I've regularly mentioned a receiver-style trailer hitch rack as a way to haul serious gear in a modestly-sized vehicle. Over the last + 5 years, however, I've piloted an oversized diesel pickup and have had few gear transport "space available" worries.

Then the Federal Gummint insisted the 1990 4WD Suburban which had served as daily driver for all 4 members of our immediate family and had done so for over 15 years and 120,000 miles (bringing her clock to just under 200,000 miles) was in fact worth $4,500. Well, who am I to argue the point that our third vehicle, a mere backup, in-town, largely non-functional truck driven < 2,000 miles in the preceding 2 years has such value to the voting public.

So, with a few tears and several heartfelt pats on her hood, the beloved 'Burban is now but a bucket of teeny-weeny shrapnel destined for a higher calling.

In her place we acquired a 2010 Chevy Equinox. She's got a 1.25" receiver hitch for the bicycle rack already installed, so today I unearthed my trusty hitch-haul rack from the shed to size up how we can increase the 'Nox's gear-hauling potential. The rack installed easily so I dropped the much later acquired plastic truck box onto the rack. Bingo, fits like a glove and a 48 qt cooler or similarly-sized box fits right beside it. A clearly available alternative is a big standard cross-bed pickup truck toolbox bolted or otherwise anchored to the hitch-hauler. The hatchback even clears the existing box by a good 2 inches, eliminating a weight-capacity reducing extension from the receiver hitch.

I'm already pondering driving the 'Nox instead of the big Ford on the 2010 Big Hole trip. She rides so much better than the diesel-burning F350.

Long story short, the hitch-hauler option gives you lots of ways to tote excess gear and materials having no business inside a vehicle's passenger compartment (gasoline tanks, propane cylinders, the bano, etc). Most any smaller SUV (or SAV, or CUV, or whatever the popular term for a downsized vehicle may be) can have a 1.25" hitch installed quite readily and inexpensively. From there, your transport options quickly multiply. Adding a simple and relatively inexpensive pickup truck toolbox makes for somewhat secure (lockable) and weatherproof outside storage, and largely without what I regard as the nemesis of SUV gear transport: The material disadvantage of rooftop transport due to wind resistance. I'm already envisioning the toolbox bolted to the hitch-hauler with the snowboard/ski box affixed to the toolbox.

Maybe we'll RoadTrip rather than fly to Utah come January.