Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for Best trunk cargo nets

If you have bags of groceries in the trunk of your car and slam on the brakes for some reason, you know the results back there aren’t going to be pretty. If you only break a few eggs, count yourself lucky. More often than not, the wreckage is worse.

The same thing can happen if you go over a bump in the road: your items spill all over the place. That’s not a happy situation, especially if your jug of milk lands on your loaf of bread.

You need a cargo net to hold things in place. The best cargo nets are convenient to install and easy to use. To find the right one, however, there are some factors to consider. These include the make and model of your car, how much stuff you want to secure, and whether you want any additional features, such as pockets for holding your items.

A trunk cargo net is a simple and fairly inexpensive purchase that can be worth its weight in gold. Learn more about trunk cargo nets and how to choose a good one for your vehicle.

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Flat cargo nets can be used on trailers as well as in the trunk of your car.

Key considerations

Make and model of your car

The make and model of your car, truck, or SUV will be crucial to getting the correct cargo net for it. Before you buy anything, measure the trunk space where you’ll be using the cargo net with a tape measure.

The size of a cargo net is normally given as a range of inches. For example, it might fit a trunk or truck bed that is 44 to 56 inches wide. If your vehicle is slimmer than that, the net will sag and fail to hold things securely in place. It will have too much play and may even come loose. At that point, you might as well not even have the net.

If your car, SUV, or truck is wider than the net, it might fit if you really stretch it, but the net will be drawn so tight you won’t be able to get anything into and out of it. Removing the net will be difficult, as well.

Try to find a cargo net that matches the width of your vehicle.  Most nets don’t have a set width; rather, they have a range of widths that they will fit. Therefore, the optimum size is one where your vehicle width is in the middle of the stated range of the net. That way it will stretch some, but not too much.


If your vehicle already has built-in tie-downs, installing the net will be easy. We should note, though, that some nets don’t include hooks or carabiners. In that case, you’d have to get some. (See our Accessories section for ideas.)

Some cargo nets come with screw mounts. If your vehicle doesn’t have built-in tie-downs, you’ll have to drill some holes in your vehicle to attach the mounting brackets. Be careful in the trunk of passenger cars and SUVs, as you might wind up drilling into the interior fabric without reaching the metal of the vehicle. If the included screws aren’t long enough to reach the metal, you’ll need to get longer ones.

Storing the net

In the event that you need to haul larger items in the rear of your vehicle, you’ll have to take the net out and store it somewhere. Nets have an unfortunate tendency to get tangled unless you’re careful about how you roll them up and store them. Consider getting some small bungee cords to wrap around your net when it’s in storage.

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Expert Tip
Cargo nets offer a way to secure items in the back of a truck without creating a windbreak that slows the truck down or degrades the gas mileage.



Most cargo nets are made from a polyester blend of one variety or another. However, some cargo nets are nylon, and a few are made of cotton. In the trunk of a car or SUV, it won’t make much difference which one you get. In the bed of a truck where it would be exposed to the elements, however, cotton would be a bad idea. In that case, stick to polyester or nylon.


Cargo nets have a great deal of expandability by default. The tighter you pull them, though, the more difficult it will be to put things in and get them out again. When the net is installed, the top lines should be pulled taut but still have some play in them.

Net style

Cargo nets come in three basic styles. Each style has strengths and weaknesses.

Pocket style
Cargo nets that have three or more pockets in them are excellent for storing bags of groceries, milk jugs, and other items in that size range. The net will keep them from rolling around or being dumped out if you brake hard or take a corner too fast.

Envelope style
An envelope cargo net is shaped like an envelope without a closing flap. These nets are good for storing baseball bats, golf clubs, skis, and other long items. If you’re the designated carrier for the sporting equipment for your child’s team, this is the cargo net for you.

Flat style
If you’ve got several large boxes or a piece of furniture you need to secure, throw a flat cargo net over it, tie down the corners, and you’re good to go. It’ll keep things from sliding around or getting picked up by the wind in the back of your truck.

Tie-down methods

Some cargo nets have loops on the corner, but not all of them include fasteners to hold them in place. The easiest tie-down method is to use carabiners or S-hooks. You may have to install some hooks in your vehicle to tie the net down.

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Expert Tip
Cargo nets are especially useful when you’re moving to a new house and want to keep furniture from sliding around the back of the moving van.


Cargo bar: Reese Explore Ratcheting Cargo Bar
This cargo bar from Reese Explore can provide extra stability and security to your cargo. You can attach the top of your cargo net to it to ensure it won’t move around.

Bungee cords: Cartman Bungee Cords Assortment
If your vehicle is wider than your cargo net can stretch, use some bungee cords to make up the difference. This 24-pack of various length bungee cords from Cartman has everything you need.

S-Hooks: Tri Surge Marine Grade S-Hooks
These stainless steel S-hooks from Tri Surge are an old standby that work to join two loops. This is a four-pack of hooks that fit any cargo net. If your vehicle has built-in tie-downs, Tri Surge provides an easy solution.

Trunk cargo net prices


Below $10 is the low price range for cargo nets. The connectors are usually plastic and may break. Get some S-hooks or carabiners to replace them, and you’ll have a good net for a low price.


The medium price range sits between $10 and $16. Envelope and flat cargo nets dominate this price range, although there are some three-pocket nets as well.


Above $15 is where most three-pocket cargo nets reside. These are sturdy, well-made nets that should serve you well for years to come.

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Expert Tip
Cargo nets are known for being stretchable. This allows them to contain more than it looks like they will hold.


  • The mesh openings on cargo nets are usually one to two inches wide. Items smaller than that will slip out of the net.
  • Empty, unused cargo nets can be stored flat in the back of your vehicle, but they may slide around and get tangled.
  • UV rays from the sun will cause damage to polyester or nylon cargo nets.
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Once you reach your destination, you can use your cargo net to carry your gear to the picnic table, into the house, out to the baseball diamond, or anywhere else you’re going.


Q. How long will a cargo net last?
Under normal conditions, a cargo net will last about two to three years before it begins to fray or show signs of wear and tear.

Q. What can I store in a cargo net?
Anything that is sliding around in the back of your vehicle. As long as it isn’t so small that it will slip through the mesh, the cargo net will hold it in place.

Q. Will a cargo net hold tools in place?
Yes and no. Individual tools are generally so thin they’ll slide through the mesh. If they are in a pouch or box of some kind, the cargo net will hold them just fine.

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