Thule Sidekick roof boxThe Thule Sidekick 682 is a compact, budget-end cargo box. It is the smallest car top box with the Thule name – and has been going strong since 2003. Its size makes it a good option for smaller cars, though of course there’s nothing to stop you putting it on a larger vehicle.

If you want a basic model for camping gear or general loads, and don’t mind a bit of DIY assembly, this could suit you fine.

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See today’s Amazon prices for Thule Sidekick here

 

Sidekick Features

  • Made from polyethylene
  • One color option
  • One size
  • Lid opens from the passenger side
  • Secured with two locks – included
  • Some self assembly is required
  • U-bolt mounting system – included
  • Will mount to almost any rack system
  • Minimum crossbar spread: 23.6in (60cm)
  • Maximum load weight: xxxxlb (50kg) (NOTE: This includes weight of box)
  • Manufacturer’s Limited Lifetime Warranty

Dimensions etc

The Thule Sidekick comes in one size only

Capacity: 8cu ft (NOT 11cu ft. I’ve seen conflicting details on the web -and even on Thule’s own site. Have checked with Thule, and 8cu ft is correct)
External dimensions: L 54in x W 25In x H 15.5in
Internal dimensions: L 50in x W 23in x H 13.5in
Weight of box: 16lb
Weight capacity: [still checking this – there is conflicting information] xxxlb (xxkg) (that includes the weight of the box) Check your rack and vehicle roof capacities to make sure you don’t exceed the lowest limit.
Ideal for: small loads such as strollers or camping stuff (no skis!) Thule say it holds two sets of golf clubs, but some people have found that theirs don’t fit. Measure the length of your golf bags (plus clubs!) before you go ahead and order.

Construction & Design

The Thule 682 Sidekick cargo box comes in just the one colorway: silver gray lid with black base. It’s made from polyethylene, a lightweight but tough plastic material. A number of users have commented that although it seems “flimsy” it’s actually quite sturdy.

Box Access & Security

image-thule-682-2 300x300The Sidekick roof box opens from the passenger side only.

You could position it off-center, making it easier to load and unload. Also, that would leave room on the roof for other stuff such as skis or bikes.

LOCK & KEY
The lid has two locks, but there’s no central locking so they need to be operated individually. As well as keeping contents safe, the locks secure the box itself to the vehicle crossbars (all the mounting knobs etc are inside the box).

NOTE: The Sidekick locks aren’t part of the Thule One-Key™ System. The lock cores are not replaceable but Thule say you can get spare keys.

Assembly & Installation

The Thule Sidekick will fit on most cross bars (Thule square bars, Yakima round bars, most factory bars), as long as they are between 23.6in and 32in apart (measuring from the centers of the bars).- to accommodate the pre-bored holes in the base of the Sidekick. Most cross bars are adjustable so this shouldn’t be a problem, but check yours to make sure.

Apparently it’s quite easy to drill your own holes if you need different spacing – though it shouldn’t be necessary, and it’s not something I would recommend. If you are considering doing this, first make sure it wouldn’t compromise safety.

The Sidekick U-bolt mounting system is quite straightforward, but not as quick and simple as the systems on later cargo box models, which require just a turn of a knob.

However, before the Sidekick 682 can be installed on any vehicle, it has to be put together!
Some people found assembly “annoying”, “a hassle”, and said that another time they’d prefer to pay more for a box that arrives ready to install on the car. For others it was no big deal.

Assembly

The box arrives in two pieces (the base and the lid) along with a bag of nuts and knobs (see What’s Included, below). So before mounting the box on your vehicle, you have to attach the locks, the hinges and the lid supports.

This may sound a bit daunting, but it’s actually pretty simple. The instructions are very clear – with diagrams as well as words.

My tip would be to set all the pieces out neatly before you start – make sure nothing is missing – and follow the instructions carefully, step by step.

NB You’ll need a helper while you do the hinges – though some reviewers say they  managed to put the whole thing together on their own.

One user found it easier to attach the lid and base at the hinges by standing the box up rather than placing it horizontally as the instructions suggest.

Someone else recommends attaching the end lid supports first, and then attaching the lid to the hinges at the side.

According to another, all you need apart from your helper is an adjustable wrench, a Philips screwdriver, patience and luck!

If you feel all this is one step too far for you, then you’ll either need to recruit a willing DIYer – or choose another cargo box, one that comes already assembled.

Installation

Once the Sidekick is assembled, place it on the crossbars with the opening side toward passenger doors.

There are four mounting holes at each corner of the Sidekick base. Each U-bolt goes under a crossbar, slides through two of the four holes and then through a U-bolt bracket inside the box.

The U-bolts are secured with eight threaded knobs inside the box (two at each corner). All the hardware needed is included.

Do remember to cover the remaining exposed holes with the supplied pads to keep damp out.

If you mount the Sidekick to one side of your vehicle, there will be plenty of room alongside for other items, such as a canoe, kayak, bike etc. It will also make it more accessible for loading and unloading.

On the Road (and Off)

Some people commented that the box lets in some rain. Others have said that everything stays nice and dry. It probably helps to make sure that the vinyl hole covers and foam weather strip are in place and that the lid is properly closed.

One user found that the box leaked a bit at the rivets on the front mechanism holding the lid open. When he replaced the the rivets with stainless screws, putting small o-rings under the screw heads and a rubber gasket under the inside bracket plate, no more leaks.

I found hardly any comments about wind noise. As you’d expect, an increase was noted at higher speeds, but at lower speeds it often wasn’t noticed.

Similarly with gas consumption: often no difference was noticed in miles per gallon. At about 70mph, some users reported a reduction of about 2mpg.

What’s Included

The Sidekick cargo box itself comes in two pieces, ready to assemble (See Assembly & Installation, above). All the necessary hardware is included.

  • 682_parts_sized_458x700Sidekick Roof Box – lid and base
  • 4 U-bolts
  • 4 brackets
  • 8 knobs
  • 2 locks with keys
  • Vinyl hole covers
  • Foam weather strip
  • All additional hardware – nuts, screws etc
  • User instructions
  • Warranty card

NOTE: A number of reviews mention problems of different kinds with the hardware. Some report that items were missing; others that the U-bolts aren’t long enough to fit on certain roof racks without extra wing nuts. Read more about it here.

Optional accessories:
There is nothing specifically for the Sidekick 682, but some kind of wheel step might be useful. You can check out possibilities here.

Pros

  • Inexpensive – for a car top cargo box.
  • Lightweight – easy for one person to manage
  • Small – so will fit most vehicles
  • It can be mounted to one side, leaving space for other items

Cons

  • Needs to be assembled
  • Basic installation system
  • One-sided opening
  • No central locking – have to lock the two individually.
  • Not part of the One-Key System
  • Not long enough for skis

Consumer Ratings

This roof box has been around for years – but people are still buying it, and giving it positive feedback.

The negative reviews I’ve read are generally about missing parts (not really fair, because that’s nothing to do with the box itself) and problems with assembly.

One reviewer found it was best not to cram the box full, to keep contents clear of the locks so that they locked easily.

More satisfied users commented that assembly was hitch-free, and having the Sidekick up top made no real difference to the drive, noise levels or handling of their vehicle.

Several others said that it was fine for short trips but next time they’d go for a bigger box.

Thule Sidekick Price

The best prices are often to be found at Amazon. They usually have a free shipping offer too. Check here for current discount deals.

Summing Up

Thule’s Sidekick has been around for a while. It’s a no-frills, basic box, but will still set you back nearly $300.

The Sidekick is definitely a step up from a roof bag (and not that much more expensive than some). It offers more security and it’s small enough to store easily when it’s off your vehicle.

Technology has advanced since this little box first appeared, and you could well do better now. Having said that, recent purchasers are still giving the Sidekick good ratings and positive write-ups.

The Sidekick is one of the smallest car top boxes available: if you’d prefer a box that comes ready assembled and opens both sides, it will probably be bigger (either longer or wider) and cost you around $100 more.