If you like traveling with luggage to the camping site or move equipment around, you would realize that your vehicle needs more cargo space. The best hitch cargo carrier is a solution in this regard to help you haul additional cargo. A roof top carrier and a trailer are, in some cases, not great solutions when you need additional space because they have their cons.
Given a plethora of hitch-mounted cargo carriers on the market, it can be quite bewildering to pick the best hitch cargo carrier. With so much hours spent on research, I have handpicked the top 10 products to narrow down your search and to help you find the very best hitch cargo carrier.
Best Hitch Cargo Carrier of 2018
CURT – Best Hitch-mounted Cargo Carrier
Made of heavy-duty tubular steel, the carrier can survive lots of harassment on the road while traversing on uneven roads with luggage on it. It is spacious enough to haul any assortment of luggage within capacity.
And the bottom is made of the mesh steel to aid in cleaning the carrier and to prevent the fall of small items. Curt carriers can be mounted in the front or rear provided there are receiver hitches.
The carrier has a capacity of 500 pounds which is enough to haul heavy cargo. A black powder coat has been applied on the steel to protect it against the UV damage, scratches and rust.
When not in use, you may use the 2 x 2-inch folding shank to fold up the carrier.
It’s an absolute breeze to install this carrier although the steel is a bit heavy. Nonetheless, you can complete the installation alone.
With the angled shank, you can create a ground clearance especially if you are driving sedans to avoid hitting the ground with the carrier.
In addition to this hitch-mounted carrier, I recommend the waterproof cargo bags to safeguard your water-sensitive belongings. Curt has an assortment of bags to fit any style.
They are constructed with 500D, UV-resistant vinyl with waterproof seams. The tie-down straps are included to secure your load, and they can be adjusted per load.
ROLA – Best Aluminum Carrier
ROLA Steel cargo Carrier is black with dimensions 48 x 28 x 11 inches. The side rails are tall enough to secure the loads. With the holes provided you can tighten the straps to secure the luggage even further.
The carrier has red reflectors to help other drivers at night not to bump into the carrier. This will also save you the traffic ticket because the law requires reflectors for trailers.
To further make trailer discernible, you can purchase the fully functional lighting system.
With the rise shank, the carrier can be elevated further from the exhaust. Any carrier too close to the exhaust pipes can expose the luggage to heat that can melt them.
The shank further helps in ground clearance for low-riding vehicles so that you won’t hit the ground when entering parking lots or jumping speed bumps.
The mesh platform is included to support the luggage. There are bars on the base to support the base so that it does not sink when heavy load is hauled.
The product is backed by a 5-year warranty. It is easy to install this hitch-mounted cargo carrier. Just ensure that your vehicle hitch receiver matches with the carrier or otherwise purchase the hitch receiver adapter.
This hitch-mounted cargo carrier has a sporty look which can be a good choice for those with sport cars. The steel construction makes it more durable to haul heavy loads.
Its side walls are 11 inches tall which is sufficient to secure the load. I do recommend this product. With the license plate attachment makes it convenient for law enforcement agencies to spot the car.
Vault – Hitch Cargo Carrier Basket
This Cargo Hitch Carrier by Vault has a capacity of 500 pounds to load a variety of luggage from camping gear, bikes to small items in a waterproof bag.
To protect items from outdoor elements you might want to purchase the cargo carrier bag separately.
This hitch-mounted cargo carrier fits in a 2” receiver. It has an elevated shaft which will offset it from the exhaust pipes to avoid the smell and the heat.
Your load will be prevented from sliding off by the 7-inch side walls. Then you can tie it using the 360 degree tie down locations on the carrier.
The square steel tubing design helps the carrier fits well with the hitch receiver. To secure the carrier the hitch pin and the clip have been included.
The base of the carrier is constructed with mesh steel to give support to your cargo. This mesh base helps eliminate the accumulation of grime.
However, it can expose your cargo to dirt, but will a waterproof bag your cargo will be safe. You will have to purchase this bag separately.
Arksen – Best for Jeep Wrangler
The 60” x 25” basket-style ARKSEN Folding Cargo Carrier is also made of the sturdy steel frame. The red reflectors are built-in to enhance visibility whenever traveling in the night for other motorists to see you.
To assemble this carrier is as simple as a walk-in-the-park. It fits with any 2” receiver. With the dimensions 47.5 x 60 x 9-inch, it is spacious enough to haul cargo to a maximum weight of 500 pounds.
The steel is coated with epoxy powder to protect it against the UV damage, scratches and the rust. The side rails are 6 inches tall which makes it convenient to protect your cargo from sliding off.
Then the mesh base will protect small items from falling through. But they can still fall through the side rails; you need to tighten them, using straps.
As much as it folds up when not in use, it can be a challenge if your car has a wheel at the back.
Installation and assembling of this hitch-mounted cargo carrier is an absolute breeze. The manual is provided to guide you. As long as you have the 2” receiver hitch then you can avoid the rattling noise by securing the tool tightly.
This steel frame cargo carrier is yet another good product I would recommend. But it is a heavy tool which may be a challenge to install alone.
Nonetheless, it has good features. It can fit a 2-inch receiver and can be hauled by a variety of vehicles. Low-riding sedan vehicles may drag the carrier on the floor when traversing hills or uneven roads because it has no a curved shank to offset it from the ground. So for such vehicles I do not recommend this cargo carrier.
MaxxHaul – Best Heavy Duty Hitch Cargo Carrier
It is also lightweight so you don’t need anyone to help you installing it. Capacity of 500 pounds is enough to haul lots of items for long distances. However, the aluminum base has huge holes which cannot hold small items.
The carrier fits with 2-inch receiver. It can fit a variety of vehicles such as trucks, SUVs and Vans. The 6-inch side-rails will help protect the load from falling off.
There are reflectors included to enhance road safety for other motorists. Considering the dimensions, this is a spacious cargo carrier to haul huge luggage.
Aluminum may be light in weight but it is also sturdy and durable. But compared with steel it lacks behind.
What I saw as a drawback is that it does not have an angled receiver, which means you have to be vigilant with the placement of your exhaust. The exhaust can melt any plastic luggage put in the carrier if too close.
Aluminum frame is a good option for those with small cars. It is lightweight. This means even if fully loaded to 500 pounds, it won’t feel too bulky on your car the same way steel frame does.
Furthermore, it is corrosion-resistant. That’s a plus to make the carrier long lasting. But, those with low-riding vehicle can find this inconvenient as it can hit the ground in uneven road because of the straight receiver.
If there’s an angled adapter perhaps you can use it to lift the carrier.
Merax – Best Hitch Carrier for SUV
Its weight capacity is 360 pounds. While this may seem like an inadequate weight capacity, it is still spacious enough to haul lots of items.
Because it is made of steel, I don’t think loads of more than 360 can be a problem provided your hitch is strong enough to endure that.
The carrier can fit with the 2-inch hitch receiver and is suitable for many vehicles. If you are heading to camping excursions, this might be a good choice for you.
The basket has tall rails where you can even be tempted to leave the luggage untightened. The mesh base can hold the small items.
The carrier weighs 62 pounds, which is heavy for one person to install. That’s the heaviness of steel. It is also coated to protect it against corrosion or scratches.
There are no reflectors seen on the carrier. That being said, you have to purchase them separately because they are important for your road safety. If not in use, the side rails can fold down easily for ease of storage.
Cleaning the carrier is a breeze because it doesn’t harbor grime on its mesh base. But white luggage can get dirty because of the mesh base.
Direct Aftermarket – Best Rated Cargo Carrier
If you have too much of cargo to clear from your car this carrier might suitable for you. It hauls up to 500 pounds of luggage. The carrier is made of a heavy-duty steel construction and coated with powder for corrosion resistance.
It fits on a standard 2-inch hitch receiver. But it comes with a straight hitch which may not be a good option for low-riding vehicles.
Direct Aftermarket Hitch Cargo Carrier has dimensions 60 x 20 x 6 inches, which are spacious enough to load lots of items. Included with the package is the weather resistant cargo bag.
That’s a plus advantage to safe your small items from hitting the steel frame and breaking. The bag is made tough to protect valuables against the elements.
It fits with the 2” hitch receiver but the hitch pin is sold separately. It is also compatible with Class 3 or 4 trailers.
The license plate can be placed at the rear of the carrier. You will have to purchase the reflectors to alert other motorists of your presence in the night because it does not come with the reflectors.
The mesh platform is easy to clean. It also helps in containing small items without falling through in case you put items without the included bag.
Goplus – Best for the Money
Goplus Cargo Carrier is a long lasting luggage basket made of the durable heavy-duty steel construction. To protect it against rust and corrosion, the steel is coated with black powder because steel is susceptible to such damage.
With dimensions 53 x 12 x 4-1/8 inches, it has an ample space to haul many items to a capacity of 500 pounds. The carrier itself weighs 22.7 pounds, which is lightweight to install on your own.
The item fits well with 2-inch receiver. The hitch pin and all other mounting accessories are provided. That’s an advantage because many carriers seldom include the hitch pin and the clip.
The base is not made of mesh, but horizontal steel panels. These are sturdy to support weight evenly, but not good in containing small items.
Installing this hitch mount cargo carrier is easy. The user manual has been provided with clear instructions. Assembling can take you less than an hour to complete.
The straight receiver can be inconvenient for small cars with small wheels as, when full, it can hit the grounds. To enhance the ground clearance you might consider having the curved adapter.
This product is also made of steel construction. For the fact that it includes all mounting accessories, I say it’s a good product.
But I wish it had a curved hitch to offset the carrier from the ground. If your exhaust is closer to the carrier it might be bad news to your plastic cargo. Apart from that, it is a good cargo carrier I recommend.
MaxxHaul – Best on the Market
It is made of steel, so it will last long while being loaded with loads of cargo. Its capacity of 500 pounds is spacious to haul your wheelchair, coolers, gas cans, and many more items.
The luggage is secured by the 5-inch side rails. All you need are straps to tighten it on those side rails.
The base is not made of base as is customary with many carriers. Instead, it is made of strong horizontal steel panels that help in distributing weight so that the base does not sink.
A durable black powder coat finish is applied to protect against corrosion and rust.
I would wish the carrier had an angled shank so that it put it away from the exhaust as well as for ground clearance.
But with the purchases of additional accessories that can be accomplished. The installation is simpe with a 2” hitch receiver.
Highland – Best Hitch Carrier with Ramp
Highland Hitch-mounted Cargo Carrier is suitable for large loads without the restrictions of side rails. Its side rails are only 2-inch tall so they do not restrict what you can put across the carrier.
But, they are not suitable for small items as they can slide off. The carrier comes with a maximum load capacity of 500 pounds.
It comes as a two piece construction that can be bolted together in a few minutes. That’s how easy the installation is with this carrier.
As long as your car has a 2-inch receiver hitch, you will enjoy installing this one man. With an overall weight of 34.5 pounds, it is not a bulky steel to lift.
With its short side rails, it is unlikely to obstruct the license plate unless when loaded fully. The reflectors help in road safety at night.
With a width of 20 inches and a length of 60 inches, the carrier has an ample storage to clear space in your car. Its steel construction is coated with durable powder finish to protect against rust.
The holes in the side rails are used to secure your load. It would be better if you purchase a water resistant bag and put your belongings in it.
Cargo Carrier Bags
I have included also the cargo carrier bags below so that you can combine with your purchases if not included. Assess your purchases carefully to see if the bag is not provided as well. If not then consider my options below.
Keeper – Best Cargo Carrier Waterproof Bag
It is waterproof so it will protect your belongings against the elements such as rain, sun, wind and grit.
If not in use, the bag will fold easily for ease of storage. It is made of durable material, meaning it will be torn easily by sharp objects in your carrier.
But that doesn’t mean you should not be vigilant of sharp objects on these bag.
ROLA – Best Hitch Carrier Bag
The bag is larger than the above bag. It has an overall capacity of 20 cubic feet. If you are planning to haul larger loads, this could be an ideal bag for you.
It can fit cargo carriers up to 60” x 24”. And to secure it on the carriers, it comes with 6 straps to tighten it. If not in use, it folds well for ease of storage.
It is advisable to pair this bag with cargo carriers as they help in holding small items. Most of the carriers have open side walls and mess bases.
Small items can slide off easily, but with this bag they will be safe. The bag is backed by a 5-year warranty.
We have reviewed all our hitch-mounted cargo carriers and their supplementary carrier bags. Let’s go through the buyer’s guide to answer some of the frequently asked questions. These will help you pick the right product by making an informed choice.
What is a Maximum Weight For Hitch Cargo Carrier?
The maximum weight refers to the maximum load you can haul with a certain carrier. Most of them have a capacity of 500 pounds. Some have less than 500 pounds. In our products above the maximum weight has emerged as the 500 pounds.
How to Install Hitch Cargo Carrier?
The installation of hitch-mounted cargo carriers is simple. As long as you have the correct size of the hitch receiver then you are sorted. If they do not match, you can opt for the hitch receiver adapter.
The other factor of installation is how heavy the carrier is. Steel components are heavier than aluminum, so Aluminum will be relatively easier to install.
Is Cargo Carrier Useful?
Of course it is useful. Imagine traveling with gas cans in your car that how smelling your car can be. Or imagine having to travel with the bicycle or wheelchair that cannot fit in your Mercedes Benz car. The cargo carrier comes in handy to help you clear the space in your car and haul cargo at the rear or front.
Are Hitch Cargo Carriers Safe?
Yes, they are safe provided you exercise safety well. For instance, they have reflectors on to alert other motorists not to hit them by mistake. It is also safe to haul valuables on the cargo carriers when tightened with straps and the carrier pinned to the hitch receiver. You need to choose cargo carriers carefully to ensure safety.
Hitch Cargo Carrier Pros And Cons
Hitch Cargo Carrier vs Roof Cargo Carriers
The other question that confuses many is the choice between roof and hitch-mounted cargo carriers. Roof carriers affect the mileage of your car. They also add to the air resistance of the car. And they are not easily accessible.
On the other hand, hitch-mounted cargo carriers are easy to access and do not affect the mileage of the car adversely. Roof cargo carriers require mounting brackets to install them, whereas the hitch cargo carriers do not. You only need the hitch receiver to connect and go.
Are Hitch Cargo Carriers Legal?
Yes they are legal. What law requires is for the carriers to have reflectors to alert other motorists. The luggage should be tightened enough so that it doesn’t cause accidents. And the license plates should not be obstructed.
Cargo Carriers And License Plates
Cargo carriers can obstruct the license plates. But some come with additional attachments where you can put these license plates. It is important that these rear-placed license plates are always visible.
We have come to an end of our review. I am confident that you are in a better position now to select the best hitch cargo carrier among others or even choose it over the roof top carriers. These products are useful for every car owner.
When choosing, it is important to take into account the size of your hitch receiver and the size of your car. Also noteworthy is the type of load to haul because most of these carriers have a capacity of 500 pounds. You’re all set to choose your best hitch cargo carrier now.