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A Beginner's Guide to Buying Hitch

A Beginner's Guide to Buying Hitch

Whether you need to haul a trailer for a move to a new home or are towing the boat to the lake for a weekend on the water, you're going to need a sturdy hitch. They're built in various classes to handle everything from light to heavy-duty loads. Take stock of the gear you need to tow and use that along with this guide to pick the best model for your vehicle. Soon you'll be hauling gear like a pro.

Types of Hitches

Class 1 Hitches

A class 1 hitch is ideal for carrying lightweight equipment. This model can typically be mounted on compact cars, standard passenger vehicles and light SUVs or pickup trucks.

Weights Limits...

  • Gross trailer weight - Up to 2,000 pounds 
  • Tongue weight - Up to 200 pounds

What does it haul?

  • Bicycles - This type of hitch can mount a rear bike rack so you don't have to wedge your bicycle in the car.
  • Cargo boxes - When you're making a brief trip over the weekend, a class 1 hitch can carry various cargo boxes. That way, you can haul all your necessary items without cluttering the vehicle's interior.


Shop all class 1 hitches

class 1 hitches

class 2 hitches

Class 2 Hitches

Use a class 2 hitch to transport light recreational equipment. This hitch mounts to mid- to large-size passenger vehicles, vans, SUVs and light or heavy-duty pickup trucks.

Weight Limits...

  • Gross trailer weight - Up to 3,500 pounds
  • Tongue weight - Up to 350 pounds

What does it haul?

  • Small boats - If you're taking a short fishing trip, then consider hauling a small boat with a class 2 hitch. This type of hitch can typically carry a boat as long as 20 feet or a trailer approximately 10 feet long.
  • Recreational vehicles - Whether you're hauling ATVs to the terrain or transporting your motorcycle to storage, a class 2 model can handle these small recreational vehicles.

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Class 3 Hitches

A class 3 hitch is widely recognized as a versatile hitch because it can haul both light and heavy-duty items. This option should only be mounted on SUVs, vans and both light and heavy duty pickup trucks.

Weight Limits...

  • Gross trailer weight - Up to 8,000 pounds 
  • Tongue weight - Up to 800 pounds

What does it haul?

  • Large boats - This model can carry a heavy fishing boat that seats multiple people. This hitch should also be able to handle all the extra gear you need for your time on the water.
  • Medium-sized trailers - You should be able to haul a fair amount of construction materials, large home appliances and other items back and forth in an average-sized trailer. Make sure that your cargo doesn't exceed 8,000 pounds.

Shop all class 3 hitches

class 3 hitches

class 4 hitches

Class 4 Hitches

A class 4 hitch carries heavy accessories and gear. This model should be mounted on light or heavy-duty pickup trucks.

Weight Limits...

  • Gross trailer weight - Up to 10,000 pounds 
  • Tongue weight - Up to 1,000 pounds

What does it haul?

  • Items too heavy for a class 3 hitch - A class 4 hitch handles more weight than a class 3 hitch and is designed to evenly distribute the load. Anytime you have equipment that exceeds 8,000 pounds, you should use a class 4 model.
  • Mid-size campers - If you take small camping trips from time to time, a class 4 hitch can come in handy. It's able to haul mid-size campers in and out of storage without a hassle.

Shop all class 4 hitches

Class 5 Hitches

A class 5 hitch carries very large accessories or vehicles. This type of hitch is typically installed on heavy-duty SUVs and pickup trucks or large cargo vans.

Weight Limits...

  • Gross trailer weight - Up to 12,000 pounds
  • Tongue weight - Up to 1,200 pounds

What does it haul?

  • Large RVs - It can be a hassle hauling a king-size RV. Fortunately, most class 5 hitches should be able to tow one back and forth easily.
  • Horse or livestock trailers - If you own a farm and need to transport livestock, this model can help carry a trailer full of show horses or any other animals.

Shop all class 5 hitches

class 5 hitches

gooseneck hitch

Gooseneck & Fifth Wheel Hitches

These specialty hitches are designed for extraordinary weight. Both a gooseneck and fifth-wheel model should be attached to heavy-duty pickup trucks only.

Gross Trailer Weight Limits...

  • Fifth-wheel hitch - Up to 24,000 pounds 
  • Gooseneck hitch - Between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds

What do they haul?

  • Hefty equipment - If you're someone that consistently hauls large livestock trailers, RVs or boats that weigh this much, consider a gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch.
  • Heavy duty pickup trucks - Both fifth wheel and gooseneck hitches are designed solely for heavy duty pickup trucks. Their attachments are installed inside a pickup flatbed.

Shop gooseneck & fifth wheel hitches