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Tentrax Trailers - Product Review

Posted in Features on June 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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For my wife and me, the options for traveling in our '95 Land Rover Defender 90 have always been limited by how creatively we could pack all of our gear. If we loaded too much on the roof rack, we risked compromising the handling by compressing the suspension and changing the center of gravity. And with an ARB fridge and a Powertank sitting in the back of the rig, what little space we had inside was effectively gone.

What we needed was an off-road trailer that we could tow just about anywhere; one that might even provide a comfortable night's sleep. Eventually, this took us to Tentrax sport utility trailers in Eugene, Oregon, where we spoke with owner Bob Mazziotti.

He explained that the Tentrax is available in All-Terrain and Boulevard models. The major difference between the two is that the All-Terrain is built for off-road use and the Boulevard is built for on-road use. The Tentrax All-Terrain is a lightweight, fiberglass tub with a boxed-steel, powdercoated frame and a Torflex (torsion bar) suspension that offers progressive torque action.

Weighing only 550 pounds, the tub provides roughly 24 cubic feet of dry, lockable storage. But even better is one of the unique options available with the Tentrax: a durable, weatherproof pop-up tent and a comfortable 4x8-foot bed that tucks away inside the lid of the trailer, leaving a lot of open storage space underneath.

Adding to the appeal of the Tentrax are further custom options. To begin with, each unit is handbuilt in Eugene, Oregon, using American-made parts. Each trailer can then be perfectly matched to your trail rig. So if you have, say, a Wrangler, you can order the Tentrax with matching taillights, identical paint, and wheels and tires.

Because of the well-thought-out design, the overall tongue weight is variable. Whether empty or full, the tongue weight is roughly 70 pounds. However, you can add weight to the tongue by adding cargo to the optional steel trays located along the length of the tongue. You can also counterbalance the tongue weight by adding accessories (and much more storage) to the class-3 receiver on the trailer's rear bumper.

After our Tentrax All-Terrain was delivered to the house, we scheduled a series of trips that took us from the sand dunes of Pismo/Oceano Beach to the rocks of Johnson Valley to the mud, snow, and river rock of our favorite Big Bear trail. For the purposes of this test, we loaded the Tentrax with 350 pounds of gear and added an extra 85 pounds to the tongue.

Once off the pavement, the standard 2-inch ball receiver was removed and refitted with a simple D-ring-style hitch. We tested the articulation of the hitch and trailer first by heading across the crater-filled dry lakebed of Johnson Valley, California. The hitch never dug in or hindered the performance of the Rover in any way during this leg of the test.

Next, we moved into the soft, sandy dunes to get a feel for its high-speed tracking and manageability. Once again, the Tentrax proved to be nimble enough to step through and over the small waves of sand while remaining on both wheels. With speeds approaching 50 mph in tight turns, the trailer's low center of gravity proved to be an excellent design.

During the second day of testing, we moved up into higher altitudes through a dry riverbed leading up into Big Bear. After tearing a hole in the exhaust, we wished the Defender had the 17 inches of ground clearance that the Tentrax does. While maneuvering the trailer in and out of some very rugged areas, we were pleased by how well the trailer tracked and articulated without the slightest hesitation. At no time did we have to disconnect the Tentrax from our test vehicle.

Next, we headed up the California coast to Oceano Beach to test the weather resistance of the Tentrax. Luckily, it was sunny and warm, giving us ample time to play in the sand dunes before the storm blew in that evening.

It was here that the Tentrax earned the root of its name. From the time we popped the lid to the time we climbed inside to rest was a mere three minutes. Normally, we'd have spent 20 minutes setting up our tent after locating a level ground site and clearing away debris. The Tentrax setup was far simpler. While the wind howled and the rain poured, we sat inside, warm and dry, drinking hot coffee. There's no place like home, eh?

SPECIFICATIONS
Model: All-Terrain Limited
Weight: 558 lb (empty)
Tongue weight: 68 lb
Overall length: 10 ft
Width: 63 in
Clearance: 17-1/2 in (empty)
Wheelbase: 50 in
Storage capacity: 24 cu ft (with tent)

Sources

Tentrax
Eugene, OR 97405

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