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Yukon Caribou iii review: Does this Smith machine pass our fitness test?

By James Jackson
Last Updated on 4th January 2021

The new and updated Yukon Caribou iii combines a free weight home gym and a Smith machine with lat pulldown into an all-in-one workout system that develops strength and muscle.

As you'll soon learn in my Yukon Caribou iii review, there are numerous areas for improvement with this Smith machine. However, considering that it's been on the market for longer than much of the competition, it's a decent choice if you want a weight machine with a proven track record.

the Yukon Caribou iii Smith Machine
  • Smith machine has adjustable safety stoppers
  • Squat rack J-hooks take only a few seconds to adjust
  • Comes with a pulldown station
  • Provides a low row station for thicking your back
  • Fairly compact
  • Smith machine didn't glide smoothly according to some buyers
  • May not be entirely comfortable for tall users
  • Preacher attachment isn't included as standard

Yukon Smith machine facts and figures

By default, the Yukon Fitness Caribou iii Gym provides a Smith machine, squat rack, chin-up bar, lat pulldown, low pulley and workout bench. But by purchasing the upgraded package, you also get access to a cable crossover, pec deck, dip station and preacher curl.

Of course, having more training variety at your disposal is usually a good thing, especially if you often get bored with the same exercise regime. That said, the standard Yukon Caribou iii system has everything that 99% of people need to get an effective workout at home.

What's unique about the Caribou iii compared to the wider market is its self-lubricating bearings. In theory, this means that the Smith machine should glide smoothly up and down the guide rods. It should also mean that very little maintenance is required on your end.

the optional cable crossover package with all its workout stations

However, as multiple users mentioned in their Caribou iii system reviews, the Smith bar doesn't always glide that well. Perhaps they just needed some extra WD-40? Or perhaps not. It's equally possible that times have moved on in the home gym market and that the Caribou iii has gotten left behind.

Despite not living up to some lifter's expectations, the Caribou iii is an undeniable high performer in the safety department—hence why it's a popular choice for those who usually train without a spotter. In addition to metal lockouts, the Yukon Caribou system comes complete with adjustable safety catches so that you can test your strength in complete confidence.

More specifically, if you fail on a rep, then you don't need to fret, because the bar stoppers are more than capable of taking the strain. Just make sure that you actually remember to deploy them before your set. Otherwise, you might get pinned under the bar!

  • Dimensions: 68" L x 48" W x 85" H
  • Unit weight: 455lbs
  • Weight capacity: 500lbs
  • Workout stations: Smith machine, squat rack, cable system, pull up bar, weight bench, leg developer
  • Warranty: not specified
  • Estimated assembly time: 2-3 hours

Yukon Caribou III workout stations

Smith machine

The Smith bar, which weighs around 45lbs, accepts standard plates by default. But by equipping the bar with the provided Olympic adapter, you can also use the Smith machine station with 2" weight discs.

If you're a keen powerlifter, then you'll get plenty of mileage from the Yukon Caribou Smith machine. The barbell has heavy-duty knurling so that you can maintain a secure grip and generate maximum power on every bench press rep [1].

Ultimately, with a good enough diet, this barbell design will help you to gain strength faster because you won't have to risk losing your grip on the bar once your hands start sweating.

Squat rack

The squat rack sits on the front of the Yukon Caribou home gym and has one rather unique feature that a seasoned lifer is bound to love.

You can reposition the J-hooks without having to remove them from the rack.

All you do is this: pull a small pin and then move the bar holder along the uprights. Then, simply release the pin, and the J-hooks will slot neatly into place.

It might seem like a trivial benefit if you're not that into working out. And in the grand scheme of things it is. But trust me, once you rack up a few hundred sets, you'll be glad that you don't have to fiddle around with any unruly bar holders.

Lat pulldown

The GSL-144 lat pulldown is great for thickening and widening your back at home because it comes with plenty of space for heavy weight discs, enabling you to overload your lats with maximum resistance [2].

But if you'd rather just pop a pin and lift, then you can always consider the GLS-144 weight stack upgrade (if it's in stock). This selectorised 200lb weight stack ascends in manageable 10lb increments. What's nice, is that it can speed up your workouts significantly if you perform a lot of cable exercises.

Personally, I don't mind getting in some extra bicep stimulation by loading weight discs onto the trolley. But if you'd like the convenience of fast resistance adjustments, then the selectorized stack upgrade could be a wise investment.

Low pulley

While pulldowns enhance mainly back width, rows emphasise back thickness. Add in the pull-up station (more on that in a sec), and you can see why the Yukon Caribou iii Smith Machine is a top choice for those seeking a more aesthetic v taper.

Anyway, the low pulley comes with a footplate so that you can do real seated rows without your core giving out before your lats. Also, because Yukon includes an 18" short bar as well as a 47" long bar, you can use the pulley system for a variety of secondary movements like upright rows, bicep curls and overhead tricep extensions.

Adjustable bench

The FID-141 bench measures 48" L x 22" W x 21" H and has a sizeable 500lb weight capacity. Yet despite its durable frame, the bench is remarkably comfortable to use because the backrest and seat are so well padded with 2" thick foam.

woman exercising on a workout bench

Similarly, because both the seat and backrest are adjustable, you don't feel like you're going to slide off the bench during incline presses. Obviously, this leads to better workouts because you can focus 100% of your attention on lifting rather than on trying to maintain your balance.

I also like that Yukon has equipped the bench with a leg developer (far too many products focus on the upper body these days).

That said, you can also read our Valor BE-11 Smith Machine review if you don't need all the bells and whistles of the Caribou 3.

Chin-up bar

Ok, the chin-up bar. If you're even remotely tall, then depending on how you do your pull-ups, you might struggle to get a complete range of motion. Yes, this chinning station isn't particularly large. This means that hanging leg raises are pretty much out of the question. And it also means that you'll need to really lift up your heels while banging out your pull-ups.

That said, I don't think it's a deal-breaker. And if you have low ceilings, then it could actually be a good thing for you. But for the rest of us who realise the importance of bodyweight training, it might be best that we look elsewhere for a home gym.

Yukon Caribou III package options

Cable crossover

the optional cable crossover package with all its workout stations

The optional CCO-177 cable crossover expands the Yukon Caribou 3 Smith Machine into a fully-fledged home gym. Of course, you can do all the traditional cable exercises on this workout station [3]. But the real bonus is that it integrates into the main Yukon Fitness Caribou iii package. This means that it also takes up much less floor space compared to buying a completely separate cable machine.

Pec deck

If you want to take your chest development to the next level, or if bench presses have wreaked havoc on your shoulders as they have for me, then the PCA-171 pec attachment could be a sound investment. It has really thick padding and enables you to focus completely on stretching and contracting your pecs. This improves what's known as the mind-muscle connection, which is an essential prerequisite for muscle growth itself.

Dip station

The DIP-173 dip station benefits from a 12 gauge steel construction and as such, is a fantastic workout station for testing your bodyweight strength via weighted dips. It's pop-pin adjustable like the bar holders, and you can also use it to sculpt more defined abs by doing leg raises and knee tucks.

Preacher curl

a preacher curl bench wioth weights on the bar

Not everyone likes preacher curls. But if you're a big believer in bicep isolation, then you might want to take a look at the optional preacher attachment. It's a great add-on because the pad is height adjustable, which enables you to achieve a more intense bicep stretch and a more potent peak contraction.

However, I find it a bit weird that Yukon didn't include the preacher pad as standard—especially considering that virtually all similar home gyms do just that. Personally, I think this is another piece of substantial evidence that the Caribou iii home gym is behind the times. But I'll let you be the judge.

Related post: Titan Smith machine review

Yukon Caribou III parts and frame

If you're wondering why the Caribou iii system home gym is cheaper than the competition, then you might have just found your answer. Whereas the more expensive home gyms opt for extremely heavy-duty 11 or 12 gauge steel, it seems like Yukon has chosen to save money by using slightly less robust 14 gauge steel.

optional dip station atachment

Now, 14 gauge steel is far from flimsy. Plus, using slightly lower strength steel actually results in a lighter frame, which could potentially be helpful if you plan on installing your new home gym upstairs. However, all else being equal, stronger steal is better because it means that the frame is more adapt to fending off wear and tear.

On the lifting side of things, the Smith bar has a "piston-like action" according to the company. What I can infer from this is that the range of motion should be free from friction, essentially gliding up and down like free weights.

However, even with the Oilite self-lubricating bearings, some users noted the Smith bar didn't glide as smoothly as they'd hoped.

You might be able to sidestep this issue by upgrading to the linear bearings. But again, this is another expense that you'd have to absorb, which kind of defeats the purpose of going with an affordable product like the Caribou iii Smith machine.

The Marcy MD9010G, for example, is cheaper than the Caribou iii home gym & Smith machine. Plus, it comes with linear bearings as standard (and a whole load more workout stations, too).

Yukon Caribou III size and weight

As I mentioned earlier in my Caribou iii Smith machine review, this workout system is pretty compact, considering that it's a full home gym and not just a standalone Smith machine.

However, since the pull-up bar is pretty low down, it might not be entirely comfortable if you're over 6 foot.

Still, with an overall footprint of 68" L x 48" W x 85" H and a unit weight of 455lbs, the Yukon Caribou 3 could be a decent option if you're trying to maximise your floor space.
Yukon Caribou III safety features

I've definitely given this home gym some tough love throughout my Yukon Caribou review. But one thing that I certainly can't complain about is the commendable level of safety offered by this workout system.

In addition to several bar hooks, which make reracking the weight a breeze, the Caribou iii comes equipped with adjustable safety catches so that you can train to failure without worrying about getting pinned under the bar.

Moreover, there are springs on top of the safety catches to reduce the impact if you ever have to bail on a rep. This is priceless safety to have while training solo because it could mean the difference between breaking through a plateau and breaking your sternum!


Does it come with weights?

No. You'll need to supply your own weight plates. But since the Caribou iii works with both 1" and 2" discs, you might be able to get yourself a sweet deal because you're not restricted to a single diameter.

Should I get the cable crossover package or stick with the regular unit?

the optional cable crossover package with all its workout stations

Personally, unless you're dead set on having a cable crossover, I'd stick to the main unit. Considering the very mixed reviews of the Caribou iii, I think it's a significant risk to spend more for an upgrade when you haven't even trained on the main workout stations.

Are the linear bearings worth it?

If there's one upgrade I recommend, it's the linear bearings. They'll definitely make your bar path more smooth which will likely increase your mind-muscle connection.

What flooring should I get?

You can either go with dedicated equipment mats if you want something padded and easy to install. Alternatively, if you're more of the DIY type, then go for some non-slip gym flooring and save yourself a few quid by installing it yourself.

Where can I read more Yukon Caribou III reviews?

I hope that my Yukon Fitness Caribou iii review answered your questions. But you can always read more reviews by clicking here.

Should you invest in the Yukon Fitness Caribou III Smith Machine?

As you might know, we're pretty big on Smith machine safety across this side of the pond. So when I saw that Yukon made a serious effort to make their Caribou iii as safe as possible, I was impressed.

However, in terms of actually workout quality, I'm not convinced. I'm yet to see a home gym with such mixed reviews that still apparently sells well. Perhaps its the cool name or maybe people aren't doing their due diligence. Whatever the case, I wouldn't personally risk my money on fitness equipment that's so polarising.

On paper, the Yukon Caribou iii is an excellent purchase. It includes a cable system, squat rack, Smith machine and more. But if you're looking for a workout system that will stand the test of time, it might be worth finding a few more options before pulling the trigger on the Caribou iii.

I hope you enjoyed my Yukon caribou iii review. This home gym is far from bad; I just think that it needs polishing up a bit. And by that, I mean you'll probably need to invest in the linear bearings to enjoy the machine's best effects.

Editor's Choice
Yukon Fitness Caribou iii Smith Machine
the Yukon Caribou iii Smith Machine
  • Smith station has adjustable safety catches for training without a spotter
  • Includes an integrated squat rack with easy to adjust bar holders
  • Comes with high and low pulley stations for cable training
  • Adjustable bench has a built-in leg developer
  • Proven track-record—been on the market for many years


James Jackson
I'm a former academy rugby union player who specialises in strength and conditioning for competitive athletes. I split my time between coaching the next generation of British talent and creating hands-on gym equipment case studies at Smith Machine UK.
At Smith Machine UK, we create in-depth tests of the latest and greatest gym equipment on the British market so that you can create your dream home gym.
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