Planning on heading out on some adventures
And, you’re wondering whether to tow or not to tow an off-road-trailer
Which is right for you?
Well, that’s what this post, is about. Comparing some of the pros and cons
Of, Towing vs Not Towing
So first lets start off with some of the
Pros of Towing an Off Road Trailer
Ok, so to start off with
One of the pros, of towing an off road trailer
Would be the ability to
Carry more Gear (PRO)
A trailer will allow you to carry more gear, with you on your adventure.
To go further, and stay out longer.
Because you have more space, to store fuel Jerry cans, food, water, tools, etc.
Which in return, also helps to free up more space inside, and or on a roof rack outside on the rig itself.
While relieving some of the direct payload off your 4×4.
But remember the tongue weight of the trailer adds some payload to the vehicle.
Also, you can,
Leave it setup and parked while camping (PRO)
You can just unhook it from the hitch. And now you’re able to freely drive your vehicle around.
While the trailer occupies, the campsite. (base camp)
Having to work out of, or off of, your rig.
For instance, if you have a roof top tent, awnings, or even pull out draws, and a kitchen setup.
In the back of your 4×4.
You would have to pack up, and close everything back down, before you can drive off.
Lower reach height (PRO)
If your 4×4 is high off the ground,
It can sometimes be hard to reach gear up on a roof rack.
And you might have to climb up and down for stuff. Or, even when packing, and unpacking a roof top tent.
As you have to unstrap/unfold it, to set it up, and then, have to do the same, to put it away.
Which climbing all over your rig, can be cumbersome.
And, anytime you can keep your feet on the ground and still reach the gear naturally you’re probably better off.
To avoid climbing on slippery bumpers, tires, etc.
Of coarse this depends on, the specific trailer.
But, an off road trailer, is generally lower than your 4×4.
Allowing you to keep gear at a much more manageable height. To reach stuff from the ground
So you’re able to grab your tools and gear/equipment easly working in and around camp
Making setup, and packing up a lot easier.
Which also helps keep the heavy weight off the roof of the 4×4 to reduce top heaviness.
But also a little side
A roof top tent mounted on top of your 4×4, is also top heavy.
So, they can cause you problems, in an off camber situation on the trail.
If, you’re trying, to tackle tough terrain.
And even riding down the road, at highway speeds.
Your vehicle can have a tendency to sway more, reducing some of it’s stability.
So, having a tent mounted at a lower height on an off road trailer
Might be a better option to help you with that.
Or, some people just prefer using a portable ground tent for this reason.
To keep the extra weight off the top of their vehicle.
Which is always good idea to have lightweight ground tent for backup anyways.
Also, something else to consider is that you
Don’t have to modify your 4×4 (PRO)
At least at first if you’re not looking to do any extreme wheeling
You wouldn’t need a bunch of bar work or fancy racks on your rig. To just do some simple camping with a trailer.
Because as long as you have a hitch/tow package you just hook it up and go.
If you want to keep gear/cargo on the outside of the vehicle.
You will need get a quality heavy duty roof rack to properly support the dynamic (moving) weight of a roof top tent.
And, to securely store gear properly in your vehicle. You need draws and cabinets etc.
Plus in general, it’s good policy to keep the cargo weight as low as possible on the rig and or a trailer for a lower center of gravity.
Just incase you encounter tricky off-camber situation on the trails.
But, with a trailer you could eliminate doing those type of modifications and adding accessories to the rig itself.
Because you could just keep it all in or on the trailer.
And, like mentioned earlier it frees up more space on the inside of your rig
While also relieving the need to put gear all over the outside of the vehicle itself.
To point out, about roof top tents, even though this post isn’t about roof top tents specifically.
When it comes to roof top tents in general.
It’s best to invest in a quality roof-top-tent that’s quick-and-easy to setup and put away as it can make a big difference.
If you’re trying to streamline things and make it easier on yourself setting up, and tearing down at camp.
Some RTT (roof top tents), can be a bit more of a chore to set up than others.
Now, some off road trailers (that are equipped of course) can have a
Slide-out kitchen and more room to cook (PRO)
Having an off road trailer, that has a quick slide out kitchen setup.
Can sometimes give you more counter space or room, and versatility to do what you need to do.
Creating an easier setup, so you can get cooking, and conveniently have what you need close by.
A trailer can also, sometimes have more available space for food storage/pantry
And in some cases places to organize, and keep cutlery and crockery (kitchenware).
Having to move things in and out of the vehicle all the time to cook.
Or even say if you would have an elaborate pull/slide-out kitchen setup and draw/cabinets in the back of you 4×4. (with an awning to keep the elements off you)
Where you can cook/work out of the back of your rig an organize gear which works well
But the only problem with that setup is like mentioned above
Cabinets/draws take up precious space in the vehicle.
Which having more available room in your ride is really beneficial,
When, it comes to
Traveling with a rig full of people (PRO)
Traveling with a 4×4 full of people (family and friends) can cause an overly crowded cab.
Especially with a bunch of extra gear and goods.
So, this would be good reason to have a trailer. Allowing you to put gear back in the trailer.
Freeing up some space in the cab for the ride. Giving everyone a bit more elbow room.
Or,even giving you more cargo space to carry more gear in general if you had to.
Also, with a trailer you can have
An extra awning for more covered area (PRO)
Not only does an awning mounted to a trailer allow you to drop the trailer
And go somewhere if you want.
Giving you more versatility with your 4×4 in that area.
But, if you have an awning on your vehicle, and one on the trailer.
Now, you have more covered area to work, sit, stand, and stay out of the elements.
Also to help speed up setup and teardown time you might want to check out the poleless 270° awnings that are easier to pull out and put away.
Another benefit about a trailer is that you can
Pre-Pack it (Hitch-and-Haul) (PRO)
Having a trailer will allow you the ability to have everything packed, and setup for your weekend excursion.
This can be very helpful if, you find yourself camping a lot and you’re trying to streamline the packing/unpacking situation.
Among using your 4×4 as a daily driver.
So, if the trailer is ready to go with everything packed in it and organized.
Then now all you have to do is back up to it.
Hitch it up, and hit the road.
Along with leaving it packed and ready to go you can
Shed some weight on your daily driver (PRO)
Having a trailer allows you to take the load off the back of your 4×4.
Reducing the overall direct payload on the vehicle.
So you don’t over load the suspension/chassis and the GVWR (gross vehicle weigh rating)
Giving you the ability to drive around without all the gear loaded in it all the time
Pounding the pudding out of the springs.
And, on top of that
Not having all the gear loaded in it, will help you improve the fuel economy,
Along with the steering/handling, for a more pleasurable everyday drive.
Carry along a
Shower and Toilet (PRO)
Some of the bigger more elaborate (travel-trailer-style) off-road-camper trailers
Allow you to have more room.
Or maybe even have a toilet, and or shower setup, inside them.
So i guess you have what you need there.
With smaller utility-type off road trailers you may be able to have a fold-out camping shower
Which you can typically just put those ensuite fold-out-showers on your rig
But, instead of having it mounted to the side of the vehicle.
You could have it conveniently mounted on the trailer.
And, a long with that, a trailer can give give that extra room,
To comfortably carry along, and store a portable toilet.
So you don’t have to have that stuff mounted or packed in or on your vehicle.
Allowing you to carry some more of those convenient comforts of home to the backcountry.
With a trailer you can typically,
Carry more water (PRO)
As some trailer have onboard water tanks
Water is definitely an essential to have with you for drinking, showers, washing dishes etc.
And, anytime you have the ability to have more water reserves on hand the better.
Adding a little extra insurance while on a long distance trip.
Something else to consider, is having a trailer can even just give you more storage area. To carry extra water jugs/Jerry Cans as well.
A trailer could also help with
Carrying extra gear for a group (PRO)
If you’re traveling with a group of other rigs
Sometimes you could get one rig to pull a trailer
Loaded with the extra fuel and gear for the rest of the group on the journey
Now, lets talk about the
Cons of Towing an Off Road Camper Trailer
Pulling a trailer will definitely
Put more strain on the driveline (CON)
Of your vehicle, with the added Drag and friction
Now, you’re pulling all the weight and have an extra set of wheels on the ground
Which is putting more stress and wear on axles, U-joints, transmission etc.
And, on top of that with the extra drag
You can get bogged easier (CON)
It will hinder you going up grades. Possibly catching in ruts, washouts.
In sand (soft sand) you have to keep moving
Because it’s hard to get your rig going again with the extra drag of a trailer.
And lets say you’re going through mud. Now, you’ve got more resistance there as well.
Since now you’re dragging an extra set of wheels plus everything and the kitchen sink through the mud behind you.
Sometimes the tongue or hitch may allow you to glide over a ditch.
But, it could get you hung up as well.
Another down side is
Increased tire wear on your 4×4 (CON)
With the additional torque loads on the tires
Because of the added drag/weight of the trailer and gear
Which in return your tires will wear out faster as more strain is being put on them.
Plus you have the added expense of
Tags and or insurance (CON)
You will have to tag it. Which will cost money and or if insure it
That will be something else dippin’ down deeper into to your pockets.
You need a place to keep a trailer (CON)
Because when you’re not using it
You will have to have enough space and a place to park it.
If you don’t, this can be a problem.
So, that would be something you need to consider.
Also, depending where you’re traveling to, and the trails you take
An off road trailer can be
Harder to handle traveling alone (CON)
So, towing an off road camper trailer, is usually best,
And make more sense, if you’re traveling with someone else, or even in a group.
As they can help guide you back, assist with hooking, and unhooking.
Which can make things go much easier.
Or, even some extra help, just moving it around by hand if need be etc.
Along with, having someone, to be able to spot you, out on the trail at times in tough terrain.
Also, in general, you shouldn’t really need to use a trailer, if you’re traveling by yourself.
Since you probably don’t need all that extra gear anyhow.
And it could be too much to deal with.
Also keep in mind, with a trailer if you get stuck, recovery can be more difficult.
Without out some extra help around as well.
Now, to add to this a little bit more.
I should mention it
Hinders maneuverability (CON)
Remember with a trailer you’re going to be a lot longer
Than just having your 4×4 on the trails.
So, it will be harder to turn around, in a tight place. It will also, be harder, to find a place to park.
Now, on narrow trails, with steep drop offs on the side. You may not have enough room to negotiate turns.
Potentially having the trailer ride off the edge causing you big problems.
So, depending on the trails and or where you will be traveling
That would be something you really need to consider.
Also, are you really savvy at backing a trailer up?
Well, if you’re not than an off road trailer will not be a good idea for sure
Because, if you were to get yourself into a difficult situation. And don’t know how to back one up really proficiently.
Well you’re pretty much done.
Something else to consider to the maneuverability is the
Overall size of the trailer (could be a CON)
And where you want to travel
Because, there’s a wide range of styles, and price points of off road camper trailers available
From basic small sized utility type off road trailers just to store extra gear and hold a roof top tent.
Then some even have additional add-ons like pull out kitchens and drawers a place to keep a portable fridge.
Up to the larger off road capable type of travel trailers having bathroom/shower kitchen and beds etc.
And many variants and options in-between.
(of course anything too big you’re not going to be dragging it down any tight trails)
The size, and or type of a trailer in general will play a role in where you can go
And the you trails you take.
Because there are some places that have
Trailer restrictions (CON)
Possibly restriction for weight, length, height, or maybe even no trailers allowed.
Which would obviously hinder you from traveling to some places with a trailer because of this.
So you might need to do some homework and look into where you might plan on traveling
For any trailer restriction.
Depending on your traveling/camping style and needs
This might be, something else, you want to consider.
There are some styles, of off road trailers
And some, roof top tents,
That are, very
Complicated setups (CON)
Which can be time consuming and a pain to setup and put away. (Lots of parts and pieces)
And, if your on the go, and just camping for the night, and then moving along.
It always a good idea to keep things as streamline and simple as possible. (quick setup/teardown)
But then again
Some people may be ok, with a large complicated setups.
If, they plan on camping, and hanging in one spot, for a fews days, or more at a time.
Not having enough 4×4 to pull it (CON)
Because, keep in mind, anytime you pull extra weight.
It’s going to pull some of the starch right out of your ride
Especially going up hills
And if you have, an under powered, 4 cylinder rig, even with a small type trailer.
Sometimes, it can cause you, to shift down more.
Which, can make a vehicle, more laboring, to drive down the highway
Before, you even get to the trail head.
So, you always need to make sure,
You have enough rig, rated to properly, and safely pull the trailer you want to tow.
Having plenty of pulling power, and adequate braking .
Staying below, your vehicle’s GCWR (gross combination weight rating)
Or also referred to as the GCM (gross combination mass)
Which is the total vehicle, and trailer weight, combined (fully loaded, with passengers, and cargo)
Along with pulling extra weight, comes
A loss in fuel economy (CON)
Which reducing fuel economy will ultimately shorten the range you can drive.
Before you have to fill back up.
Plus it just adds to the overall price of the trip.
And you would have to make sure you have enough extra fuel on board to make it between stops on a long remote backcountry journey.
Now, on top of all that it’s
Something else to go wrong (CON)
A trailer is just something else to work on and break down and cause you problems.
Because, now you have more tires to go flat and wear out, lights to go out,
Extra electrical wiring that could give you problems. And, wheel bearings that can go bad.
Also somewhere along the line may even need some fabrication/welding repairs.
So you have additional maintenance and, in general it’s just another expense.
Also along with the maintenance just keep in mind anyway you look at it.
It’s going to cost you some extra coin upfront to purchase
Another problem could be
The price (CON)
When it comes, to off road trailers, there’s a lot of different types, and price points.
And your high quality, off road trailers, in general.
Will be designed, and built better. Making them, more reliable.
But, they can come with a cost.
Cheap stuff, well is typically cheap, and may not hold up for long.
So, if you decide to go the trailer route you have to find what fits your needs, and budget
Might even look for a quality brand trailer on the used block.
Alright so lets recap and
Wrap it up
If you’re traveling with others, or take the whole family and need to carry all kinds of gear with you.
Or, if you just like (or need) to carry, a lot of extra amenities in general
You might want to have a trailer to relieve some of the load out of your rig.
And or, need to reduce some, of the direct payload off your rig
So, in these scenarios the trailer will make sense.
If, all you’re doing, is going out on short trips for the weekend,
Or traveling by yourself, there’s probably no reason to have a trailer.
Because, in general, off road camper trailers, are more intended,
For staying out, for longer periods of time and touring.
To carry the extra load, of supplies, and gear.
But, the lighter, and simpler, you can keep your setup, in general.
While still being able to carry what you need, is always usually best.
However, everybody has different needs.