Cargo box solution for #vanlife camping

Most reputable sources predict that this summer, most Americans will opt to travel by car instead of air, with a big uptick in road trip travel once it’s safe to do so. To kick off the start of the summer travel season, with hopes that travel will soon be part of our plans again, I tested out Thule’s Transporter Combi hitch-mounted cargo box.

For me, this is the summer of #vanlife (I hope!), during which I’ll be traveling and camping in a Westfalia camper van. While it’s possible to mount a roof-mounted cargo box on a Westy, it significantly increases the weight of the camper pop-top, so I opted for Thule’s hitch-mounted version.

The Transporter Combi comes with everything you need to get going, and I was able to install it on my hitch with my partner in a matter of about two hours. (I’m sure some can install it faster than that!) I love that the cargo box tilts down for partial access to the rear of the van; the tilt feature also makes it easier to get heavy items out of the cargo box. I also love that we don’t need any ladders or step stools to get gear out when we get to our campsite or destination!

The cargo box comes pre-wired with tail lights (4 pin) and a license plate adapter (with light). It installs into 2 inch and 1 1/4 inch receivers with no additional adapters or tools needed.

Like many Thule boxes, the lock system is designed for safety (and is idiot proof!): the key can only be removed if all the locking points are closed and secure, so there’s no chance of driving away and having the box lid fly open. You get two keys, so now we have one on the van key chain and the other stashed away just in case.

You get 13 cubic feet inside (dimensions are 50.5 x 23.5 x 24.5 in). It’s so roomy! We joked that we could put the teenaged kids inside. The weight of the box is 55 pounds and the capacity is 150 pounds. We use ours to store those bulky items that don’t pack well into the back of the van, such as firewood, the portable bathroom, and the material for our awning…nothing too heavy, but certainly bulky.

We had no trouble with weight or driving the Westy with this cargo box, though if you have a similar van, keep in mind that the engine is also in the back, which can mean you need to balance the weight be placing heavier items inside the van near the front.

During our close-to-home camping trip, we used the cargo box even once it was unloaded, storing dirty laundry, dishes, and garbage away in a secure location.

The Transporter Combi is $679 on the Thule site, and as of this posting, their operations are going so you shouldn’t have any delay in ordering and receiving. Enjoy the #vanlife!

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Amy Whitley is a freelance creative and travel writer and founding editor of the family travel website Pit Stops for Kids. An avid lover of the outdoors, Amy makes her home in Southern Oregon, where she, her husband, and three school-aged children spend much of their time backpacking, camping, skiing, and hiking. When not exploring her own backyard, Amy and her family hit the road for travel reviews of resorts, tour operations, and hotels across the country and abroad. Follow Amy Whitley on Twitter and Facebook.

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