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Updated Sep 6, 2022 12:34 PM

Even if you’ve got a cavernous SUV with more cargo space than you know what to do with, there will likely come a time when you just don’t have the room you need for the gear you need to carry. A hitch-mounted cargo rack can give you that space, while also offering the additional capability to carry specialty items such as bikes and wheeled gear.

Unfortunately, shopping for a hitch cargo carrier can feel like an impossible task. There are dozens of brands, many models look the same, and it’s hard to tell if you’re reading a real customer review or one written by a bot. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.

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Our Methodology 

Car Bibles’ editors not only spend hours researching the products we recommend, in many cases we actually use them. When you select a hitch cargo carrier from this list, you can feel confident that we’ve thoroughly researched reviews, designs, and functionality to find the handful of products that we feel comfortable recommending. The products you see here meet that standard. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Best Hitch Cargo Carriers Reviews & Recommendations

Sporty and strong, the Rola cargo carrier is a great addition to any type of SUV, truck, or van. Highly durable and sturdy, this 600-pound carrying capacity system is ideal for transporting extra cargo, whether it’s heavy bags and luggage, camping gear, fishing equipment, or anything else—this tow hitch rack won’t disappoint.

The Rola hitch rack is made of heavy-duty steel and has a durable black powder finish, ensuring protection against the elements and long-term quality. This two-piece model is easy to install and it fits 2-inch square receivers on various vehicles, including cars, SUVs, trucks, and other larger vehicles.

Specs
  • Brand: Rola
  • Model: 59502
  • Weight: 73.2 pounds
PROS

Super sturdy design

Large safety reflectors

Raised height gives good ground clearance

CONS

Some units missed hardware out of the box

Installation can be tricky

No accessories included

The compact but rugged Basket Hitch Cargo Carrier offers superior flexibility and a weight rating of up to 500 pounds. It features 6-inch-high sidewalls that help hold cargo in place while in motion, and the open sides open up more fastening points to secure large items. The carrier also has a folding shank that allows the rack to be folded up when not in use, and it features integrated safety reflectors on the frame for better visibility to the people around your vehicle.

This cargo hitch is built from tubular steel to promote durability and keep it lightweight, and black powder coating helps prevent rust and keeps the cargo carrier looking great for the long haul. Installation can be complicated, however, and some hitches need some adjustments.

Specs
  • Brand: Curt
  • Model: 18151
  • Weight: 58 pounds
PROS

Value pricing

High walls keep cargo secure

Easy folding design

CONS

Mesh floor can bend if heavy item drops

Some units have poorly fitting hitch attachments and need replacements

Installation can be complicated

We had no idea we would uncover a hitch cargo carrier that literally changes the game; consider our minds blown. The Hitch-n-Go Cart from Great Day may be substantially more expensive than the other entries on this list, but you can’t argue any of them will do what this does. Instead of just a platform or basket for the back of your vehicle, this is a four-wheeled cart which will fit through most doorways and has a screw jack system for lifting up once hitched to your vehicle.

Imagine being able to load/unload your cargo rack inside your house, backyard shed or storage unit. It has a cargo capacity of 350 pounds, which is substantially less than the others on this list, but I would rather roll 350 pounds of my stuff into a hotel room, rather than carry 500 pounds a piece at a time.

The cart is welded and powder coated aluminum for years of durable service. The 13- by four-inch pneumatic tires will roll easily over just about anything but beach sand. The wagon weighs in at 45 pounds, while the mount and the lift system add another 17 pounds, meaning this is about the same weight as some of the full steel units in this guide.

Specs
  • Brand: Great Day
  • Model: HNGC-350
  • Weight: 62 pounds(complete)
PROS

It’s a cart and a hitch cargo carrier

Detach and roll and load almost anywhere

Includes screw jack to lift cart onto hitch

CONS

Almost 10 times the price of some cargo carriers

Even with a lift, the tires hang relatively low

Introverts won’t like being the raddest person at any event because of this

Price No Object

Yakima is one of the times names in the vehicle storage and accessory carrier business most known for ski and bike roof racks. The EXO system is based around the SwingBase which attaches to your car’s trailer hitch and allows you to mount anything from storage boxes like this, to bike or ski racks and even a table top. The system isn’t cheap, but is typical Yakima quality.

One of the advantages of the EXO System is the ability to stack attachments. Users can stack two of these boxes or have the box on the bottom and put a bike rack above it. If you choose, you can even put a traditional basket type cargo carrier above this box.

The Gear Locker is obviously closer to an extra trunk than typical baskets, which are essentially an add-on truck bed; this has the pros and cons as well. In a basket, you can stack to whatever height your faith in bungee cords allows. The lid obviously restricts your Y-axis cargo capacity, but also keeps the rain off and locks out prying-eyes and sticky-fingers.

Specs
  • Brand: Yakima
  • Model: 8002718 (also requires 8002715)
  • Weight: 28 pounds (locker only)
PROS

More of a trunk than a truck bed

Keeps gear clean and dry, mostly

Part of a larger expandable system

CONS

Eye-watering price tag

Not fully waterproof, but users have found easy fixes

Require Tetris skills instead of Jenga skills

Silly name aside, the King Bird Folding Cargo Carrier has solid features and real capability. Its full tubular heavy-duty steel gives it up to 550 pounds of carrying capacity, and the company backs that up with a full lifetime warranty. There’s also a strong focus on safety, with three reflectors at the bottom of the frame and two large reflectors on the rear for great visibility. The King Bird also comes with a hitch lock, hitch tightener, and elastic netting to secure your load.

Customer service, however, isn’t the best as it’s been reported as spotty at best. And if you do have any issue with the carrier, its construction, the instructions or installation, or if you purchase the wrong size for your application, returns and restocking fees are expensive.

Specs
  • Brand: King Bird
  • Model: 002
  • Weight: 58.6 pounds
PROS

Easy folding design

Easy installation

Heavy-duty design

CONS

Customer service spotty

Expensive returns

The Arksen Hitch-Mounted Luggage Basket is built to endure life on the road. It features a heavy-duty steel frame with a black epoxy coating for toughness, and its square tube construction can carry up to 500 pounds. Further sweetening the deal, Arksen throws in a water-resistant cargo bag to protect your gear from the elements when strapped to your roof.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to buy your own hitch pin for this basket. It’s also important to note that the rack rides a bit low behind a vehicle, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you don’t already have a ton of ground clearance to begin with.

Specs
  • Brand: Arksen
  • Model: Arksen 60-inch Foldable Hitch Mounted Cargo Basket
  • Weight: 56 pounds
PROS

Included cargo bag

Large safety reflectors

Easy to assemble and install

CONS

Don’t rely on bag to be completely waterproof

Some drilled holes do not align

No included hitch pin

The MaxxHaul Cargo Carrier features a unique and useful ramp system that is normally used for wheelchairs and mobility scooters but also helps load rolling items such as a lawnmower or small wagon. The ramp’s rungs are close together, which facilitates loading gear with small wheels as well. Unlike others on our list, the MaxxHaul is built from aluminum, which both prevents corrosion and reduces weight.

It’s still a tough carrier, however, and with a 500-pound capacity, you’ll be able to load up plenty of gear. That said, the included ramp can become slippery when wet, the instructions can be confusing, and only the ramp folds, not the carrier. So weigh your decision carefully.

Specs
  • Brand: MaxxHaul
  • Model: 70275
  • Weight: 79.4 pounds
PROS

Convenient ramp

Several anchor points

Aluminum construction

CONS

Ramp is slippery when wet

Only ramp folds, not the carrier

Confusing instructions

If you need to haul bikes but only want to install one rack, the Tow Tuff Cargo Carrier should be on your list. It features a clever design with removable pins that let the user convert it from a cargo carrier to a bike rack in minutes. When carrying bikes, the adjustable wheel holders and tie-down holes keep everything secure, and the rack’s heavy-duty steel construction allows it to carry up to 500 pounds.

There have been reports that some hardware could be missing, as well as complaints of the carrier having sharp edges around the periphery of the unit. That isn’t good, especially when you want to strap a bunch of soft bags with woven straps. And, as with a few other examples on this list, the instructions can be confusing.

Specs
  • Brand: Tow Tuff
  • Model: TTF-2762KR
  • Weight: 62 pounds
PROS

Flexible use for various large items

Included bike rack

Strong, durable design

CONS

Some report missing hardware

Confusing instructions

Some sharp edges

Our Verdict

Any of the carriers on our list would make a solid pick, but the Rola Vortex Steel Cargo Carrier is super sturdy and built to last. It also offers significant ground clearance.

What to Consider When Buying a Hitch Cargo Carrier

When looking for the best cargo carrier, it’s important to pay attention to the following features.

Build Material

The type of material used in the construction of the cargo carrier is an important consideration. Weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the material against your particular needs will help you make the best choice. There are three common materials that cargo carriers are made of:

  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Plastics / composites

Steel is one of the strongest and most durable materials available for a cargo carrier, but it’s important to find a steel carrier that has been either powder-coated or plated to prevent corrosion. Aluminum works well also, especially if the weight of the rack itself is an issue. As for plastics and composites, the design of the carrier will determine its strength and we would only recommend these from reputable brands., The most important thing to remember here are your needs. Regardless of the material, a rack that doesn’t carry the weight you need or that doesn’t fit well with your vehicle won’t be of any use.

Platform Dimensions

Consider the size of the carrier. It might be tempting to get the biggest rack you can afford, but it’s best to choose the right size rack for your vehicle. A platform that is up to 60 inches wide and 24 inches deep will carry almost anything you need, and a large number of carriers are right around that size. If you’re going on vacation and will be unloading the rack but leaving it installed, remember that nobody wants to drive around with a huge platform hanging off the back of their car, even if it’s foldable, a giant cargo carrier can be a real pain.

Weight Capacity

Weight ratings are one of the most important factors in choosing a carrier, but not all weight capacities are created equal. If a rack states a high weight rating but appears to be made of lightweight material and not all that sturdy, steer clear. Also, remember that just because a rack says it can carry 500 pounds, loading it with exactly 500 pounds may cause issues. You’ll want to leave yourself some room so that the bouncing of the vehicle and movement as you drive down the road don’t cause issues.

Type of the Platform

Besides the dimensions of the carrier platform, you should also consider its type. Generally, there are two main types of baskets: solid and mesh. Although solid platforms tend to provide very good support and can protect the cargo from debris that can kick up from the road, they’re not ideal when it comes to the protection against the elements. If it’s raining or snowing, it’s better to have a mesh platform that will allow the water to leave on its own as quickly as possible. Another huge plus of mesh platforms is that they provide easy openings for cargo straps, which make securing your items a piece of cake. Plus, they’re much easier to clean. For these three simple reasons, we believe mesh 

FAQs 

Car Bibles answers all your burning questions.

Q: How much weight can a hitch cargo carrier hold?

Most hitch racks can hold cargo weighing several hundred pounds with no problem. Up to 500 pounds is the norm, although there are carriers that hold more or less. In any case, to be sure you’re not overloading your hitch receiver, and as a result, bending and ruining it, check your model’s specifications and instructions. It’s also best not to load your carrier up to its absolute limit to prevent breaking or damage.

Q: Are hitch cargo carriers safe?

Using a hitch cargo carrier is one of the easiest and safest ways to transport extra cargo–if you exercise caution. It’s vitally important that you read and understand the directions for both your vehicle and the rack, so that you can properly install and use it. You’ll also need to keep in mind that the rear of your vehicle is much larger than normal when a cargo carrier is installed, so it’s best to drive carefully and avoid crowded parking lots. 

Q: Do I need lights on a cargo carrier?

To stay safe on the road, you should purchase a brake light kit and mount it onto your hitch cargo carrier. The lights will alert other motorists not to hit your cargo by mistake, and of course, will help ensure you’re following the law.

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