stowawayback

Second thoughts about the StowAway2 cargo box

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I love the extra storage space that our StowAway2 swing away cargo box provides on our Roadtrek eTrek but now am conflicted about whether I made the right choice in buying it.

It is a great cargo container that mounts securely in the two-inch hitch at the back of the eTrek and the 16 cubic feet of storage that lets us load up to 200 pounds of stuff into its 51 inch tall by 23 inch wide by 26 inch tall box is great for extended trips.

stowawayback

The StowAway2 Max on the back of our Roadtrek eTrek after we bought in last winter

But if you also like to bicycle, you have to leave those bikes behind.

Despite a lot of talk on the Internet that StowAway2 had a solution that let you use the box and also attach a bike rack to it I discovered today in a call to the company that there is no such solution because it puts too much stress on the hitch and “just doesn’t make sense from an engineering standpoint.”

So for us,  it’s either/or – Either take the box and leave the bikes home or bring the bikes and leave the box home.

The StowAway2 representative I talked to said some customers added a trailer hitch to the front of their vehicle and carried bikes that way. But the wear and tear and road grime, not to mention bug debris, that such a front-mounted bike rack would deposit on the bikes makes that idea a no starter from my point of view.

Two foldup bikes in a StowAway2 cargo box, from their website

Two foldup bikes in a StowAway2 cargo box, from their website

Some have suggested we invest in  fold-up bikes. Indeed, the StowAway2 box would hold two fold-ups. At east they show that on their website.

We’re a little more hard core bikers than what those little wheels on the foldups would allow. We like mountain biking on trails in some pretty rough terrain.

My friend Tim Mallon from Canada sent along a link to a Canadian company  called nicova that makes a cargo box similar to the StowAway2 but has a two-bike rack attached to the top of the box. It holds less cargo than the StoawAway2 (about 100 pounds instead of 200) but it looks like it holds the bikes quite well.

Here’s a video, in French, of their Vélo Combo 101 system:

Looks perfect to me.

The downside to that is the nicova system costs $2,095 (Canadian) and they do not ship to the U.S. (if they did, it would cost several hundred dollars more.) But you can go to their southwestern Quebec factory and buy direct.

So, while I love the StowAway2 Max, I have strong second thoughts about the purchase I made. I hate having to leave the bikes behind.

 


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  • Don

    I use a dual hitch adapter ( purchased online for about $70) ; I have a standard cargo tray attached to that with two large totes on top. My bike rack attaches to the top adapter hole and I can mount four bikes. We took it to Yellowstone from Michigan and back and had no issues at all. The whole rig is mounted on the rear of a 29′ 1994 coachmen motorhome with standard tow hitch, frame mounted. I do strap the bikes to the bumper as well and installed eyebolts in the bumper after that trip to ease the process. This is to reduce any bounce. The totes are not readily accessible while travelling because of lid clearance but for us, not an issue.

  • Campskunk

    the tradeoff on the stowaway is that it has to be mounted just so because of the swingaway design torquing the heck out of the receiver when swung out. imagine a 250 pound weight out on the end of a four foot pole, and you’ll get an idea of the stress put on the receiver, which is just a 2 by 2 inch rectangular hole in the hitch. extending the stowaway out further behind to leave room for a bike rack puts all this weight a half dozen feet behind the rear axle – VERY bad for handling and rear tire load.

  • Judi

    Let us know what you find

  • Tim

    As I said, Mike, the Quebec model is the only one I’ve found that combines box and bikes effectively…weight wise and aesthetically. It’s worth the investment if it becomes a regular part of your expeditions. We’re thinking of stopping at the Quebec factory on way out East in September. Your invitation still stands. :)

  • Randall

    Any second thoughts about rving in the B? For less money and same length as B with box could have B+ with room for stuff and bikes too.

  • Bart Stone

    I purchased a standard SwingAway March 24, 2014 with bike rack and lid rack and it works great. The largest of the cargo carriers does not accommodate the bike rack. Let’s see 12cf plus bike rack vs 16cf without bike rack. No brainier. Manufacture installed it for me in 10 minutes in Oregon and I was on my way. Air bags set right and newly installed sway bar to replace sprinter original and NO problems. Wife complains however when I strap her to the lid rack….

  • David

    We also use a dual hitch adapter. We have a 5 bike (2 adult bikes and 3 kid bikes) Thule rack on top and a tray on the bottom.

    Also check with Aluminess (I think I have the spelling correct). They do the off road bumpers for the E-350 Ford / 3500 Chevy Sportsmobiles. They also make bumpers for Sprinters. There is a nice rear box on a swing away arm that you can mount a rack and bikes on top of.

  • Betsy

    If you had it to do over, any idea what you would do? We are preparing to go full time in our B, and while I’d love the space of a big cargo pod, the bikes are a priority for us too. I’m thinking about the Stowaway bike rack / cargo rack combo. We could put both bikes on one side and pile gear high on the other side. The gear would need to be bagged up to keep out rain and road grime. Not ideal, but ticks a lot of boxes. Thoughts?

  • Davydd

    Let’sGoAero Gearspace 34 hitch cargo carrier is designed for carrying two full size bicycles. It is 34 cubic feet and telescopes back rather than swing away enough to get the back doors open on a Sprinter. It also comes with fold down landing gear so you can mount and dismount the carrier and roll it away. Bikes leave a lot of “air” around them so other stuff can be stored.