Top 5 Best Hitch Cargo Carriers to Consider
Are you looking to increase the carrying capacity of your vehicle without adding a trailer or a roof-mounted device? Then you need to have a look at my reviews of the best hitch cargo carriers on the market.
These devices add room to your trunk without loading the vehicle over its capacity limit. They’re also practical, easy to mount and come in handy on long trips, when you go camping, or when you’re moving, and there’s isn’t enough space in the car.
The good news is that there are lots of designs on the market, each with cool features and interesting designs. So, I did a bit of research and found the best products that can accustom most users’ needs. Below you can read their in-depth reviews and learn more about the features that matter when purchasing a hitch cargo carrier.
This system is the first on my list because it is incredibly versatile when it comes to carrying heavy loads without a trailer. In the package, you’ll find the basket (which can hold up to 500lbs), a waterproof cargo bag (to be placed on the basket), and an elastic stretch cargo net with the necessary accessories.
Furthermore, the basket can be folded up, to save space, when you’re not carrying anything on it. The basket works with 2-inch receivers, and the installation is incredibly simple. However, if you want to use it on a smaller hitch receiver, you will need an adapter, which needs to be purchased separately.
Finally, the side rail of the basket is 6-inches tall, which is enough to secure any type of load in place. There’s also a 2-inch shank rise to improve ground clearance. As a result, the system will work nicely with any SUV, van, truck, regular vehicle, or jeep that feature a 2-inch receiver.
Designed for lighter loads (360 lbs. capacity) this hitch cargo carrier is foldable (due to its build that features a shank and four sides). It also features a powder coat finish for increased durability to the elements, rust, and scratches.
The side rails are 14-inches high (they can be folded to 3.2-inches), which means your cargo will remain secure even on the bumpiest of roads. The receiver tube is foldable and fits the standard 2-inch receiver. Furthermore, to improve ground clearance and avoid car exhaust from damaging your load, the shank is angled.
Finally, the system is designed with anti-rattle stabilizer, which eliminates hitch movement and wobbles for when you’re carrying sensitive equipment.
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3. CURT 18153
Easy to install and use, the CURT cargo basket is designed from heavy-duty tubular steel and features tall sides (6-inches) to secure your load. The basket is perfect for carrying anything that fit in the weight limits as it’s easy to secure the cargo using straps or a net (purchased separately).
This model has a folding shank that lets you fold the basket up for when you’re not using it but don’t want to remove it. As a result, you’ll be able to park and back up without worrying that you might hit something. Furthermore, the angled shank offers more ground clearance and keeps your cargo away from the exhaust fumes.
Finally, the integrated reflectors on the sides and the mesh bottom make this the perfect road trip companion!
If you’re the kind of camper who likes to take their bikes and their huge tent, then this cargo carrier may be the perfect option. With a 2-in-1 design, this Tow Tuff model can function as a cargo carrier or a bike rack.
As a cargo carrier, it is spacious enough for a large bag or several containers. As a bike rack, it can accommodate up to 4 bikes, and you have an adjustable wheel cradle and tie-down holes to secure the bike(s) in place. To make the switch between its two functions simply remove or add the necessary pins as specified in the instructions.
The Two Tuff has a weight capacity of 500 lbs. and fits most 2-inch receivers. It is designed from heavy-duty steel and comes with a strap, tie-down holes, pull-out bar, and adjustable wheel cradles.
This cargo carrier can be used as a regular basket or as a cargo basket with a loading ramp (5ft). The ramp’s main purpose is to provide a gradual slope and is equipped with a heavy-duty mesh that’s durable and easy to clean.
As a result, it’s ideal for people who need to haul heavy equipment such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters, lawnmowers, and more.
In both its functions, the weight limit is 500 lbs. and it fits most vehicles with a Class III 2-inch receiver. As such, you can mount it on trucks, SUVs, or standard vehicles.
This cargo carrier is made from high-quality steel and features a black powder coat that protects against the elements, mud, scratches, and more. Furthermore, when not in use but still attached, the cargo carrier can be tilted upward, so it occupies a lot less space.
How To Choose the Best Hitch Cargo Carriers?
If you’ve never used a hitch cargo carrier before it can be a bit confusing to start, especially when there are so many interesting products on the market. That’s why, in this section, I listed the essential features to follow, to make sure you understand the benefits of such a great device.
Just like with weight distribution hitches, you must pay close attention to the weight limits specified by the producer and follow their instructions to the letter. This means that if the cargo carrier says it can support 360 lbs. you should not overload it. It’s even recommended to stay a bit under the weight limit, to avoid any troubles.
Quick note: You also need to consider the weight which can be added to the back of your vehicle without impairing said vehicle’s driving capabilities (steering, brakes, contact with the road). If the trunk is full and you add a hitch cargo carrier, the front wheels may lose some adherence.
Finally, keep in mind that a heavier vehicle will consume more fuel. Still, if you’re not using the cargo carrier at full capacity every day of the week, it shouldn’t have a big impact on your monthly fuel budget.
This aspect tells you if the cargo carrier is compatible with the type of receiver your car has. Most cargo carriers fit with a 1.25” and a 2” receiver, and there are adapters that let you transition between the two sizes.
Still, the adapter must be purchased separately, so if you’re only going to use the cargo on the one car, it makes sense to get a compatible design.
While some producers may dabble with more exotic materials, the most common ones are aluminum and steel.
Both materials are considered durable and easy to maintain, with the mention that steel is heavier than aluminum carriers and prone to rusting. To prolong the life of steel carriers, producers use a powder coat finish, but you need to avoid scratching it.
You’ll also see polypropylene carriers, but these are less durable and don’t guarantee the safety of your load on a bumpy road. They work for light products and can be useful if your vehicle doesn’t support too much weight on the back.
Quick note: If your steel carrier got scratched and now there is some rust, you can use a rust converter solution to prevent any further damage to its durability.
Type of Platform
When talking about the type of platform, there are two aspects to discuss: solid vs mesh baskets and foldable vs fixed design.
The first one is about the bottom of the basket, the part on which you place the load. While a solid bottom will protect the load from being hit by debris and dirt if it rains or snows the water won’t just wash off. On the other hand, a mesh platform is easy to clean and lets the elements pass through. It also provides lots of openings for straps and nets, which makes it easier to secure all sorts of loads.
The second aspect to consider is the fixed vs foldable design. If you’re on the fence about this, simply consider your needs. Do you use the cargo carrier often? Do you keep it on the vehicle when it’s not loaded?
If your answer is yes to these two questions, then you may get better use from a foldable design. This means that, when empty, you can place the platform in a vertical position, thus reducing the space needed for tight maneuvers (parking, backing up, fitting inside a garage).
Ramp, Bike Carriers, and More
If you look at the products I’ve reviewed, you’ll notice some have extra features like a loading ramp or attachments for carrying bikes. Now, these are not necessary, but they can come in handy if you’re hauling various types of cargo.
For instance, a cargo carrier with a ramp is great for loading up wheelchairs or motorized small vehicles such as a lawnmower or a scooter. On the other hand, if you alternate between regular cargo and bikes, you may need a basket with special accessories.
These are entirely based on each user’s preferences, but they are worth mentioning so you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
How to Install It?
The installation process should be clear for all models, but the instructions may vary slightly from product to product.
In short, all hitch cargo carriers go on the trailer hitch, which should be already a part of your vehicle. If not, you’ll need to install an interchangeable hitch before even considering buying a cargo carrier. To make sure the receiver and the carrier match, check the compatibility section above.
Once the cargo carrier is out of the box and mounted for installation (read the producer’s instructions manual), you simply need to slide it into the hitch and secure it according to instructions. You may have to wiggle it a little bit, to find the right position, but don’t use blunt force.
Hitch cargo carriers are easy to mount and use (unlike roof-mounted ones) and come in a wide range of designs, with plenty of features for everyone. If you follow the specifications regarding load capacity and hitch compatibility, you have access to the ideal way of extending the hauling capabilities of your vehicle without too much effort.