Overlanding With A Trailer - Death Valley
A recent trip to Death Valley was my first time to test and try my custom made Ruger Off-road trailer with CVT roof top tent. Why I went this route, as opposed to everything on the Jeep, was to add greater capacity without greater risk of being top heavy. Because I still have a child needing a booster seat, I can't remove the back seat in the Jeep. This really limits how you can configure the interior of a Jeep for overlanding. Even laid flat, the back seat takes up some important real estate.
Next, the best thing was to get a trailer. I picked Ruger Trailers because of both their quality work and less cost than much of the competition. What you see above is 32" tires, leaf suspension, with added shocks and electric brakes. The top opens via pistons but you still have to muscle it up to start at the CVT Tent is close to 200 pounds. Ruger does an amazing job of adding platforms and attach points for all the bits I still need to add, such as; natural gas tank and dual battery box and inverters.
Pulling the trailer long distance wasn't a bad experience. My lifted Jeep with fender flares and bigger tires already buffet the wind like a large lego piece. Add the trailer and it does add to sway in high winds. Overall, the highway handling was a dream, once I got used to how much the wind pushed on me.
The trails I pulled the trailer on were not difficult, mostly dirt roads with ruts and double track with many perpendicular washouts to go through. There were a few times while going too fast, I was sure the trailer would flip. It didn't and now I feel it would take quite a bit to flip it. With tires aired down and the addition of the shocks, this trailer keeps on rolling. A must for any off-road trailer is the Max-Coupler, a hitch that allows full range of motion between your Jeep and the trailer. The only drawback, you will go slow. Departure angle becomes a greater concern because you now have an extension on your rig. Protecting the coupler is very important and quite a vulnerable area as your rig comes out of a ditch and the trailer in.
Setting up camp was easy, open the top and pull out the organized action packers. Then pop the tent up, just that easy. It took me a few times to get the hang of the ladder, but that was it. An extremely comfortable tent up off the ground. Very happy. Taking camp down is equally as easy, proven by a night of high wind and rain on a playa that had us dashing to get to solid rock at 2am. Everything was down and buttoned up in about 10 groggy minutes.
Pulling a trailer over rough terrain is a new skill to learn. This link on "Tips for Overlanding Safely with a Trailer" is a great resource. Being aware of a third set of tires can be a bit tough but it is a skill. All-in-all, I am very happy I got it and it adds a new level of pleasure to get to the middle of nowhere. Will I take it on all trip? Probably, not. It would be nice to have enough skill to take it up some very difficult trails. But then again, I have enough trouble with four tires.