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Off-road Tent Trailers Make Extended 4x4 Outings Comfortable

Posted in Features on October 30, 2017
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Photographers: Manufacturers

Overlanding trailers, built around the concept of combining both teardrop and utility trailers shod with high-ground clearance axles, meaty rubber, a tent on a rack above the bed, and outfitted with many of the comforts you’d find in a pickup camper or traditional tent trailer, are attracting a lot of attention among today’s off-road crowd.

Their growing popularity is not surprising: They are light in weight and can be towed just about anywhere you can drive the rig doing the towing, be that over rocky trails, sand dunes, the desert, or through mud and snow. There’s also a wide variety from which to choose with trailers to fit just about every off-roader’s budget, style, and needs from cash-strapped and basic to flush with bucks and want it all.

We’ve highlighted just a few examples of tent-type off-road trailers to give you a taste of the variety. As you can see, they vary greatly in price and design. What they all have in common is providing a great way to move camping gear out of your 4x4 and into a trailer that will easily follow your tow vehicle wherever it leads, and provide a tidy little base camp from which to spend the rest of your time exploring and wheeling.

Turtleback Expedition Trailer
USA-built Turtleback’s Expedition Trailer provides a full range of camping accessories nicely integrated into the 1,900-pound unit, which sits atop a 3,500-pound torsion axle capable of running 37-inch tires. The use of space, quality components, and overall durability allow it to stand up to the harshest off-road uses. The frame is a SolidWorks-designed chassis, hot-dip galvanized with an industry-leading 10-year warranty. The 4x6-foot main box contains a 42-gallon water tank, six-gallon water heater, and a full Baltic birch kitchen and pantry with stainless sink and two-burner stove. Up top is a heavy-duty, two-room 23Zero rooftop tent, and a wrap-around awning to maximize the outdoor living space. Price nicely equipped: $23,000; 855-732-2383; www.turtlebacktrailers.com

Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop
Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop is a product of the two owners’ exploring and off-roading passions. OT offers three models: DoDrop, FronTear, and TerraDrop. All of which can be towed behind just about any vehicle that can be fitted with a hitch. All the interiors are built of the finest-quality marine-grade Baltic Birch using cabinetmaking and boat-building fabrication techniques. Of the three, the TerraDrop is OT’s most popular offering for the overland and off-road crowd, which comes standard with a reinforced frame, Timbren axle-less off-road suspension and all-terrain tires. It has a load of cargo space, and is completely configurable to buyer’s specs with every option being offered a la carte. Price nicely equipped: $15,000; 541.357.8895, www.oregontrailer.net

Patriot X1 Grand Tourer
Want it all? Australian-built Patriot Campers X1 Grand Tourer is an 11-foot-long trailer that rolls on 35-inch mud tires and a dual-shock, long-travel air suspension. It opens up like a Transformer to make camp central sweet indeed. The 2,100-pound trailer boasts 66.5 cubic feet of storage spread across a variety of drawers, compartments, and stowaway areas. Sleeping quarters includes a king-size bed in the spacious flip-open tent that has wide stairs leading from the floor to the bed. A drawer extends from the belly of the X1 to reveal a 60-quart portable fridge and stainless steel kitchen that hides a wet-storage compartment, cutlery drawer, and plumbed kitchen sink. The L-shaped kitchenette has anti-scratch bench tops, and there’s 20 gallons of fresh water in the tank. A twin-burner gas stove and grille sits alongside pullout pantry drawers. Up front a lid lifts to reveal a Rhino-lined “man cave” with twin propane bottle holders, fire extinguisher, high-lift jack, a large, convenient utility shelf, and a swing-away barbecue. Options abound. Price nicely equipped: $38,390; (61) 75-597-0638; www.patriotcampers.com

Jackwagon Off-Road Basecamp
The Jackwagon Off-Road Basecamp is hand-built in Prescott, Arizona, by avid off-road enthusiasts. As the company motto says, “These trailers will follow you anywhere you want to go.” It features 48 cubic feet of lockable storage behind a trio of doors and a fullsize lid to keep everything you've ever wanted to bring to camp within easy reach. The steel frame is powdercoated, and the independent suspension runs 33-inch A/Ts on 16-inch steel rims to provide great ground clearance. There’s plenty of external storage for fuel cans, or propane tanks, and trailer comes with a fullsize table for feeding hungry souls. Sleeping accommodations are high above the ground in a spacious Tepui Kukenam three-person RTT with easy-access aluminum ladder. Each trailer is custom-built to order. Jackwagon just introduced a “Flatbed” version to carry a single ATV with the RTT carried on a rack above. Base price: $7,875; 928.925-5086, www.jackwagonoffroad.com

Conqueror UEV-440
The Australian-made UEV-440 Extreme is one of the most innovative and user-friendly off-road campers in the Conqueror North America product mix. It’s outfitted like an RV, sleeping four on double beds inside the rooftop tent that also sports a drop-down room. The rugged, 2,700-pound Urban Escape Vehicle (UEV) is jam-packed with individual features, accessories, and storage, including slide-out Dometic propane stove and a 90-liter National Luna fridge/freezer. The ingenious blower pressurizes the interior during travel keeping it dustproof, the roof, supported on gas struts, is insulated, the floor carpeted. A pressurized water system and a large 42-gallon water tank provide showering and wash-up solutions wherever you make camp. The UEV’s all-metal body rides on a solid-beam axle with high-end off-road shocks and 31-inch A/T tires. The 12-inch brakes and a 360-degree Alko off-road coupler add to its go-anywhere functionality. Price nicely equipped: $38,950; 937-594-9565; www.conqueror4x4usa.com

Schutt Xventure XV-2
At 1,190 pounds and a payload capacity of 2,300, Schutt Industries’ XVenture XV-2 Severe-Duty Off-Road Trailer was originally developed to exceed the stringent performance standards demanded by today's military. The aluminum structure is huck-bolted instead of welded, making it one of the strongest, lightest, and most durable of any expedition-style trailers in its class. Choose from either a Cascadia Tent or James Baroud USA rooftop tent system. At the front of the trailer is a 5-foot-wide utility cabinet, containing the trailer’s power distribution center with deep-cycle battery, inverter, and charger, plus space for two Jerry cans, and another sealed compartment to carry the 20-pound propane tank. The XV-2 can be optioned with a fresh water tank, electric pump, propane hot-water system, freezer/fridge, outside shower and additional LED lighting. Solar power is also an option. Customize the XV-2 just the way you want it. Price, nicely equipped: $21,400; 715-823-8025; www.schuttindustries.com

Moby1 XTR
Camp. Tour. Explore. No wasting time setting up basecamp in the process. That’s the Moby1 mentality that drives the design of a Moby1 XTR. This 1,800-pound compact, fully self-contained teardrop-style expedition trailer makes journeys into rugged and remote locations as comfortable and convenient as possible. Its small footprint contains an interior bed and cabinetry for clothing and gear, with an outdoor galley for the cooking and a large awning for sheltering your outdoor relaxation space. The XTR’s 54-inch-wide aluminum body rides on an independent A-arm coil suspension with Fox 2.0 shocks and 32-inch A/Ts. If you want a queen-size mattress, Moby1 offers that in the 60-inch-wide body as an option. The interior cabinetry is maple, and the galley under the front cover is fullsize with additional cabinets to store food and cookware. From there on the Moby1 is outfitted like going to a full-service restaurant: Look at the menu, order what you want. They offer roof racks to rooftop tents, generators to solar panels, heating and air conditioning to refrigerators/freezers—and a lot in between. Price nicely equipped: $25,500. 801-872-4054; www.moby1trailers.com

Livin’ Lite Rock Climber
The aluminum-bodied QuickSilver Rock Climber from Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles weighs in at just under 1,300 pounds. It’s based on an aluminum tube frame with an enclosed torsion axle running 34-inch LT315/70R17 A/Ts that put 17 inches between the trailer’s diamond-plated skidplate and terra firma. This is a wallet-friendly tent trailer for those who enjoy wheelin’ in the backcountry. The heavy-duty flip-out tent sits on strong tubular aluminum supports, and the 60x78-inch mattress bed sleeps two adults in comfort, while the 5-foot sofa bed in the trailer can accommodate the younger explorers. The Rock Climber also includes 12V/110V outlets, a 12V interior Fan/Light Package, and LED exterior lighting. At just under 11 feet, it’s easily towed by small SUVs. Electric brakes, A/C, awning, and awning room are options. Price nicely equipped, $13,000; 800-768-4016; www.livinlite.com

The Turtlebacker
It’s here. Turtleback Trailers’ Turtlebacker is a combination their Expedition Trailer with a flatdeck so off-road enthusiasts can camp and have their toys close by in one shot without having to lug around a huge toy hauler. The tandem-axle beast, which has a maximum trailered weight (GVWR) capacity of 7,000 pounds, is built to hold quads, side-by-sides, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and small sand rails. There’s a full slide-out galley under the front-mounted rooftop tent, 42 gallons of fresh water onboard, gas stove, fridge, and over 50 cubic feet of built-in storage. A California King–sized mattress provides sleep space, and the trailer provides a way to bring your toys to camp all in one easy move. Options abound in tent models and cool accessories to make basecamp exactly the way you want it. Price ready to roll: $33,995; 855-732-2383; www.turtlebacktrailers.com

Schutt Xventure XV-Flatdeck
You can haul up to a four-person side-by-side utility vehicle with ease, taking you wherever the road can take you—and beyond. Available for pre-order in Q3/Q4 2017.

XV-F includes a 10-year chassis warranty, lighted license plate mount, military- grade electrical harness, military-grade Deutsch electrical connectors, cargo tie-downs, electric brakes, dual independent manual parking brakes, max coupler tri-axis hitch, independent suspension, 32-inch tires, drive-over fenders, locking front storage cabinet, emergency breakaway system, and all LED lighting. 715-823-8025; www.schuttindustries.com

A Closer Look: Turtleback’s 2018 Turtlebacker Toy Hauler

The Trailer/Tent Combo That Can Be Pulled By Midsize Trucks And SUVs Is An Exciting New Twist In Tent Trailers And Toy Haulers

When you’re looking for a toy hauler that has sleeping accommodations for up to four people and be able to serve as a basecamp, there are dozens up on dozens of choices. But when you need one that’s light enough to be towed by vehicles with maximum towing capacities of under 6,000 pounds, and you want the trailer to be sturdy and truly off-road capable? Well, the pickings get downright slim.

That’s because conventional toy haulers, by design, are heavy, typically requiring a fullsize pickup to tow even the smallest of those with a kitchen, onboard water system and provisions to sleep a couple adults. Don’t even think about taking them seriously off-road. But the newest offering from Arizona-based Turtleback Trailers we recently checked out, called the Turtlebacker, provides an innovative way to tow light and still rest easy when camp is set up.

The Turtlebacker mounts Turtleback’s self-contained Expedition Trailer unit on a conventional flat-deck tandem-axle trailer so those with lighter vehicles have a toy hauler complete with sleeping quarters, slide-out kitchen, 42 gallons of fresh water, hot water, shower, and 45 cubic feet of secure storage space. The 21-foot 10-inch trailer has a dry weight of 3,600 pounds with a 3,400-pound payload capacity. (Our demo unit weighed 3,600 pounds loaded and ready for camp, sans the dirt bikes, quads, or a side-by-side strapped to its deck.)

Setting up camp and rolling off our ’18 Polaris RZR XP 1000 for a romp in the Oregon Dunes took less than 10 minutes. We pulled out the twin aluminum ladders on the 23 Zero rooftop tent on our demo unit and used them to rotate the tent from its folded position to fully open in seconds. The tent’s internal aluminum framework around the ripstop polycotton canvas, with thick, high-density foam mattresses, makes for an inviting sleeping quarter.

Slipping in the window stays, fanning out the optional Foxwing awning that provides 270 degrees of sun/rain protection, and placing the anchor ropes for the awning and tent takes another couple minutes.

The compartments beneath the tent contain the slide-out galley and locking storage areas. The galley is made from a rich Baltic Birch, with a big slide-out drawer above the cooking and washing area to store everything from condiments to utensils. The 18-inch, two-burner Partner propane stove on our unit was a nice upgrade over the base Wedgewood unit if you do a lot of camping in windy conditions.

The built-in stainless sink, with a glass top, serves both as cleanup area and added counter prep space. Perimeter lighting is all LED and a Deka AGM marine battery powers it. The trailer also comes pre-wired for solar power.

Hot water is piped to both the sink and to the exterior shower, and the 6-gallon hot water heater capacity and 42-gallon fresh water tank are more than adequate to handle the needs of three to four people dry camping out in the desert or dunes for extended periods of time. Our test unit was also outfitted with an optional 65-liter freezer/fridge on a slide-out rack between the tent/galley unit and the wedge-shaped storage box mounted on the trailer’s nose.

The toy-hauling section aft of the people-serving area is also well designed. The galvanized and powdercoated frame, supported by a pair of 3,500-pound capacity UCF Flexride torsion-style axles (with electric brakes), is topped with aluminum decking inlaid with E-tracks on both sides and down the center so there are tie-down points every couple inches. The tubular beavertail ramp is light enough to fold up or deploy easily, and stout enough to handle the heaviest of side-by-sides.

We’ve spent a lot of time dry camping in the mountains, desert, and dunes with Turtleback’s Expedition tent trailer and found it to be a very comfortable camp central. Now having the ability to bring along our toys at the same time opens up a new level of off-road exploration opportunities for those of us who don’t own fullsize 4x4s—or just don’t want to deal with the off-road constraints pulling a conventional toy hauler. –DSOR

Turtlebacker Specifications
Length: 96 inches wide, 21 feet 10 inches long
Vehicle Deck: 12x6-foot aluminum (14-foot optional deck)
Dry Weight: 3,600lbs
Payload Capacity: 3,400 pounds
Frame: Boxed steel 2x4-inch hot-dip galvanized
Axles: Dual 3,500-pound UCF Flexride w/ electric brakes
Wheels: Pro-Comp steel wheels with 33-inch BFG K02 tires
Tent: 23 Zero Sydney RTT
Galley: Two-burner Partner propane stove and stainless sink; Baltic Birch pantry; dual slide-out drawers
Water: 42-gallon fresh-water tank; 6-gallon DSI hot-water tank; 12V on-demand water pump; exterior shower
Propane: 20 pounds with stainless steel bracket
Electrical: Deka AGM 12V battery with single-bank charger; 30-amp solar controller; six-circuit fuse block
Lighting: LED interior and exterior
Base MSRP: $36,383

With a payload capacity of 3,400 pounds and a dry weight of 3,600 pounds, the 2018 Turtleback Turtlebacker toy hauler provides a nice alternative for off roaders to bring along their toys with a fully self-contained camp setup.
In addition to sleeping two adults very comfortably, the storage box on Turtlebacker’s nose also houses the electrical system that powers the trailer’s 43-gallon fresh-water system, hot water heater and LED lighting.
Turtlebacker has a slide-out galley with a two-burner propane stove and a stainless steel sink with a glass top that doubles as a prep area. Baltic birch woodwork and side-out drawers are nicely done. Freezer/fridge between the galley and storage box is an option.
The tubular beaver-tail loading ramp makes it easy to get toys on/off the 72-inch-wide aluminum trailer deck.
There’ll never be a problem finding a tie-down point for bikes or ATVs. The Turtlebacker deck has three rows of E-tracks that provide quick anchoring of anything put on the trailer. Trailer is available with both 12- and 14-foot flat decks.
Our test trailer came with the 1A Electrical System Upgrade ($300) that includes dual Deka 24 AGM marine batteries, Blue Sea six-circuit fuel block, 8-amp marine battery charger and a 10-amp solar control with voltage meter. The Xantrx pure-sine 2,000-watt inverter package is also an option ($850.)

Sources

Polaris Industries
Medina, MN 55340
800-765-2747
www.polarisindustries.com
Parker’s ATV & Cycle
541-756-3967
parkersatvpolaris.com
Turtleback Trailers
855-732-2383
turtlebacktrailers.com

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