Hitch Cargo Carrier Buyer Guide

Everything you ever wanted to know about our hitch cargo carriers to help you make the right purchase.


StowAway hitch cargo carrier box illustration

A hitch cargo carrier is one of the most practical solutions for increasing your vehicle’s carrying capacity. Hitch cargo carriers are designed and manufactured to help make everything about your road adventures easy, enjoyable and accessible.


comparing the hitch cargo carrier and the roof rack
Both roof racks and hitch cargo carriers come in an assortment of styles and sizes, but why would a hitch cargo carrier be the better solution for you?

Safe and Easy. A hitch carrier combines ample capacity for your gear at waist-level access from the beginning to the end of your road trip. This advantage of accessing your goods while standing firmly on the ground is much easier and safer than accessing them on top of your vehicle and is one of the chief benefits of a hitch cargo carrier.

Quick Access. What if you need something while you are on the road? Gone are the days of unloading everything to reach that one piece of luggage or equipment, when a hitch cargo carrier. makes it easily accessible.

Fuel Efficiency. Are you concerned with the aerodynamic shape of your vehicle and the resulting fuel efficiency? A hitch cargo carrier helps keep that important aerodynamic vehicle shape helping your fuel dollars stretch farther.

hitch cargo carriers versus trailers
How does a hitch cargo carrier compare to using a trailer?

No special skills needed. Have you ever enjoyed watching people try to back up a trailer? It’s a skill that takes time and patience. With a hitch cargo carrier, backing up your vehicle is no different.

Better weather protection. Hitch cargo carriers are generally self-contained and offer complete coverage for your belongings, most trailers are open to the environment and the rain, sleet, snow and beating sun.

Stores more easily than a trailer. Some customers leave the StowAway on their vehicle year round. Others store their StowAway in the garage, either fully assembled or with the box and frame unassembled. Others store the unit outside with a cover and still other customers have suspended it from the garage ceiling. Either way a lot less space is needed vs a trailer.

The 5 Types of Hitch Cargo Carriers

One of the benefits of hitch cargo carriers is their versatility. Let’s discuss five different types.

standard hitch cargo box on vehicle

1Hitch Cargo Boxes

Hitch cargo boxes are durable, weather-resistant cargo boxes mounted to either a Fixed or SwingAway frame. These frames slide into a 1.25" or 2" hitch receiver on your SUV, truck, or van. The gear capacity of hitch cargo boxes is rated in cubic feet. For people who want to keep their gear safe, secure and out of the weather a hitch cargo box is the ideal solution. Hitch Cargo Boxes can be used on road trips as they offer unparalleled extra storage and ease of access. They can be used when camping or exploring the beautiful outdoors to carry extra gear. Hitch Cargo Boxes can be used in all weather conditions spring, summer, winter and fall. They can also add extra storage capacity for the small business owner who operates from their vehicle.

hitch cargo rack on fixed frame

2Hitch Cargo Racks

Hitch racks or hitch "baskets" are open racks that slide into either a 1.25" or 2" hitch receiver. Hitch racks are ideal for carrying bulky items that will not fit into a confined space or rooftop carrier such as camping and fishing gear. Our hitch racks are 53"L x 26"W and feature 5" high side rails for keeping you gear securely in place. The StowAway hitch rack offers convenient waist-level loading and comes on a Fixed or SwingAway frame. Gear placed in the hitch cargo rack can be secured with a cargo net or put into the hitch cargo bag. Manufactured from heavy-duty steel with a black powder coat corrosion-resistant finish, the StowAway Hitch Cargo Rack is built to withstand the test of time.

Hitch rack with swingaway frame

3Hitch Frames

Hitch frames come in two classifications, fixed and swing-away frames. Fixed frames are a durable frame that you can easily install onto either a 1.25” or 2” hitch receiver. The fixed frame allows extra cargo capacity and with a 7-inch rise, the fixed frame provides ample ground clearance. It is manufactured from heavy-duty steel and the StowAway Fixed Frame withstands cargo weight and seasonal use better than other leading car hitch carrier brands. For that extra touch, its black powder coat finish resists corrosion and looks sharp year after year. Swing away frames do just as the name implies, they “swing away from the rear of the vehicle”. Why does this matter? The hinging arm of the StowAway SwingAway Frame pivots up to 180 degrees, giving you clear access to the rear of your vehicle whenever you need it. Wondering about a swinging “SwingAway”? No need, the pin can lock the carrier at 90 degrees and twin safety locks prevent the frame from swinging out without warning. Identical to its fixed frame brother it is manufactured from the same long-lasting materials. Hitch frames can be used with a variety of StowAway products or with your own belongings, making them flexible and functional.

hitch bike rack

4Hitch Bike Racks

With so many spectacular sights to see not just in your vehicle but riding a bike, Hitch Bike Racks are the accessory you need to take your favorite two-wheeler along. StowAway’s Bike and Cargo Rack is built to carry 4 bikes and thanks to the rear cargo rack it is mounted on, it offers extra space for the remainder of your cycling gear. The side rails of the cargo rack are 5 inches high which keeps your gear secure. The StowAway Hitch Bike Rack is manufactured from heavy-duty steel and has a 10 year limited warranty.

StowAway rod rack

5Specialty Hitch Racks

What if I have other interests or hobbies you may ask? Answer: there are specialty hitch racks ready and willing to make your adventures the best they can be. If your ideal weekend is one spent casting your rod in a beautiful stream or river, the StowAway Hitch Mount Rod Rack is the best cargo option for your vehicle, truck, RV or SUV. The built-in trailer hitch mount rod rack includes 6 heavy-duty anodized aluminum tubes to secure your fishing rods. The cargo rack also provides enough space for two coolers, tackle boxes, and plenty of other fishing equipment. A wonderful aspect of this rack is that the trailer hitch rod holders are removable, meaning the hitch cargo rack can easily be used for camping, hunting, tailgating or any other spontaneous adventures. Don’t forget that the StowAway Hitch Mount Rod Rack is attached to a SwingAway frame which easily pivots allowing you full access to the rear of your vehicle.

Another specialty hitch rack is the Tailgating Hitch Grill Station There’s nothing like a delicious grilled meal and if that can be prepared while you are tailgating for your favorite team or enjoying the outdoors, it makes the meal that much more appetizing. The StowAway Tailgating Hitch Grill Station is equipped with a Cuisinart grill as well as a functional prep area, complete with a commercial-grade cutting board (easily removable for cleaning). The Cuisinart grill has a generous grilling space of 240 square inches (13.25 inches x 18 inches), a precision temperature gauge for thorough cooking, twist-start ignition and a removable drip tray for easy cleaning. The cargo rack can also support a cooler, condiments and other gear. An added benefit is that the Tailgating Hitch Grill Station is on the SwingAway frame which allows you to pivot the grill station allowing you to reach the delicious meats, veggies and other goodies you may have stored in the rear of your vehicle.

Hitch Mounted Sport Box on a sprinter van with door open

The Sport Box Specialty Hitch Rack is one of the most recent members of the specialty hitch rack family. It makes an excellent ski carrier. The StowAway Hitch Mounted Sport Box addresses a common problem experienced with door mounted boxes, which is the structural damage that can easily happen to the rear doors of the vehicle. Because the StowAway Hitch Mounted Sport Box is attached to a SwingAway frame that simply slides into a 2-inch hitch receiver, it prohibits the scratching, dinging and damage that can happen to the rear vehicle door. The offset design allows the vehicle’s right rear door to e opened with the frame in closed position and the left rear door to be opened when the frame is swung open to 90 degrees. In the open position you will have clear access to both sides of the vehicle’s rear luggage area. The Sport Box Specialty Hitch Rack will transport up to 200 pounds of skis and snowboards and other equipment. Manufactured in the USA of heavy-duty steel and finished with a black powder coat which resists corrosion, this specialty hitch rack is ready to tackle the mountains, the deserts and everywhere in between.

Selecting the Right One

Important Considerations – Assessing Your Needs

Now that you’ve been introduced to the many styles, strengths and benefits of a Hitch Cargo Carrier, how do you approach selecting the one that will check all your important boxes (no pun intended!)? There are five important considerations. The first is to assess your needs:

What do you desire your carrier to accomplish?

What are the activities and equipment that you enjoy engaging in? Answering this will help you determine which of the styles (box, rack, specialty rack) that meets those needs.

What type of vehicle do you have?

This information will help determine the tongue weight capacity (TWC). This refers to the maximum vertical weight that a vehicle’s hitch can support under normal driving conditions and thus determine whether your vehicle can support a hitch carrier.

What class hitch does your vehicle have?

Trailer hitches are commonly divided into five classes. Each class is based on the strength and size of the vehicle it is intended to be used on and the materials and design of the hitch itself.

What is the rear design of your vehicle?

No doors, barn doors, tailgate? A hallmark benefit of all of the StowAway Hitch Cargo Carriers is the unique SwingAway frame that allows them to work on almost every vehicle configuration.

What are the wiring requirements of your vehicle?

There are many different types of electrical adaptors. These adaptors allow the Hitch Cargo Carrier trailer lights (braking, turning) to be connected to your vehicle’s system, thus working in tandem with signaling and braking. Once you’ve ascertained which type of adaptor you have, that’s the one you go with.

StowAway: The Clear Choice

There are many manufacturers of Hitch Cargo Carriers out there, and that’s a good thing. It means that many of your fellow adventurers are enjoying the ability to go where they want carrying what they want. What sets the StowAway Hitch Cargo Carriers apart? Accessibility, versatility, durability and capacity. If you’re tired or not wanting to balance on your vehicle’s door frame to retrieve items from your rooftop carrier, StowAway has your solution. As these are mounted directly onto your vehicle’s trailer hitch, you have ground level access to your gear at all times. The beauty of the StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier being mounted on their patented SwingAway Frame, pivots out 180 degrees so that you can open your rear liftgate, left-hinged or barn-style doors, hatch or tailgate with full access to the back of your vehicle. The SwingAway frame also locks at 90 degrees, so you won’t have any unintentional movement of the frame while loading or unloading. There are many vehicles or RVs that don’t need rear access, StowAway Hitch Cargo Carriers can also be mounted to a rock-solid fixed frame.

Versatility and flexibility. With the variety of styles of hitch cargo boxes (standard and max), racks (bike, rod, grill station, sports box), frames (SwingAway, fixed) and even colors (black, ivory), there is a StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier or Rack for you. All of StowAway’s hitch-mounted products including the MAX Cargo Carrier, Cargo Rack, Bike Rack and Hitch Grill Station are fully interchangeable and easily bolt to both the Fixed and SwingAway frames. No other cargo carrier on the market – including popular rooftop carriers – can claim the same level of adaptability as StowAway.

No other cargo carrier claim the same level  of adaptability as StowAway.

Durability. When we purchase something, we want it to last, to be durable and StowAway offers some of the most durable cargo carriers available. Rotomolded from the same material used to create high-performance white-water kayaks, our cargo holders are constructed with walls twice as thick as those of other leading cargo carriers. To demonstrate the strength and durability of our hitch cargo carriers, we backed a delivery van over one of our carrier box lids. The results? Not a single crack. StowAway Hitch Cargo Carriers have survived car accidents, blizzards, ice storms, tailgate parties and even wild animal encounters!

Bear trying (unsuccessfully) to get into a StowAway Standard Cargo Carrier on Ford Excursion

Capacity! Why are we purchasing a hitch cargo carrier? We need space! The StowAway Max Hitch Cargo Carrier has 16 cubic feet of capacity and can haul up to 200 pounds of bags, chairs, equipment or whatever. The StowAway Standard Hitch Cargo Carrier has 12.5 cubic feet of capacity and can also carry up to 200 pounds of your belongings. When you think about taking that next road trip and not having to “tetris” style pack everything into your vehicle and then slide into the 15 inches of seat that are left because your things are safely and securely stowed in your StowAway Hitch Cargo Carrier, doesn’t it bring a smile to your face?

Graphic showing cargo capacity of StowAway MAX Cargo Carrier