Whether you are traveling across the country with your camping supplies or merely hauling stuff around town, a hitch mounted cargo carrier can be incredibly beneficial. Cargo carriers are exactly what their name implies: they provide you additional hauling space by attaching directly to the hitch mount located on the back of your car or truck.
Hitch Cargo Carrier Buying Guide
Most of us are familiar with the concept of a hitch storage carrier, but we wouldn’t know where to start if we had to buy one for our automobile. As it turns out, there are essentially four different facets that must be taken into consideration before you can go forward with your purchase
How To Select A Cargo Carrier
1) Load Capacity – You first need to start by paying attention to the carrying capacity that you will need to accommodate. Traditionally, most receiver hitch cargo carrier devices can handle up to 500 lbs of weight. If you know that you will potentially haul more weight in the future, consider buying a large hitch cargo carrier for extra support and security. Remember, too, that there are trailer hitch luggage rack options with expandable storage areas, though that won’t necessarily impact your total weight allowance.
2) Assembly Difficulty – No matter which trailer hitch cargo carrier you select, you’ll have to deal with some level of assembly. Now, that doesn’t mean that all tow hitch cargo carrier devices are equal in terms of difficulty. Some hitches require nothing more than a few bolts and a couple minutes of your time. Other cargo carriers require a significantly heavier workload during the assembly and installation process. If you don’t find yourself handy with tools, consider buying a pre-assembled rear cargo carrier.
3) Quality of Construction – As in all aspects of life, you get what you pay for. A hitch mount carrier that is built out of cheap materials will run the risk of degradation and ultimately malfunction. Conversely, a quality constructed cargo carrier will last you for years on end while withstanding the elements and regular wear-and-tear. There are a few primary ways to address the build quality of the cargo racks available to you:
a) Frame Material – Most cargo carriers are made out of either aluminum or steel. Aluminum and steel are both durable metals that provide you with weather resistance and physical durability. Aluminum is weaker than steel, but steel tends to be heavier and thus more durable. Depending on your specific needs, either style of trailer hitch storage box will work for you.
b) Paint & Coating – If you want added protection for your gear, consider prioritizing products that feature a specialized UV resistant powder coating. Believe it or not, all of the elements will dramatically impact your luggage hitch device — including the sun. Powder coated products tend to last longer, resist UV rays, and handle scratches and dents better as well.
c) Wire Mesh vs. Metal Bars – Every cargo carrier that you find will have either a mesh platform or a set of metal bars as the base of the product. A mesh platform is ideal when you are hauling objects that would fall through the gaps in the bars. Metal bars are great if you are carrying heavy objects that would otherwise rattle around in a smaller carrier.
4) Bonus Accessories – Finally, you can look for quality bumper hitch cargo carrier options that have additional features. Consider buying carriers that have reflective paint or expandable luggage trays. You can also find carriers that have loading ramps, a carry bag, or even an added bike rack.
Best Hitch Cargo Carrier Reviews
Using the guidance that we outlined above, we’ve highlighted five of the most impressive cargo carriers available on the market. We’ve given a wide range of options with varying features, so it should be easy to find the perfect carrier for your needs.
1) Tricam ACC-1F Hitch Mounted Aluminum Hitch Cargo Carrier
All hitch cargo carriers are not made the same and Tricam proves that in spades with their ACC-1F model. This cargo carrier is made out of aluminum and can handle upwards of 500 lbs in total weight capacity. The entire product is incredibly lightweight and easy to install onto your vehicle.
The ACC-1F fits onto a 2″ receiver hitch and it comes with a year-long warranty, provided by Tricam. The actual body of the hitch carrier is 50″ x 20″ which is big enough to carry two large totes. The aluminum body is reinforced with steel which provides additional durability to the entire product.
The tray of the ACC-1F is about three inches deep which provides a sturdy lip of a wall that supports everything inside. While this isn’t a deep or wide carrier tray, it is big enough to give us a sense of security when hauling our stuff. You’ll want to add your own cargo straps in order to secure your load entirely.
2) CURT 18153 Basket-Style Cargo Carrier
For a different style fo cargo carrier, you can consider the CURT 18153 cargo basket. This heavy-duty, steel mounted cargo basket provides plenty of space for you to haul pretty much anything. With a mesh surface and secured bars, you can handle long trips without worrying that your load is going to go flying out of the trunk.
The sides of the CURT 18153 are probably the biggest allure for this model as they represent a full 6″ of depth. This hitch carrier can handle up to 500 lbs and measures in at 60″ x 24″ which makes for a great rectangular footprint. This cargo carrier even has room to install an optional bike rack in back, as well.
The entire CURT 18153 is made long-lasting thanks to a black powder coat finish that helps to alleviate elemental concerns. The 18153 will resist UV rays, weather damage, and scratches that are consistent with traditional wear-and-tear. Additionally, the CURT 18153 has foldaway ability to that you can keep the basket tight to the back of your vehicle when not in use.
3) MaxxHaul 70108 Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier
If you want a cargo carrier with bike rack installation space, the MaxxHaul 70108 carrier should be in consideration. This cargo carrier is durable and robust, made with a lightweight design that resists corrosion due to the elements. Due to the low nature of this carrier, you have plenty of room to install a bike rack anywhere above it.
The one downside to the 70108 is that it does not feature a foldaway design. The carrier has a fixed profile and it is outfitted with different reflector stickers affixed to every corner of the tray. The design is sleek and spacy with a silver overlay. This is a no-frills, affordable cargo carrier that can handle up to 500 lbs.
4) Arksen Folding Cargo Carrier
If you want to get offroad, you’ll need a cargo carrier option that can handle the elements and the state of the road. Arksen developed their basket-style cargo carrier with the intention of providing people with a product that can handle anything you can throw at it. This carrier sits at 47.5″ x 60″ x 9″ deep and can handle 500 lbs of weight.
What makes the Arksen carrier so special is that it has a durable steel frame that is coated with special epoxy powder. This powder coating gives the entire carrier tremendous durability and resistance to conventional wear-and-tear. The mesh base to the carrier is durable and allows for products of any size to fit inside of the tray. This cargo carrier also can fold up when not in use, though if you plan to install it on a jeep you might run into issues with your rear tire.
5) Merax Foldable Hitch Cargo Carrier
This cargo carrier looks like something pulled straight from Jurassic Park. This foldable cargo carrier is a low-capacity option for lightweight travelers as it can only handle up to 360 lbs. The tall vertical rails and the tight mesh surface make this an ideal solution to just about any kind of cargo hauling you’ll be doing.
This carrier is powder coated with a sleek black aesthetic that should keep it safe from all manner of wear-and-tear. Road grime and weather elements shouldn’t be much of a bother for this product. Still, due to the weight limitations, this is strictly intended for smaller loads of product. You won’t be able to haul your entire living room back here.
Hitch Cargo Carrier Buying Tips
Before we let you go in order to make your cargo equipment purchase, we have a few more pieces of advice. Whether you are looking for a simple hitch shelf or a more involved SUV hitch cargo carrier, you’ll want to pay attention to the following concepts.
1) Inspect Your Receiver Size – Most importantly, you’ll want to inspect the receiver size of the hitch on your vehicle. If the hitch on your vehicle does not match the hitch mounted carrier that you purchase, it will not work. There is no simple solution or workaround for a mismatched hitch/receiver setup.
2) Take Stock Of Your Hauling Needs – Take a serious look at the items that you are planning to haul. If you can even consider possibly needing a larger trailer hitch platform, you’d be better served to order a bigger option today rather than risk needing a new one in the future. Remember, some of the larger trailer hitch platform options feature a folding mechanism in order to tuck them away when not in use. Extra size will never hurt you, so long as your vehicle is rated to handle the weight.
3) Weigh Importance Of Side Rails – The addition of railings to your hitch tray can go a long way toward making the entire load more secure. With that being said, you’ll still need to manually tie down everything that you are carrying. Side rails merely give you added peace of mind that your cargo will stay constrained to your trailer hitch basket.