By Mike Schoby
Coming back from an elk hunt, I recently saw a Suburban with not only a roof top cargo box, but a hitch hauler with a huge tote lashed to it. As I passed, I expected to see the vehicle crammed full of a large Mormon family, but it was only a guy and his lady.
It made me smile.
It is a testament to being American that we have the biggest trucks and SUVs in the world, but we still need a hitch hauler to transport gear. God bless the USA!
I can’t cast stones, I too have used hitch haulers for years, toting everything from coolers of beer to blood-dripping deer carcasses. They worked ok for a while, but they all are pretty much pieces of shit that don’t last more than a few years. Poor construction over bad finishes on steel result in wobbly carriers that eventually snap welds and rust out bottoms. Go to any big box retailer and I dare you to find one made anywhere other than China—unless you find a PAKMULE.
Made in the United States of Texas, they are perfectly designed and precisely built out of 100% aluminum. PAKMULE has taken the ubiquitous throw-away hitch haulers and made them heirloom quality.
I have been testing an Original Pro model all fall. A 1,000 mile road trip to Canada, loaded with cases of Fiocchi bismuth shotshells and limits of dead cranes, to big game hunts in Montana with moose quarters strapped down. High speed highways to crawling on rough two track—through it all that PAKMULE has proven bombproof.
There are a couple of key takeaways that separate this unit from the rest. One is strength—utilizing a full length 2” bar stock from the hitch all the way under the tray gives it a 650-pound weight rating. This is not to be taken lightly. I once shook my head at someone’s stupidity as I watched a cooler bounce down the highway. Then I realized it was mine. A critical weld on a Chinese made hauler broke and dumped the entire tray at 75 mph.
Another point for PAKMULE is versatility. Everything in life is a damned compromise, so PAKMULE tried to make its racks as multifunctional as possible. The tray can be outfitted with add-on items like bike carriers and steps and surf rod holders—making it work for multiple applications.
Another benefit is stability. Most racks just utilize the hitch pin to secure it in place, which means most racks wobble side to side several inches. The PAKMULE has a unique pin with screw threads and a sleeve arrangement that, when tightened down, eliminates all wobble.
The final thing I like about the PAKMULE is it just looks great. The metal is perfectly cut and bent. The TIG welds are works of art and the overall product is of a quality you can spot at a distance.
As I mentioned, I’ve got the Original Pro model but PAKMULE offers other models like the Ridgeline for a higher departure angle for serious off roading and the Scout with lower side walls for clearance of a Jeep’s swing-out rear door. My unit is in brushed Aluminum, but PAKMULE also now offers matte black. I’m not sure which look I like better. They make a cool wall bracket for garage wall storage when not in use, so maybe I’ll buy a matte black model as well and hang it in the garage.
Nothing says American largess like owning two hitch haulers.
Pros: Simply put, these are the most well-made, high quality hitch haulers in existence. A huge bonus is that it is made in the USA.
Con: They are not cheap, but you won’t have to replace it every few years like a Chinese POS.
Editor’s Note: If you want to see a PAKMULE in person, swing by their booth (#172) this week at Dallas Safari Club.