How do you pack a hitch-mounted cargo carrier?

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When using a hitch-mounted cargo carrier, it’s essential to correctly pack the additional storage device. Failing this has the potential to cause severe damages to both your equipment and other road-users vehicles. Therefore, how do you pack a hitch-mounted cargo carrier?

Before packing anything, you’ll want to determine the true weight capacity of both your hitch-mounted cargo carrier and the hitch itself. Afterward, you can load the true weight capacity onto the storage system and tighten it down with ratchet straps.

Performing this is significant because you could encounter vehicle damages, fines, or even legal prosecution if not. To learn how to pack these devices successfully, I suggest you become familiar with the below content.

How to load a hitch-mounted cargo carrier: the complete guide

Once assembled, the carrier slides right into your hitch with one final bolt to lock it in place. 

You can watch a video that shows the general assembly process of a hitch-mounted cargo carrier here.

As mentioned, it’s mandatory to load a hitch-mounted cargo carrier effectively to avoid any negative situations. The most efficient way of achieving this is by considering the below guide. However, remember that instructions might vary from the different cargo carriers available on the market. 

Become knowledgeable on the true weight capacity

The first initial step that needs to be taken is figuring out the “true” weight capacity that both your cargo carrier and hitch can withstand. It’s something that many people aren’t aware of, but your actual allowable load isn’t the maximum that suggests on the products.

To determine this, you’ll need both the weight capacities of your cargo carrier and hitch. For this example, we’ll suggest that the hitch is 600lbs, and the cargo carrier is 1000lbs. Before making the calculation, another piece of data we require is the distance between the hitch and end of the cargo carrier; let’s say 2ft.

With the above data, we can determine the true weight capacity by using the following calculation:

Hitch tongue weight (600lbs) / Total distance (2ft) = 300 lbs

Now we’ve completed this; we now know it’s only safe to load 300 lbs of goods onto the 1000 lbs cargo carrier. That’s because the hitch isn’t rated high enough to offer 1000 lbs of loading capacity. Therefore, to ensure optimal safety, it’s recommended to only load these products with 300 lbs of cargo.

For your true weight, it might be advantageous to read the instructions manual of the cargo carrier. Sometimes they suggest which “class” or “rating” of hitch is required to meet its maximum needs. Apart from that, it’s always recommended to consider the above calculation before initially loading and traveling with your hitch-mounted cargo carrier.

pack a hitch-mounted cargo carrier

Understand the products that need transporting  

Once you’ve finalized the above and have found your true weight capacity, it’s time to understand the products that need transporting. Although that seems like an odd question, it’s certainly something that needs considering.

The factors you’ll want to understand are weight, sturdiness, and shape. For the best possible transportation, you’ll want lightweight, sturdy goods that are either square or rectangle. By having these, you’ll reduce the stress on the cargo carrier and hitch while being able to really strap down the goods without damaging them.

Again, the importance of selecting items that have these characteristics is high. The more movement items have on your cargo carrier, the more stress is presented on both pieces of equipment. When you encounter this, there are high causes of breakages during transportation.

Secure your load

Now you understand what needs transporting and have delegated specific items to be loaded on the cargo carrier; it’s time to secure them. There are several different methods of achieving this, depending on what is being transported.

However, the primary pieces of equipment you’ll need are ratchet straps, netting, and bungee hooks. Having all of this will be more than enough, but you could get away with only using ratchet straps.

Once you’ve accumulated these goods, it’s a straightforward process. You’ll want to find “fixing points” that successfully hold down the cargo located on the storage unit. Find several of these, wrap the ratchet strap around a few times, and tighten. Afterward, you can optionally use the netting and bungee hooks if required for additional support.

Double-check everything

Before transporting the hitch-mounted cargo carrier, you’ll want to double-check the entire rig. The primary things you’ll want to look out for are:

  • Hitch – With this, check the quality of the hitch, the pin holding the cargo carrier to the car, etc., to determine whether it’s considered safe for transportation.
  • Cargo carrierIn addition, double-check your entire cargo carrier. Look at the assembly fixings, how it’s connected, the rails, and everything else. If you spot rust or other defects, you might want to apply pressure within the location to analyze whether it’s strong enough.
  • True weight capacity – Whether you’re a top-rated mathmagician or not, re-calculate the true weight capacity. Ensuring you have this correct is essential to avoid any problems during transportation.
  • Strength test – Lastly, perform a strength test on the cargo. Pull on the straps and try shaking the goods to search for any movement. If there’s movement, re-think the securing process to eliminate this.

Undoubtedly, prior to traveling, recheck everything. Doing this will guarantee that you and other road users are completely safe during the journey.

Drive and monitor the process

Lastly, monitor the process once everything is packed and begin transporting the goods. It doesn’t mean you should be continuously checking on your load, but every gas or bathroom stop is always recommended. Over time, the ratchet straps could become loose from the force, so it’s always best to check now and then.


After reading the above, you should have a complete comprehensive idea of successfully packing a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. By following the above guidelines, you can increase the overall safety of transportation for all road users. Therefore, it’s more than worth the consideration.

To conclude everything, I’d say the most important factors to remember are true weight capacity and load security. Having both understood sufficiently will definitely make the whole ordeal much more risk-free.

About the author 

Vieira Babeker

Hi! I'm Vieira. I've always been interested in different Auto Accessories

My passion here at is to provide helpful straight forward clear advice and tips for Automotive Accessories.

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