There is always need for a trailer hitch cargo box on a road trip. How many times have you gotten where you’re going and wished that you had brought a certain something? How often do you pack the car like it’s a game of tetris rather than the beginning of a vacation? Whenever you’re heading out for either a weekend or a month long vacation of road trips, the car can make sure you will never have enough space.
With a hitch mounted cargo box, all of your items and the kids’ sports equipment, ten extra pairs of shoes, or whatever items your heart desires will be able to tag along. Roof racks can be convenient, but if you are getting to the point that you don’t want to worry about things flying off or don’t want to climb up to the top of the car just to get a pair of boots, then a hitch cargo carrier box is going to be the best option for you. The best hitch carrier box is going to give you maximum storage and protection while being much more easily accessible.
Our Top 3 Choices
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The StowAway Carriers Max Cargo Box is our top pick for a hitch mounted cargo box for a variety of reasons. It adds a huge amount of storage to your vehicle with a highly durable plastic construction. It’s made from the same stuff as kayaks! Those things get beat up. This style cargo carrier helps you to get maximum ground clearance on the back end of your vehicle and will help keep your gear dry and secure. Just like all other models, it has a license plate adapter on the cargo carrierand will hold all of the bags you need in your added on cargo space. It truly is everything you need in one product solution.
7 Best Hitch Cargo Boxes In 2023
1. StowAway Carriers Max Cargo Box – Our Top Pick
Our top choice for a hitch mounted cargo box is the StowAway Carriers Max Cargo Box. This hitch mounted cargo box is built from the same plastic white water kayaks use in their heavy duty construction Those boats take a much bigger beating than your hitch cargo box will ever see. It’s guaranteed to be waterproof and durable, all while holding a large amount.
The weight capacity on this box is 200 pounds and increases your cargo capacity with 16 cubic feet of storage. It’s a good fit for those with trailer hitch receivers on their vehicles with a rating of 300 pounds. The pin and lever system turns this box into a swing away frame that will get out of the way for you to access the trunk.
The built in locks are paired with reflectors that wrap around the entire box to add to your safety on the road and in park. This is a company that has been in the business a good amount of time and are reputable in the field. They build quality cargo boxes that your hitch will latch onto and love without too much burden.
Locking mechanism built in, 200 pound carrying capacity with 16 cubic feet of storage, swing away frame for easy access to the trunk, tail lights and reflectors wrapping around the box for high visibility
- Good amount of storage space
- Safety in visibility and locking
- Heavy duty material
- Ten year manufacturer warranty
- Painting has been reported to chip off easily
2. Let’s Go Aero – Best for Gear Security
For 2 inch by 2 inch hitch receivers, the Let’s Go Aero Geardeck Slide Out Cargo Carrier is a phenomenal choice. The polyethylene construction makes this hitch mounted box incredible durable and waterproof. It will keep all your gear dry and safe.
One of the top features of this hitch mounted storage box is the 36 inch slide out extension which makes the trunk even easier to access while it is still attached to the vehicle. The frame is made out of galvanized steel, making sure that your gear box isn’t ever going to break off of your vehicle hitch.
The overhung lid and latching grips make a secure connection that easily sheads water without the possibility of it working its way into the cracks. A built in hole is there for you to put your own padlock on, which allows for you to ensure the durability of the lock you choose. On top of keeping gear safe, the built in lights and reflectors keep you and your vehicle safe on the road. This is a seriously great option when it comes to hitch cargo carriers for those wanting to keep everything well-protected.
Carries up to 17 cubic feet and 300 pounds of gear, incredibly durable and watertight, built in lights for signaling and road safety, 36 inch slide out for rear access
- Great level of security both for gear and car
- Overlapping lid for watertight storage
- Slide out straight shaft allows for easy access to trunk
- Slide out shaft needs lubricated
3. ROLA Adventure System – Best for Carrying Versatility
The detachable tray system of the ROLA 59109 is great for when you want to carry something that doesn’t simply fit into the box. The two parts are separate, but still constructed of high quality steel and polyethylene, ensuring that the vibrations won’t chip or crack the hitch cargo box.
When you remove the top portion of this carrier, the bottom tray can be used for a prep table, carrying platform, or simply a seat. It’s incredibly versatile as it offers everything other boxes do with a little more. The lower portion of the box is where the safety lights are installed in order to still comply with road safety laws even when the top box is removed.
This box is a swing away system that will swing out 180° and allow for rear access. It has keyed locks that add to its security and can carry up to 250 pounds of equipment. This hitch box is designed to be used with a 2 inch by 2 inch receiver hitch.
13.5 cubic feet and 250 pounds of storage, 180° swing away system, removable top portion of the hitch cargo box for versatile options, built in lights and locking mechanism
- Versatile options for different use and carrying objects not box shaped
- 250 pounds of storage
- Drain holes for cleaning
- Heavier construction
- Build construction isn’t the best, locks and latches can be forced open
The Thule Transporter Combination comes from one of the biggest names in the industry of storage and car carrying technology. Thule backs their construction with a lifetime limited warranty and is built in the USA. This hitch cargo box adds 13 cubic feet and 150 pounds of additional storage to your car.
The tilt down design moves the hitch cargo box out of the way and lets you access the trunk. It comes with tailights that are pre-wired and a four-pole flat connector. Thule uses ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic in this construction, which is incredibly weatherproof and durable for all different uses and situations.
The anti-rattle device lowers the amount of noise that will be coming through the vehicle as you drive down a bumpy road and help to let you forget the gear strapped onto your back. It helps to keep the gear steady rather than moving around everywhere and possibly breaking in the box.
This well-known brand delivers quality products in all they do, and this hitch box is no exception.
ABS plastic construction is highly weatherproof and durable, tilt down design for rear access, 13 cubic feet and 150 pounds of extra storage, anti-rattle device for less noise and movement of gear
- Anti-rattle device for security and peace
- Strong plastic construction
- Lifetime warranty
- Box needs to be empty for tilt feature to work
The MaxxHaul Hitch Mount Aluminum Cargo Carrier is for those that want to carry some serious weight. This hitch carbo carrier can load up to 500 pounds of extra gear with ease. The aluminum construction is lightweight but still durable, and stays rust free.
The reflectors attached add to the safety while driving in dark or dangerous conditions. It also features high side rails that keeps gear inside, as well as providing tie down points. One of the biggest drawbacks of this hitch cargo box is that it isn’t a closed box. The gear you put on this will need to be waterproof itself, or inside of another box that is waterproof. This is great for equipment that doesn’t need to stay 100% dry and is on the heavier end of things. Consider buying a waterproof cargo bag before this purchase, as it will be necessary.
The biggest pro is the affordable price of this hitch cargo box. It is a fraction of what the other carriers on the market are and is still a great product. The low price keeps the option open for purchasing a waterproof and durable box that can be strapped to the carrier itself.
Lightweight and rust resistant aluminum frame design, high guard rails to contain gear well, 500 pounds of added storage
- Durable, rust resistant, and lightweight
- High carrying load of 500 pounds
- Incredibly affordable price
- Not waterproof
- Needs to have gear tied down
The Stowaway Standard Cargo Carrier is an incredibly reliable, heavy plastic hitch box that is built to keep your gear safe. It has a waterproof design and shoots to be convenient with a swin away frame design.
Stowaway is made in the USA and comes with a ten year limited warranty. It proves that this product is made with quality material and is backed by the manufacturer. They want to make sure the product gives you the best result and takes care of you and your gear for as long as possible.
The one downside of this box is that it heats up rather quickly in the sun. The black plastic attracts the sun and turns into an oven, meaning whatever gear you have inside will heat up. Just be careful not to keep anything to fragile to heat in the box. There is also a white version available that will attract far less sun and stay a lot cooler.
Locking mechanism built in for security protection, taillights for meeting all road safety laws, 12.5 cubic feet and 200 pounds of extra storage
- Ten year warranty and made in USA
- Built in locking mechanism
- Swing away frame system
- Heats up quickly in the sun
Taking up the final spot on the list is the Carpod Cargo Carrier Cage. This hitch box is a bit different than the rest, using a cage like design to keep all of the contents inside, but still allowing them to be vulnerable to the weather. It uses a heavyweight steel construction that keeps it strong and intact while on the road.
Carpod does have a weather-resistant bag that lines the inside of the cage if you are wanting to keep everything dry. This is another additional purchase, just like the locking lid. This box does however boast a huge 450 pounds of carrying capacity with its steel construction. The walls can be folded down and it can be used as a hauling platform rather than a box.
This would be a great choice for day trips where the sun is shining and some extra stuff just needs thrown in the back. Almost 14 cubic feet of additional storage makes bringing all the necessary toys for the beach or wood for a camping trip quick and simple.
One piece steel construction makes it incredibly strong and durable, high side walls that keep cargo inside of the box, strong construction that can hold up to 450 pounds
- Incredibly strong and versatile
- Simple to install and use
- Keeps gear inside easily with tall walls
- Doesn’t need cleaning
- Not waterproof so your gear is exposed to the elements
- Need to purchase the lid and waterproof liner separately in order to complete the full box
Hitch cargo boxes come in all different shapes and sizes. Some come with accessories, some come without anything because they are built to be everything you need. There are a lot of different things that need to be considered before the purchase.
The fact that you are carrying a giant box on the back of your vehicle means you need to be sure that it is going to stay safe back there. Buying a cheap and unknown brand can result in having your belongings scattered all along the highway. Your car needs to have an appropriate hitch connection that will lock it into place with the hitch cargo box that needs to be built out of the right material in the right way. We have also put together some of the best roof rack for Toyota Tacoma which you can read on our recent post.
In order to help you figure out what the best hitch cargo box for you is, we have took into consideration six different factors that make up the best. Keep reading on to figure out how your money can be best spent.
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One of the most important things to think about before purchasing a hitch cargo box is the weight and cargo capacity of the cargo boxes. This is going to affect how much you can bring with you in addition to the in van storage space. When we talk about carrying capacity, what we mean is the weight it can hold. This box back behind the car is simply floating there and a lot of weight is being put onto the metal bar connecting it to your hitch.
A lot of the hitch cargo boxes out there these days can have a maximum of around 500 pounds. A good cargo carrier is going to store more and allow you to use your cargo carrier without the need for ratchet straps. This accounts for a huge amount of things to be brought along with you. It’s always safer to go on the heavier end of things when trying to decide what to buy. That way, there is less chance you accidentally hit five pounds over and put the risk of loss a lot higher. If your equipment includes a bike, consider buying a roof mounted bike rack and check our recent post about the best roof mounted bike racks. Also, if you plan to go on a surf trip by just riding your bike, our blog about surfboard bike racks is a must read for you.
With the hitch being located in the back of your vehicle, there are a lot of things to consider with accessibility. When you have a large box attached, it means it can be difficult to get into the trunk, which would then limit what you can store in there, but there are other options. A lot of these boxes have certain designs in order to still allow for access to the trunk and not get in the way of a spare tire. It is also important to remember to not let your hitch mounted cargo box block your license plate. The best hitch cargo carriers will have a license plate adapter to mount it on the cargo carrier itself.
Those that are fit onto the end of an extended arm can often be folded down and out of the way with the simple removal of a hitch pin on the hitch mounted cargo box. These types are referred to as swing away frame cargo carriers. Low rise cargo carriers are also mounted lower on your vehicle in order to still allow access while they are on. This way, you don’t need to take the hitch cargo box off every time you want to get something from the trunk.
Don’t let yourself forget about this when buying a hitch cargo carrier. When you go to open the trunk and it hits your hitch cargo carrier box because you forgot to see if it was a swing away frame or low rise, it’s guaranteed frustration just waiting to happen.
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Material and Build
Polythylene, steel and aluminum are going to be the most common materials you will find the best hitch cargo boxes to be made out of. All three of these fabrications are capable of taking a decent amount of beating up, but also have their downsides. For example, steel is going to make a sturdy and strong hitch cargo carrier. The bumps in the road are never going to be able to break a cargo carrier made out of steel. But, it is heavy as can be and is prone to rust.
Aluminum on the other hand makes incredibly light hitch cargo carriers and will be easy to install and will swing away easily. It doesn’t rust and can be pretty waterproof. The problem with aluminum is that it isn’t as strong as steel, making cargo carriers have a shorter lifespan on the road.
Polyethylene is a hard plastic that flexes with the motion of the car and is incredibly tough. This is super lightweight and waterproof, but is prone to cracking especially if it gets too cold.
The material you choose should be waterproof and strong. The vibrations in the road don’t bother us and our passengers, but the car and its cargo is taking on a lot of tough demands. Something that will last and keep everything dry is prime.
Every time there is a bathroom break or a quick run into the shop, the hitch cargo box is still on your car sitting in whatever parking lot you left it in. It can be hard to trust people these days, unfortunately, and if you leave anything in your hitch cargo box, it is a target of theft.
Roof racks are more visible on your vehicle than some cargo boxes and that alone protects it. Most cargo boxes these days will have locks installed on them so you don’t need to blink an eye about putting expensive or valuable things inside of them before you run into the grocery store. A heavy duty lock is going to make for the best security on the hitch mounted cargo boxes you have chosen for added storage space.
Another part of security that isn’t often considered goes back to the build. If the hitch cargo box is built poorly it can be easily broken and leave all of your belongings at risk. Make sure everything is built well and has a solid lock installed in order to feel safe and good side rails if the cargo carrier is built without a box or cargo bag integrated.
Different vehicles are going to require different shaft types that can properly fix the cargo box to their hitch. There are three different styles of shafts that are important to understand in order to get a perfectly fitting and safe hitch cargo box.
Straight shafts are the most simple there is when it comes to a cargo carrier. It sticks straight out from the hitch and offers a high amount of stability due to the simple design that doesn’t have many different parts. It leads straight from the carrier to the hitch without any curve or bend. It doesn’t add to the height of the cargo carrier and will be best for lower set boxes.
Curved shafts on a cargo carrier move upwards from the lower part of the car with a slight curve towards the cargo boxes themselves. Because they are mounted lower and still come up, they can cause accessibility issues.
Z-Style shafts have two straight shafts attached at the ends that function to add height to the hitch cargo box as well as stability. The shape helps greatly reduce the bouncing of the cargo carrier while driving on bumpier roads. They also are easy to fold up when they aren’t being used which adds to its accessibility and function of the cargo boxes.
The mounting hardware each cargo carrier box will determine how easy it is for you to install and remove the box attached to your hitch. Bigger manufacturers use quick release mechanisms that help you easily remove the cargo carrier without the help of another person.
Any hitch storage box is going to attach to your vehicle via the hitch. Most on this list go onto the back of the vehicle with a 2 inch by 2 inch hitch receiver. This is the most common compatibility, but make sure what you have on your car before purchasing. If you have a different hitch receiver, there are different ways to work around that, but will be an added challenge.
Some companies still use wingnuts or U-bolts that can be more labor intensive and trickier to manage with just yourself when mounting cargo boxes. They definitely feel more secure, but the quick release mechanisms are backed by big brands that know what they’re doing and have been making cargo boxes for years. A good hitch mounted cargo box for your vehicle should be made by a reputable brand that knows how to best attach the hitch mounted cargo box to your trailer hitch.
It is not enough to know the different options for rooftop cargo carriers and hitch cargo carriers. You need to know the vital information on what to consider buying. It is incredibly worth it to make the final purchase of any of these cargo carriers and improve your traveling conditions. There is little worse than forgetting things on a trip or standing in the driveway having to decide on bringing one thing or another because you don’t have room in the vehicle. It’s best to just pack it all and never have to worry about the space in your vehicle. It makes going on long adventures a breeze and if you have kids, they’ll never complain about having to share a seat with a suitcase and other items in the vehicle while their brother or sister gets to have all the room.
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