Packing a Punch: the Packasport Day Tripper Cargo Carrier

As self-sufficient travelers, we strive for the ultimate in organization. The American-made Packasport Day Tripper rooftop cargo carrier exceeded our expectations in many areas but came up short in a few others. Receiving a product sample for review, we installed a Packasport Day Tripper rooftop atop our 1992 Mitsubishi Pajero and put it to the test. 

The Day Tripper’s Data

Packasport Day Tripper
Image: Mercedes Lilienthal

Originating in Bend, Oregon during the early 1990s but now headquartered in New York, Packasport manufactures a variety of premium marine-grade fiberglass rooftop cargo carriers—no plastic shells found here. Packasport storage solutions are hand-crafted in Eugene, Oregon, by an established fiberglass company that’s been in existence for 50 years. The company has partnered with Packasport for the last 18 years of their five decades of production, making heavy-duty rooftop cargo carriers that boast a high-gloss hard gel-coated finish or a durable, textured spray-on Raptor finish like Line-X or Rhino Lining material.

Our Packasport Day Tripper review sample weighs 85 pounds, more than its similar-sized plastic-adorned competition. However, the Day Tripper includes a heavy-duty carpeted bottom to prevent cargo carrier damage with careless loading and unloading and a paint-speckled interior ceiling and sides to help hide scuffs and scratches.

Packasport Day Tripper
Image: Mercedes Lilienthal

The Day Tripper is available in a black or white high-gloss gel coating, multiple automotive paint options to mix or match against any vehicle (available for an upcharge), or a textured Raptor finish (black is standard, custom colors are extra). Lead times and availability may vary.

Our fade-proof Raptor-coated sample is 76″ x 29″ x 13″ in size. It’s perfect for hauling skis and snowboards or a variety of other goods. 

The Packasport Day Tripper is long, slim, and aerodynamic. It boasts 13.5 cubic feet of capacity—an ideal size when longer items need to be stored but tall enough to stuff in backpacks and camp gear for a weekend of fun. The Packasport Day Tripper is intended for crossover SUVs, wagons, or even 4x4s with a smaller roofline like our right-hand-drive diesel Pajero.

Using the Packasport Day Tripper

Packasport Day Tripper
Image: Mercedes Lilienthal

Similar in price to Thule’s Vector cargo carrier series, the Packasport Day Tripper includes an easy-to-use rear single lock mechanism, an oversized grab handle, and heavy-duty interior struts. Install is a snap as four metal U-bolts easily grab crossbar undersides (like our square-tube Thule setup) while interior knobs twist the cargo carrier tightly against the rack. The U-bolts have an interior dimension of four inches, offering a lot of wiggle room for various rooftop rack systems. Thirty inches from center to center of each crossbar is the ideal install location. Once on, the Day Tripper sits nearly flush with the top of our crossbars, creating a sleek look.

The Packasport Day Tripper showcases a patented, rear-angled base with rear-secured clasps and front-mounted hinges. This unit opens like a clamshell, exposing both sides and the rear for quick grab-and-go opportunities. The Day Tripper features two methods of closure: an interior-mounted fabric pull loop and an exterior top-mounted fixed grab handle. We found the rear handle to be visually “large” in size but appreciated its oversized nature when using it with thick gloves. 

Packasport Day Tripper
Image: Andy Lilienthal

Although our tester is jet black, the hardware is bright chrome. It’s a small detail but one we noticed immediately. We would’ve preferred black hardware to echo our tester’s hue. The chrome lock mechanism includes a cylindrical key like those found on bike locks or vehicle steering wheel locks. It’s easy to use. The heavy-duty rear clasps have tight tolerances but securely tighten the unit once closed. Tip: make sure the fabric pull handle is stuffed inside the cargo carrier before closing it. It’s long in size and can easily hang outside of the cargo box if not noticed. 

The Packasport Day Tripper includes a thick carpet that runs its entire base. Even though hefty in size, the side-mounted struts minimally obscure the interior storage area. Along with its carpet, the Packasport Day Tripper showcases a base-lip rubber weather stripping that trots around the entire unit. Although thick in dimension, small parts of the molding waver on the unit, which may be due to its hand-built nature. We didn’t notice any issue with this, other than a few visual discrepancies. 

Our Packasport Thoughts

Packasport Day Tripper
Image: Mercedes Lilienthal

The Packasport Day Tripper quickly became an essential bit of kit when traveling long distances or carrying lots of cargo. The Day Tripper’s design is hefty and solid in nature, allowing no water intrusion or other issues during our testing period. Although the hardware is chrome, it functions as intended and can easily be painted after purchase, if desired. 

We hauled skis and snowboards, as well as other gear like backpacks and camp essentials with ease. Although this is a slimmer Packasport model at 13” in height (for instance, the Packasport Voyager offers 16” of interior opportunities), we didn’t miss the extra height. Roadside manners offered some additional wind noise but no rattles or issues.

While the interior speckling looks like an ‘80s RAD-wood era accent, its intention works. It adequately hides scuffs and scratches, maintaining the just-purchased look even after several uses. 

The Day Tripper’s exterior Raptor finish can be touched up or possibly retexturized if trail-going gets tough. Our test unit’s textured Raptor exterior withstood small branch scrapes and scoffed at bird poop staining. Packasport rooftop cargo carriers can even be repaired with a fiberglass repair kit like Bondo or resurfaced if needed. Contact Packasport directly for warranty information and separate costs if need be. 

Packasport Day Tripper
Image: Mercedes Lilienthal

The Packasport Day Tripper comes with a one-year parts warranty. However, the company states on their website they stand behind their product. They’ve had customers who have owned Packasport boxes for over 25 years. Although the Packasport Day Tripper will set you back several Benjamins, this particular rooftop cargo carrier has already proven its worth in quality and function. Buy once, cry once … owners may have a storage solution that’ll last for years to come. 

Packasport Day Tripper with black Raptor finish: $1,499 or four interest-free payments of $374.75

Mercedes is an Oregon-based freelancer who specializes in automotive journalism. She and her husband have three right-hand-drive turbo-diesel 4x4 Mitsubishis: a Delica van and two gen 2 short-wheelbase Pajero SUVs. In addition, they have two customized subcompact daily drivers. Mercedes, a dual citizen of the United States and Germany, grew up with an international identity and loves to travel. Mercedes' freelance work includes automotive writing, editing, photography, event coverage, and various marketing services.

5 Comments

  1. That’s a good looking box, but holy smokes, 85lbs is a LOT. The Thule Motion we got weighs half that. For our Jeep, the max weight for the roof bars is only 150 lbs – that doesn’t leave much carrying capacity. I think it would be almost impossible for 1 person to put get that box on/off.

      1. I don’t suppose yours still had the parachute when you acquired it?

        Your Saab is probably about the same weight as a Top Fuel dragster, and it IS a race car, after all. Seems like a good safety system to quickly slow it down.

        1. I picked up three of these as surplus but I’m sorry to say none of them came with a parachute, suspension webs, static line, or padding.

    1. My thought exactly – those Thule bars, in wider sizes, will bend under such a narrow and heavy load. I have 75kg on three bars of 1.5m, and that’s about the edge of my comfort zone… the car roof would be good for 200kg on four (beefier) rails.
      Static weight is fine: roof top tents with people in it usually exceed the load limit that’s meant for driving (which includes crashing).

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