If you’ve been kicking around 4WDTalk for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across one of the many articles in which I talk about my overlanding setup.
Part of my setup is an off-road trailer. It’s my first off-road trailer, so I put in a ton of time and effort in doing research before going with the Turtleback Expedition Series trailer.
I wanted to use my experience in looking for a trailer to help you out, so this overlanding trailer shopping guide was born!
Don’t Rush It
When you get excited to put together a killer overlanding setup, it can be difficult to slow your roll and put in the time to do thorough research. But not rushing the process is paramount, otherwise you might end up with an overlanding trailer that doesn’t fit your needs.
It was several months of research before I went with the Turtleback Expedition. By the time it was all said and done, I felt like I had really thought things through and evaluated more than enough trailers in terms of how they could meet my needs and wants. You should do the same.
Part of your planning and research should include some time reflecting on what you need the trailer to do. Will you be going off-road on poor two-tracks? Will you stick to the tarmac and camp at KOA campgrounds as you go along? Obviously these types of overlanding require far different types of trailers!
I wanted something that I could take WAY off the beaten path, which is why the Turtleback Expedition was a perfect choice. It has the off-road-capable suspension, wheels, tires, and clearance that’s needed for travels on less-than-ideal trails.
But what you use the trailer for is just one of many things to consider…
Overland Trailer Shopping Guide: What About Your Tow Vehicle?
You’ll obviously need something to tow the trailer, and whatever it is will influence the trailer you can get.
For example, my 2020 Jeep Gladiator is the perfect tow vehicle for my Turtleback Expedition. But if I wanted a 38-foot fifth wheel, the Gladiator simply wouldn’t cut it. So there is definitely the size and power issues of your vehicle to consider when shopping for an overlanding trailer.
Additionally, think about the class of hitch your vehicle has. A Class 5 hitch allows you to pull some bigass trailers. But a Class 1 hitch will limit how big and heavy of a load you can tow. Likewise, what size of receiver is on the hitch. There are four typical sizes that range from 3 inches down to 1 1/4 inches, so you’ll need to be sure you get a hitch with the correct-sized shank.
Then there’s the ball part of the hitch. What size do you need for your trailer? A 2 5/16-inch? A 2-inch? Or maybe a 1 7/8-inch? Think about how much weight the ball mount can handle (in terms of gross towing weight and the tongue weight of the trailer) as well.
A good idea for off-road drivers is to get an articulating hitch. These hitches offer far better range of motion, which is precisely what you need when navigating rough trails.
Space and Storage are a Premium
The biggest commodity you have when you’re overlanding is space. You will need far more of it than you think!
So when you’re shopping for an overlanding trailer, be sure to think about how much space you need for your adventures. Obviously, if you stick to weekend overlanding, you will need much less space than if you go on months-long adventures.
My trailer is small, yet offers over 50 cubic feet of storage. That’s a ton of storage for a trailer of its size, but because the mad scientists at Turtleback spent their time making smart design choices, they were able to squeeze a crazy amount of storage into a small trailer.
If you overland with other people, you’ll need more storage as well. A family of four is going to need room for more food, clothes, and other necessities than I need when I’m overlanding solo.
Also on the space and storage front is how the space within the trailer is used. For example, my trailer has a fold-out kitchen that expands into quite the large cooking area that I need to prepare meals. There’s fold-up tables to add more counter space so it’s truly an innovative and efficient use of space. Not all overlanding trailers offer that kind of functionality.
My trailer also has rails on top so I could put my Torro Offroad Skylux tent on top of it – as opposed to having the tent on bed rails on my Truck.
Not only does this setup get me further up off the ground and away from predators, but it also means my truck bed is free to carry my Trek Remedy 9.9 bike, my Pelican Case, and other bigger items that won’t fit anywhere else.
One last point about space – if you’re more of a paved road kind of overlander, then a larger bumper pull trailer or fifth-wheel trailer might be a good option. But if you want to be able to head off-road like I do, a smaller, more agile, off-road-ready trailer like the Turtleback will be a much better choice.
- Overlanding With a Trailer: Pros and Cons
- How to Select the Right Tire Size for Your Overlanding Vehicle
Overland Trailer Shopping Guide: Think About Power
When I’m overlanding, I want to be off-grid and away from it all. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want some amenities like having power for running the refrigerator in the trailer or charging up my phone or my camera batteries.
One of the prime features of my trailer is the onboard solar power system. It has two batteries (which I’ll be upgrading with lithium-ion batteries) and a 2000-watt inverter. This setup gives me all the power I need for a typical overlanding trip.
In other words, I have multiple power sources to ensure I have power when I need it. Whatever electrical items you take with you on your trip, be sure you have the means to power them efficiently over the long-term.
What’s Your Budget?
Ultimately, for most people, the price of a trailer is the biggest factor to consider. Unsurprisingly, overlanding trailers – even small and simple ones – aren’t exactly cheap.
So, while power and storage and the compatibility with your tow vehicle are major things to consider, at the end of the day, your budget will likely trump them all.
It makes no sense at all to fawn over trailers that you can’t afford. So when you’re doing your research, be sure you set a budget you can afford and keep your search for an overlanding trailer within that budget.
There are many other things to consider here – where you’ll sleep, if the trailer has a bathroom, whether it’s a four-season trailer, and where you’ll park the darn thing when it’s not in use. But the items discussed in this article will serve as a good starting point for helping you get the best overlanding trailer for your needs.
Good luck in finding your dream trailer!