Top 8 Best Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers
By | Last updated: May 6, 2021
best hitch-mounted cargo carriers

There’s a theory that the amount of stuff parents need to carry with them is inversely proportional to the age of their kids. Newborns generally require at least 500 diapers and wipes plus a mandatory assortment of toys and attention grabbers. Toss in an ergonomically correct jogging stroller and a pediatrician-approved collapsible play pen and you’ve suddenly no room left in the car for humans.

Fortunately, there’s an answer. It arrives in the form of exterior cargo bags. After all, these types of storage solutions have been around for ages in some form or another. Fun fact: the shape we know as the modern sedan was created when an enterprising person bolted a rectangular chest to the back of their pre-war rig for extra storage.

Who says TTAC isn’t educational?

We’ve covered rooftop carriers in a previous installment of this series. Today, we have scoured the web for hitch-mounted carriers for those people who need extra storage space but don’t want to lose sunroof functionality. Here’s our picks.

1. Editor’s Pick: MaxxHaul Hitch Mount Steel Folding Cargo Carrier

This product, complete with gratuitous usage of the letter ‘X’, mounts up to a standard 2-inch towing receiver and can bear 500 pounds of properly-distributed weight. Outer basket size is 5 feet wide and 21 inches deep with a half-foot lip. Usable storage dimensions are one inch smaller in each measure.

Reviews are recent and solid, with numerous real-world photographs depicting the thing being deployed for all manner of active outdoor pursuits. The company says it features an all-steel material construction for durability and safety, a claim echoed by numerous users. It folds up when not in use.

Pros/Well sized, solid construction, mesh bottom
Cons/Steel can be heavy, bag/net sold separately
Bottom Line/Gets all the basics right for a good price

2. Budget Choice: Camco Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier

The basic form of this carrier is identical to the one above but is smaller in dimension and a heckuva lot cheaper. A hitch pin securely connects the carrier onto a 2″ hitch receiver and is included in the deal. Note this carrier has large spaces between the support bars on its floor instead of tight steel mesh. In other words, there’s more chance for stuff literally falling through the cracks.

As with most things in life, its description includes two of the most terrifying words in the English language: assembly required. Customers report that the fit is a bit sloppy, with installation holes not lining up properly. A quick hit with a power drill allegedly fixed the problem. Hey, what do you expect? It’s the cheapest one here.

Pros/Very affordable
Cons/Wide spaces in which to lose cargo
Bottom Line/Cheap tool for moving day

3. Best Reviews: Mockins Steel Cargo Basket with Net & Bag

An absolutely infuriating life experience is when one buys a product only to find it does not include all the tools or parts required in order to enjoy your new purchase. This set from a company called Mockins includes not only the hitch mounted cargo basket but also a water-resistant bag and ratchet straps. There’s also cargo netting for good measure.

The rack’s mesh style floor is better than a unit with widely spaced bars as there is less chance stuff will, quite literally, fall between the cracks. Its 60-inch width affords lots of space and its hitch shank smartly rises a couple of inches to help with ground clearance. In fact, if this unit were made of aluminium and not heavy steel, it would have been the Editor’s Pick.

Pros/Includes everything you need to store stuff out of the wet
Cons/Only 20 inches wide
Bottom Line/Tough to beat an all-in-one kit

4. Ark Motoring Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier

Here’s a cargo carrier that does its part to stay out of the way by incorporating a folding angle shank, giving owners the ability to fold their cargo rack upwards for storage when not in use. It also allows for tilting of cargo, if needed. This cargo rack was constructed to easily mount to any Class III or IV 2-inch receiver hitches.

Its base is made of a crosshatched floor, meaning only screwdrivers and your favorite pencil are at risk of falling through. A handy net is included, as a tie-down and cheap ratchet straps. Weighing an astonishing 57 pounds, this thing needs to eat a few Lean Cuisines.

Pros/Good size, folding capabilities
Cons/Too heavy
Bottom Line/Needs to hit the gym

5. CargoLoc 2-in-1 Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier

Sometimes, all you need is a small addition to the cargo area of your rig. Sure, rooftop cargo boxes are fine but they’re hard to get at, and do you even remember what happened the last time we drove under that low bridge on South Gregson Street? However, you can mount this 2-in-1 unit to your roof if you must.

Able to bear up to 500 pounds, this type of carrier will easily accommodate square and rectangle items like Rubbermaid totes or moving boxes (don’t place the latter on there in rainy weather). The platform provided measures roughly square and may be bigger than your author’s first apartment. A retaining rail stands 6.5 inches high and can be used to tie stuff down and help prevent the shifting of loads.

Pros/Frees up beaucoup space inside your vehicle, large platform
Cons/Hitch pin seems to be sold separately
Bottom Line/May be used roofside or on the hitch

6. Reese Explore Rainproof Cargo Tray Bag

Featuring a good 15 feet of dry storage, this cargo carrier from Reese takes on a rectangular shape when fully packed with gear. Rainproof construction keeps your stuff dry and the works of it folds flat when not in use. Note well: This thing is designed to be secured to one of those hitch-mounted cargo trays, which is not included in the bag’s selling price. Here’s a good example of what you’ll need to pair with this item.

Some users had the idea to frame the unit with PVC piping, allowing the bag to retain a rectangular shape even when empty. Detailed, community sourced instructions for that are found in the ad listing and is a great idea. The whole bag measures about 6 feet long by a foot and a half wide. It is 2 feet tall when fully extended.

Pros/Recognized brand name, good community support, rainproof
Cons/Requires a separate mounting tray (like the ones listed here)
Bottom Line/Good if you've already bought something else on this list

7. CURT Basket Hitch Cargo Carrier

Another cargo carrier touting its six-inch sidewall height and angled shank, this basket from a company called CURT boasts of ‘carbide black powder coat’ being used in manufacturing. Like most others on this list, it can bear up to 500 lbs and is made of steel, meaning it will add over 50 lbs to the rear of your car.

Several options of this model are available, ranging from small units meant for a 1 ¼ inch hitch to a king-sized unit meant for adventure. Keep in mind that the angled shank, while handy, will cause the carrier to block access to your car’s rear hatch door when folded up and out of the way.

Pros/Plays well with carrier bags from the same company, 6-inch side wall, angled shank
Cons/You may give yourself a hernia lifting this heavy thing

8. TMS Motorcycle/Dirt Bike Carrier

While we first imagined putting one’s bike on the hitch of their vehicle would produce a weight imbalance like that of your author after he hits the buffet, we realize this thing is rated for 500 pounds like just about everything else on this list. Keep an eye on the center of gravity, though.

Its dual sliding load ramp should make loading the bike a breeze but we firmly recommend against riding the thing up there yourself lest you become the subject of a viral YouTube video. Best to push it up there by hand. A Honda CB650R weighs about 450lbs, by the way.

Pros/Neat idea, frees up a truck bed for other items
Cons/You're not getting a fat hog up here
Bottom Line/Good for reasonably-sized motorcycles and dirt bikes

Hitch Mounted Cargo Carrier FAQs

Aren’t all of these things the same?

Let it be known we desperately wanted to kick off this list by recommending the King Bird with Extra-Thick Steel Shank but, sadly, the hitch-mounted cargo carrier bearing that precise name was out of stock. Please direct all your dirty jokes to the comments section.

Let us repeat: aren’t all of these things the same?

Ok, we’ll actually answer the question this time. In terms of how they are deployed, there are many similarities. They all install into a square hitch receiver, using that item to secure itself to your vehicle. Beyond that, some carriers are better suited for regularly shaped cargo such as Rubbermaid containers while others use their design to accept a two-wheeled dirt bike. Don’t forget that some have mesh floors while others have bars, creating disparate usefulness depending on the size of your cargo.

Are there special considerations for weight?

Absolutely. Take care not to exceed the recommended weight limit of a carrier, even if it seems woefully low and imposed by a legal team. Proper distribution of that weight is also important; after all, if one were to load unevenly, an emergency maneuver might start an argument with physics that your car cannot win.

Parting advice?

Be careful navigating parking lots and other tight areas while using a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. They add a not-insignificant amount of length to your vehicle, most of which is made of the type of material that can easily damage someone else’s property. If at all possible, fold up or remove the carrier when it isn’t in use for this reason.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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