The Essential Truck Topper

When I was growing up, my family had a minivan. That meant that when we went on long trips, we had to use the barely functional rooftop carrier. We settled in for hours of hearing it slide back and forth on the roof, knowing our luggage was getting wet each time it rained (even though it wasn't supposed to) or accidentally smashing into the 8-foot clearance bar at a parking garage or drive-through.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and the Yakima Skybox is one of my most prized (and essential) possessions. Over time, the stigma attached with family vacations and too much luggage has been replaced by the statement: "I'm on the go everyday, and my gear must be within arm's reach at all times." Maybe it's because since selling my home and going on the road (see the backstory on my family's attempt to discover "querencia"), my truck has become my garage of sorts. Or maybe its because I now have the ability to be bouldering one day, surfing the next, and then snowboarding on the weekend, and it's essential to never leave anything behind.

I can't tell you how often we've stopped somewhere to take a break from driving, and I've climbed up and grabbed a board, wetsuit, or fly-fishing rod and pass the time, whereas a few months ago I would have reverted to browsing mindlessly through Instagram or Facebook. Don't get me wrong—I still do that, but only after I have fulfilled my desire to connect sufficiently with the places we're passing through. 

The amazing thing about this cargo box is not only is it completely weather-proof (all except for dust storms, it seems, but I don't think anything can keep that out), but that it can fit all my gear and then more! I have actually seen someone sleep inside of their box before. Here's just how much I've been able to fit in the box: 

  • 3 Patagonia wetsuits
  • 2 pairs of Patagonia booties
  • 2 pairs of Patagonia gloves
  • Tons of Sticky Bumps wax
  • 30 packs of Patagonia Provisions salmon
  • 15 packs of Patagonia Provisions tsampa soup
  • 2 Osprey Poco kid-carrier backpacks
  • A couple Patagonia dry bags filled with:
    • 2 pairs of climbing shoes
    • 4 chalk bags
    • Climbing guides to every state we have been to so far
    • Assorted climbing ropes and webbing
    • Climbing anchors
    • Cycling repair supplies
    • 2 spare tires
    • 6 spare intertubes
    • My snow coat, pants, and snowboots
    • My wife's snow coat, pants, and boots
    • Patagonia Tenkara fly-fishing rod and flies
  • Osprey Aether 70 Backpack filled with
    • Ultra-light tent
    • Sleeping bag
    • Snowpeak bi-pod stove
    • Snowpeak cooking kit and fuel
    • Headlamps
    • Firestarters
  • Hatchet
  • Machette
  • Tentsile Tree Tent
  • Langly camera bag full of extra film, lens, and more.
  • Warren Pieces "Always Go" skateboard

I say all of this to illustrate how incredibly nice it is to be prepared for everything, whether it's an impromptu surf session, a hot meal if you break down somewhere, or a day on the rocks. Even after I am no longer traveling full time, I can't imagine ever removing the gear box. It's permanent. —Jesse Lenz