An off-road trailer is a trailer that’s been designed for towing behind an off-road or 4x4 vehicle. The idea is to build it so that it can be taken to remote places that are not accessible with a standard utility trailer.
Off-road camping trailers are popular among the Overlanding community. In other words, people use them for self-reliant exploration and travel to remote locations where the journey is equally as important as the final destination.
If you’d like to know a little more about cross-country travel trailers and their capabilities, this complete guide has the answers.
What is an Off-Road Trailer?
An off-road trailer is a travel trailer you can take off the beaten path and across tough, unpaved roads and trails.
Off-road trailers come equipped with various features, depending on the brand. For example, they might include off-road tires, reinforced chassis, and raised suspension.
Quite often, off road camper trailers can be customized to meet individual owner needs and personal camping goals. For example, there might be a tent mount, minimalist gear storage, or a full-service off-road trailer that’s got all the comforts of home.
What are some other names for an off-road trailer?
You’ll find this type of trailer called many different names including off-road camper, off-road camper trailer, off-road trailers, cross country trailer, overland trailer, 4x4 trailer or simply camper trailer. They all refer to a trailer that’s been ruggedly and durably made.
What Makes a Trailer Off-Road?
For a trailer to be considered suitable for overland travels, it must be built to handle the rigors of rough terrain and trails that take you deep into the wilderness. However, at the same time, off road trailers must offer creature comforts that will make your overland adventure more comfortable and enjoyable.
What's the Difference Between an Off-Road Travel Trailer and a Normal Travel Trailer?
There are many differences between an off-road camper and a normal travel trailer.
An off-road trailer will have higher ground clearance.
The body and frame will be constructed from materials that are lightweight and more durable.
Off road trailers will have all-terrain, off-road, or mud tires that are made from a thicker material that’s less likely to puncture.
All of these features mean you can take off-road camper trailers on a rough road or trail that’s only accessible with an AWD or 4x4 vehicle.
What are the Specifications of Off-Road Trailers?
Not all off-road camper trailers are created equal. If you want your off-road trailer to stand up to the pressures you put it under for many years to come, you should check the following specifications.
Chassis and Suspension
Ideally, the chassis needs to be built specifically for overland use, and be durable and rugged. Your off-road camper will travel and perform better with an independent suspension that’s got good articulation. In addition, it should have heavy-duty springs, shock absorbers, and axles that will absorb the knocks and bumps of rough terrain.
Tires and Wheels
You’ll be taking your off-road camper over some pretty rough terrain so it’ll need strong and durable tires. A deep tread pattern will ensure there’s plenty of traction. The wheels also need to be strong, preferably made of high-strength materials. If they have a large diameter, there will be adequate clearance to get the trailer over some of the obstacles you’re likely to encounter.
Body and Frame
An off-road camper will take quite a beating over the years so you want one that’s made to take it. The frame and the body of the off-road camper should be constructed using sturdy materials, preferably aluminum or steel.
If you’re planning on doing some proper off-roading, it’s recommended you look for off-road camper trailers that have underbody protection. This will ensure the underside is protected from any rocks, tree stumps, and other obstacles that stick up in the track.
The brake system of an off-road camper trailer is one of the most important safety features. You want your trailer to stop when needed, after all.
There are a variety of different brake systems, but the two that are most commonly recommended are traditional electric brakes and four-wheel independent electric-hydraulic disc brake systems.
Traditional electric brakes work well in that they are independently controlled which means that if one brake fails for whatever reason, the others will still function. However, electric brakes do have their limitations, particularly when used on trailers that are heavier than 10,000 lbs. They tend to be less effective.
Something more powerful is required for the heavier off-road campers and that’s where a four-wheel independent electric-hydraulic disc brake system comes in. This type of system uses standard technology nowadays, and the disc brakes provide increased stopping power. This provides a higher level of confidence for the driving and the overall off-road trailer experience.
Water and Fuel Storage
Storage for water and fuel bears no importance when it comes to the off the beaten trackcapabilities of a travel trailer but is a big factor if you’re planning to go truly off-grid.
Having enough water should be a big priority. It also has to be clean which makes plenty of storage for water or water tanks with a large capacity a priority.
Sufficient fuel storage is also important because you want to have enough fuel to power the generator and any other appliances.
You’re likely to be driving your off-road camper over some pretty rough terrain and the ability to get over obstacles is key to a decent four-wheel driving experience. You should be looking for off-road camper trailers with at least 500mm ground clearance and a departure angle of 40 degrees or more.
As it’s an off-road trailer, it would be a waste if you didn’t take it off-road. On such terrain, you can expect stones, scratches, and dents if you’re not careful. Therefore, the durability of the build and the materials used is very important. The materials should also be corrosion-resistant, the construction sturdy, and the seals waterproof.
Sleeping and Living Quarters
One of the biggest benefits of off-road camper trailers is that you get a place to sleep that’s off the ground and out of the elements. Standard choices are a compartment in the trailer or a rooftop tent. Both options typically come with a comfy mattress, possibly even memory foam if you like. A hard-walled sleeping space will keep you feeling safe and snug.
In terms of living space, a good off-road trailer will come with a well-equipped kitchen that includes a refrigerator, a stove, and storage cabinets. There should also be a sink, shower, and toilet.
Well-equipped off-road camper trailers have several safety features for your personal safety. These include a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector, a fire extinguisher, and an emergency exit.
A powerful brake system and sturdy hitch will ensure a safe towing experience. Many modern off-road trailers come with electronic stability control as standard. This works to correct a swerve, should you lose control. It works by gently applying the trailer brakes which increases the drag against the towing vehicle. This should help it correct and drive straight.
Size and Weight
Off-road campers come in a range of sizes and weights. The ideal off-road camper trailers are those that are lightweight and compact enough for a four-wheel drive vehicle to tow it. However, it also needs to have sufficient space to make it comfortable for living in.
Additional Specifications for Off-Road Trailers
There are several other specifications to consider if you’re looking for an off-road trailer. The following are not imperative but will make your camping experience more comfortable.
You should look for an off-road camper that’s got a robust and reliable electrical system that includes a battery bank, a generator, and solar panels. Ideally, it should be powerful enough to power the trailer electronics, lighting, and all the appliances.
Storage capacity is a big factor, especially when you go off-grid. As well as ample storage for fuel, water, and power, you also need storage for tables and chairs, food, clothing, first aid, and other personal items. A good mix of internal and external storage means you won’t have to make too many compromises on space.
Ventilation and Insulation
If you want to enjoy comfortable conditions inside your off-road trailer whatever the weather, it needs to have proper insulation and ventilation. It should have vents and windows that allow for airflow. At the same time, the insulation should keep the interior cozy and warm when the temperatures drop.
There are going to be times when you just want to enjoy some downtime. A trailer with a selection of entertainment options means you’ll never get bored. To keep you and the other occupants entertained, consider a TV, Wi-Fi, or stereo system.
In many cases, it’s possible to customize off-road camper trailers according to your needs and preferences. Options might include interior layouts, custom paint jobs, and a variety of other additional features.
What are the Different Off-Road Trailer types?
Off-road trailers range from small types to much larger fifth-wheel types and everything in between. Below you’ll find a list of the most common off-road travel trailers.
Conventional Travel Trailers
Conventional travel trailers are the broadest category in terms of size. They can be as small as 12 feet long or up to 40 feet long. They are similar in shape to a conventional motorhome and you’ll find one to suit you whatever your budget. If you want to take this type of travel trailer off-road, you may need to have some modifications done to make it stronger and more durable.
Cheaper to purchase and use than a motorhome or caravan
Easier and safer to tow
The beds are off the ground
Less storage than an RV or caravan
Not so good in high wind
A fifth-wheel trailer is the largest type of travel trailer you can buy. In terms of size, it’s comparable to a Class A motorhome. For a fifth-wheel trailer, you need a pick-up truck with a special tow point in the truck’s bed. With a fifth-wheel trailer, you get extra living or storage space because they extend over the bed of the truck.
More stable towing experience
More interior and exterior floor space
Big and heavy
Usually requires a bigger tow vehicle
Cargo Style Off-Road Trailers
A cargo-style off-road trailer has a large storage base, robust suspension, a mounted rooftop tent, and a host of other options.
Built to withstand harsh environments
Can be challenging to maneuver
Require more maintenance than a regular van
A pop-up is the smallest type of off-road travel trailer. Generally, they’re between ten and feet, although they can be as small as eight feet long. With a pop-up trailer, the structure folds out to provide larger living and sleeping spaces.
Limited sleeping space
Lack of storage
Severe weather can be a bit scary
A toy hauler is a travel trailer with toy storage capabilities (and we’re not talking kids' toys here). It is usual for this type of trailer to be customized according to your needs and depends on whether you want to take your ATV, mountain bikes, motorcycle, or other grown-up toys you might want to take with you.
More secure and safe
Comfortable and stylish
Needs a heavy-duty truck
Dirt and fumes in your living space
Military trailers aren’t necessarily for the military but you can expect them to be rugged in the true sense of the word. You should be able to roam where other travel trailers fear to tread.
Wherever your vehicle goes, your trailer will be able to go too
Expands your camping capabilities
Awkward to lift gear in and out of the trailer
Often there is no kitchen
Expedition trailers tend to be smaller than many other types but they are designed to be taken virtually anywhere.
Plenty of gear storage
Might be too tall to fit in a standard garage for storage
Truck Bed Campers
A truck bed camper is a trailer that’s built onto the bed of a truck. It tends not to be a separate trailer that you have to haul and is often much smaller, depending on the size of the truck, of course.
Compact and easy to drive
Not that cheap
With a custom-built trailer, there is no limitation to size, shape, and weight. You can also include the features you need rather than choosing a trailer with standard specifications.
You can design your own trailer and include everything you need
If you’re not sure what you want, such free-reign can be overwhelming-
What are the Advantages of Owning an Off-Road Camping Trailer?
Specially-built off-road camper trailers have become very popular in recent years. They come in many shapes and sizes but with common advantages. Buying an off-road trailer is a big decision to make, but knowing the advantages may sway your decision.
Some of the things you’ll love about your off-road trailer will include:
You can leave for your next adventure at the drop of a hat: When you own an off-road trailer, you can keep it stocked and ready to go. This makes spontaneous trips so much easier.
Plug and play kitchens: You have an overland trailer and you’ve got a kitchen stocked with all the necessary cooking gear and equipment. This will include the basics such as running water and utensils, but might also include some luxuries such as a stovetop and blender. There’s also usually space for a refrigerator.
Added comfort: With ample storage space, you’re able to bring as many comfort items as you want when you head off camping.
Sleeping space off the ground: This might be a rooftop tend or a compartment inside the trailer.
Base camp: With an off-road camper trailer you’ve got a ready-made base camp that leaves you free to move around in the towing vehicle.
Family fun: With an off-road trailer you can venture into the wild with all the family. It provides a safe place to sleep for the kids and there’s plenty of room for all your additional gear.
How Long Do Off-Road Travel Trailers Last?
At a minimum, you can expect your travel trailer to last at least ten years. If you take good care of it with regular maintenance, a cleaning schedule, and proper repairs you can easily extend its lifespan by more than five years. Some all-terrain travel trailers have been known to last up to 30 years.
How Much Do Overland Travel Trailers Cost on Average?
The average price of an overland travel trailer depends on the model. For example, you can get small tear-drop types with just the basic features for less than $10,000. However, for a more luxurious model with all the bells and whistles, you could find yourself paying $50,000 or considerably more.
Do All Terrain Travel Trailers Require More Maintenance Than Regular Ones?
An off-road travel trailer requires much the same maintenance as a regular travel trailer. However, because you’ll be going overland more often, there will be more cleaning required. In addition, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the wheels and suspension because it will have to endure harsher driving conditions.
Safety Considerations When Traveling With an Off-Road Trailer
Off-road camper trailers can be great fun for all the family. However, much like any other trailer, there are several safety considerations you have to keep in mind when traveling. The most important ones are listed below.
Overland traveling is not the most eco-friendly way to travel. Gas emissions, plastic bags, and single-use food containers are hard to overcome, but it is possible to reduce your environmental impact when you travel with your off-road camper.
Here are some suggestions:
Recycle whenever possible, even if that means taking your empties with you until you reach the next town.
If you need to poop, and let’s face it we all have to at some time, make sure you go responsibly. Dig a hole that’s 8 inches deep and 200 feet away from any water sources. Bury it and cover it with natural materials.
Cherish your water supply and don’t waste it on unnecessary things.
Reduce your speed and travel slowly.
Maintain your vehicle and tires.
Use green and eco-friendly cleaning products.
Eliminate disposable and single-use products.
Watch out for vehicle spills.
Packing and Organization
There’s an art to packing an off-road travel trailer if you want to make the best use of space and be safe at the same time. First, you need to make yourself aware of the weight your trailer can legally and safely handle.
When it comes to packing, try to keep the weight evenly balanced from the front to the rear. Too much weight in the front of the trailer will overload the rear suspension of your towing vehicle and make it handle badly. Pack all the heavy items evenly across the floor and work up to the lighter things at the top of the trailer.
Towing and Setup
Towing a travel trailer is generally pretty easy, as long as you’re aware of what to expect. Your first trip might be a little scary, but it won’t be long before you’re feeling confident and comfortable behind the wheel. There are three main things to think about:
Prepare properly: Before you leave, make sure your trailer is hitched correctly. The hitch must be on, locked in, and your cables properly connected and operational. Pay close attention to the weight distribution. If the trailer is unbalanced, it’s more likely to sway. Check visibility and make sure you can see the trailer’s rear end using both side mirrors. Check the brakes, and the brake controller to ensure they’re properly configured.
Be in the know: In other words, make sure you know the details of your route, and your trailer height.
Drive safe: Be careful when backing up and turning. Understand what happens to your trailer when you’re going up and down hills. Understand how your trailer brakes. Trailer sway is something to be on the lookout for. It’s one of the special dangers of towing an off-road travel trailer. It’s when the trailer wiggles back and forth. If the sway action grows strong it could cause a catastrophic crash.
What Should You Be Looking for When Choosing an Off-Road Travel Trailer?
If you’re thinking about buying an off-road travel trailer, there are some things you should be looking for.
Build Quality & Durability: Build quality and durability is by far the most important factor. Your off-road trailer should have a good chassis. All aluminum is best.
High Ground Clearance: The ground clearance determines how big the debris and rocks you’re able to travel over.
Water and Dust Sealing: An off-road camper full of water or dust is not going to be a good experience. Your campers’ seal should be up to the job.
Storage Space: Is there enough storage space for water, fuel, and any personal items you’ll be bringing along?
Sleeping Capacity: This depends on how many people will be going on your adventures.
Kitchen and Cooking Facilities: It’s not just the variety of facilities available. How well they’re built to withstand the vibrations and bumps is just as important.
Easy Setup and Takedown: You want a trailer that’s easy to set up and takedown. When the weather is bad, you don’t want to be spending hours sorting out your trailer.
Electrical System: The electrical system needs to be powerful enough to power all the appliances and other electrical features of your off-road travel trailer.
Bathroom Facilities: At the very least there should be a toilet and shower available.
Size and Weight: Consider your vehicle’s tow capacity and ball weight.
Ventilation and Insulation: Ventilation and insulation are critical if you want to maintain a comfortable temperature in your trailer.
Price: Off-road campers come in many shapes and sizes. The only real restriction is how much money you’re willing to pay.
Power Systems: Solar panels mean you can still use your off road trailers electrical items even when you’re away from an outlet. You can also stay off grid longer
Air conditioning and heating: Air conditioning will keep your trailer cool in the summer. While a heater means you can use it all year round.
An awning or pop-out tent: Which of these is best for off road trailers depends on your needs and preferences.
Brand Reputation & Reviews: It always pays to do some research of your own. Check a brand's reputation and see what customers are saying about a particular type of off-road travel trailer.
Where Should You Look for the Best Travel Trailer?
There are many places you can go if you want to buy a travel trailer. Where is the best place to look? Consider a reputable dealer, particularly one that sells Blackseries off-road travel trailers. Blackseries is a leader in providing the best all terrain travel trailers in the US.
Now you know all there is to know about off-road trailers, it’s time to get out there and see what you can find.
This upcoming purchase could change your life forever, so take your time and carefully weigh up the options. The adventures you’re about to create are all down to you.
If you have any questions feel free to contact Black Series. We can assist you with your purchase and provide professional advice to make the best possible decision.