Yakima Exo System Grows Utility from Your Vehicle’s Trailer Hitch

  • You’ve probably seen bikes or cargo boxes hanging off a trailer hitch, but what if you could put ’em all back there? Meet Yakima’s Exo System.
  • Yakima said it was inspired by overlanding vehicles such as Mercedes G-wagens or Jeeps, and if you get everything that’s part of the system, you’ll have 20 carrying combinations available.
  • It’s not cheap (just the base component is $500), but if you’ve run out of room inside your vehicle, you now have a lot of options.

    If you’ve ever wondered just how much your trailer hitch can carry, Yakima is about to give you a great excuse to test things out. The aftermarket cargo-carrier company has announced a new modular hitch system that will allow you to stack gear high up on the back of your vehicle.

    It’s called the Exo System, and Yakima’s big idea here is basically to offer a modular carrying rack that can have up to three main levels. The main component is the Exo SwingBase ($499), which connects to any two-inch hitch receiver and forms the, well, base of all of the other gadgets Yakima has designed to fit with the system.

    There’s the Exo GearLocker ($399), for example, a closable cargo space similar to Yakima’s roof racks. Inside of the GearLockers you can fit some Exo GearTotes ($49 each), which are smaller, collapsible totes made from ripstop nylon that keep things organized. There’s also the Exo GearWarrior carrying space ($349), where you can strap down coolers or other large cargo boxes. These are the sorts of external cargo options that you may have seen before. In fact, Yakima product manager Jonny Wood said in a statement that the Exo System was inspired by overlanding vehicles. “We saw an opportunity to do something on the hitch that hadn’t been done before,” he said.

    yakima exo system


    This brings us to the Exo TopShelf ($379), which is where the Exo System gets a lot more creative. Feeling a bit like the double-decker couch in The Lego Movie, the TopShelf makes that case that if one is good, two are better. With the TopShelf, you can add a second GearLocker to the hitch or one GearLocker and one GearWarrior. You get the idea. You can also put an Exo BackDeck ($129) on the higher lever, at roughly waist or chest height, to give you a space to prepare food, use tools, or place a lantern. Yakima claims the BackDeck is easy to stow when you’re ready to load up your stuff again.

    If you’re traveling with bikes, even big fat-tire bikes, the Exo DoubleUp ($479) allows you to carry one or two of them above a GearLocker (or two). If it’s winter, you can swap in the Exo SnowBank ($279) to carry five pairs of skis or four snowboards. There’s also the Exo LitKit ($149) to make sure your taillights and license plates are visible behind you even with all of this stuff hanging off your back end.

    yakima cbx solar top cargo box

    Yakima’s CBX Solar top cargo box.


    All told, the Exo System can be used in 20 unique configurations, Yakima said.
    The company is still bringing new ideas to its familiar rooftop systems, like the upcoming CBX Solar cargo box that has integrated solar panel that can use the sun’s energy and a battery to power the small electronics—phones, tablets, camping lanterns and action cameras—that you might want to use when you’re out in the wild.

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