Elevate Outdoor Aluminum Tray Premium Cargo Carrier Review and Overview
While we all can agree, the Toyota 4Runner is a great offroad vehicle and a versatile platform for camping, off-roading, and daily use. One limitation it does have is cargo room. While the interior space is quite large for an SUV of this size, sometimes it just isn’t enough.
There are lots of options for roof racks that can add cargo capacity, but some objects are too large or heavy to get onto the roof easily. For a simple way to add more cargo capacity when I needed it, I went with a hitch-mounted cargo carrier and this one from Discount Ramps definitely fit the bill.
What Exactly is it?
The Elevate Outdoor Cargo Tray is a simple basket with a slide-in receiver hitch that allows you to quickly add a loading platform to carry more cargo. The tray is 48” x 21.75” (interior tray dimensions) and is made from extruded aluminum making it very stiff while only weighing 30 lbs. The tray utilizes a steel 2” tube with braces to attach the aluminum tray to your receiver hitch.
While it only weighs 30 lbs, the Elevate Outdoor tray has a capacity of 550 lbs. The design has short sides around the perimeter of the tray to contain your cargo while the aluminum slat design lets water drain easily. The slatted design allows you to easily attach straps and cables to retain your cargo.
Find it Online
- Elevate Outdoor Aluminum Tray Premium Cargo Carrier: Check Price
How to Choose the Right Cargo Basket for Your Needs
If you look on the Discount Ramps Website, you will find a ton of options for cargo baskets. When choosing a cargo basket, you need to consider how much capacity you need; both size and weight. Some models have a very high weight capacity but you must keep in mind that your vehicle may not be able to handle this much tongue weight.
Also, consider the weight of the basket itself when you look at the tongue weight capacity of your vehicle. You should also consider handling and storing the basket when not in use, large and heavy baskets may pose a challenge when it comes to finding a place to store them.
Finally, you need to decide if you want additional features like whether it will fold up against the tailgate, or if it has a side loading ramp, or if it has high walled sides.
Prior to getting the Elevate Outdoor Aluminum Tray, I had one of the folding steel versions. Having the cargo tray was a great benefit when going on long trips but at roughly 70 lbs, the steel basket was a pain to attach to the truck and to store in my garage. The steel version was larger at a full 2’ x 5’ which meant it could hold a lot but made maneuvering in tight parking lots a challenge. Also, because it had a folding mechanism to allow it to fold up against the tailgate, it stuck out several inches more than a standard basket.
By comparison, the Elevate Outdoor tray is much lighter at only 30 lbs. It is not a folding type which means it sits only about 6” from the bumper. It is smaller than my previous steel basket, but it fits my gear easily, and because it’s much narrower than my 4Runner I will not have to worry as much about it hitting another car when maneuvering a tight parking lot.
Unboxing, First Impression, Assembly
Opening the box, we find the Elevate Outdoor tray is shipped in 2 large pieces. The basket portion comes prefabricated from aluminum and the hitch mount is prefabricated from steel and has 2 gussets that mount to the basket.
The hardware is a simple bolt and square nut design. The square head nuts slide into the preformed channels in the basket’s aluminum framework and the bolts attach to these nuts. I added a bit of Loctite to be sure that the bolts never vibrated loose.
Assembly only took about 10 minutes and once put together the basket is very solid and looks very nice. The size and weight make it much easier to store than my old steel tray. The square steel tubing that is used for the receiver hitch is thinner than what you normally find with this type of accessory but is still very strong. The square tubing fits much tighter than the standard 2” square tubing most other manufacturers use.
I was surprised how snug it fit in the hitch receiver. In fact, it fits so snug that a simple hitch pin is all I needed. Previously I have had to use stabilizers and special threaded hitch pins to hold accessories tight in the receiver hitch.
Tools and Materials
Camping Trip Impressions
I had a camping trip planned around the time the Elevate Outdoor tray was arriving. I was fortunate to get it shipped in time to utilize it for this trip. The inside of my 4Runner was stuffed full of food and clothes for a family of 5. I attached the cargo tray to my hitch and loaded up my rolling storage box onto the tray. The box fit perfectly and there was still almost a foot of width remaining that could be used for other gear such as a fuel can, small generator, chainsaw, etc.
I have found this rolling toolbox is useful for many purposes and it works perfectly with this tray. When I need it for work it keeps all my tools together in one place and I can easily roll it to where I am working. For camping I utilize it for carrying camping gear I do not want in my 4Runner (or can’t fit) such as propane cylinders, firewood, and charcoal. On trips to the beach, it has served me well hauling beach toys, chairs, and other items which are usually wet and covered in sand.
For this trip, I used it to haul 4 days’ worth of firewood, charcoal, and lighter fluid since these are all items I would rather not have inside my 4Runner. All together the box with gear was close to 200lbs, way under the 550lb capacity of the tray.
The spacing between the slats in the tray gave me ample room to run straps around the cargo box and secure it to the tray. After several hours on the highway, there was no movement or noise from the tray or cargo box strapped to it. At the campground, I pulled off the cargo box and rolled it to my spot while carrying the basket. Obviously, this was much better than making a separate trip to lug a 70+ lb. steel tray.
- Convenient size that fits what I need while still being small enough to store easily.
- Lightweight. 30lb weight makes it very easy to install and very easy to store on a shelf or even hang on the wall out of the way.
- The aluminum basket will not rust or require a touch-up.
- 550 lb. capacity. This capacity is as much as most steel units and is more than you will ever need on the back of your 4Runner.
- Well made, tight-fitting steel hitch receiver tube.
- Does not fold up like some other designs.
- This was not a big deal for me. The only time I folded up my steel basket was to keep from having to remove it and carry it somewhere to store. This one is so light I can quickly take it off and store it in my garage, campsite, or hotel room when not in use.
- Size – The 48” x 21.75” size is on the smaller end of the options that Discount Ramps offers and it may not work for everyone.
- For me, I would rather this smaller size to make it easier to maneuver through parking lots. The only item that I cannot put into this basket is a 12’ x 12” canopy tent that is slightly longer than 4’ long when it is packed up. It easily fits on my steel basket but will not fit into this one. I still make it work and it sits on the perimeter rails of the basket and I must secure it with a couple of extra straps to make sure it does not move but it has not been an issue at all.
Overall, the Elevate Outdoor tray was a great edition and made carrying extra cargo a lot easier. During our camping trip, we headed to a nearby fishing spot and we decided to throw our gear in the cargo box and put it on the rack to head out for a day of fishing. With my prior steel basket, I would not have bothered going through the backbreaking effort of mounting it for this short trip. Now, with the aluminum tray, it is so simple I can take it on and off in no time.
We used it for our fishing trip and when we returned to our camp spot, we took it back off until it was time to head home. The ride home was with a mostly empty cargo box, save for a few remaining pieces of firewood and ½ bag of charcoal.