A great solution for expanding campervan space
Space is always a premium in the camper van. There are a few options out there that can come to the rescue.
These include Rooftop Cargo Bags, trailers and, of course, trailer hitch cargo boxes.
Many campervan owners love hitch cargo carriers for a variety of reasons, and we tend to agree.
They really can be a great solution to adding space.
This post is part of our series on Campervan Storage Ideas.
Our Hitch Cargo Carrier Top Picks
But before deciding on a specific hitch cargo box, you have to consider a number of factors. These factors will help you settle on the right carrier for your van.
- What you intend to carry in the hitch storage box.
- The cargo box you choose should be compatible with your vehicle.
- The maximum weight the hitch can carry per manufacturers recommendations.
- Installation is also another point of significance. You should give preference to racks that are simple to put on if you need to take it on and off during a trip.
The biggest pluses of trailer hitch cargo boxes
One thing all campers can use is more space and cargo boxes solve that very nicely.
Where do you put dirty gear after a day out playing on the beach or in the woods? A box outside the van. This enables you to keep the interior fresh and for ‘living’. Storage space outside the van interior can be a wonderful thing.
We’ve all been faced with too little space, thinking about upgrading to a bigger van, or even a trailer or RV.
A hitch box may be all you need. It provides that extra storage space at a lower price.
- A hitch cargo box is an all-weather tool, since it has a cover to keep your gear dry.
- Some cargo boxes include locks and locking accessories, so your belongings will be safer than they would in a tent or a soft sided rooftop box.
- Eliminate that rooftop box climb with storage that’s waist high.
- The driver’s view is not obstructed as its position does not block the view through the rear window.
Some minor limitations
As always, these handy carriers also come with a few challenges…
- For some vans, it becomes a problem when trying to open the rear doors. As much as the access to the goods in the box is easy, the box inhibits access through the rear door. You may have to remove it to get entry via the rear door.
- Fortunately, some models swing out of the way for door/hatch access.
- With the increased length you must be aware of the presence of the box and maneuvering tight spaces can be a challenge.
- Consider a backup camera if you don’t already have one installed.
Before you buy…
Hitch cargo boxes require a trailer hitch receptacle. The hitch receptacle can be easily installed if your van does not have one. When choosing the receptacle, you must consider the maximum weight it can carry, and the recommended maximum weight for your vehicle.
Find a hitch receiver for your campervan
Head over to Amazon and, in the search field, type the year, make and model of your van, plus the words “receiver hitch”. For example, I typed in “2006 Dodge Sprinter Receiver Hitch” and got this result.
Some require a tray/platform to mount the box on if the product is not designed with a frame. Therefore, you may need to purchase both the box and the tray. We’ve included our top pics for trays and boxes, below.
Tail Lights for trailer hitch cargo boxes
Some include tail lights; some don’t. If the hitch box you want to purchase is too wide, you may have to install lights. Covering up tail lights is dangerous and can incur heavy fines.
Here’s an example of a universal turn signal, stop and brake light kit.
Cheap options can be trouble
Cheap is expensive in the long-run, goes the old adage, and that’s definitely true for trailer hitch cargo boxes. They see a lot of action on the road and at the at the campsite. If you plan on traveling for long, skip the flimsy choices. It really will save money over time.
Here’s a trick: When reading Amazon ratings and reviews, look at the two, three and four star ratings of products before buying. You’ll find these to be the most detailed and thoughtful.
Our recommendations for trailer hitch cargo boxes
Hitch Cargo Carrier Recap
- Add valuable space without upgrading to a bigger van, RV or trailer
- Keep weight ratings in mind for vehicle, hitch and cargo box
- Is rear door access important? Consider a cargo box that swings out or is easy to remove
- Keep stuff dry and safe from weather
- Locking boxes and hitch receivers, or compatible lock sets can add necessary security
- Easier access than rooftop carriers
- Wont block rear view
- Increases length of vehicle
- Some boxes require a tray for mounting
- Extra wide hitch boxes may need lights, included or not
- Cheap options should be avoided
- Read Amazon reviews carefully for best results on this important purchase