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Firing Order: Trailers and 4x4s

Posted in News: Features on August 15, 2019
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Many wheelers have significant trailer towing experience. Look around the parking lot of almost any off-road area and you'll see a collection of trailers, usually a mix of bumper tow and gooseneck. You can see this at almost any trailhead in Moab, Utah. Don't know where a trail starts? Just get a general idea and look for the assortment of trailers. Of course, many wheelers use their 4x4s to tow stuff like RVs and toy haulers, and with the hotness of overlanding and overlanding trailers, some of us are towing off-road on a regular basis.

I was 16 years old the first time I drove a vehicle towing a trailer on the road, and even though I'm 56 years old now, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was piloting my parents' '76 Ford LTD towing a Jayco pop-up camper with surge brakes. I remember how interesting it was to feel the differences in how the Ford accelerated, handled, and braked with the trailer attached.

I dug towing and wanted to do more of it. Eventually I got my wish in a big way when I got my Commercial Driver's License and went to work driving a semi hauling heavy coiled steel in a 48-foot dry van trailer. Over the years I piloted a Volvo, Freightliner, Kenworth, and probably a few others I can't remember.

Using our Power Wagon to give the horses a ride.

When I started driving a semi, my towing experience was limited to bumper towing. The difference between that and a semi was so wildly different there was almost no comparison other than they both had a pivot point. For almost seven years I towed a trailer daily on the highway and in cities, in every type of weather imaginable. After a while it felt weird to drive a vehicle that didn't have a trailer.

Along the way my personal collection of trailers grew. Is it wrong to have a "thing" about trailers? I think not. My current trailer count is two: a travel trailer and a 6x12-foot enclosed utility trailer. Since I drive my 4x4s almost everywhere, I haven't seen the need to buy a car-hauler trailer, and I borrow one when the need arises. When one of my kids owned horses, I followed the same logic and borrowed a gooseneck horse trailer when Houston and Tigger needed a ride somewhere.

I've seen 4x4s pulling travel trailers for miles over rock-laden washboard "roads" in SoCal so folks could spend a weekend with almost all the comforts of home on a remote dry lake. I've seen 4x4s towing travel trailers tiptoe through water crossings in Colorado and continue up twisty, rough forest roads so the occupants could enjoy some R&R in the high country. I've seen overlanders travel for miles across rough terrain with a trailer in tow behind their 4x4.

Towing our 20-foot travel trailer with our Nissan Titan test truck.

Most folks are proud of their trailer like they're proud of their 4x4, and it makes sense because both must work together.

We want to see your trailer! Whether it's a flatbed to haul your 4x4, a toy hauler, an overland-ready trailer, or a completely custom trailer, we'd love to hear about it—and if you've made mods to your trailer to improve its function for the way you use it and/or for off-road travel, tell us about it. And please include a high-res photo!

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