagons. Round or square bars? No problem. Aeroblades? We've got you covered.
Of course this is up to you, but we specify marine grade hardware for durability, and longevity. In our illustrated building manual, we tell you exactly what you need, and where you can get it. We even give you model numbers and vendor codes for the more specific items.
Our fiber glassed wood bottoms don't need to be corrugated for strength like plastic. They are flat, and nearly obstruction free. No more awkward loading, or losing of small parts.
Pair the flat bottom with a cork liner like the one above, and you'll have a floor that not only pampers your gear, its easy to clean. Just flip it on it's side and hose it out. There are no nooks or crannies to hide the dirt.
When you make your own car top carrier, you're not limited to what the factory gives you. We start you off with comprehensive guidelines for a solid build. If you do nothing but follow our plans, you'll have a beautiful cartopper that will last for years. But it doesn't have to stop there.
Do you want to beef it up with more fiberglass? Go right ahead.
Do you need internal tie downs, or lash points? You can do that.
Finish it clear. Make it satin or glossy. Or paint it. All, or just part of it. That's up to you. You are no longer stuck with just black or silver.
Other options can include interior ,
cork liner, drop-in ski, or fishing pole racks. Heck, you could even install shag carpet if you want. (That would be cool, but I can't recommend it) The point is, you can build the box that best works for you.
You don't need to be an expert woodworker to build a Flyboxx. There is no difficult joinery, no special jigs to build, and the building manual eases you through the build step, by step.
To build one of our cargo boxes - from plans or a kit - you will need some type of work table. It could be a proper work bench, or as simple as a sheet of plywood resting on a pair of saw horses. It just needs to be flat.
Building from plans is a little more challenging than building a kit, but it's not as difficult as you may think. Plan builders will need access to a few basic woodworking tools like a circular saw or table saw, router, sander and a few clamps.
Building from a kit is like building a big model. All the parts are pre-cut, and the manual fully explains how to put it together. You kit builders wont need as many tools as plan builders, but you'll still need a few: a sander, a drill, and a couple clamps at minimum.
We take a two step approach to keeping the contents of our boxes safe
First, our pull down straps do double duty as closure devices. In one easy downward motion, the lid closes, and an integrated shock cord loops onto a receiver. The tension from the shock cord keeps the lid snugly closed, and helps to prevent accidental openings.
To prevent theft - and for additional security while under way - we use a barrel type lock with a cam that latches onto a thick steel receiver hook.
Latching and locking happens in one smooth and easy motion. Our lids don't twist, or flop around like plastic does, so there is no fiddling around. Just pull the lid down, snap the loops into place, and lock it up. It's that simple.
If you're the type of person who jumps into a project with both feet, then the plans are for you.
Each plan set includes full size templates, cut diagrams, parts list with profile outlines, and a 52 page, illustrated building manual where we walk you through the building process step, by step.
In the manual we also tell you what tools you'll need, the materials and hardware to use, and where to get them.
Depending on your skill level, a roof box can be completed in about 30 to 40 hours.
Plan sets usually ship next day
Frame kits are a good choice for those who may have limited woodworking experience, or for anyone who just wants a head start.
We do all the heavy lifting . We precision cut each piece to patterns in our shop. Every bevel, rabbet, and dado is cut for you. You'll still need to do some things like drill holes, and cut out the panels, but the kit comes nearly ready to assemble. Each frame kit comes with all of the frame parts, the building manual, and full size paper patterns for the side panels. You supply the panels, hardware and epoxy. The manual will tell you what you need, and where you can get it.
Frame sets are cut to order, and usually ship in about a week.
The OG, and our largest size. this bad boy nearly covers the roof of an SUV. If you have a lot of gear, this guy can handle it.
86 x 14.5 x 35 exterior
84 x 14 x 33 interior
about 45 pounds
As it's name implies, the Torpedo is long and narrow. It's the same length as the Marathon, but it only covers half the roof, leaving plenty of room for a kayak, or a couple of bikes.
86 x 14.5 x 25 exterior
84 x 14 x 23 interior
About 40 pounds
Our most popular model. It's an all purpose size that is as good a fit on full sized vehicles as it is on mid sized and smaller vehicles.
72 x 13.5 x 35 exterior
70 x 13 x 33 interior
about 35 pounds
The Peanut is the smallest of our line up. It's a half rack design that is a good choice if you own a smaller vehicle, and need the extra rack space for another toy, or two.
72 x 13.5 x 25 exterior
70 x 13 x 23 interior
about 30 pounds
I love talking shop. If you need help in your build, or if you just want to learn more about my boxes, I'm here for you.
Email is best, but I usually give the machines a break around 10 ish if you'd rather call.