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Safety Tips for Overlanding with a Trailer

Photo by jacobeukman via iStock

Overlanding with a trailer has grown immensely in the last few years thanks to the pandemic and people’s desire to get away from it all, get off-grid, and enjoy nature.

Overlanding is certainly fun and engaging, but overlanding with a trailer can be a daunting adventure that requires meticulous planning and execution. Safety, as always, must come first.

In this detailed article, we’ll explore what features you should look for in a camping trailer, some important safety tips for overlanding with a trailer, and offer a few pros and cons of using an overlanding trailer for your outdoor adventures.

Table of Contents

Overlanding with a Trailer – Pros and Cons

Camper Trailer by Camp Fire

Photo by Jamesbowyer via iStock

Like all other modes of camping and off-roading, overlanding with a trailer also comes with a few advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss these before jumping into the features and safety tips for overlanding.

Pros of Overlanding with a Trailer

  • A trailer gives you the liberty of using your tow vehicle as a daily runner as well –  something you can’t do with an RV.
  • You can keep your trailer loaded and ready in between trips and save time when you’re ready to set off.
  • Trailers are often cheaper than RVs and motorhomes and can be modified or upgraded as per your future requirements.
  • Off-road trailers can traverse tough terrain in order to get further off-grid.
  • Trailers are easy to tow and offer better off-road dynamics than RVs.

Cons of Overlanding with a Trailer

  • Trailers don’t have as much living space as motorhomes.
  • Storage space is not as generous as in RVs.
  • Your trailer won’t carry any extra passengers for a weekend trip, unlike an RV.

Features to Look for in an Overlanding Trailer

beaver built 3

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

If you’ve decided to go shopping for a camping trailer, be mindful of some of the necessary features (and a few additional amenities) that your trailer must have. The features listed below are just some of what I feel are the most important to consider for your outdoor adventures. To highlight each category, I’ll use the Beaver Built Wapos trailer as a prime example of what to look for in an overlanding trailer.

Rugged Build Quality

beaver built 1

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

To accompany you on those daring trips and hardcore trails, the trailer you buy ought to be tough and rugged as well. It must possess a dependable frame, a strong suspension with off-road wheels and tires, and a tough body.

The Wapos trailer by Beaver Built is the perfect example of such a trailer. It has a galvanized aluminum-steel chassis that can handle the stress of tough tracks, and thanks to its CRS2 suspension, you can navigate those tracks with confidence. Its rugged 15” wheels and Yokohama all-terrain tires certainly help give this trailer the utmost off-roading prowess.

The trailer also has a powder-coated aluminum body that is tough and durable and won’t corrode like other metal surfaces. It also has a superb departure angle that lets you easily maneuver tight and tricky spaces and help traverse challenging terrain.

Safety Considerations When Overlanding With a Trailer

beaver built 12

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

Not only is the Beaver Built trailer strong and rugged, but it also offers impeccable safety as well. The strong frame doesn’t bend under stress and comes with a two-inch ball coupler that offers excellent range of movement.

It also has electronic drum brakes that add to your stopping power and makes highway maneuvering much easier. Add lockable storage areas to the mix, which you can rely on to keep your gear safe.

Storage

beaver built 7

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

What good would a trailer be if it can’t carry all your camping gear? A trailer must have enough storage and carrying capacity so you don’t have to leave anything back at home.

The Beaver Built trailer has a very generous 43.2 cubic feet of space, and with the standard rear hitch, you could add a hitch-mounted storage box if you need additional space. It also has a modifiable roof rack that you can either use as a storage space or as a base for your rooftop tent.

Modifications and Add-Ons

beaver built 4

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

One of the most unique qualities that make a trailer so admirable is its ability to be modified. You could get a frame and body and add whatever you want per your overlanding needs.

Beaver built offers you the freedom of modifying your trailer whenever you want, with a long list of add-on accessories. This makes overlanding with a trailer so much fun and feasible, thanks to the liberty of modifying your camping trailer.

beaver built 9

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

There are more than a dozen items you can add to your Beaver Built trailer as per your needs, such as:

  • A kitchen management system
  • Front lockable storage
  • A custom electrical system
  • A spare tire carrier
  • A D035 coupling with integrated hand brake
  • Rear drawer with dividers and storage deck

You get the point…

Top to bottom, front to back, you can customize this Beaver Built to fit your specific needs and wants.

Some Important Safety Tips for Overlanding with a Trailer

beaver built 2

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

Now that you’ve sorted out the best trailer for you, here’s what you should keep in mind when you set off on your weekend journey.

The first safety tip for overlanding with a trailer is to get the weight and balance right in the trailer. With more than a ton of payload on your tail, the weight and balance need to be on point for safety and stability.

Follow the 60/40 rule as best you can – put 60 percent of the trailer weight in front of the axle and 40 percent of it behind the axle. Balance the weight on the left and right sides to maximize stability and give you the best towing experience.

beaver built 6

Photo by Vill Van Der Merwe #geoscoutadventures

A second safety tip is to get good tires and rims and use the same ones on your vehicle and your trailer. This offers you enough ground clearance to traverse rocky trails while also giving you good traction. Plus, carrying a spare on your vehicle and another on your trailer gives you two options for when you inevitably get a flat.

As a bonus, when you get off the pavement and onto difficult trails, reduce the tire pressure a bit. This offers enhanced stability and better traction.

overlanding with a Trailer

Photo by ruvanboshoff via iStock

Third, when traversing steep trails in the backcountry, engage the rear differential on your truck, use lower gears, and while descending, use down-hill assist if available. Also, use the brakes on your trailer if available, as they offer enhanced stopping power.

A fourth safety tip is to have a winch on the front of your vehicle. You need a winch for rescue and recovery operations, but you can also use the winch to help you navigate difficult terrain. Rather than blowing up the driveline in your truck, use the winch to pull your truck and trailer slowly but surely over obstacles and through difficult spots on the trail.

It’s also worth having a spotter when things get gnarly. A buddy can help guide you around or over obstacles. They can also keep an eye on the track of your trailer, which will be different from your tow vehicle.

Beaver Built Owner Spotlight

Photo by Brendon Schmidt. Used with permission.

A final safety tip for overlanding with a trailer is to practice maneuvering your trailer at home before you leave. Every trailer behaves a little differently, so spending some time learning how the trailer tows, turns, and backs up will give you the confidence you need when you’re off-grid.

This is just a quick list of safety tips – there’s much more to learn. But this is a good place to start to get ready for your overlanding adventures!

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