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Sounds Japanese, but 'Yakima' is actually the North American Indian name of a valley and town in Washington State, USA. Yakima Industries was founded in 1973 and is one of the largest roof rack manufacturers in the world.

Yakima expanded to Australia in 2010, by purchasing Hubco, a leading manufacturer of rooftop car racks and makers of Whispbar and Prorack. The Aussie-designed Whispbar was subsequently launched in the USA and won multiple awards at the 2011 SEMA Show.

This early success in introducing an Australian-designed product to North America isn't an isolated incident. Yakima's latest product, the Lock N Load 4WD roof rack, was designed and developed by Aussie engineers, on the premise that if it can survive our harsh outback touring conditions it can survive anywhere. No other country has our combination of vast, open spaces with seemingly endless highways, gravel, corrugated roads, rugged desert terrain and rough, steep mountain tracks.

The company says that Yakima's Lock N Load is not an SUV aesthetic accessory: it's a heavy-duty roof rack with a load rating of 75kg per bar and each end cap features a tie-down point rated at 100kg. Each bar has a T-slot channel to allow the easy installation of accessories.

Many roof racks produce excessive noise during highway driving, but the Australian designers produced an aerodynamic shape and a rubber load-protector strip. The strip improves the flow of wind over the bar, while also ensuring that neither the bar nor the load is damaged by the other.

Even the rack mounting feet are individually shaped to complement the roof line of a specific vehicle model, unlike one-size-fits-all designs. As the name suggests, Lock N Load bars are key-lockable.

One touch we've never seen on any roof rack is an inbuilt bottle opener. Check out the slightly shaky technical video and wait for the bottle-opening demo at the end.

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Last updated: 14th April 2016

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