Finding the best RV cargo carrier solves the age-old RVing problem of not enough space for all the toys we want with us on our camping trips.
But is an RV cargo carrier right for you?
Our first RV cargo carrier
We started with the StowAway2.
At more than $700 with delivery and taxes, this RV cargo carrier was not an inexpensive option.
But it is a very solid and substantial cargo carrier.
It comes in black or white. We ordered the black one.
Installation took about an hour. Much of that time is in getting the boxes open, emptied, and the parts lined up.
But it really is a two-person job. Not that anything is that heavy. It’s just awkward for one person to line up the bolts with the proper openings and do the assembly. I called my friend Jay, who came by to graciously lend a hand and help me get the Stowaway 2 RV cargo carrier in place.
How to assemble and install the Stowaway 2 RV Cargo Carrier
First, the swing away frame is assembled and inserted into the two-inch hitch at the back of the coach. There’s a free hitch tightener that keeps it from wiggling or moving around. Once the hitch and frame for the box is connected, the cargo box is fastened to it with four bolts. Then the hinged top is affixed. Instructions are simple and clear cut, even for a mechanically challenged guy like me.
The carrier measures 51″W x 23″D x 26″H. It’s also large enough that it covers up the rear license plate. No problem. We drilled out three marked holes, installed a new lighted license plate frame to the back of the box, and moved the plate. The RV carrier box has side brake lights and they and the license plate light plug right into the receptacle next to the hitch on the coach.
I did, however, have to buy a four to seven plug adapter to connect the lights.
The RV cargo carrier box is huge, providing 16 cu.ft. of storage. StowAway says that’s enough to hold four carry-on bags, two camp chairs, and two duffle bags. Maximum weight of the cargo contained in the box is 200 pounds — enough to hold bigger, more comfortable chairs, some fishing gear, a propane gas stove, a couple of tripods, and some bulky items like a ground cover, an outside table, and assorted other items.
A locking latch keeps everything secure and safe.
What I am most impressed with is how the whole cargo box swings far away, allowing you to open the left rear door all the way and the right side rear door about 75% of the way.
However, it didn’t take me long to become conflicted about whether I made the right choice in buying it for one reason: we couldn’t carry our bikes.
That’s where the Velo Combo RV cargo box from Nicova came into play.
The best RV cargo carrier with a bike rack
Nicova is a small company based in suburban Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The Velo Combo is a nice-looking RV cargo carrier made of fiberglass. It's clean. It comes in black or white (extra costs involved for white). It has a sturdy lock on it. (I tested the Velo Combo 101 and there is a new version for 2020.)
At 64”W x 24”D x 20”H, there's plenty of room in there. You could fit an inflatable kayak, lawn chairs, a grill, dog food, and so on.
But perhaps the most distinctive part of the Nicova carrier is the bike rack. It’s a nice bike rack and will actually hold two of your bikes up top. It includes a sturdy ring to fasten a bike lock, which is a nice touch. There’s also an adjustable holder that will attach to bikes to keep them stable when you’re on the road.
Here's a video I did on this RV cargo carrier:
But there are some drawbacks and perhaps the biggest is the price: this RV cargo carrier costs $2,800 Canadian. Additionally, you can't buy it in the U.S. — it’s only available in Canada.
There are some other drawbacks. The StowAway 2 has 16 cubic feet of storage and will hold 200 pounds of cargo. The Velo Combo has 15 cubic feet of storage and will hold 150 pounds of cargo.
Another issue is this cargo box weighs about 100 pounds. That means it's kind of tough to move this thing on and off the vehicle.
Nicova thought about and the company provides a very handy little wheeled trolley that attaches underneath the box just before you unhook it from the vehicle. And that makes it easy to wheel around as you take it off and move it in and off the vehicle.
However, there's a problem because to get that hitch off and to get the box off the, you need to loosen that bolt and to loosen that bolt, you need to have an impact driver. If you don’t have one, you’re looking at another $100+.
Which is the best RV cargo carrier?
All things being equal — and if money weren’t an object — Nicova’s cargo box is an excellent choice.
It looks great and I love being able to take the bikes with me and having that extra cargo space. I'm very impressed with how well it moves and how easy and fast it is to take it out and push it aside so you can get the doors.
I think that trolley is a really good idea because these things are heavy and you can move it out of the way and take it off the hitch with that trolley.
But I can't get past the price. Even with the favorable US exchange rate, it is well past $2,000. And if you live in the U.S., you still have to find a way to get it.
It's too expensive to ship from Canada, so that means the best way is to drive there and buy it directly from the company (which is also a bit of a non-starter right now considering that non-essential travel to Canada is currently not allowed.)
In my book, it's very hard to justify the price and for that reason, I think it’s the lesser choice compared to the Stowaway 2.
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