Adventure Trailers Chaser Camping Trailer - Good To GoPosted in Vehicle Reviews on July 1, 2009
Most trailers will do just fine when exploring dirt backroads, but try to drag 'em down a challenging trail and their size, weight and design quickly become their limiting factors. In the world of trailers, there are only a handful built to handle the rigors of off-highway terrain and one of those is the Chaser built by Adventure Trailers.
Adventure Trailers (AT) has been around since '01, and they currently offer two off-highway-ready trailers: the Chaser and the Horizon. The trailers look similar at a glance, but the Chaser is longer, narrower, and lighter than the Horizon. Like the Horizon, each Chaser is built-to-order and the base MSRP gets you the basic trailer, which is a foundation for personalizing it to suit your needs with a wide range of available options. We recently had the opportunity to tether a well-equipped Chaser to project Teal Brute, our heavily modified '97 Jeep TJ. We explored the Soggy Dry Lake area in southern California, where we bounced the pair down the brutally rough Bessemer Mine Road, across the dusty dry lake and up and down some twisty, off-camber, rock-strewn trails. We also found a pleasant canyon and morphed the unit into a base camp utilizing the roof top tent to experience the Chaser's camp-friendliness.
So what was it like? Well, here's an up-close-and-personal look at some of the features of the Chaser. We think you'll be surprised at the ruggedness and ingenuity that went into the design of the trailer. We were.
Our test rig came shod with 235/85R16 (31.7-inch diameter) BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires on Land Rover wheels and as you can see, there's plenty of room for wheel travel in the 'wells. As a rule, buyers have the option of matching the tires and wheels to the tow rig at the time the Chaser is ordered. You can get common bolt patterns like 5 on 4 1/2, 5 on 5, 5 on 5 1/2, 6 on 5 1/2, and so on. The Chaser can be fit with up to 37-inch tires. Electric brakes are optional and they feature 10-inch drums.
No, you're not seeing things. The Chaser uses an air-ride independent suspension setup. They call it TASS Generation 3 due to its trailing arm, airbag, and shock absorber suspension components and the fact that it's the third iteration of this in-house suspension design. It's the sum of eight years of doggedly testing a variety of suspension setups. This system is the key to the Chaser's excellent on- and off-highway manners. Not only is it lightweight, but it allows the trailer to pass over an obstacle without the side-to-side rocking like a solid axle. The airbags offer a great ride, they transmit much less vibration, they react quickly to changes in terrain, and they're adjustable to compensate for payload weight. A shock absorber travels through the center of each airbag and each shock has 16-way adjustability. This suspension is bolted to the Chaser's rugged and simple chassis, which is made from 2x3x1/8 steel tube. The rearmost crossmember in the chassis is made from thicker material to support the 2-inch receiver hitch, as well as to add beef to this departure point.
The Chaser's main 6-foot-long cargo box is made from 14-gauge powdercoated zinc-washed steel and it offers 46 cubic feet of storage. The cargo area can be accessed by opening the hinged rear tailgate (optional) or the hinged lid (shown). The hinged lid comes standard with exterior-mounted gas-charged struts so they aren't damaged by cargo. Extensive work has been done to ensure that the lid and tailgate keep out dust and water. It's also worth noting that the Adventure Trailer engineers made each panel on the cargo box a simple bolt-on affair for easy replacement should damage occur on the trail. In addition, the left and right cargo box panels are exactly the same as are the fenders and roof panels.
The Chaser can be outfitted for camping by ordering one of nine optional roof tents. Our tester was fitted with the Eezi-Awn Globetrotter tent, which is a brand-new option for '09. This unit sleeps up to four people. The first step to set up the tent is to level and chock the trailer and remove the heavy-duty reinforced PVC rain- and dustproof travel cover. With the cover removed, all of the components you'll need are at your fingertips. The tent is made from heavy-duty ripstop canvas that is double-stitched throughout and stretched onto powdercoated steel bows that are fixed to an imported polyurethane-coated plyboard with anodized aluminum hardware and stainless steel hinges. The unit also includes a unique internal bungee mechanism to aid opening and closing of the tent.
From this angle you can see a variety of features and options on the front passenger side of the Chaser. Here you can see how the front of the cargo box is coated with bedliner to protect the finish. You can also see the optional 19-gallon polyethylene water tank with pump and one of two fuel cans in their custom AT-manufactured mounts. Also, note the two 12-volt power receptacles and the larger plug above those. The 12-volt plugs are two of the three included in the 12-volt option (the other is in the cargo box, which in our tester's case was feeding power to the optional Engel MT-45 refrigerator/freezer) and the larger plug is for a 120-volt connection for the Battery Tender.
It was fascinating to watch the Chaser's manners as we drove into the Soggy Dry Lake area on the brutally rough Bessemer Mine Road. Even on the rock-dotted washboard surface, the Chaser stayed very composed and controlled thanks to the TASS suspension. This airbag-equipped independent suspension is impressive in every regard. We continued to be impressed when we got onto the curvy, rocky, off-camber trails. Our Chaser's 21 inches of ground clearance meant that if we got our tow rig over an obstacle, the Chaser was sure to follow easily because it actually had a bit more ground clearance than our tall Teal Brute. Also impressive was the Lock N' Roll hitch, which allowed the trailer to articulate freely over all types of terrain.
We purposely towed the Chaser on the dry lakebed at speed with Teal Brute kicking up large quantities of fine, talcum-like dust so we could see if the Chaser's seals kept the dust out of the main cargo box and the nose box. They did. That's a good indication of the rig's water resistance, too.
When it came time to set up camp, we found that it takes about 20 minutes to set up the Globetrotter tent. This includes setting up the "front room" and the awning. There were plenty of windows in the tent for ventilation and lots of space in the front room for changing clothes, storage or more sleeping space. We also liked the Chaser's optional rear tailgate, which allowed access to the main cargo box when the tent was erected
The Chaser isn't inexpensive, but it's not your normal off-highway trailer, either. It's designed, tested, and crafted to withstand the rigors of places like the Arctic, the Rubicon, and Moab. The Chaser is a great fit for the hardcore wheeler who defines towing and camping a bit differently than the normal person.
Model: Adventure Trailers Chaser
Base price: $5,914
Price as tested: $15,012
Options as tested: Tailgate ($454); 19-gallon water tank ($445); nose box ($352); two fuel cans and AT holder ($285); electric brakes w/breakaway ($492); Lock N' Roll hitch ($207); Thule load bars (3) on adjustable track ($524); Globetrotter trailer tent ($2,800); custom Land Rover wheels ($400); BFG KM2 Mud-Terrain tires ($440); auxiliary 12-volt wiring w/night light, ARB Adventure Light, 3 fused outlets, battery tray and hold down ($402); Group 31 deep cycle battery ($300); Carmanah RV 25-amp solar panel charge controller and surface mount ($170); PowerFilm Solar 60-watt foldable solar charger ($941); Engel MT-45 refrigerator/freezer ($696); Transit Slide-Lok for Engel refrigerator/freezer ($70); LED work light ($120)
Overall length (in): 120
Overall width (in): 64
Main cargo box LxWxH (in): 50 (top) 40 (bottom) x 26.25 x 72
Total cubic capacity (cu ft): 46
Base trailer net weight (lb): 700
Maximum payload (lb): 2,000 (all options and features plus base trailer weight and water/fuel)
Water storage capacity (gal): 19
Gas cans (gal): 5 (x2)
Mattress LxWxH (in): 79.0 x 63.0 x 3.3
Ground clearance (in): 24 (w/35-inch tires)
Box material: 14-gauge powdercoated zinc-washed steel