Diy hitch cargo carrier

Diy hitch cargo carrier DEFAULT

Introduction: No Weld Aluminum Hitch Basket

My growing family outgrew our car, so we bought an SUV, then while planning a recent camping vacation we realized that even the cavernous interior of our new car still couldn't hold everything required for toddlers and camping. I saw a Harbor Freight ad showing their version of a hitch basket and the price was right, when I went to look in the store, the quality was just not what I wanted. So, I went home and searched the interwebs, the prices were astronomical, three times what harbor freight wanted, and the few I see on the highway are still not the best quality (I witnessed one of the hinged ones dragging the ground and throwing sparks). I set to it and decided to build my own from a scrap aluminum sheet I was able to pick up from my old job and leftovers from old projects in my stock pile.

Step 1: Materials:

1/8" Aluminum Sheet (the size will vary with how large or small you want your basket)

/2" x /2" - 1/4" T-6 Aluminum Angle (required length will be 2X the length of your basket)

2"x2" Steel Tubing (approximately 18" longer than the width of your basket)

2" x 3" - 1/4" T-6 Aluminum Angle (4 pieces " long)

20 - 1/4" x 3/4" Hex head bolts

20 - 1/4" Split-lock washers

20 - 1/4" Flat washers

20 - 1/4" Hex nuts

8 - 5/16" x 1" Hex head bolts

8 - 5/16" Flat Washers

8 - 5/16" Split-lock washers

8 - 5/16" Hex Nuts

8 - 3/8" x 3/4" Bolts (I used socket heads because I had them, but hexes will work as well)

8 - 3/8" Flat Washers

8 - 3/8" Split-Lock Washers

Step 2: Tools:

Drill - Hand drill will work, but a drill press is most accurate

Hacksaw - Band saw or Chop (miter) Saw will be less work and more accurate


Drill bits (9/32", 11/32", 5/16", and 21/32")

Tap (3/8")

Tap Handle

Wrenches/sockets/ratchet (7/16", 1/2", 9/16")


Center punch

Cutting oil

Step 3: Cut Materials to Size and Drill Holes

My aluminum sheet determined the material sizes required.

The sheet is 54"x " with a " flange bent on each end. (The flange was already present on my sheet, this is necessary for strength, if you are unable to bend the metal, bolt a piece of angle in place to add strength)

See the attached drawings for dimensions and hole locations. The dimensions can be tweaked to increase or decrease the size of the basket.

It proved easiest to use the drill press to drill holes in the tube and angle sections and use a hand drill to match drill the holes in the sheet.

The attached PDF has all of the dimensions and hole locations used to build my rack.

Step 4: Assemble Components

a. Using 1/4" hardware (green), bolt side rails to base plate. Assembly order should be Bolt, flat washer, base plate, side rail, flat washer, lock washer, and finally hex nut.

Pro Tip: It is best to install all hardware loosely then tighten all at once.

b. 5/16" hardware (pink) is used to connect the base plate and side rails to the angle brackets. Hardware assembly order should be bolt, flat washer, base plate, side rail, angle bracket, flat washer, lock washer, and hex nut.

c. Add the draw bar using the 3/8" hardware (orange). Assembly order should be bolt, lock washer, flat washer, angle bracket, into the threaded hole on the draw bar.

d. Once all hardware is installed, go over all and tighten.

Step 5: Enjoy

being able to haul excess cargo and oversize loads without the hassle of a trailer.

The basket as I built it has been perfect for our usage, the size fits 4 x 18 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck Totes, which happens to be the perfect amount of cargo to allow me to see out the back window when we are headed off for a week long vacation.

So far my carrier has hauled the air tank pictured, a gallon IBC tote (without cage and pallet), and plenty of camping and vacation gear. If you look closely, I added two pieces of aluminum angle to the deck, These along with a U-bolt allow me to add a hitch mounted bike carrier to haul the kids bikes in addition to the extra gear.

You should also research your local laws regarding lights and reflectors, I tend to be overcautious and added white/red reflectors and a set of trailer lights to the back. I have also been told that I should move my rear tag (which would also mean a tag light) to the rear of the carrier when it is installed as well.

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Agile's Continental spare tire carrier location prevents the use of hitch cargo and bike carriers without any modifications. I've seen people use hitch extensions to clear the spare tire carrier, but this defeats the purpose of buying the shorter Agile not to mention its considerable influence in dynamic loading of the rear suspension over bumps and other road changes. Hitch baskets and bike racks mounted towards the rear of the spare tire also prevents the spare tire carrier to be folded down when needed.

I fabricated an extra hitch receiver that bolts-on into the right side of the factory hitch arm; it can accommodate medium sized hitch cargo carries/basket.  I will be fabricating a hitch cargo/bike carrier combo that swings to the side for easier access to the rear of the RV. For now, I'm using a small fabricated hitch cargo carrier for small loads like firewood/ ice cooler/ tool box, etc.

The receiver tube is a Harbor Freight tube cut short, and then welded to the fabricated bracket.


 Primed and painted black.


 I added a removable cover to the rear of the hitch tube. The hitch tube sits just behind the RV exhaust; the cover blocks any hot exhaust from entering into the hitch tube.



 Fabricating the hitch cargo carrier.



Welded and grinded smooth.


Primed and painted black. Light reflectors were installed on both sides and rear of the carrier. The hitch carrier only adds about inches to the total length of the vehicle.


The license plate was relocated to the Continental spare tire carrier vertical post. 


5/8" keyed receiver locking pin with anti-rattle from Amazon. 


I used the hitch cargo carrier on our recent trip to Vancouver Island and it was solid as rock!






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How to Build a Trailer Hitch Cargo Carrier

Use the miter saw to cut all the inch angle iron down to 20 inches.

Lay down the inch angle in parallel about 20 inches apart, with flats pointing toward each other. Lay the inch end pieces with their ends inside and at a right-angle to both long pieces so they form a rectangle. Lay remaining inch pieces the same way, 20 inches from each end of the rectangle. Pencil-mark all positions.

Use the drill press to make holes through both layers of angle iron. Make holes /16 larger than the short bolts at all corners and other joints. Use a construction square to set right angles and clamp angle iron in place on the press table. Drill holes in a 1-inch square pattern at the center of each 2-inch overlap.

Temporarily bolt the rectangle together. Attach the remaining inch angle iron 20 inches in from the ends upside-down from underneath, so mesh will lie flat inside the frame.

Center the square tube between the rectangle ends, protruding 4 inches at the hitch side, flush with the other side. Clamp all parts onto the drill press table and drill a 4-bolt-hole in a square pattern through the angle iron and the tube on both sides.

Temporarily bolt the tube to the frame with long bolts. Turn the assembly upside-down. Center a flat bar over the tube at each long side of the rectangle. Bend the bar down on both ends to touch the angle iron, and lip-bend the bar back 2 inches from the ends so that it will bolt down flat.

Drive two holes through each bar end and through angle iron, and two through the bar, tube and angle iron in the center. Turn assembly right-side up and trim mesh to fit inside the rectangle.

Slide protruding tube into a hitch receiver and make marks for drilling the lock pin hole. Disassemble all parts. Press-drill holes through the tube for a lock pin.

Soak and clean all steel with Brakleen. Spray on four coats of primer, allowing dry time between applications. Spray on two coats of paint.

Reassemble all parts. Leave out one bolt at each angle joint. Lay mesh into the rectangle. Insert remaining bolts with stainless washers through the mesh. Tighten all bolts. Paint entire assembly.


Writer Bio

Jan Benschop started writing professionally in His corporate technical writing clients included Nortel, Alcatel and Glaxo. Also the author of several short stories, Benschop holds a Bachelor of Science in English from Campbell University. He built loudspeakers for more than a decade and has several international patents pending in the field.

Add TONS of STORAGE W/ a Swing-Away Hitch Box!

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1_ Today’s cargo carriers are sleek enough to work with the aesthetics of your vehicle without sabotaging your gas mileage. All you need is a roof rack—though sometimes you don’t even need that .

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diy hitch cargo carrier

Carrier diy hitch cargo

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DIY Cargo Carrier For Your RV / Travel Trailer / Fifth Wheel

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