How to Choose Your Next Hitch-mount Cargo Carrier

A hitch-mount cargo carrier can greatly expand how much stuff you can carry in your SUV or pickup truck.

cargo carrier added to hitch of truck
Adding a cargo carrier to your hitch can almost double your vehicle’s carrying capacity.Tow Tuff

Hitch-mount cargo carriers are one of those items that until you have one, you don’t know how much you really need it. Whether hauling an ice chest that won’t fit in the back of your already packed SUV or a compressor you don’t want sliding around in the back of your pickup, these carriers greatly expand your cargo capacity at a fairly small cost. Not all hitch-mount cargo carriers are created equal, though. Consider important factors like weight of the cargo you’ll be carrying and the type of hitch receiver you have when choosing the best carrier for you.

Cargo Weight

Tow Tuff TTF-2762KR Steel Cargo Carrier with Bike Rack
This hitch-mount cargo carrier has a capacity of 500 pounds and can be converted to a bike rack.Tow Tuff

One of the easiest ways to expand the cargo capacity of your SUV, crossover, or pickup truck is by using a hitch-mount cargo carrier. The neck of these carriers easily slides into the hitch receiver on your vehicle, giving you an additional place to store more cargo than you would be able to otherwise. When choosing one, it’s important to determine how heavy your gear or equipment will be on top of it. Sales info for cargo carriers will list the unit’s capacity in pounds, so all you need to really know is how much the likely weight of your cargo will be and make sure you get one rated for that weight. It’s also good to determine the length and width of what you’ll be carrying most often. If you’re planning to carry something a little longer than normal, a basket-type cargo carrier might hinder you from doing so.

Hitch Type/Strength

Mockins Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier with Cargo Bag and Net
This hitch-mount cargo carrier comes complete with a cargo bag and net.Mockins

Another consideration when choosing a cargo carrier is what type of hitch your vehicle has. There are three standard receiver sizes—1.25, 2, 2.5 inch. Consequently, you need to be sure the neck of the cargo carrier you choose will fit properly into your hitch receiver. Additionally, there are five different hitch classes, and weight ratings vary greatly among the classes. Class 1 hitches are equipped with a 1.25-inch receiver and are made for passenger cars and small crossovers. Class 2 hitches have the same receiver but are rated for heavier loads than Class 1. Class 3, 4, and 5 hitches are all rated for more capacity than either 1 or 2 and can pretty much carry whatever your cargo carrier will support. If you don’t already have a hitch receiver, you’ll need to have one installed in order to use a hitch-mount cargo carrier.

Custom Features

CURT 18153 500 lbs. Capacity Basket Trailer Hitch Cargo Carrier, Fits 2-Inch Receiver
This hitch-mount basket cargo carrier folds easily to keep it out of the way when not in use.CURT

Cargo carriers can be found with a number of special features that might or might not be useful to you, depending on your planned usage. Some carriers fold up and out of the way when not in use, and that’s really handy if you intend to leave it on your vehicle. If you plan to take it off after each use, the ability to fold won’t be quite as important. Some have higher rails around the cargo area in order to hold cargo more securely. While that can be helpful in some cases, it sometimes limits the length and width of cargo that you can carry. Some carriers come with weather covers to keep cargo dry if you are hauling it in inclement weather. Others come with built-in bike racks that can easily be removed when not in use. Regardless of what carrier you choose, add a ratchet strap or two to your order to help keep cargo in place.