Tips For Off-Roading and Overlanding With A Trailer | Goats Trail

Tips For Off-Roading and Overlanding With A Trailer | Goats Trail - Goats Trail Off-Road Apparel Company

Tips For Safely Navigating the Trails with an Off-Road Trailer

When out on those long, multi-day overlanding trips, nothing is better than having the comforts of home along for the ride. Towing an off-road trailer allows you to bring more gear, equipment, and even lightweight living quarters into remote areas most rigs can't reach alone.

But here’s a hard lesson we’ve all had to learn – hauling extra weight affects handling, raises safety considerations, and requires some modification and preparation to pull off-road. But with the right trailer matched to your tow vehicle, packed properly, and driven carefully, your expeditions can safely access pristine boondocking spots.

Here at Goats Trail, we know it can be challenging to know how to best prep for towing an off-road trailer, especially if you’re new to overlanding. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the essentials of towing an off-road trailer and set yourself up for a successful adventure.

Whether you’re a veteran seeking new terrain or a novice preparing for your first multi-day trek, use this advice to maximize your adventures while keeping everyone and everything secure, mile after mile.

Tip 1: Pick a Rig That Can Handle the Load

One of the biggest mistakes newbie overlanders make is hitching up a trailer that’s too much for their tow vehicle.

We get the temptation – bigger trailers allow you to bring all the toys and creature comforts you could ever want. But exceeding your vehicle’s maximum tow rating or payload capacity is asking for trouble on rugged terrain.

When selecting a trailer, carefully consider your truck, SUV, or van’s specs and capabilities. Scrutinize the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, max towing capacity, payload allowance, and tongue weight limit. Be realistic about carrying capacity when loading gear, water, fuel, and passengers. Outfitters recommend keeping your fully loaded rig under 80% of rated capacities for safe handling.

Keep in mind that larger trailers often require upgrades to the tow vehicle, like a more robust receiver hitch or wiring harness. And the suspension may need beefing up with airbags or helper springs to handle the tongue weight pressing down on those back axles. Take time to fully assess the numbers before rolling out!

Tip 2: Load Up Without Overloading

Once you’ve got the right trailer hooked onto a capable tow rig, the fun starts with loading all your gear, gadgets, and goodies. But improper weight distribution or unsecured cargo can make handling increasingly squirrely the further you venture off-road.


When prepping your trailer, take time to organize and evenly distribute the weight. Heavy items like water, batteries, and equipment should usually be centered near the axles. And don’t forget tongue weight - aim for 10-15% of your fully loaded trailer weight to press down on that hitch. Use tie-downs, straps, nets, and other solid restraints to keep everything in place no matter how bumpy the roads get.


While loading your trailer, continually assess how the weight affects your vehicle’s handling, backing, braking, and control. Loading changes a rig’s balance point - so take it slow and adjust as needed until you get a good feel behind the wheel. Practicing turns in an empty lot can help gauge handling before you embark into the wilderness.

Tip 3: Take Your Time on the Trail

Even the most rugged off-road rig requires extra caution when towing a trailer off-the-beaten path. The extra length and weight significantly affect acceleration, braking distances, and handling over uneven terrain.

Trailers are most prone to jackknifing when turning, so take corners and switchbacks slowly and widely. Use spotters outside the vehicle if needed. Go slow over rubble, ruts, and loose dirt/sand so the trailer doesn't start fishtailing. Momentum is your friend for getting through sticky traction situations - don't mash the brakes if you start sliding.

Since you'll be moving slower than usual, signal early when pulling off to let faster traffic pass. And expect to cover less ground per day than you may be used to on your overlanding routes. Building in some flex days allows you to better enjoy iconic vistas instead of trying to race through.

The key is adjusting your speed to accompany the slower pace of towing. By taking your time, you’ll keep all that precious cargo and equipment safe and sound on the journey.

Tip 4: Plan Your Route & Campsites Carefully

One of the best parts of overlanding is venturing off the beaten path to access pristine boondocking locations. But towing a trailer limits nimbleness and adds extra considerations when picking remote campsites. Careful planning and scouting ahead help ensure you safely guide your rig to the perfect off-grid camping spot.

Pre-Trip Planning

Before embarking on a trip, thoroughly assess potential routes, water crossings, and camp areas using maps, GPS tracks, satellite imagery, and local knowledge.

Determine if the path genuinely allows trailer access or could leave you high-centered. When you arrive, physically scout creek crossings first before committing to forge through and get stranded.

Analyzing Boondocking Spots

When evaluating prospective boondocking areas, scrutinize the ground surface for a flat, stable base, so stabilizer jacks and levels perform properly.

Check for tree branches and other obstructions that could damage your rig. Consider multiple access points and turnaround options allowing both entry and exit. Pick a site offering the best possible protection from the wind and other environmental hazards.

Tip 5: Conduct Routine Checkups

When overlanding with a trailer, staying on top of maintenance is crucial for avoiding roadside headaches. Establish a regular routine of inspections and upkeep with these tips:

  • Check tire pressure frequently in the tow vehicle and trailer to maintain proper traction
  • Confirm brake controllers are calibrated and fluid levels sufficient for the added weight
  • Test all trailer light connections and wiring to have full visibility
  • Inspect hitch, chains, breakaway system each time you connect or drop the trailer. Retighten if needed.
  • Lubricate doors, gates, stabilizing jacks and slides to prevent mechanical issues
  • Monitor seal condition and reseal as necessary to prevent water damage
  • Confirm propane appliances and ventilation systems are working properly
  • Check mounting security on roof racks and exterior gear during long trips
  • Have an automotive toolkit suitable for diagnosing trailer electrical or mechanical problems

It’s Time to Hit the Road Without Fear

While trailering off-road adds complications, don’t let that deter you from embarking on an epic overlanding adventure. Your rig can safely access remarkable boondocking locations with thorough prep work, choosing the proper rig and trailer combo, and handling maintenance vigilantly. And those pristine vistas and unforgettable destinations? They make all the effort worthwhile.

When getting outfitted for your next journey, check out Goats Trail Apparel for the best off-roading and overlanding gear. Their technical clothing is designed for performance, protection, and comfort while exploring the most radical terrain. And branded merch lets you display your offroading pride – whether blazing trails or grabbing drinks at the lodge after an adrenaline-filled day.

So hitch up that trailer and catch the overlanding bug without hesitation. Just be sure to visit the Goats Trail store first to get geared up for the ride of a lifetime!





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