Hitch Mounted Tire Carrier vs Full Rear Bumper – Which One’s Right for Your Build?

5th Gen 4Runner Rear Tire Carrier Options

Pictured: @outworldhq CBI Dual Swingout Bumper & @calrunr Rigd Ultra Swing

Full Replacement Rear Bumper Tire Swingout or Hitch Receiver Tire Carrier – Complete Overview for 5th Gen 4Runner

As we roll down the bumpy road of life, we’re all faced with critical decisions that define our paths, our future failures, and our successes. Should I stay in school or join a band? Fight or walk away? Boxers or briefs? But one of the biggest decisions most of us on our off-road journey face is, “should I go hitch carrier or full rear bumper?”

There are many things to consider when it comes to choosing which option is best for you in regards to a rear tire carrier. Price, weight, alteration, resale, availability, clearance, functionality, accessories, and aesthetics all vary depending on the style of the tire carrier.

Many of these items come down to personal preference, but nonetheless, should be looked over when the time comes to buy an aftermarket tire carrier.

The Hitch Carrier

5th Gen 4Runner Rigd Ultra Swing Rear Tire Carrier

I personally made the hitch carrier choice about two years ago.

At the time, I definitely felt like I was making the right decision, especially in the short term. It was cheaper, lighter, plugs right into the hitch receiver, and can be easily removed. There’s no cutting. Resale is pretty darn good. And the one I wanted, the Rigd Ultraswing, was actually available pretty much immediately.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Less Expensive
  • Accessory Mounting Options
  • Lead Times

Cons

  • Less Protection
  • No Added Clearance

Full Rear Bumper

C4 Fabrication Full Replacement Rear Bumper Swingout

Pictured: @dieppindots C4 Fabrication Dual Swingout Bumper

On the other hand, I’ve seen a few 4Runner owners go straight to the full rear bumper right off the showroom floor.

If you’ve built a rig before, know you’re really into this overland or off-road thing and have a chunk of change looking to change hands, this might be the right option for you. If you’re uncertain and looking for some help, then hopefully the subsequent words will help you make an informed decision.

Pros

  • More Protection
  • Added Ground Clearance
  • Accessory Mounted Options
  • Aesthetics

Cons

  • Lead Times
  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Price

Rigd Ultra Swing 5th Gen 4Runner Rear Tire Carrier

Pictured: @calrunr Rigd Ultra Swing

If you look across the available hitch mounted tire carriers (also known as “tire carriers” or “tire swing outs”), the UltraSwing is at the top end for price, but at $1299, it’s still quite a bit less than the price of a full rear bumper, at least the ones I’m considering.

Of course, I ended up adding a few accessories to my UltraSwing: the Frontrunner table and Rago molle panel, which at the time put the price with their Rambler discount, just under $1500. Powder Coating was and is still included with the UlstraSwing.

There are definitely cheaper hitch carrier options out there, and probably a shootout somewhere here on Trail4R.com, but I wanted a hitch carrier that completely cleared the rear hatch opening, and the ability to add a table, which to be honest, it’s the best thing about the hitch carrier. That, and being able to hang my trash bag and other accessories on the spare.

As for full bumpers, there is a wide range of quality options available and if you go that route, the decision is really about your taste and budget. For a price comparison, I’m going to stick with the bumper and single swing out, and skip all the goodies I’d want to add, and I’m sure you’ll want to add as well. I’d also go with the dual swing-out personally, but the UltraSwing is single, so probably the best apples-to-apples comparison.

C4 Fabrication

5th Gen 4Runner C4 Fabrication Rear Bumper

Pictured: @dieppindots C4 Fabrication Dual Swingout Bumper

The C4 Overland Series rear bumper starts at $1,749 and is $2,848 with the single swing-out option.

There’s no paint or powder coat available via C4, so add around $275 for comparison and the time to get it painted, etc. Total with a single swing and third-party powder coat would be around $3,123.

Find it Online

Brute Force Fab

Brute Force Fabrication Rear Bumper Swingout

Pictured: @supreme4runnin Brute Force Fab Dual Swingout

The Brute Force Fab Rear Bumper is the cheapest of the three in my consideration set. They don’t have a 4Runner bumper listed on their site, so to get the full details and place an order, you need to contact the owner directly. From what I hear, he’s great to deal with, but it’s best to connect through a past customer. Rather than an inconvenience, look at it as good old-fashioned word-of-mouth and customer service.

An Instagram friend shared a current price sheet, which has the base bumper at $1,175 with powder coat, and about $1,655 with short single swing-out (for the spare tire only), also powder coated. Just for reference, the price for the powder coat is about $285 and is included in the prices mentioned.

Find it Online

CBI Fabrication

CBI Fabrications Full Rear Bumper for 5th Gen 4Runner

Pictured: @outworldhq CBI Dual Swingout Bumper

The CBI starts at $2,399.99, and with single swing outs and powder coat, you hit $2,649. Honestly, this is the easiest of the three to buy. It’s like buying anything else, click to order and it’s shipped to you powder coated. (See Availability section below)

Find it Online

Alteration

MGM 5th Gen 4Runner Rigd Ultraswing

Pictured: @calrunr Rigd Ultra Swing

When I ordered my UltraSwing, I was pretty averse to cutting anything on the rig and didn’t want to alter the stock look of the bumpers any more than I had to. The hitch mounted tire carrier just mounts to the hitch receiver. Done. And the best thing about it? You can take it off, sell it and buy a full rear bumper when you realize that’s what you actually need to be a real “overlander” or “offroader”. Just kidding. Kind of. More on that later. 

As for the rear bumpers, they vary in terms of alteration to your vehicle. All require removal or destruction of your rear bumper. The C4 is a complete replacement. So, ultimately you can sell your OEM bumper or store it, and put it back on when you get tired of this whole off-road fad and want to downgrade to grocery-getter status – which is a huge benefit if you want to go back to “stock”.

Brute Force and CBI require cutting your stock bumper. Getting the cut perfect so the gaps between the bumper and plastic are minimal and straight might seem a bit scary. I’m full OCD, so this is part of why I opted to stay away from the full bumper originally. But, once you’ve cut your rig in a few places, you get more comfortable with the idea. Just remember to measure twice, cut once. When I did my slimline front bumper, it was more like measure seven times, cut very slowly one time. In terms of installation, the effort seems to be relatively equal, and the process, almost identical.

Weight

White 5th Gen 4Runner Brute Force Fab Rear Bumper

Pictured: @supreme4runnin Brute Force Fab Dual Swingout

With the addition of any large chunks of steel to the rig, there are consequences. As we build these behemoths, weight is easily forgotten, until you’re bogged down watching your lighter buddies pass you by on the highway. A little extra weight won’t kill you, but if you haven’t heard the phrase “death by a thousand cuts”, do some googling.

Some manufacturers offer aluminum options. In our shortlist, none list an aluminum option on their sites. Ask anyone that wheels and they’ll tell you, “if you wheel, go with steel”, which is more applicable to skids, but still relevant here.

The C4 weighs in at 235 pounds. CBI says theirs is 200 pounds, which due to it ending in two zeroes tells me it’s probably rounded down a little? Brute Force Fab doesn’t have the 4Runner bumper on their site, and no weight listed for a comparable Tacoma bumper. In a recent reviewhere, Kiel says the dual swing-out is around 230 pounds, so let’s assume the single is a little less and around 220 pounds? The Ultraswing is the clear winner here, weighing in at a lean, mean 65 pounds.

Resale

Rear Swingout Bumper 5th Gen 4Runner

Pictured: @asigiamchris Brute Force Fab dual swingout

I’ve yet to see anyone selling a used full rear bumper, and I’ve been on the lookout personally. I bet it happens, but not often. I can’t count the UltraSwings I’ve seen on @vilmontmarket and @overlandsupermarket. I don’t think this says anything bad about the UltraSwing, but rather, there’s a market for them, and they sell quickly. If you change your mind, you can sell it at a depreciation of about 10 to 20%, and just go without, or to full rear.

However, it’s not as easy to go the other direction once you’ve cut and committed with a full rear bumper. My guess… if you had a full rear to sell, it would go quickly, especially with the four to five-month lead time on a new one. Which takes us to…

Availability

5th Gen 4Runner Overland Build Rear Tire Swingout

Pictured: @outworldhq CBI Dual Swingout Bumper

CBI’s little lead time calculator thingy says steel bumpers are about 12+ weeks out. C4 says “please allow 15 weeks production time”. I have friends that say that Brute Force Fab has about a 16 week lead time. RIGd says the Ultraswing “lead time is currently 4-6 weeks from date of purchase.” Pick your poison. You’re gonna wait. But, looks like you can have a RIGd to hit the trails this summer.

Clearance

Hitch Mounted Rear Tire Carrier 5th Gen 4Runner

Pictured: @calrunr Rigd Ultra Swing

If you don’t actually want to “hit” the trails with your new booty, this is where the UltraSwing lags behind. I don’t feel like mine has hurt clearance too much compared to having nothing on the back, though it hasn’t given me better clearance that’s for sure. I have a Factor 55 recovery block locked into the hitch receiver that’s left its mark on rocks, up and down the Golden State.

Judging by looks and a bit of hearsay, the C4 and BFF probably have about the same clearance, though Kiel says of BFF: “They have the highest clearance bumper on the market to date, and it still retains factory mounting positions.”

The clearance on the CBI rear is likely similar, but the hitch receiver dips down in the middle vs. keeping the bumper straight across. So, you may lose a touch of clearance there.

Functionality

5th Gen 4Runer Overland Camp Stove on Tire Carrier

Pictured: @calrunr RIGd Ultra Swing

In terms of how they work (without getting into physics), hitch carriers and full bumpers all do a lot of the same things. They carry stuff, they give you a solid platform to hook up your winch or tow rope, you can plug things into the hitch hole, etc.

There’s probably loads of debate on latches and hinges, but they all seem to function similarly well. But in terms of how they open, this is where the hitch carrier differs. The RIGd opens to a full 180 degrees from its resting place. This might seem unnecessary, but when you’re opening drawers, cooking on your stove on your camp table, trying to face the sunset as it goes down, or angle out of the wind, this flexibility is essential.

The bumpers open to 90 to 110 degrees. It’s one of the biggest things that’s made me hesitant about going full bumper. I haven’t opened and closed all the bumpers on this list, in person. And until I do, I probably won’t make a switch.

Accessories

Accessories for 5th Gen 4Runner Rear Tire Swingout

Pictured: @dieppindots C4 Fabrication Dual Swingout Bumper

RIGd offers a mount for the Front Runner camp table and a mount for roto pax fuel or water cans as well. You can attach a Rago molle panel, that allows you to attach the camp table and other accessories. They sell a Maxtrax mounting kit for the rear tire and a backup camera relocation kit.

I believe they have a Hi-lift jack mount, but don’t see it on the site currently. There’s an anti-wobble hitch extension for your bike rack and a few other bits and bobs. All good stuff, but a little jam-packed onto a relatively small available mounting space.

Without going into a rear bumper shootout, which could easily happen when it comes to accessories, here’s an area where the clear choice is a full rear bumper. If you’re looking to add full-sized jerry cans, hi-lift jack, table, and Maxtrax (without strapping it to your spare), the full rear bumper makes it simple and relatively elegant. CBI and BFF have a similar offering of mounts, but I’ll save that comparison for another post.

Aesthetics

Brute Force Fab Rear Bumper for 5th Gen 4Runner

Pictured: @supreme4runnin Brute Force Fab Dual Swingout

Last but not least, how does the damn thing look? Of course, this is relatively subjective. And aesthetics are part of why I’ve limited the bumpers I’m writing about here. I’m sure I’ll get comments asking why I didn’t review Brand X, or Y, or Z. My answer… Limited time and resources. And… Aesthetics.

How does it look on the rig? How do the lines of the bumper or swing out to match the lines of the 4Runner that the designers thought through so carefully – the lines that caused us all to fall in love with it so much? I don’t want to obliterate those lines. I’d like to keep them as close to stock as possible, especially from the side. Or, at worst (or best) streamline them a bit.

The bumpers in the mix here do just that.

The C4 and BFF are straight across the bottom. Clean and simple.

The CBI hitch receiver dips in the middle. This could be a clearance issue, but for me, it’s something of an aesthetics issue. The nice thing about the CBI is that it seems to mount more cleanly to the remaining plastic at the bottom of the rear cargo compartment. Could just be some rubber trim provided? The other two seem to leave a gap. Correct me here, but that’s just what I’ve seen. The BFF and CBI have a bit sleeker look from the side.

The UltraSwing tucks into the rig pretty nicely. It’s slightly clunky and feels like an add-on (which it is), but replicates the full rear bumper aesthetic about as good as possible for something that’s removable. But beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. So, spend some time looking at a lot of pics, and take your pick. All are well designed and would look great on your rig. But that’s all just my opinion.

Final Thoughts

Rear Tire Carrier Options for 5th Gen 4Runner

Pictured: @dieppindots,@outworldhq,@calrunr,@supreme4runnin

It’s your rig. Build it your way.

I’ve been running the UltraSwing for two years now, and my overall experience has been a pretty good one. I loved adding the table and carrying a full spare in the rear. I’ve made a habit of attaching things to the spare to make up for my iKamper hogging the entire roof rack, and the minimal space on the UltraSwing for attaching gear.

It’s been a great product to show me what a full bumper can offer, without the financial or physical commitment of a full rear bumper. It also gave me time to see if I really wanted to do this overland thing, and I’m pretty sure I can sell it and go full rear (with a 4-5 month wait, hah!). But that’s just what it’s been for me. Something transitional. Once I had it on the rig, I pretty much knew it wasn’t permanent. Which is also one of its greatest benefits.

Overall, I’m ok with the route I went. I could second guess it, maybe I should have just went to a full rear right away. In looking at the rest of my rig… I could have also went 35’s right away, vs. 265 to 275 to 295, and to 35’s “soon”. But each of us has to go through our own process. Some dive straight into the deep end. Some wade into the shallows.

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Waleed
Waleed
3 months ago

Thank you for the great post. How does the rigid ultra swing do on the trail? is there any rattling or other noise issues? also, you mentioned that its a good winch or tow platform. Can you elaborate? Sounds untrustworthy given the moving parts. Thank you for your feedback!

Mario
Mario
3 months ago

Thanks for a very detailed comparison between a full bumper and UltraSwing. I’m relatively a noob and only very recently ordered a ’21 4R TRD Pro. I’m currently doing research on the type of build; slimline front bumper, roof racks, drawer system and of course rear bumper modes. Your review just confirmed my concerns about weight/cost (not to mention lead-times) issues going with a full bumper… I’ve shortlisted Rgd even before I read your post– you just strengthened my belief that UltraSwing is the way to go (while I test the shallow waters of over-landing) when I get my truck. Cheers! ✌️👍🇨🇦

Wayne
Wayne
4 months ago

I’ve had the ongoing battle in my mind for over a year now. I went back and forth. The thing that put me off the Ultraswing was by the time you add the table, plate holder and a few bits it’s around $2000.
I’m not spending that on something someone could steal easily. So I’m biting the bullet and going full rear.

I would add don’t take the current listed production times as gospel. I have had a full front aluminium bumper on order with CBI since last September. Was told it was coming April. Still waiting. I think the rear will be coming from C4.

Last edited 4 months ago by Wayne
Brenan Greene
Admin
Scout
4 months ago

I like the RIGd UltraSwing because it’s light, you can take it off anytime, and they offer a shit-ton of add-ons for it. If you want to shed some lbs for a month or two, just take it off. For the weight-conscious people out there looking to camp, wheel, and explore – RIGd is the way to go. I am not going to lie though, the C4 rear bumper looks amazing, packs a ton of mod-focused features, and offers awesome clearance – I just can’t imagine stacking another 200+ lbs on my ass right now. I think once I 3-link my next 4Runner and start crawling the rubicon I will go with a rear bumper, until then I think I’m sticking with RIGd. But, one thing is certain, these rigs always change and idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

raphael jube
raphael jube
4 months ago

Great review, thanks for this! I just installed the ultra swing and this helps with some of the questions I have about going full bumper. Also, they do offer the HiJack Mount, it’s very solid. Great job again

bren westerland
bren westerland
4 months ago

Great post! I have been going back and forth on this same topic for a long while now!

I know you said you were limited on time for posting this, would have love a few the more nerdy details. But thats kinda my planning OCD as well.

Things like:

Rough MPG number in weight comparison. For example read of someone going from slimline front bumper to a full front bumper lost on average 1-2mpgs.

Not just clearance, but total length. Rig’d has an illustration showing their carrier sits 7″ from the 4runner logo to the start of the tire.. so add the width of the tire and now you get total added length. Where as I’ve found that Detours of Maine carrier sits about 3.5″ from the logo to the start of the tire. How does that compare to full bumper tire carriers.

Hope others can chime in cause I love all the brainstorming and collecting as much information as possible.

Thank you for your time creating this post!

bobby
bobby
4 months ago

I love my Rig’d – but I have to say that aesthetically – that Gap is HUGE – between the carrier and the rear hatch. I would prefer something adjustible like Detours of Maine – but their process was longer and not as streamlined. The adjustibiliy would be nice for both looks and if needed more space behind it. I have actually mounted my traction boards and the slight fill make it look better. Also note – Rig’d does say that there are certain vibrations that are accepitble here. I don’t love it – as at about 35-45mph, the back end gets a little bouncy.

Dan
Dan
3 months ago
Reply to  bobby

I have a love/hate relationship with my Rigd. Total agreement in that I was shocked by how large of a gap there was. To the point where I need to be conscious when I park of how far out the swing in protruding. I was very excited to add the camp table, but it gets so muddy and dusty that its hardly not worth using if you have to tote water just to clean it. The license plate relocation without lights and also the loss of my rear view camera was another setback. I did purchase the relocation kit for the camera, but am not convinced I am going to continue using it. I’ve had it now for a year, but still having a hard time thinking it was the right decision.

Last edited 3 months ago by Dan
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