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No roof rack, how to haul gear?

My 97 Odyssey has no roof rack or other means to easily store camping gear on the outside. My family of 5 won’t be able to store all we need inside for a week in New Hampshire. Any devices out there to allow easy roof or rear bumper transport of gear when there is no external means of mounting? I don’t want to tie something on the roof through the windows. I thought I have seen Odyssey’s with a rear bike rack and maybe there is something similar for gear?

You can purchase a rack that slips into a standard trailer hitch receiver.

I’ve not sure how much gear you need to carry with your but this is one choice.

If you don’t have a receiver hitch you’d need to get one of those installed first. Probably looking about a couple of hundred $$$ for the hitch and about $100 for the rack.

Do they still make car top carriers? We had one we bought from Sears that clamped to the top of the door openings. Of course if you don’t have doors on both sides (rear doors not the front doors) this may not work for you. Do cars even come with rain gutters to clamp to anymore?

See if Thule or Yakima make roof racks for your van (I would think they do). But I’d prefer Bisbonian’s receiver hitch solution, if that works. Just know it’s good for bulky items, just don’t put too much weight on it.

There is no rain gutter on the van but maybe there is a roof system that would clamp between the door and the roofline? Putting on a hitch and buying a rack would run about $500. I was hoping to find something cheaper or used as we won’t be doing this that often.

Will this work???

Both the Yakima and Thule web sites list roof racks for your Ody. They aren’t cheap ($300-$400), but they’re very high quality. No gutters needed, most cars don’t have them these days.

Here’s a much cheaper option, it would clip to the door opening:

FWIW, I had U-Haul install a Class II hitch for about $160 (including both the hitch and installation cost) without the wiring hardware, which was about the same cost as buying the hitch online.

U-Haul hitches are made by Draw-tite…

Draw-tite or Reese are the only hitches I’ll buy.

The cheap rooftop devices are tempting but as we wish to also put a bike rack on this car, perhaps it pays to get a hitch installed and then purchase a hitch mounted cargo rack. I don’t know hitches but Patrick recommended Uhaul. Is there any choices in mounting hitches or is it a one size fits all sort of operation?

Then definitely go with a hitch and a hitch bike rack, I went from a roof rack to a hitch rack, much easier to use. As for the receiver size, I don’t know, I think you can get racks to fit either size. Try and see what kind of rack are available and which size receiver they use. Many work for both.

I’d shy away from u-Haul for the installation work. I will admit I’ve only seen a dozen or so installations done by them, but every one just cut into the wiring harness (for the trailer adapter), and used those little blue clips to connect the wiring. That just leaves a rust and failure point for your electrics (which i had to repair on two of them).

Try a boating place. They tend to do better jobs. They may be a tad more expensive, but for a better job, IMO, it’s worth it. They install it designed to be dunked in water, so it will be a more water tight seal. As Mike said, U-Haul sells good hitches, but so do many places. You can call around and get a quote or two, with a hitch supplied by them, and a hitch supplied by you.


Texases is right; go to someone place like and price out your options. If you want to transport 4 bikes, you should get at least a class 2 hitch and may have a wider range of choices for the transport devices if you select a 2-inch receiver.

Get a Class III receiver…Far more options…And a class III receiver can always receive a add-on that’s class II (they make adapters).

OK, you convinced me. I’ll get the hitch. The shop is telling me that my Odyssey takes only a 1 1/4" hitch but that I can use an adapter to bring it to 2". That sound right to you? Of course, I’m never going to be hauling a trailer, just using it for a cargo carrier or a bike rack.

What the shop is telling you is that the Odyssey is only rated for Class II towing (1 1/4"). But there’ no reason you can’t install a Class III receiver (2").

Personally I’d get the Class III…but that’s just me.,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1543&bih=1019&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=13899688232237872105&sa=X&ei=zIsUTuOtO7Su0AGE1NCJBQ&ved=0CGQQ8wIwAw

When I went looking for an adapter to 2", the store suggested I have them weld the adapter to the 1 1/4 opening. Maybe that is the best solution if they feel uncomfortable in finding me a 2" hitch. But I’ll ask them again tomorrow.

If you’re only wanting to carry bikes and a cargo box, I’d go with the Class II/1 1/4" hitch. I would NOT do any welding, bad welds can break, and welds tend to corrode.

OK, I’ll stick with the 1.25" hitch for now and see how stable the adapter + bike rack or cargo carrier is.

You don’t need to weld a 1 1/4" adapter. It’ll just fit in the 2" opening and then you just put the pin in.

The hitch is on! Now to buy a cargo carrier. However, it occurs to me that I’m going to be obscuring the license plate if I pile on any significant junk. That can’t be legal. What have others done? Can I buy a plate holder and attach that to the hitch so it can be seen by the police? And then place it back on the car when I arrive and unpack? Put the plate in the back window for the trip? Anyone know what is legal?