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  1. Default Exterior cargo options for overnight

    Hi All,

    We will be travelling from Texas to Indiana again this summer, which requires us to spend at least one night on the road. We have a Dodge Durango, which typically is plenty of room for our family and cargo. However, we have acquired a new passenger. We would really like to take our adopted great dane with us. This would mean freeing up some space in the cargo area of the interior. We have been looking at many options and I would like to get opinions or suggestions on the best option to solve the issue, but also address my worry of security.

    1. Hard top carriers - It appears this is the most secure solution. Mounts on the top and usually has a lock, so we would be able to leave it on the car overnight. If I understand correctly, these can be mounted with U-bolts or straps. Obviously the U-bolts would be more secure. The down side I am seeing is the effect on gas efficiency. Already in a big truck that gets about 23 MPH on the highway. Will we be looking at a significant drop in fuel efficiency?

    2. Soft top carriers - Less expensive, but less secure in my opinion. You could lock the zipper, but what is to keep someone from taking a knife to it and taking what they want out of it. So then we are left with unloading it and reloading it the next day.

    3. Trailer hitch cargo rack - Like this idea, but there is still the issue of security and the cost of all the apparatus. We do not presently have a trailer hitch, so we would have that expense, plus another $250-300 for the rack, and a locking box for security. Could set us back $600-700.

    4. Soft side "saddle bag" style carrier - Again, these are soft sided so we would have to load and unload at night, but that would be easier with the location.

    So those are my mildly educated thoughts on the subject. Does anyone have anything to add that could help us make this decision?

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I think you've done a pretty good job of figuring out the pluses and minuses of each.

    I'd say one additional thing to think about with the roof rack options is that it will make your vehicle, even more top heavy than it already is. That's not a huge deal, but it could have an impact on handling as well as gas mileage.

    I think you might also be overstating the cost of a hitch-haul option. A hitch will likely be a couple hundred, but the racks shouldn't have to cost $250-300. Just looking at the ads on the side of this page, you can get them for around $100. Since you'd have to add a hitch, it would likely be the most expensive, but it would have the most utility and be easier than having to climb on the roof to load/unload.

    I would say soft sided would be cheapest, and if you were either putting stuff that isn't extremely valuable, or stuff like your luggage that would be going inside with you at night, the locking issue wouldn't be quite as important. And ultimately, just like things left in your car, if someone really wants to get it they'll be able to get into it, hard or soft sided.

  3. Default

    Thanks for your response, Michael. Your observation about the security of any of these items was greatly appreciated. I had not thought of it that way. It is sounding more like the trailer hitch option is the way to go for us.

    Thanks again for your quick response.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I've looked at the hitch options, and that's what I would probably go with, but I've already got a hitch installed. If you didn't have one, that is an extra expense I'd probably have to think twice about.

    The Car Back carrier (which may be what you are talking about as a "saddle bag" style) would be one that I'd probably give the most thought to if I didn't have a hitch.

    Here's an article from RTA's planning section that specifically goes through the options, and includes links for a review of the car back option.

  5. #5

    Default On my wife's Chevy Equinox......

    ......we have a 1.25" receiver hitch, a hitch-haul rack, and a pickup truck-stye plastic toolbox of the type which is designed to fit across the bed of a pickup truck. It drops down snugly inside of the hitch-haul rails. I use ratchet straps to secure it but next time I use I intend to bolt it down to the expanded-metal rack surface.

    Pickup truck tool boxes are available in all sorts of sizes and a number of different locking styles and it should be a simple matter to find one which fits within a normal hitch-haul rack.

    Foy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default 2''

    If you do end up installing a hitch, I would recommend you get a 2 inch receiver (class 3), just because there tends to be more options for accessories like hitch-hauls, bike racks, etc.

    I like Foy have a 1.25, because that's what came from the factory, and while you can find items that fit (or get converters to make things fit) but it does require looking a bit harder and sometimes paying a bit more to find what you want.

    Different hitches have different ratings, with 2'' beyond able to tow more. Having a higher rating for your hitch won't make your vehicle be able to tow more than your vehicle is rated for, but I'd imagine your Durango's got a pretty high rating anyway, plus it doesn't sound like you're planning to do much towing anyway.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    If you do end up installing a hitch, I would recommend you get a 2 inch receiver (class 3), just because there tends to be more options for accessories like hitch-hauls, bike racks, etc.

    I like Foy have a 1.25, because that's what came from the factory, and while you can find items that fit (or get converters to make things fit) but it does require looking a bit harder and sometimes paying a bit more to find what you want.

    Different hitches have different ratings, with 2'' beyond able to tow more. Having a higher rating for your hitch won't make your vehicle be able to tow more than your vehicle is rated for, but I'd imagine your Durango's got a pretty high rating anyway, plus it doesn't sound like you're planning to do much towing anyway.
    All good and accurate points by Midwest Michael. Along with the higher towed weight ratings which the 2" receiver hitches are rated for comes a higher tongue weight rating. Tongue weight ratings translate closely to the maximum weight of the rack + carrier + gear, so Class III, IV, and V hitches should be capable of carrying 350, 400, and 550 lbs of gear, more or less, respectively.

    Surely a Durango is rated for Class III or above towing, so installing anything other than a 2" receiver hitch is shortsighted inasmuch as it is < what a buyer down the road would expect on the vehicle.

    Foy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You are off a bit on your weight classes, Foy.

    Note that it says "up to" - not all hitches in any particular class can handle the max. Even though a Class III is "up to" 600/6000, the Class III Draw-Tite on my truck is placarded for 500/5000 max.

    Bottom line, the right hitch for a Durango is in fact a Class III.

  9. #9

    Default

    I can speak from experience that the car top carrier drops gas milage far more than one would like. At least it has for us on every trip we've taken (usually Illinois > Michigan). We now use a hitch rack which works great for us.




    Only downfall to this is it was on a slightly low car. Between slight scraping when backing up on a slight incline and morons rear ending us in bad highway traffic, we had to get our old one cut off because it was so jammed in.


    They also make locking cargo straps that run about $75.

    I find this to be perfect for our needs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Has that happened more than once

    That's a nice looking carrier. Have you been rear-ended more than once by other drivers? Once would have been too many....

    Mark

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