Loading stuff onto the roof of a automobile is not straightforward. An SUV makes it even tougher and should you’re on the quick aspect of the human spectrum, then good luck, buddy. Utilizing a roof provider remains to be the best solution to improve your automobile’s cargo capability, and I did simply that again in Might when reviewing the Yakima Grand Tour 18 on my BMW X5. It did the job effectively, however the inherent points with roof-mounted carriers, bins and racks have been apparent.

Enter the Yakima Exo system, the Oregon-based firm’s new customizable cargo resolution that plugs into a normal 2-inch trailer hitch. All of it begins with the Exo SwingBase. It is akin to a roof rack’s crossbars as you want it for every thing else to work. It connects to the hitch and performs three key duties. First, its two swing-out arms assist you to mount any of the varied Exo racks and bins to them. Second, it permits you to mount the Exo TopShelf to it, which permits for the system’s revolutionary two-tiered setup. And third, it permits you to swing every thing mounted out of the way in which so you may nonetheless entry your automobile’s cargo space. Plus, when the racks or carriers are eliminated, it stays out of the way in which utterly – there’s little purpose to take away it aside from aesthetics or beeping parking sensors.

There are a number of benefits to this idea. First, issues mounted to a hitch are certainly a lot simpler to entry than these on a roof.  Second, a hitch-based system can maintain extra weight, at 300 kilos, than a roof-mounted rack can, and is extra simply swapped between automobiles. If it has a 2-inch hitch, it’s going to work. Third and fourth, there’s the matter of aerodynamics and wind noise, as relocating carriers and racks from the roof to behind the automobile is useful for each.

Yakima Exo Swingbase openYakima Exo Swingbase on BMW X5 only

I received an opportunity to check the Exo, as soon as once more placing my X5 to make use of as Autoblog‘s official out of doors journey gear guinea pig. Though I received an opportunity to put in all of the obtainable Exo equipment whereas stopping by Yakima HQ (extra on these later), the customized mixture I might reside with for 2 months could be the 10-cubic-foot GearLocker field mounted to the Swingbase and the DoubleUp two-bike rack mounted to the also-selected TopShelf.

Putting in it requires extra muscle than roof racks do. That is hefty metallic gear, so some care have to be taken (simply ask my shin and the tiny dent within the X5’s tailgate), however as soon as you recognize what you are doing, it is a a lot faster set up than roof racks. There is not any want to ensure every thing’s symmetrical and appropriately spaced, and there is just one factor to sufficiently tighten (with a giant ol’ manly wrench) somewhat than the 4 rack towers with two screws every. Moreover, it is extra simply a one-person job – better of luck placing a roof provider on by your self.

As soon as the Swingbase is on, the Exo couldn’t be simpler to make use of. Simply pop the pins to swing out every arm, which lock into place robotically. Then simply glide the GearLocker onto the arms, flip the knobs to grip it in place, then lock them with the included key that may work for all Exo items. This is similar course of for placing any of the attachments on the Exo arms, together with after I put the DoubleUp bike rack on the TopShelf.

Yakima Exo Gearlocker on dolly offloading

The opposite benefit to this method is that you may load the GearLocker contained in the storage and place onto the Swingbase when it is full. That ain’t occurring with a roof-mounted field. When unloading, I simply pulled the field onto a dolly from my storage (pictured above left), and wheeled the factor up the driveway to be unpacked later.

It is also value noting that the GearWarrior open field attachment will be fitted with 4 WarriorWheels, which scale back the necessity for the separate dolly (pictured above proper). Yakima does suggest eradicating them as soon as on the Exo, however mounting the field does make that course of straightforward sufficient because the wheels are floating free.  

By way of capability, beneath is what I used to be capable of match contained in the 10-cubic-foot GearLocker. Two duffle luggage, a Guava moveable crib and a complete bunch of footwear, video games, toys and different unfastened stuff. Placing my normal allotment of Baggage Take a look at suitcases cross-ways was not attainable with the GearLocker, not like the broader Yakima CBX and Grand Tour cargo bins I beforehand examined. A few of these luggage nonetheless may’ve match inside, and the real-world capability truly is not all that totally different regardless of the cargo bins having 16- or 18-cubic-foot capacities – a field is a extra environment friendly house than an aerodynamic lozenge.

Moreover making it simpler to bodily carry on and off, there was one other, extra necessary purpose I chosen the lightest luggage and numerous unfastened gadgets to stuff inside. Whereas the Exo is rated at 300 kilos, I stored the heaviest gadgets contained in the cargo space and subsequently over the X5’s axle. Principally, it is a matter of physics: the much less weight you have got dangling off the again of your automobile the higher. My determination was affirmed through the Hyundai Santa Cruz launch when automobile growth engineer Chahe Apelian warned upon seeing the above footage, “that factor goes to vary the way in which the automobile behaves.” It is mainly for a similar purpose that rear-engined automobiles, with their heavy engines hanging out past the rear axle, could be a tail-happy handful to drive.

Now, the consequences will certainly be totally different primarily based on the automobile in query. The 2013 BMW X5 is so heavy and so resolutely planted (I barely observed the Grand Tour when it was up on the roof), that it is much less prone to be effected. I may nonetheless subtly detect a distinction within the automobile’s steadiness on a winding freeway, although, and one thing lighter, as an illustration a compact SUV, would require much more care on such a street. That goes double when going through wet or icy situations.

Moreover that and the whistling from my extra-large Raleigh bicycle mounted to the DoubleUp, the Exo was mainly undetectable from inside. You do not get the booming wind noise of a roof provider, neither is it as vulnerable to accentuating crosswinds. You are additionally sure to get significantly better gas financial system because it’s mounted behind the automobile somewhat than on prime of it.  

We took the Exo-equipped X5 on a long-weekend street journey from Portland, Ore. to Bend, and as soon as there, I offloaded the TopShelf and GearLocker, leaving the Swingbase in place. Doing so took a matter of minutes with the included proprietary software, and could not have been simpler. I might later drop the DoubleUp onto the Swingbase for a morning experience close to the Newberry Nationwide Volcanic Monument. This setup is pictured beneath. Once more, this was a lot faster to affix than different bike-carrying options akin to roof-mounted racks, hitch-mounted racks that do not swing away, and the hatch-mounted Yakima FullBack I personal and would by no means use once more if I had an Exo.

Yakima Exo DoubleUp on SwingbaseYakima Exo Snowbank and GearLocker detail

Now, as for the opposite customized combos …

Moreover the GearLocker and DoubleUp, probably the most doubtless attachments is the Snowbank mounts that may maintain 5 units of skis or 4 snowboards (pictured above left). In fact, you possibly can mount a second Snowbank pair to the TopShelf and double your ski/snowboard depend – one thing that Yakima fitment technician Taylor Thompson says numerous van-using ski corporations have welcomed instead of loading skis/snowboards onto a roof.

He additionally notes that the extra standard mixture for skiers and snowboarders is the reverse of my bike-fitted setup: they put the Snowbank on the underside after which the GearLocker on prime. It’s because you may’t open the bottom-mounted GearLocker when the TopShelf is in place. My mixture, which is the one one attainable (duh) with a whole bicycle mounted to the factor, requires first swinging out the Swingbase and rotating the TopShelf bracket 180 levels after popping a pin and eradicating a knob. You’d even have to do that must you mount two GearLockers to the Exo.

Different choices embrace the GearWarrior open field (pictured above proper), which clearly would not be as vulnerable to the above opening subject because the GearLocker.

Yakima Exo BackDeckYakima Exo BackDeck in case

There’s additionally the BackDeck, a bamboo desk that snaps onto the TopShelf, making a workstation, campsite kitchen, and many others. The TopShelf’s 180-degree swivel is the important thing to this. It comes with a storage bag to forestall it from being scratched, and it does match within the GearLocker.

I used to be additionally given a sneak peek at two future items which can be coming to the Exo line sooner or later: mounts for Yakima’s current RoadShower 4- or 7-gallon cell water tanks, and a cell camp kitchen that when closed up appears to be like like a big cooler. That is slightly farther from completion, however the capacity for Yakima to position the Exo cleats onto new and totally different gadgets exhibits that there are additional prospects for this revolutionary system.

As for the price, Exo is certainly costlier than numerous rack and provider combos. The Swingbase goes for $499 and the TopShelf provides $379. The GearLocker is $399, which is far lower than a roof provider – you possibly can truly purchase two for the worth of Yakima’s CBX. The DoubleUp bike rack goes for $479, which is pricier than different hitch-mounted racks. The Snowbanks are solely $30 greater than the nearly an identical items that mount to the roof. One other attainable add is the LitKit, which provides auxiliary lights and license plate holder for $149.

Add all of it up and my explicit combo was $1,756. Against this, including Yakima’s Timberline Towers and JetStream crossbars ($464 whole), the Grand Tour 18 roof provider ($749) I utilized in Might and a hatchback-mounted FullBack two-bike rack ($259) would value $1,472. Going for a smaller or cheaper roof provider may decrease that value, as may having factory-equipped crossbars. Oppositely, a hitch-based bike rack will be twice as a lot as a hatch-mounted one.

In different phrases, the worth is probably not that totally different, and the advantages are effectively definitely worth the premium. In fact, you must have a 2-inch hitch to make it work. In case you do, it is undoubtedly the way in which to go.

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