The Best Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers: Buyer's Guide

Vivek Nayyar
by Vivek Nayyar

Top 8 Best Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers

the best hitch mounted cargo carriers buyer s guide

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.

Table of Contents

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

FAQs

Are hitch-mounted cargo carriers safe?

As long as the carrier has a high-quality locking box and a compatible receiver, yes, it is safe to have one installed. However, while buying, it is important to check the real estate that the cargo carrier can offer, and how much weight can it hold.

It would also be wise to assess if the items that you want to transport can handle weather conditions if left uncovered. If not, it would be better to have a carrier with a cover.

In any case, you are suggested to avoid loading heavier items that weigh 50 lbs. or above on the carrier and keep them in your vehicle instead to avoid any wrecks.

What is the largest hitch-mounted cargo carrier?

Among many other options, the hitch-mounted cargo carrier with the largest storage capacity that has received a decent number of positive reviews on Amazon is StowAway Max Hitch Cargo Box ( Buy here!). The carrier has the following noteworthy attributes:

Storage Capacity: 16 cubic feet

Cargo Weight Capacity: 200 lbs.

Compatible with: Minivan, SUV, truck, passenger car, trailer

Warranty: 10 years

What should I look for in a hitch cargo carrier?

You must keep a couple of things in mind while buying a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. The following points briefly explain the key elements that must be considered when going for a hitch cargo carrier:

Make and Model

While some pickup trucks come with a factory-fitted hitch, sedans, hatchbacks, and some SUVs don’t have one. That said, if your car has a pre-installed hitch, you must determine its model and make. For the automotive that don’t already have it, getting a compatible hitch installed should be the first thing to do.

Cargo Type and Weight

The next thing that you may want to check is the type of cargo that you want to carry and how much could it weigh. For instance, if you want to transport smaller items of around 10 lbs. to 15 lbs., a simple carrier with a supportive frame should suffice. On the other hand, if the cargo is large and heavy, a cargo carrier with built-in ramps should be needed.

Nevertheless, although some heavy-duty cargo carriers have the capacity of holding around 200 lbs. or sometimes even more, many experts suggest that any item that weighs 50 lbs. or above should be transported in the vehicle itself to avoid any wrecks while driving.

Weather Condition

Determine in what kind of weather you will usually transport the cargo, and whether it is safe to keep the items uncovered even during the rainy days. If you have some machines or electronic devices that you mostly carry, a cargo carrier with a cover would be a wise choice.

Frequency of Usage and Parking Area

Assess how frequently do you transport the items, and where do you park your vehicle when not in use. If you carry the cargo regularly, you may want to install a carrier that can be folded against your vehicle when left unutilized or while parking to occupy less space. On the other hand, if you plan to use the cargo carrier rarely, having one that can be easily installed and uninstalled would be fine.

How fast can you drive with a hitch cargo carrier?

Your driving speed may vary according to the road and weather conditions. However, most experts suggest that you should not exceed the speed of 90 miles/hour (approximately 145 km/hour) with a hitch-mounted cargo carrier.

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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  • TooManyCars TooManyCars on Mar 03, 2022

    I've used a cargo carrier and bag on two successive Subies. They are very handy for things that you don't want to put inside the car, or for creating extra space in the car for road trips. Most recently used mine to move oldest daughter to college. A good bag is essential, as they are surprisingly waterproof and keep your stuff from prying eyes. Mine exactly fits standard carry-on luggage on edge. The cargo nets to hold the bag to the carrier also work OK, but I always add a few extra straps. My thoughts on choosing a carrier: consider aluminum unless you always have someone available to help you install it to the car, folding is important too if you wish to fit into a normal parking space at your destination. I also chose a model with a ramp that pins vertical or folds horizontal into the carrier. In vertical mode it is a handy tie-down structure for lighter things, and the ramp is useful for rolling heavier things like winter wheels onto the carrier. I also strongly suggest choosing one with a positive mechanism locking it to the car. Instead of just a pin and spring clip mine uses a large bolt that threads through the carrier shank and out the other side of the receiver (and also has a spring clip). This bolts the carrier firmly to the hitch which eliminates rattles and flopping around, and defeats thieves that don't happen to have a 13/16 flat wrench with them. Finally, if you are attaching a carrier to a newer vehicle, bring the owners manual with you. It WILL set off the backup safety nannies.

  • BobinPgh BobinPgh on Mar 03, 2022

    Because you have to have extra space to store all those Pampers.

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