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Hitch Cargo Carrier Resources

At FastTrackRacks, we pride ourselves in finding the best hitch cargo carrier for your specific vehicle and for your mix of recreational pursuits. Hitch cargo cargo carriers include hitch racks and hitch baskets, which can be accompanied by a cargo bag, and hitch cargo boxes.

A hitch cargo carrier combines large storage capacity with easy, waist-level loading — an alternative to roof carriers that's worth considering. We've put together some useful resources to help you select a cargo carrier that fits your needs and your vehicle.

Hitch Cargo Carrier Categories

Below is a brief description of the major types of hitch cargo carriers available.

  • Hitch cargo boxes are durable, weatherproof "boxes" that are mounted to a fixed, tilt, or swingaway frame that slides easily into a 1.25" or a 2" hitch receiver. Hitch cargo boxes range in capacity from 12 cubic feet of storage up to 16 cubic feet of storage. They offer easy access to your gear and complete protection from the elements. Wondering how much 16 cubic feet of storage is? Check out our StowAway Max Cargo Carrier capacity to find out.
  • Hitch racks or hitch "baskets" are open racks that slide into a 1.25" or a 2" hitch receiver. Hitch racks are ideal for carrying bulky items that will not fit into a confined space. Hitch racks range in size from 53" x 25" up to 60" x 24". They offer convenient waist-level access to gear and come in fixed, tilt, fold-up, and swingaway models. Gear can be protected from the weather and road debris with the use of hitch cargo bags or secured with tie-down nets.

Top Five Key Considerations of Selecting a Hitch Carrier

  • Hitch bike racks are one of the most common ways to carry your bikes. Hitch bike racks are designed to attach to your vehicle's 1.25" or 2" receiver hitch. Keep in mind that some smaller vehicles are not rated for a hitch. Check the manufacturer's guide for your vehicle's maximum tongue weight capacity. For more information on hitches, visit our Trailer Hitches Basics section or the CURT Hitch Finder.
  • Roof bike racks are a great option for smaller cars that are not rated for a hitch. Roof bike racks are designed to attach to the horizontal crossbars (bars that run from the driver's side to the passenger side) of your vehicle's factory or aftermarket roof base rack. Please keep in mind that some roof bike racks will fit factory and aftermarket roof base racks while some are brand-specific.
  • Trunk-mount bike racks are the most affordable way to carry your bikes. Trunk-mount racks are designed to attach to your vehicle's trunk. Some trunk bike racks are designed to fit over spoilers, while some are not. Some trunk racks include adapters so they can be attached to glass trunks, be sure to check the manufacturer's fit guide for an accurate fit. Our trunk mount category also includes spare tire mounted racks.

Top Five Considerations for Selecting a Bike Rack

  • Capacity: Your first consideration is how many bikes do I need to carry? Hitch bike racks provide the most capacity at 5 bikes per rack, while trunk-mount biker racks are limited to 4 bikes per rack. Roof bike racks carry 1 bike per rack, but depending on the capacity of your roof, you may carry up to 4 bikes with 4 roof bike racks. Specialty bike racks vary in capacity, but some models can carry up to 4 bikes with one rack.
  • Mounting: Next, decide which bike rack is best suited to fit my vehicle? The answer to this question depends on what type of vehicle you have, what it is currently equipped with, and/or the cost of equipping it with the correct mounting pieces. If you are considering a hitch bike rack but you do not have a hitch, you will be looking at an additional $140 to $200 for an aftermarket hitch. If you are considering a roof bike rack but you do not already have crossbars, a roof base rack is required, which will cost between $250 to $400. Trunk bike racks simply require a clear trunk (as mentioned above, some models can fit to spare tires or glass trunks). Specialty bike rack designs vary, but they are generally mounted to a spare tire, RV ladder, or tow bar.
  • Ease-of-loading: Another factor to consider is how easy will it be to load and unload my bikes? Trunk-mounted bike racks, hitch bike racks, and specialty bike racks all offer easy, waist-level loading and unloading. Roof bike racks are more difficult, especially on taller vehicles, because the bikes must be lifted onto the roof.
  • Rear vehicle access: Also consider, do I need to access the rear of my vehicle? Easy access to the rear of your vehicle (e.g., for luggage or other gear) is provided with a roof bike rack, most hitch bike racks (swing-away or tilt-down), and some specialty bike racks such spare-tire bike racks. You will not be able to access the rear of your vehicle when using a trunk-moutned bike rack without removing the bikes and rack from your vehicle.
  • Price: As with any purchase, price is an important consideration. In general, trunk-mount bike racks are the most affordable bike rack, following by hitch bike racks, and then roof bike racks. Specialty bike racks vary in price depending on the application. The bike rack price comparison chart below gives the average cost of each type of rack as well as the average cost per bike carried. Bike racks are compared based on a 3-bike capacity.

Price Comparison Chart

Bike Rack Type (3-bike capacity)
Average Rack Cost
Average Cost Per Bike
Trunk Bike Rack
$113.04
$37.68
Hitch Bike Rack
$245.43
$81.80
Roof Bike Rack
$384.15
$128.05

Hitch racks are a versatile and affordable way to carry your gear. Although some manufacturers may rate their rack capacities at up to 500 pounds, we recommend no more than 250 pounds of gear to stay within the most common hitch and vehicle tongue weight capacities. Most hitch racks are fixed or fold up for transport, but StowAway offers a cargo rack that swings out for clear access to the rear of your vehicle. A cargo bag can be used along with a hitch rack to keep your gear protected from the elements.

The following table compares major features of leading brands on the market:

Hitch Cargo Rack
Dimensions
 Capacity (lbs)
Hitch Size 
 Folds or Swings
Includes 
Weight (lbs) 
 Price
Pro Series Hitch Rack
60"x20"x2"
 250
 2"
-
-
45
$70
CURT Bolt-Together Rack
60"x20"x2"
 250
 2"
fixed or folding
hitch pin
39/41
Starts at $99
CURT Basket Style Rack
60"x20"x6"
 250
 2"
fixed or folding
hitch pin
54/63
Starts at $139
StowAway Cargo Rack - Fixed
53"x25"x5"
 200
1.25" / 2"
-
hitch pin, hitch tightener
44
Starts at $173
UWS Aluminum Hitch Carrier
53"x23"x5"
 250
2" 
-
-
33
$219
Rola Hitch Mount Cargo Rack
56"x23"x5"
 250
1.25" / 2"
-
-
60
$299
 StowAway Cargo Rack - Swingaway
53"x23"x5"
 200
1.25" / 2"
swingaway
hitch pin, hitch tightener
72
 

A hitch cargo box (also referred to as a "hitch cargo carrier") offers one big advantage over a roof carrier — easy access to your gear. And, your gear is completely protected from the elements and road debris. If you have a hitch receiver on your vehicle (or plan to have one) a hitch-mounted cargo box is a great choice for transporting your extra gear.

We offer the three leading cargo boxes on the market: StowAway, Thule, and Rola. Take a look through the table below to compare their features.

 Cargo Boxes
Stowaway

Thule

Rola
 
 Box Material
 LLDPE — The most impact-resistant polymer of the three competitors.  ABS Polypropylene
 Box Capacity (cubic ft)
Standard carrier: 12.5 cf
Max carrier: 16 cf
 13 cu ft
13.5 cu ft
 Box Dimensions (L x W x H)
Standard: 49" x 21" x 24"
Max: 51"x 23" x 26"
 49" x 24" x 23" 53" x 26" x 19" 
 Frame Material
 Heavy-wall steel tubing  Medium-wall steel tubing  Medium-wall steel tubing 
 Frame Available
 - Swingaway
- Fixed (2 models)
- Towing
- Spare tire
 - Swingaway
- Tilt down 
 - Swingaway
- Tilt down 
 Accessories Included
 - Locking latch
- Drain plug
- Taillights
- License plate light
- Hitch tightener 
 - Locking latch
- Drain plug
- Taillights
- License plate light
- Cargo pouch for small items 
 - Locking latch
- Drain plug
- Taillights
- Cargo tray 
 Optional accessories for box or frame
 - Bike rack
- Cargo rack
- Rod rack
- Lid rack
- "Plus" package: LED lights,
  cargo light and hitch lock
- Tie-down rings
- Cover 
 - Hitch tightener/lock - Bike rack
- License plate light
- Hitch tightener
- Hitch lock
 Warranty 5 years
 Limited Lifetime for original owner Limited 5 years
 Fits hitch sizes
 2"
1.25" fixed or swingaway 
 2"
1.25" tilt-down only
 2"
1.25" tilt-down only
 Price range
 $299 to $599 $415 to $540 $529 to $629
 Decision points
 - Max box offers the greatest
  capacity
- Strongest, most durable box
  and frame available
- Best selection of models
  and options 
 - Well-known brand
- Cargo pouch is convenient
- ABS box is less robust than
  LLPE and Polypro boxes
  from competitors
 - Cargo tray included with the box system
- Short height of box
  prohibits certain gear
- License plate light and
  hitch tightener add $40 to
  the price of the box

Additional information can be found on the StowAway2 website, which covers the StowAway line of hitch cargo racks and carriers in detail.

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