UPDATE: The MOAB has been discontinued by Thule and replaced by the sleeker Thule Canyon XT roof basket (model no 859XT).
There is also the top of the range elegant Thule Trail, which comes in two sizes (model nos 864XT and 865XT).
(Detailed reviews of both of these baskets will be coming – but right now you can find more info on Amazon by clicking the links below.)
Thule Canyon XT basket
Thule Trail basket

 

thule moab 960XTThe Thule M.O.A.B. 690XT is a top of the line rooftop cargo basket.

MOAB stands for “Mother Of All Baskets” – and one look at this product tells you why Thule selected this name! It really is a large basket, made for those with big needs, big adventures to go on, and big cars.

The MOAB basket is ideally suited to regular and large 4x4s, Jeeps, SUVs, minivans, vans, and large family sedans. However, if you need even more space, it is extendable (see Accessories section later in this review).

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Amazon Price Check

 

Amazon prices for Thule MOAB are among the best

 

 

Thule MOAB Features

  • Durable tubular steel construction
  • Smooth black weather-resistant finish
  • Large size
  • Optional extension increases the length by approx 18in
  • Includes load bars so you can accommodate other racks on the basket
  • Includes windshield (fairing) to improve aerodynamics and reduce wind noise
  • Fits to most rack systems
  • Easy to install and remove with included QuickMount hardware
  • Can be secured to the roof rack with Thule One-Key locks (not included)
  • Backed by Thule’s Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Maximum load weight: 165lb (NOTE: This includes weight of basket)

What comes in the box:

  • The MOAB basket itself – in two parts
  • All the nuts and bolts needed for assembly
  • Fairing – to improve aerodynamics
  • Two load bars – for attaching other carriers on the basket
  • QuickMount installation hardware
  • Instructions for assembly and installation
  • Thule Warranty

Dimensions etc

One size, one color

External dimensions: L44in x W39in x H6.5in
Weight of basket: 45lb (20.4kg)
External extended dimensions: L62in x W39in x H 6.5in
Weight of basket with extension: 60lb
Maximum weight limit:165lb (for Thule rack system). This includes the basket weight.
(In other words, the basket weight plus cargo weight should not exceed 165lb.)
So maximum cargo weight would be 120lb – or 105lb if you have the Moab 691XT extension.

NOTE: It’s important not to exceed any weight limits of your vehicle’s rack system, so check where necessary.

Construction & Design

The Moab 690XT is made from durable steel tubing protected by a smooth weather-resistant black coating.

A plastic fairing or wind deflector attaches to the front of the basket in order to reduce the potential issue of wind noise while you’re driving, as well as to improve aerodynamics (in other words, to reduce drag).

The Moab sits on your vehicle’s cross bars, leaving no room for anything else, so Thule includes load bars (cross bars) for the Moab so that you can still carry bikes, kayaks etc on top. These load bars can be adjusted or removed as you see fit.

NOTE: You don’t have to put the load bars on the Moab. I’ve come
across one or two people lamenting the fact that these bars limit what you can put in the basket. This is certainly true. However it’s not always made clear – either in images or various descriptions I’ve seen online – that you can choose whether or not to put them on; and they are removable.

A few users comment that the plastic fairing cracks and the quality is not on a par with that of the main basket. A replacement fairing is available from Thule, but the list price of $112 (at time of writing) seems a bit excessive!

Some have a minor niggle with connection points and feel that the plastic handles held in place with self-tapping screws could be improved upon.

However on the whole, reviews from a variety of sources show that most people are pleased with the quality of the construction and the welds.

Assembly

Yes, the Thule 690XT M.O.A.B needs assembling! (but it’s not alone among the larger cargo baskets – Yakima MegaWarrior is the same). It comes in two main pieces, along with a set of instructions explaining exactly how to assemble the unit and mount it on your vehicle. The video below may be helpful, as you can see exactly what to do.

 

Thule Moab partsThis illustration showing all the Moab components may well look daunting – but assembly shouldn’t be a problem if you just take it step by step according to the instructions.

In fact, most people manage to put the M.O.A.B. together quite easily, which is reassuring.

Attaching the fairing seems to be the most irritating part of the process. (If the plastic push-buttons aren’t going on too easily, one user suggests pushing them on with the end of a screwdriver.)

TIP: Attach the fairing BEFORE you mount the Moab on the vehicle. The Thule instructions say the fairing should be attached once the basket is on the roof. However, various users report that it’s far easier to do this while the basket is still on the ground.

I have come across one or two complaints about the wrong number and size of self-tapping screws arriving in the package. So it’s a good idea to count everything before you start assembling.

NOTE: The self-tapping screws come in two different lengths. Follow the instructions to make sure you use the correct length screw and in the correct order.

Make sure you don’t over-tighten the screws, or the tips will come out the other side – a couple of reviewers give this advice.

Installation

The MOAB basket fits on to virtually all factory cross bars, as well as the range of Thule bars (including those from their square, professional, Xsporter and Rapid Aero series) and those from Yakima and Inno.

The 690XT Moab attaches to the vehicle cross bars with four adjustable mounting brackets, which are tightened with wing nuts. Each bracket has a plastic cover that snaps on, for aesthetics and protection.

This short video shows clearly what to do.

For security, the brackets can be locked in place with optional Thule locking cylinders (Thule 544 or 512, see Accessories section below).

The Thule instructions advise positioning the load bars (cross bars) towards the back of the vehicle, if possible, so that the M.O.A.B. can sit towards the back too, as this will improve aerodynamics and help with wind noise and fuel efficiency.

On the Road (and Off)

Feedback is generally pretty good.

As far as wind noise and resistance are concerned, some people notice nothing after installing the MOAB 690XT, others find some difference but not enough to be a problem.

The same with fuel consumption. Some people noted a reduction of about 2mpg or 3mpg, others say having the Moab up top hasn’t made any appreciable difference.

This will probably largely depend upon just how much weight you are carrying in the basket, rather than the basket itself being a cause of increased fuel usage.

The fairing is widely unpopular – common complaints are that it’s flimsy, not matching the quality of the main basket – that it breaks easily, or rattles. So some people use the basket without the fairing. I’m not sure how much difference its absence makes to wind noise and fuel consumption.

Just to balance things a bit, a couple of reviewers say they attached the fairing with small nuts, bolts and washers, or zip ties instead of the supplied clamps etc, which gave it a nice snug fit and for them the wind deflector was working perfectly.

Accessories

The MOAB can be enhanced with a number of optional accessories from Thule.

Possibly one of the most useful accessories is the Moab Extension 691XT.

This will give you an extra 18 inches or so in length – that’s 40% more space to store your cargo.

It costs over $100, but it may be a worthwhile investment for those who plan to do regular trips carrying a considerable amount of gear on the roof.

The Thule 962 Luggage Net is the simplest and quickest way to secure your cargo.

It keeps everything in place and prevents your gear from moving around inside the basket.

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The Moab 690XT roof basket can be locked securely to your vehicle with Thule lock cylinders, which are part of Thule’s One-Key System.

The Thule 4-Pack Lock Cylinder 544 will provide a lock for each mounting bracket. But you could probably get away with a Thule 2-Pack Lock Cylinder 512.

Another option is the Thule Cable Lock 538XT. Six feet of braided steel to secure your cargo, or even the basket( if you don’t have the One-Key lock cylinders for the mounting brackets), to your roof rack.

Steps can be helpful and make it easier to access the basket when you’re loading and unloading. There are lots of options.

This Heininger 4040 HitchMate TireStep has good ratings and is cheaper than Thule’s Step Up Wheel Step 232. Both fold flat and can be kept in their own storage bag when not in use.

You may prefer a small stepladder or stool that you can position where you want. The Rubbermaid 4209 EZ shown here is highly rated and could be worth a look.

 

What’s Good

  • This is a large cargo basket
  • Can be made even bigger with an optional extension
  • Durable steel construction
  • Comes with two integrated load bars so you can attach other racks or items on top of the basket
  • Quite easy to install and remove
  • Can be locked to the vehicle with the purchase of optional locks
  • Minimal wind noise
  • Increases fuel consumption by only 2 or 3 mpg, if at all

What’s Not So Good

  • Needs to be assembled
  • The windshield (fairing) can crack

Consumer Ratings

With a basket at this price point, you will want to be sure that you are getting a top quality, well built product that is made to last the years and through any weather conditions that you might expose it to. It’s not surprising, then, to find that many customer reviews and comments have a heavy focus on durability.

Most say they see no signs of rust or fading or other issues associated with weather exposure or aging.

The basket itself is generally very highly rated. Where there is an issue, it’s with the wind deflector: not easy to put on, flimsy, breaks easily. A couple of reviews mention that rubbing removes the paint and leaves basket vulnerable to rusting.

So some users have one or two minor niggles, but in the main they are happy with their MOAB basket.

Thule M.O.A.B. 690XT Price

There are a few different listings on Amazon with different prices but the one with the lowest price is far cheaper than the list price showing on the Thule website. At the time of writing, I’ve found nothing to beat it anywhere else.

Summing Up

The MOAB is a sturdy rooftop cargo basket that will appeal to those people who regularly travel with big, heavy items on a large vehicle, but prefer not to go for an enclosed hard shell carrier.

The two included load bars are a great asset for those who go on weekend or holiday adventures with skis, bikes or water sport equipment, as they allow you to transport these large pieces of gear with the basket still in place.

Reminder: The Thule M.O.A.B basket is now discontinued. You can see a range of cargo baskets available on Amazon here.