Best Hitch Cargo Carriers: Instantly Add Extra Carrying Capacity

These rugged and user-friendly hitch cargo carriers give you the extra cargo capacity to go far.

byLisa Conant| UPDATED Sep 13, 2022 5:41 AM
Best Hitch Cargo Carriers: Instantly Add Extra Carrying Capacity
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Whether you drive a compact sedan, a seven-passenger minivan, or a pickup truck, there are times when you just don’t have enough cargo space. Long road trips, camping trips, college move-in days, and the like can become a frustrating Tetris game that often leaves you sweating and cursing by the time you get on the road.

Quickly and add valuable extra space with an easy-to-install hitch cargo carrier. It gives you the space you need when you need it and stores easily when you don’t. When it comes to durable and dependable cargo carriers, the market is saturated with options. To help you efficiently narrow down your research, I’ve done much of the legwork for you and created a list of my top picks, along with some advice on what to look for to ensure you’re getting the hitch cargo carrier that best suits your needs.

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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Summary List

Best Hitch Cargo Carrier Overall: Mockins Folding Cargo Carrier

Our Methodology

When it comes to choosing the best hitch cargo carriers, I wanted to provide you with a well-rounded list that features a good variety of reputable manufacturers with solid track records of providing high-quality, reliable products. I included a wide range of price points to suit any budget. I focused on cargo carriers that use the latest technology and that feature innovative, rugged designs suitable for a wide variety of vehicles and uses. For more information on the selection criteria, click this link to The Drive’s Gear About page, which explains our methodology further.

Best Hitch Cargo Carrier Reviews & Recommendations

Best Hitch Cargo Carrier Overall
Mockins Folding Cargo Carrier

Specs

  • Model: MACCBNS27
  • Max. Weight: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 60 x 20 x 6 inches

Pros

  • A complete cargo carrying kit
  • Constructed from heavy-duty steel
  • Two-inch rise gives you extra ground clearance

Cons

  • Not compatible with vehicles with a spare tire on the back
  • Cargo bag could be more durable

The Mockins Folding Cargo Carrier is my pick to click when it comes to the best overall choice for cargo carriers. This comprehensive kit comes with everything you need to not only add more cargo space, but store it and secure it properly for your journey. It’s also offered at a decent price point. The carrier comes with a strong steel, powder-coated luggage carrier that is capable of holding up to 500 pounds. With that, you also get a 15.5 cubic foot waterproof cargo bag, two ratchet straps, six buckle straps, a cargo net, and a safety lock.

The hitch carrier itself features an easy-to-clean mesh bottom that won’t trap moisture or dirt. It also features a two-inch rise that gives you added ground clearance and it can be quickly folded up out of the way when not in use. It fits a standard two-inch hitch receiver, so it’s compatible with a wide range of vehicles. Unfortunately, it won’t work with any car or SUV that has a tire on the back. The cargo bag is great, but loses some love in the durability department. It may begin to come apart at the seams, making it no longer waterproof after several trips.

Specs

  • Model: 48475
  • Max. Weight: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 51.5 x 17.5 x 3.25 inches

Pros

  • Highly affordable
  • Lightweight, yet very sturdy
  • Easy to install and remove

Cons

  • Assembly can be difficult
  • Lacks extra ground clearance and a hitch pin

If you’re looking for a dependable, budget-friendly choice that won’t hurt your wallet, but won’t fail you in the middle of a trip, check out the Camco Eaz-Lift Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier. Camco is well-known for making affordable, yet high-quality products for boating, camping, towing, and more. This is a straightforward, sleekly designed basket-style hitch carrier constructed from heavy-duty, yet lightweight powder-coated, alloy steel. Weighing in at only 22 pounds, this unit is easy for almost any user to install and remove.

It features a substantial maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds and will mount to any standard two-inch hitch receiver. Overall, this is a sturdy and reliable cargo carrier. It does have a couple of drawbacks, though. Assembly of the unit seems to be a bit of a pain; all the holes for bolts may not line up exactly, making it tough to put together. Depending on your vehicle, you may need to purchase an extender in order to give the unit more ground clearance, since it lacks a riser as some other carriers feature. It also doesn’t come with a hitch pin, so make sure you’ve got one on hand prior to your first use.

Specs

  • Model: 002-AU-24SHF+SET_1
  • Max. Weight: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 60 x 24 x 14 inches

Pros

  • Comprehensive kit complete with cargo bag and ratchet straps
  • Easy fold-up and fold-down feature
  • High side rails for added cargo protection

Cons

  • Pricey
  • May need to further stabilize the unit to prevent vibration and rattling during driving

The Arksen Folding Cargo Rack Carrier deserves an honorable mention for being another ruggedly built and strong hitch cargo carrier kit. Constructed from one-piece, welded, galvanized, powder-coated steel, the carrier itself features 14-inch side rails to add extra stability and safety for your gear while underway. It also features an angled shank that elevates the carrier for better ground clearance and can collapse smoothly for easy access to your rear cargo space. Reflective strips help other drivers see you.

This kit comes with a roomy and water-resistant cargo bag to protect items during transport. You also get a cargo net, two sets of 16-foot ratchet straps, and a bonus 304 stainless steel hitch stabilizer to improve steadiness and reduce vibrations. However, even with the stabilizer, you may have to add further shims, as the unit still tends to vibrate and rattle significantly. The carrier has a 500-pound carrying capacity, so it’s plenty stable, but it does lose some love for having questionable welds at some points. It’s also a little on the pricey side compared with some other models.

Specs

  • Model: 70108
  • Max. Weight: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 50.5 x 24 x 6 inches

Pros

  • Compact design is good for smaller vehicles
  • Lightweight aluminum construction makes it easy to install and remove
  • Heavy-duty steel base lets you carry a lot

Cons

  • Doesn’t fold up when not in use
  • Can interfere with car’s exhaust system once installed

The reasonable price point and compact design of the MaxxHaul 70108 Hitch Cargo Carrier are what caught my attention here. MaxxHaul has a solid reputation for building solid towing equipment, and this well-constructed cargo carrier is no exception. The basket itself is constructed from lightweight, yet durable and corrosion-resistant aluminum, while the supports are made from heavy-duty steel. This gives it an easy-to-maneuver carrying weight of only 30 pounds but makes it able to support up to 500 pounds.

It’s also pretty compact, making it a great choice for smaller vehicles. The attached reflector lens and red-colored corners help it stand out to other motorists. Considering its compact size, it also features decently high side rails to keep your gear secure and allow you to anchor ratchet straps or netting over top with ease. The one drawback is that this model doesn’t fold up for out-of-the-way transportation when not in use. You have to drive around with it down when empty or remove it completely. A word of warning, be sure that the carrier doesn’t interfere with your car’s exhaust when installed. This is a common setup in smaller vehicles and can create a serious fire hazard as well as heat damage to your cargo if you’re not careful.

Specs

  • Model: ‎102058
  • Max. Weight: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 60 x 20 x 5 inches

Pros

  • Can double as a utility table
  • Folds up for out-of-the-way travel when not in use
  • Easy to assemble and install

Cons

  • A bit on the heavy side
  • Legs may be difficult to properly position initially

High build quality and a clever design make the Leader Accessories Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier With Stand a multipurpose cargo carrier that’s ideal for camping, RVing, hunting, tailgating, and more. This two-piece, powder-coated steel carrier is capable of hauling up to 500 pounds of gear. The best part? It can also be used as a handy utility table, since it features 26-inch tall foldable and lockable legs. Use it to hold a camp stove and prep area, tools and equipment, or any other kind of accessories or items you want to keep off the ground.

This unit is stable, but at almost 62 pounds, it’s definitely not the lightest and easiest to maneuver. That said, once the table is set up, you won’t have to worry about it tipping over in a light breeze. It’s compatible with all two-inch hitch receivers and folds up for quick and easy stowing when not in use. The side rails are only five inches tall, which doesn’t protect your gear from falling out as well as some other models with taller sides. There are plenty of anchor points for cargo nets and tie-downs, though.

Specs

  • Model: ‎50138
  • Max. Weight: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎58 x 8 x 4.5 inches

Pros

  • Slim, low-profile design is great for smaller needs
  • Super lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Doesn’t fold up for stowing when empty
  • Lower clearance can allow it to scrape on the ground occasionally

If you’re looking for a sleek, unassuming, low profile, lightweight hitch cargo carrier, you should really consider the MaxxHaul 60" x 22" Aluminum Cargo Carrier Rack. The low profile price tag is another great selling point. Constructed from lightweight, corrosion-resistant aluminum, this model weighs only 25.5 pounds, making it one of the most lightweight carriers on the market and one of the easiest to install and remove quickly. The heavy-duty steel under frame provides enough structure and support to carry up to 500 pounds of gear with no issues.

Assembly is also relatively straightforward. You only have to connect the pre-assembled basket to the steel support frame and you’re good to go. Like most other hitch cargo carriers available, this fits all standard Class III and IV two-inch hitch receivers. One drawback to this model is that it lacks a rise, and since it comes straight out of your hitch, it can scrap on the ground if you drive a vehicle with lower clearance over uneven terrain. Wide spacing of slats on the carrier can also allow smaller items to fall through if not positioned properly.

Our Verdict on Hitch Cargo Carriers

The Mockins Folding Cargo Carrier is hands down my top overall pick for a reliable and rugged hitch cargo carrier. This comprehensive kit comes with everything you need to not only add more cargo space, but store it and secure it properly for your journey. It’s also offered at a decent price point. For a budget-friendly option that's also durable and dependable, check out the Camco Eaz-Lift Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier. It’s a straightforward, sleekly designed basket-style hitch carrier constructed from heavy-duty, yet lightweight powder-coated, alloy steel.

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

If those options don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should tap. Just Google either and head on down.  

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • When going with an online seller, make sure they have a high user rating and a great reputation among other consumers. 
  • When buying secondhand, do your homework. Shop around and compare pricing between sellers to make sure you’re not getting taken to the cleaners.

What to Consider When Buying a Hitch Cargo Carrier

While there are many similarities between a lot of the best hitch cargo carriers on the market, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all consideration. There are several important key factors to familiarize yourself with to ensure you’re getting the best choice to suit your needs and that will hold up to the serious wear and tear over time and continue to securely carry your important gear when you need it most.

Hitch Cargo Carrier Key Features

Weight Capacity

You’ll notice that most of the hitch cargo carriers on my list support between 400 and 500 pounds, which is plenty to easily meet most people’s needs for carrying extra cargo. However, if you’re considering carrying multiple heavy items, be sure to double check the combined weight of everything prior to loading it onto the carrier. No one wants their carrier to fail while they’re cruising down the highway at 70 mph.

Dimensions

Depending on the size of your vehicle, the dimensions of your cargo carrier can be very important. If you drive a large truck or SUV, this may not be such a big deal, but if you’re rocking a compact car or sedan with lower clearance and a narrower wheel base, you’ll probably need to opt for a more compact and smaller carrier. Also, be sure to consider the dimensions of the items you want to carry. There’s no point in purchasing a cargo carrier that isn’t large enough to hold your equipment or gear. 

Hitch Receiver Size

Most hitch cargo carriers are designed to fit into most standard Class III and IV two-inch hitch receivers. Be sure to double-check your receiver hitch size prior to purchase, though, just to be on the safe side. If you don’t know what size your receiver hitch is, simply measure the opening with a measuring tape or ruler. If you have a 1 1/4-inch receiver opening, you’ll likely need to purchase an adapter to use your hitch cargo carrier. Keep in mind that this will also reduce the tongue weight capacity of your hitch receiver by 50 percent. You’ll have to either ensure that the weight of your cargo carrier doesn’t exceed that capacity or consider upgrading your car’s hitch to remove any limitations.

Hitch Cargo Carrier Pricing 

You can get a straightforward, basic, yet strong and durable, budget-friendly hitch cargo carrier for $85 to $150. These will offer a heavy-duty carrying capacity and are constructed from durable steel or aluminum that is corrosion-resistant. If you’re looking for a foldable hitch carrier that offers added features, such as anchoring accessories, a storage box, etc., plan to spend closer to $200 to $350, depending on the bells and whistles you want.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What can I carry on a hitch cargo carrier?

A: The options for what you can carry on your cargo carrier are varied. On a standard 55-60 inch carrier, you can fit multiple suitcases and luggage, a wide variety of camping gear, coolers, lawn chairs, camp stoves, kids toys, up to three medium to large size moving boxes, inflatable rafts or boats, pet crates, and much more. Just be sure to stay within the maximum weight limit for your particular career. 

Q: How far can a cargo carrier stick out?

A: This depends on the state of residence. Some states have no restrictions, while others have a range from 3-15 feet. Check your state’s regulations on this website.

Q: What precautions must be taken if driving with cargo?

A: Check with your local DMV regarding specific cargo-carrying regulations. It’s always a good idea to ensure you use proper tie-down equipment that is in good condition, including ropes, bungees, chains, straps, ratcheting straps, hooks, etc. You should use at least one tie-down for each separate item.

Q: Do hitch-mounted cargo carriers need lights?

A: Your cargo carrier only needs lights if the cargo obscures the tail lights of your vehicle. This may be more of an issue with smaller cars and lower clearance vehicles than larger trucks and SUVs.

Q. How fast can you drive with a hitch-mounted cargo carrier?

A: While you can technically drive up to any posted speed limit with your hitch cargo carrier attached, it’s always a good idea to use caution. Making sure your charger is properly secured is a must, but that doesn’t guarantee that gear won’t shift unexpectedly or come loose if you drive too aggressively.