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Best towbar-mounted storage boxes and racks 2024

We round up six of the best ways to put your load-carrying troubles behind you

Most drivers who want to increase the storage capacity of their car will look up to a roof box. But SUVs are rising in popularity, and a rack or box on top of a tall car will be tough to reach and might make it impossible to drive into height-restricted car parks or ferries. Trailers are an alternative, but they’re tricky to manoeuvre and restrict your speed.

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A lesser-known option is a tow bar carrier, which mounts on a standard trailer hitch. On the one hand, these can be simple platforms which allow you to carry a bale of hay or bag of garden waste to the tip. But on the other, there are lockable boxes which can become a weatherproof extension of your boot on a vacation trip. 

We tested six, covering a huge range of price points, to see which offered the best combination of flexible load lugging and value.

How we tested them

With such a wide spread of prices, we ranked the carriers on value, taking into account their features, and noting how easy they are to store, fit and use. Versatility was also key, so those which could convert to bike carriers or open platforms would gain extra points. 

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We also expected the makers to allow some way of easily opening the boot with the carrier fitted. Finally we scored the boxes on carrying capacity by volume and weight. 

Reviews:

CRUZ Apex System

  • Capacity: 50kg/400 litres 
  • Price: Around £280 + £194.95
  • Rating: 5 stars 
  • Website: roofbox.co.uk

There are two parts to the CRUZ Apex System: a base frame and then a 400-litre box. The Tailo platform is a tubular metal frame incorporating the light board and tow-bar mount mechanism, which can be used on its own to carry big or mucky loads, or combined with a bike rack. It has a foot-operated tilting mechanism too, allowing you to open most estate and hatchback tailgates without having to unload. But it won’t go far enough to work with vans.

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Bolt on the 400-litre Apex lockable box and you will add the luggage capacity of a small hatchback. It’s not the easiest to store, but it’s tough and waterproof.

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BUZZ RACK Buzzpro P10

  • Capacity: 75kg 
  • Price: Around £175
  • Rating: 4 stars 
  • Website: roofbox.co.uk

We love the sheer simplicity and comparatively low price of the Buzzpro. Instead of having a box, there is just a sturdy metal base and an upright support. 

Using the straps provided, it makes it simple to carry loads which you wouldn’t mind being open to the elements, such as hay bales or rubbish on a tip run. The base has a huge 75kg capacity too. 

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Its pared-back nature means there is no tipping mechanism, so you’ll need to unload and remove the upright before you can open the boot. There are also no electrics, so you will need to add a light board if your rear lamps are obstructed.

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Westfalia BC60 + Transport Box

The basis of the Westfalia combination is a twin cycle carrier, which is clever in itself, because it folds to make storing it easier. If you want to carry cargo rather than bikes, you simply clip the box on top instead, creating 200 litres of extra space. That’s around half the amount of some of the other boxes in this test, but the lid can be removed if you want to carry taller items. 

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This is the third most expensive unit here and as you’d expect at this price, there’s a tilting mechanism to make it easier to access the boot. We also love the wheels, which allow the box to be moved around like a suitcase. 

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TowBox V3

  • Capacity: 50kg/400 litres 
  • Price: Around £975
  • Rating: 4 stars 
  • Website: roofbox.co.uk

At a price which nearly tips into four figures, the TowBox needs to have some special features to justify the investment. And it does. The 400-litre box not only tilts like most of the rivals here, but can also slide to fit snugly over the towbar and cut the overall length. Alternatively, it will move away from the car to allow for easier boot access. It also means it will fit on 4x4s with a boot-mounted spare.

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We love the built-in trolley wheels, too, because they allow you to move the box around single-handedly when it’s not mounted on the tow ball. It’s just as well, because the mounting mechanism is built into the box, making it heavy. 

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BUZZ RACK Twinbuzz

  • Capacity: 60kg 
  • Price: Around £395
  • Rating: 3.5 stars   
  • Website: roofbox.co.uk

If you regularly carry bicycles as well as a load, then the versatility of the Twinbuzz may appeal – especially because it is no more expensive than other carriers that can only hold bikes. 

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The beauty of the modular system is that it can be used in three ways: as a two or four-bike rack, a load-carrying platform, or a mix of the two, taking a pair of bikes and some luggage.

There are plenty of built-in straps, and the package includes a waterproof dry bag that’s part of the TwinBuzz bundle. It all works well enough, but there’s no tilt mechanism. This means you’ll need to unload the box to open your boot.

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Thule Arcos M

  • Capacity: 50kg/300 litres 
  • Price: Around £1,150
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Website: roofbox.co.uk

Like all Thule products, the Arcos is a classy piece of kit which is beautifully made and stylish. In this case the design has been optimised to make the Arcos as aerodynamic as possible, to help preserve the range on electric cars or save fuel.

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This means it is lower and flatter than the rivals here, at 480mm high, which might limit what you can carry. However, as a result, you should be able to open most boots and hatches without needing a complicated tilt mechanism. 

But we can’t ignore the Thule’s hefty price. Unless you are using it regularly, it’ll be cheaper to rent a bigger car for a few trips than invest in the Thule.

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Verdict:

If you have the space to store it, then the CRUZ Apex System can be used as a bike rack, a load platform, or to offer a huge amount of well protected space inside the box. At half the price of most of its rivals, it’s our best buy. If the price or box are still too hefty and you don’t need an enclosed cabinet, then the BUZZ RACK Buzzpro P10 is simple to use and easy to store. The final podium place goes to the Westfalia BC60. It’s not cheap, but it is versatile, easy to handle and much simpler to store when not being used. 

  1. CRUZ Apex System
  2. BUZZ RACK Buzzpro P10
  3. Westfalia BC60 + Transport Box

If you'd rather store items on the roof, click here to discover the best roof boxes you can buy...

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