Getting one flat tire leaves you without a spare tire, unless the flat can be plugged in a roadside repair. If not, well, get a second flat and you'll be in big trouble indeed. And it does happen. Worse yet is that in rugged terrain, tires often are ruined by roadbed objects that leave unrepairable holes and sidewall cuts.
That's why we carry two all-terrain spare tires, and recommend that our clients do so as well. Since we typically wander much father than planned when inspecting new routing, we also carry several extra gallons of gasoline.
|Deep in wild Idaho, with two spare tires and extra gas.|
Over the years of doing both, however, a way to do so safely, conveniently and affordably (in relative terms) was elusive. We tried the roof rack, but you're talking about a 70-lb. tire and wheel. We put it in the cargo area, which devoured space where we needed it most. But we did not want to spend thousands of dollars on a permanently mounted, heavy-duty after-market rear bumper/wheel carrier suited to the purpose.
Then, as the 2017 backcountry-travel season got under way, we learned of the high-clearance version of Wilco Off-Road's Hitchgate Solo. The heavy-duty swingout spare-tire carrier mounts conveniently into a rear trailer-hitch receiver. An internal wedge tightened inside the receiver keeps the carrier secure and wobble-free.
As the season progressed, we tested it over hundreds of miles of often-rough backcountry use in the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming, and the canyons of southern Utah. We camped with it, accessed the cargo area repeatedly each day, and never found it awkward or cumbersome. It has not loosened, and it remains wobble-free.
The carrier's swingout arm allows easy access to the 4Runner's cargo area. A RotopaX-type 3.5-gallon spare-fuel can stays securely attached to the wheel carrier. (We don't carry a Hi-Lift jack, but a mount for one comes with the fuel-can attachment).
|Hitchgate, fuel can, spare tire, Trasharoo|
Most who travel off-highway on four wheels will need a rear-mounted spare-tire carrier if their vehicle is equipped with oversize wheels and tires that will not fit in the stock spare-tire position. Our tires are close to stock size, so we retain a spare in the stock position. That was the source of one installation speed bump.
The long bolt used to tighten the wedge inside the hitch receiver protruded into the stock-mounted spare tire. With oversize wheels and tires, there wouldn't be a tire there. In our case, there is. That required substantially shortening the bolt.
|Wedge-tightening bolt had to be shortened.|
|Hitchgate's swingarm keeps cargo access easy.|
The solution (suggested by Wilco's helpful staff): a long threaded bolt that was slightly smaller in diameter than the hitch pin. Secured with lock nuts and thread locker, the setup has remained tight and secure since installation. (We check it.)
With a full season of continual and often hard daily use behind us, the Hitchgate Solo has impressed us. Its build quality, powder coating, easy of use and reliability make it the solution we've needed, and it will be the solution we recommend.
Oh yes ... So far we've needed neither the second spare nor the extra gasoline. Knock on wood ...