A Jillion Miles with a Thule Roof Box

thule atlantis 1600xt - val in real life
thule atlantis 1600xt - val in real life
My Blubaru and I, along with her Thule top-hat, have been through a lot together.

For quite a few years my trusty Subaru Forester has served as the main adventure-mobile for my explorations with Fred and George. She’s been in semi-retirement as life has moved on but this week “Blubaru,” as she’s known, is headed out for her first cross-country trip in a couple of years. George and I will be trekking from Georgia to Missouri for a cubing competition and then on to Nevada. Unlike earlier trips, it won’t be an extended camping expedition but we intend to enjoy the beauty of a good road trip in a very different context than in years past.

Looking Back

My poor little Forester has put in a LOT of miles and taken a lot of abuse as the boys and I criss-crossed the United States and Canada for weeks on end. None of those extended trips would have been possible without the addition of a roof box. Think small car, two growing boys, a metric ton of camping gear, and sometimes the Disapproving Beagle. A little extra storage capacity was in order, wouldn’t you say?

camping - val in real life
I promise, all of this (and then some) fits into 16 cubic feet.

That’s where the Thule Atlantis 1600XT comes in. I refined my packing plan for our treks over the years but it largely involved all our camping gear going in the roof box. Much of that gear is very heavy. That means I performed countless feats of acrobatics loading and unloading that box. I could frequently be seen precariously perched on Blubaru’s door frame while hoisting twenty-pound cots into the depths of the roof box… among about a million other bits and pieces of camping paraphernalia.

One time, for kicks and giggles, I took inventory of everything I managed to put in the box for our trips: One four-man tent with garage vestibule, a two-man tent, three regular cots, a backpacker’s cot, three sleeping pads, three pillows, a table, three camp chairs, two compact camp chairs, three backpacks, two hammocks and strap sets, a hammock tarp, three sleeping bags, and a tent stake mallet. Plus various other odds and ends crammed into the last remaining bits of space.

thule roof box - val in real life
Yes, I’ve been seen sitting on top of the box to close it on many occasions.

It’s staggering what you can fit into sixteen cubic feet! On more than one occasion in chatting with fellow campers, they would stand with mouths agape when they realized what I could cram into that small space. Many didn’t believe until they watched me do it.

Moving Forward

This roof box has ventured tens of thousands of miles through every state in the lower 48 and the nine southern Canadian provinces. But times are a-changin’.  The structure of my adventures has changed dramatically and the box has simply been gathering dust for two years. Plus, my permanent gimpiness means loading gear on the roof is not the best idea anymore. So it’s time to hand off the trusty Thule to someone who will make use of it for their own fabulous adventures.

That’s where you come in. Tell me a story. Tell me why you want it, what you will do with it, where you plan on taking it. Tell me why you’re the best candidate to continue the adventures emblazoned on the box. What stickers will you be adding? What vehicle will it play top-hat to now? You know me. What will catch my attention most is humor, creativity, and your passion for exploration.

Submissions via this Google Form are due by midnight (PDT) on June 30th. I’ll announce the winner—the person who entertained me the most—on social media on July 14th. Oh, and you’ll have to get started on your new adventures with the Thule Atlantis 1600XT by coming to Nevada to get it! Your other option is to propose an epic adventure to meet somewhere for the handoff… but it’ll have to be really good. 😉

thule atlantis 1600XT - val in real life
My Thule Atlantis 1600XT is going to ride off into the sunset with someone. How would you use it?