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You have an SUV with a 2-inch receiver hitch, but you still need more space to carry cargo than you have available. You could use a trailer, but a hitch haul style carrier would be much easier. A hitch haul style carrier is a cargo carrier that makes use of your receiver hitch making extra space for carry additional items like coolers, sports gear, camping equipment, and much more.
So a hitch haul carrier is a great idea, but how do you choose the right one to buy? There are several things you need to consider when choosing a hitch mounted cargo carrier.
Although this article discusses cargo carriers designed for 2-inch receiver hitches, there are of course other sizes of receiver hitches like 1-1/4-inch for instance. Of course you want to make sure that you buy the right carrier for your hitch, but there is another consideration.
If you have more than one vehicle with different size receiver hitches, it would be nice if you could easily use the hitch haul carrier on any of the vehicles. Some models come with the option of being compatible with 2-inch or 1-1/4-inch receiver hitches.
Hitch adapters are also available to adapt hitches either way, but they do cost extra beyond the cost of the hitch rack.
Weight and Cargo Carrying Capacity
How much gear do you need to carry and how much does it weigh? Hitch haulers generally range in the 500-750 lbs. carrying capacity and measure between 48 and 60-inches wide and 20-25 inches front to back. That’s usually plenty for additional gear, but only you know your specific needs.
Something else to keep in mind is that if you load a trailer hitch cargo carrier to its capacity, that’s likely more weight than the hitch has ever had to carry. Trailer hitch weights are generally much less than 500 lbs. and so you need to make sure your hitch is in good repair. Take it to a professional and make sure that it’s tight with no loose bolts, has no corrosion that could impair its integrity, and is properly installed.
Hitch Carrier Weight
Carriers are generally made from either steel or aluminum. Steel is stronger and more durable, but aluminum has the advantage of being corrosion-resistant and is much lighter than steel.
Steel is a good choice for carrying heavier gear that could damage rails when shifting.
Aluminum is a good choice in highly corrosive environments, for lighter gear, and for folding models where heavy steel can make it more difficult to fold.
Most hitch hauls are fixed which means that they don’t fold and it’s common that you would want to remove it when it’s not in use. That can be inconvenient when at the campground or beach when you have unloaded the gear, but you still need to use the vehicle.
Some models have an optional folding feature which means that they can be folded up and out of the way when not in use. Even aluminum models are heavy and may require a couple of people to comfortably mount and unmount them. Being able to just fold it up, is a very convenient feature.
Hitch hauler models can stick out behind your vehicle 30 inches or more and can be a hazard for other vehicles if they aren’t paying attention because they’re texting or hunting Pokémon for instance. So even if they aren’t technically blocking the brake lights, distracted drivers can make a mistake in stop-and-go traffic or at traffic lights.
To avoid problems, it’s a great choice to either buy a model with built-in lights or to buy an optional light kit that makes the carrier as visible as possible to avoid accidents.
Angled Hitch Bar
Most receiver hitches on SUVs and even on some trucks are fairly low to the ground. That means if you mount the hitch hauler with a straight hitch bar, the bottom of the carrier will be approximately at the same height as the hitch. Given that the carrier sticks out as much as 30 inches or more, there is a real possibility that the carrier will drag on the ground when you drive through dips, enter and exit parking lots, or traverse rough ground such as at a campground.
To reduce the risk, some models come with a bent bar that raises the carrier up higher from the ground.
Having a fully loaded fixed hitch hauler can be inconvenient when you want to get into the back of your SUV or fold down the tailgate on a pickup. Having one that folds up is not a solution.
Some models are capable of being tilted down while loaded to provide more convenient access to the cargo in your SUV or pickup truck.
Most hitch-mounted cargo carriers have basically no sides. They have a short lip to keep cargo from sliding off, but it’s up to you to tie down the contents so that it can’t tip off the carrier.
Some models have higher sides in a basket-style configuration that can hold items in place more securely with minimal tie downs.
The thing that a standard cargo rack won’t provide to your gear is protection against the weather. They will be completely exposed to the elements. For some items, that’s not a problem, but for some it might be.
Optional cargo carrier bags are available to provide protection against the elements. Most models provide an option that perfectly fits their carrier or more generic options are also available.
Extra License Plate
This is a license plate accessory site and so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about license plates. Similar to bike carriers, fully-loaded hitch-mounted cargo carriers will block your license plate. In some states, that’s illegal. How often the police stop someone and actually issue a citation is unknown, but there is anecdotal evidence on forums that it has been a problem for some.
If you’re concerned about it, there are a few fixes.
You can always remove your existing plate and remount it temporarily on the carrier. Some carries actually come with mounting points or special attachments to support the relocation.
Magnetic plate mounts are available that you could use for both your SUV and the carrier simply moving it back and forth as needed. The risk of a stolen plate may be greater because it’s not bolted to the vehicle.
I’m not 100% sure how this would work in all states, but another option forums have mentioned is to order an additional plate from your state motor vehicle authority as if you lost one of your plates, and attach it permanently to the carrier. That will mean that you have to keep up on the registration markings on both rear plates, but it would keep you legal and would be easier than worrying about moving the plate each time.
We searched forums, social media, manufacturer sites, retail sites, consumer sites, and customer review sites to find the most popular, best-rated models available.
Take a look at our list and see if one of these hitch-mounted carriers is the best hitch hauler for your needs!
With heavy-duty powder-coated steel construction and a 500 lb. carrying capacity the Highland 1042000 Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carrier is no lightweight. It features one of the largest platforms for carrying lots of extra gear and fits easily into any 2-inch receiver style hitch. It’s perfect for carrying sports, camping, or gardening gear and more. Simple, durable construction and a value price makes this a popular choice for many travelers. Here’s what you need to know.
Hitch Haul Features
- 500 lb. capacity hitch-mounted 2-inch receiver hitch compatible cargo carrier
- Durable, heavy-duty powder-coated steel construction
- Large 60 x 20 x 2-1/2-inch platform provides extra space for a lot of gear and has convenient built-in tie down points
- Great for sports, camping gear and transporting garden and home improvement supplies
- Unique two-piece construction bolts together in minutes
- Heavy duty steel construction with durable powder coat finish
Maxxtow engineers all of its cargo-carrying products to safely transport your extra gear conveniently outside your vehicle. The MaxxHaul 70108 Hitch-Mount Aluminum Cargo Carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches is a great example of their attention to detail with respect to construction and materials. Constructed from lightweight, rust-resistant aluminum it is easy to assemble and designed for years of worry-free service. It has raised rails that help keep gear securely in place while traveling and provide virtually infinite tie-down possibilities. The basket has built-in reflectors for increased visibility and safety and Maxxtow has included a pin and clip so you’re ready to go out of the box. Here’s what you need to know.
- Raised-rail, aluminum, basket-style hitch-mounted 500 lb. capacity cargo carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches
- Made from sturdy, lightweight, rust-resistant, extruded aluminum it should last for years and years
- Extra-high rails on basket provide near limitless tie-down options and give extra security to your gear
- Built-in reflectors add visibility for increased safety
- Hitch pin and clip is included
- Easy, bolt-together assembly
- Dimensions of the outside of the basket are 49-1/4 x 22-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches and the inside of the basket measures 47-/14 x 20-1/4 x 6 inches
With the Tricam ACC-1F Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Cargo Carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches, Tricam has created a convenient way to expand your vehicle’s cargo space for those trips to the job site, beach, hunting, fishing, camping, sporting events, vacationing, moving, and more. Constructed of ultra lightweight aluminum and steel, it is strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant. Its large platform and 500 lb. capacity provides plenty of extra space for gear. 1-Step assembly means you will be ready to go quickly and easily and its 1-Year warranty gives you peace-of-mind. Here’s what you need to know.
- Aluminum and steel hitch-mounted, 500 lbs. capacity, large platform cargo carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches
- Durable and corrosion resistant ultra-light aluminum and steel construction
- Large 50 x 20-inch platform provide plenty of extra space outside your vehicle for gear
- Easy 1-step assembly means you’ll be packing it quickly
- Measures 50W x 20L x 3.84H inches and weighs in at 25 lbs.
- 1-Year limited warranty
- Mounts to any vehicle with a 2-inch receiver hitch
- Comes with a 1-year limited warranty
CURT is a well-known and trusted brand in vehicle cargo-carrying accessories. Their CURT 18153 Basket-Style Cargo Carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches has a heavy-duty 500 lb. weight capacity and tall 6-inch sides that keep your gear more secure and in place during transport. Its unique shank is bent to raise the carrier up for increased ground clearance and folds out of the way when not in use. It bolts together easily to get you loaded and on the road sooner. Its heavy-duty tubular steel construction with durable carbide finish should be in service for years to come. Here’s what you need to know.
- Basket-style, hitch-mounted, 500 lb. capacity, cargo carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches
- Bent, folding shank provides increased ground clearance and folds out of the way when not in use
- Tall 6-inch sides keep gear more secure and in place during transport and provide near limitless tie-down points for tie-down straps, cargo nets and cargo bag straps
- Durable, long-lasting, high-strength tubular steel construction and steel mesh base mean years of useful service
- Tough, corrosion-resistant, scratch-resistant, black carbide powder coated finish
- Easy bolt-together design will have you ready to go and loading up in minutes
- Built-in reflectors increase visibility for increased safety
- Comes with 5/8-inch hitch pin
The ROLA Vortex 59502 Hitch-Mounted Steel Cargo Carrier for 2-Inch Receiver Hitches is designed with a curved hitch mount for improved ground clearance. Perfect for camping, tailgating, road trips, and more, this hitch haul style carrier features powder-coated steel construction and is backed with one of the longest warranties in the industry. Its tall 5-1/4 inch rail provides extra security for your gear and flexible tie down options. Here’s what you need to know.
- Curved shank, high rail, 600 lbs. capacity, hitch-mounted steel cargo carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches
- Durable, scratch-resistant, black powder-coated steel construction
- Curved hitch mount improves ground clearance
- Large 23 x 56-inch 2-piece platform
- Easy installation
- Built-in attachment points for license plate relocation
- Dimensions are 56 x 23 x 5.25 inches
- 5-Year limited warranty
- Attachment points to relocate vehicle license plate
The Pro Series 63153 Rambler Hitch Cargo Carrier for 2-Inch Receivers has room and capacity for a lot of extra gear that won’t fit in your truck, SUV, or crossover. With a five-foot wide inside dimension, as long as you can load it up and strap it down, this carrier will accommodate up to 500 lbs. of just about anything. It’s specially designed bent shank gives you more ground clearance and the rugged mesh floors make it easy to clean. Great for taking extra gear on vacation, tailgating, camping, fishing, hunting, and much more, it’s constructed from tough steel with a durable, scratch-resistant powder-coated finish. Here’s what you need to know.
- Tough, steel, bent-shank, hitch-mounted, 500 lb. capacity, cargo carrier for 2-inch receiver hitches
- Heavy-duty steel construction with durable, scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant, powder-coated finish
- The bent shank design of this hitch haul style carrier elevates the platform for improved ground clearance
- Large 60 x 24-inch inside dimension platform is plenty of room to hold a variety of gear
- Tall 5.5-inch side rails keep gear securely in place during transport and provide plenty of tie-down flexibility
- Smart, rugged mesh floors make clean-up easier
- Easy bolt-together assembly
- Dimensions are 39.57L x 27.76W x 8.66H inches and weighs in at 60 lbs.
- 1-Year limited warranty
Thule is the popular and trusted Scandinavian world leading manufacturer of a variety of vehicle accessories from car top cargo carriers, to bike carriers, to hitch-mounted cargo carriers and much more. Their Thule 665C Transporter Combi Hitch-Mounted Cargo Box is takes a step beyond most carriers by building in a weatherproof cargo box that tilts for easier access to the vehicle’s rear compartment. It has a spacious 13-cubic foot storage capacity and holds up to 150 lbs. It features an aerodynamic design, locking functionality at the lid, a license plate adapter, pre-wired tail lights, and durable UV-resistant construction. Unlike other cargo solutions, it’s also fully compatible with both 2-inch and 1-1/4-inch receiver hitches. Perfect for carrying extra gear on long-haul vacations, taking supplies to the beach, tailgate parties, and more, it’s lockable to secure your gear. As an extra bonus, it has a good looking design that will complement any vehicle you attach it to. This model has all the great features of a roof-mounted cargo box, but at a level that makes it much easier to load and unload. Here’s what you need to know about this hitch haul style carrier.
- Hitch-mounted, weatherproof, 150 lb. and 13-cubic foot load capacity, cargo box for both 2-inch and 1-1/4-inch receiver hitches
- Innovative tilting design allows you to safely tilt the cargo box down and out of the way when empty, by simply removing a tethered pin and lifting a handle, so it’s easier to reach the rear compartment of your vehicle
- Durable, rugged, UV-resistant and weatherproof design is finished with a matte-black finish and will keep all your gear dry in all weather conditions and will provide years of useful life
- Internal cargo management system makes it easier to stow all your gear
- Integrated pre-wired tail lights draw power from your vehicle’s 4-pin wire harness plug
- License plate adapter attaches to the rear of the box and provides full license plate visibility
- One-Key SecureLock secures box contents
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
- Cargo box dimensions are 50.5L x 24.3W x 23.5H inches and weighs in at 55 lbs.
Hitch Haul Comparison
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