If you follow my articles on 4WDTalk then you already know that my overlanding setup is a 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and a Turtleback Expedition Trailer with a Torro Offroad Skylux Rooftop Tent.
I’ve had this setup since last summer and it has proven time and again to be such a great combination. The Jeep is a more comfortable ride than you might expect and it has plenty of power to pull the trailer. Speaking of the trailer, I couldn’t ask for a better rig as it is purpose-built for off-road use. The rooftop tent is fantastic – it’s roomy, comfortable, and gets me up off the ground and away from predators.
And while the chances that you have the exact same overlanding setup as I do are quite thin, there are some general pros and cons to overlanding with a trailer that you should be aware of.
Pros of Overlanding With a Trailer
Organization is So Much Easier
Overlanding with a trailer means that you have all that room to organize your stuff (and keep it out of your vehicle).
My trailer offers over 55 cubic feet of storage space, a kitchen setup complete with slide-out drawers for storage and a fridge (among other amenities), and the aforementioned rooftop area for my tent. With all that stuff stowed away nicely in the trailer, that frees up the cabin of the Jeep for other important things like my wife and son.
In addition to offering lots of space for storage, overlanding trailers give you a place to work. In my case, the Turtleback Expedition has two fold-down tables that are ideal for prepping meals. See what other handy features this trailer has in the video above.
And, just like at home, the kitchen is the heart of camp, so rather than everyone gathering around a camp stove on the tailgate of my truck, we gather around the trailer’s kitchen unit where every utensil, dish, and spice has its own place to be stored.
An Overlanding Trailer Helps Distribute the Weight of Your Gear
My Jeep Gladiator can tow more than 7,000 pounds. Its payload, though, is just 1,600 pounds. So it makes sense to get heavy stuff into the trailer to distribute the weight.
My trailer has a hot water tank, a fresh water tank, a refrigerator, propane, and the rooftop tent, so all of those heavy items are out of the truck bed.
In addition to distributing all that weight more effectively, having a trailer means that you can leave it at camp and explore the trails with just your tow vehicle. Or, if you’re like me and you’re close to civilization, you can leave the trailer and head into town to pick up items you forgot to bring on the trip!
A Trailer Gives You a Base Camp
Similar to the previous point, having an overlanding trailer means you have a base camp that you don’t have to set up and tear down every time you need to go somewhere.
If I want to explore some off-road trails but my wife and son want to stick around camp, we can do that with a truck and overlanding trailer. Without the trailer, we’d have to pack up camp, stow the rooftop tent, and then set everything up again when we get back. No thanks!
It’s Just More Comfortable and Convenient
All of these pros really come down to two things – comfort and convenience.
There’s less stuff in the truck. There’s less hassle with setup and tear down if you want to go somewhere. There’s more places for things to be stored. And you have additional space for people to hang out (i.e., under the trailer’s awning or the overhang of the rooftop tent).
But, like anything in life, there are a few cons of which to be aware before you invest in an overlanding trailer.
Cons of Overlanding With a Trailer
You Have to Pull It…
Pulling a trailer isn’t exactly difficult, but it still adds another layer of complexity versus simply driving your vehicle. Not only are the dynamics of driving different, but having all that weight behind your vehicle also means making adjustments to how quickly you can stop.
Everything from changing lanes to maintaining highway speeds to fuel economy is impacted when you tow a trailer. And that’s just on-road stuff – pulling a trailer off-road involves a whole other set of considerations like ground clearance, approach angles, navigating narrow trails, getting through mud and snow, and turning radius, among others.
It’s One More Expense
The biggest issue with overlanding trailers is that it’s another expense.
Not only do you have to think about the cost of the trailer itself, but you also have to think about the cost of any add-ons, the reduction in fuel economy, and regular maintenance to the trailer, like getting new tires.
Speaking of tires, it’s a good idea to match the wheel size and lug pattern as well as the tire size to what you have on your tow vehicle. This will be an additional expense, but gives you flexibility if your vehicle or trailer (or both) get a flat.
Of course, if you don’t already have a tow package on your vehicle, you will have to invest in one. Having an electronic trailer brake is also beneficial, along with tow mirrors if your vehicle is not already equipped with them.
Is Overlanding With a Trailer Right for You?
I can tell you that overlanding with a trailer is the perfect setup for my needs. But I recognize that it isn’t for everyone.
Some of you might prefer tent camping, car camping, overlanding in an RV, or going lean and mean with your motorcycle. There’s no wrong way to go overlanding. The key is to sit down and think about what you want to do, where you want to go, and your specific needs for your overlanding rig, and then decide on the type of setup that best fits those needs.