The Best Overland Trailers of 2020
I began considering the utility of an overland trailer while I was still traveling full-time in my RV, and here’s why. In the RV, I was frequently debating if I should leave the pavement, the lurking fear of needing to back down an off-camber dirt road ever present in the back of my mind. There was also the issue of performance on the road. To climb a steep grade, I was always needing to downshift, turn on the heat, and open the windows to avoid overheating while pickup trucks whizzed past me with compact habitats in tow. I remember thinking, “Wow, that looks much less stressful.” That was three years ago.
It took a while, but I’m finally in the process of selling my RV to buy a truck. And while I may ultimately purchase a truck camper instead of a trailer, I fully understand the value of having a detachable habitat that provides comfort, protection from the elements, and leaves you with a fully capable 4WD to tackle the technical challenges that exist just off the pavement. After all, some of the best adventures lie just a little bit farther down that Forest Service road.
This article focuses on my picks for the best overland trailers of 2020, but it’s important to point out that this article is subjective. Despite my best attempts to provide unbiased information, I have my opinions, and I’m sure that we won’t see eye to eye on everything. But hopefully, instead of inciting argument, my selections within the various categories can spark discussion. And for those of you who are considering purchasing an overland trailer, perhaps this article can provide some valuable information.
Breaking it Down: How to Judge the Best Overland Trailers of 2020
Similarly to our best campervans of 2020 guide, I’ve divided the best overland trailers of 2020 into categories:
Teardrop | Pop-up | Minimalist | Luxury
In addition to my editor’s picks, I’ll also point out some honorable mentions and other trailers worth looking into. My choices will be based on a variety of criteria, including the following:
Function– What is this trailer made for? There’s a big difference between a luxurious teardrop designed for the pavement and a high-clearance minimalist overland trailer. Because different trailers have different end-use designs, I’ll do my best to evaluate fairly, comparing apples to apples.
Comfort– The goal of the overland trailer is to make life easier, giving you additional capacity for gear, enhanced comfort, or both. And whether a trailer is designed for the minimalist or someone who wants luxury, comfort is still a consideration.
Capability – Trailer capability encompasses more than just towing or off-road performance. It includes resource capacity (electricity, water, gear), amenities, and special features.
Value– The most expensive trailer is not automatically the best.
I considered multiple trailers from over 20 different manufacturers. Even so, I am likely leaving out some manufacturers, so if you find that I have neglected to include a viable option, please feel free to link to them in the comments section of this article.
*All pricing included in this article is approximate and subject to change. Check with individual manufacturers for the most current rates.
Best Teardrop Overland Trailer
The classic teardrop trailer is a familiar silhouette that hearkens back to the good old days when people owned credenzas and listened to vinyl. Like many things from the past, teardrop trailers (and vinyl, for that matter) have made a bit of a comeback in recent years. Now, we get to enjoy the best of both worlds: the classic teardrop style with modern amenities and performance. For this category, I only considered trailers with the classic teardrop shape.
Honorable Mention – There’s a lot to like about the Timberleaf Classic Offroad (and all Timberleaf trailers for that matter – we previously featured the Pika here). The Classic features good looks (offered in many color options), an expansive skylight, a large galley, Timbren axle-less suspension with 33-inch BFG KO2s, electric brakes, rock armor, and a Max coupler hitch. Two doors provide access to the fully insulated cabin and the almost-queen-sized bed. With a 1,500-pound dry weight, most vehicles can tow the Classic. Base price: $24,000.
Editor’s Pick for Best Overland Teardrop Trailer of 2020: Pindrop Trailers Roadrunner
Base Price: $20,750 | DryWeight: 1,850 pounds
There are a lot of excellent options within the teardrop category, but in the end, the Pindrop Trailers Roadrunner is my pick for the best overland teardrop trailer of 2020. Let’s start with value, which I believe is offered in heaps with the particular model. The galley includes a two-burner stove, pull-out cooler drawer, exterior speakers, lighting, power outlets, and ample storage for dry goods. Also included in the base model is a tongue-mounted storage box, 175-watt roof-mounted solar panel, an AGM battery + charge controller + 1,000-watt AC inverter, a trestle-span roof rack, stabilizer jacks, a full-sized spare, and a shade awning.
Inside the Roadrunner, a queen-sized mattress is surrounded by Baltic-birch cabinetry and storage. A three-speed reversible fan and two access doors provide ventilation, while R-13 insulation keeps things comfortable in hot or cold weather. Additionally, the cabin has LED lighting, 120-volt outlets, 12-volt outlets, and a Bluetooth radio. The Roadrunner comes standard with 3,500-pound capacity Dexter axles and can be optioned with electric trailer brakes for an additional fee.
Best Pop-up Overland Trailer
As the category would suggest, the best option will be categorized by its pop-up top. This includes trailers that utilize a pop-top for increased headroom as well as trailers that have integrated tents that open to create sleeping and living quarters.
Honorable Mentions – There are some excellent options in the pop-up overlanding trailer category, and it was challenging to narrow down the field. The Taxa Cricket Overland Edition, designed by a former NASA engineer, certainly got my attention (previously featured on Expedition Portal). It is lightweight (2,000 pounds), with a respectable amount of storage for a compact trailer that sleeps two adults plus two children in a lofted bunk. It was also the only trailer in the group with an indoor galley. Timbren suspension with electric brakes, 15-inch alloy wheels, insulated windows, heat and hot water, a portable toilet, and Thule load bars are standard equipment. Base price: $38,950.
Another worthy competitor in the pop-up category that gets an honorable mention is the Opus Trailers OP4, which has sleeping room for up to six (check out the smaller OP2 here). The OP4’s outdoor kitchen consists of multiple slides with a 4-burner stove, food-prep surface, sink with running water, 12-volt fridge, and LED lighting. Perhaps the most unique feature of the OP4 is the powered, inflatable habitat that sets up in as little as 90 seconds and provides 8 feet of interior headroom. Base price: $24,500.
Editor’s Pick for Best Pop-up Overland Trailer of 2020: Mission Overland Summit
Base Price: $37,000 | Dry Weight: 2,250 pounds
In the end, I chose the Mission Overland Summit trailer for a variety of reasons. It may not be the fanciest trailer in the pop-top category, but it has an impressive spec sheet and an impressive 22 inches of ground clearance. Timbren suspension, a queen-sized bed, fully insulated cabin, Truma heating and hot water, 76 inches of interior standing room, alloy wheels, and three stowable jacks all come as standard equipment. With a dry weight of 2,250 pounds, it’s on the lighter side but can accommodate up to 1,250 pounds of cargo.
The outdoor, slide-out kitchen has a stainless sink, two-burner stove, and dual-zone 69-liter fridge/freezer. An optional 270 awning can be optioned from Mission, offering protection from the elements while cooking. Finally, the Summit’s full composite construction ensures years of rot-free enjoyment.
To learn more, visit the Mission Overland website here.
Best Minimalist Overland Trailer
For the category of minimalist overland trailers, I selected candidates that do not have integrated sleeping or living quarters. All of the minimalist trailers here offer gear storage space, and most of them will accommodate rooftop tents. Some have integrated galleys and additional amenities.
Honorable Mentions – I ended up placing the Off Grid Trailers Expedition 2.0 into the minimalist category for the purposes of this article, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as minimal in design or comfort. At just under 14 feet long, it is a bit bigger than all of the other trailers in this category. It has just under 4 feet of headroom inside its cabin and a 78.5- x 56.5-inch mattress. It also has a slide-out kitchen, on-demand hot water, a 55-liter fridge on slides, a 1,000-watt AC inverter, and “zero wood” construction. Base price: $26,900.
Also deserving of an honorable mention is the Nuthouse Industries Hickory expedition overland trailer. This all-aluminum model comes standard with 3,500-pound Timbren axles, electric brakes, tube fenders, an aluminum tongue box, and 56 cubic feet of storage. What I like about this trailer is the modest base price with the ability to add optional accessories and systems à la carte. Base price: $16,454.
Editor’s Pick for Best Minimalist Overland Trailer of 2020: Turtleback Trailers Expedition
Base Price: $35,720 | Dry Weight: 1,850 pounds
Designed, tested, and built in the USA, the Expedition overland trailer from Turtleback Trailers is my pick in our minimalist category of overland trailers. With 55+ cubic-feet of storage space, this trailer has room for plenty of gear while also carrying 42 gallons of fresh water, a fridge, and a slide-out kitchen (which all come standard). Additional standard equipment includes a four-rail roof-mounted cargo rack, 11-pound exterior-mounted propane tank, Icon 17-inch alloy wheels with off-road tires, 105 amp-hour DEKA AGM house battery, and more.
The Turtleback Expedition’s suspension can be tricked out (costs extra) with Icon Vehicle Dynamics remote reservoir shocks, Hypercoil custom-wound dual rate progressive springs, and Daystar Kevlar pivot bushings. Additional upgrades can be made in most areas of the trailer, and Turtleback even offers color matching to your vehicle.
To learn more, visit the Turtleback Trailers website here.
Best Luxury Overland Trailer
Sometimes referred to as caravans, the best luxury overland trailers will be defined by their larger size, significant amenities, and high-quality finishes. Every model that I considered for this article offers interior standing room, and most also offer interior kitchens and bathrooms. Because these are overlanding trailers, off-road capability is also taken into consideration.
Honorable mentions– The Bruder EXP-6 is the first recipient of an honorable mention in the category of luxury overland trailers. It has incredible offroad performance, as reported by Chris Cordes in a previous article on ExPo, while also offering above-average comforts and finishes. The EXP-6 is offered in two versions: one with a pop-top and the other with a higher, hard roof. Base price: $135,754.
Also receiving an honorable mention is the Living Vehicle, which has also previously been covered on ExPo. This luxury overland trailer may be one of the most incredible off-grid living solutions that we’ve seen, with enough power to charge an electric chase vehicle, power a washer and dryer, and run multiple air conditioners. The Living Vehicle leaves nothing to be desired in regard to comfort, but its 30+ foot length and 13,500-pound GVWR ultimately limit its off-road abilities. Base price: $229,995.
Editor’s Pick for Best Luxury Overland Trailer of 2020: Kimberley Kruiser S3 Classic
Base Price: $101,220 | Dry Weight: 5180 pounds
The Kimberley Kruiser S3 Classic delivers both comfort and capability and is my editor’s pick for best luxury overland trailer of 2020. This hard-sided (no pop-top) trailer offers an indoor and outdoor kitchen, allowing you to prepare meals no matter what the weather is doing. The S3 also features a fully enclosed bathroom, a queen-sized bed, and a dinette.
The suspension of the Kimberly S3 consists of air springs, 66-millimeter mono-tube shocks, and disc brakes. The air bags smooth out rough roads and allow for easy leveling when you are getting situated in camp. The S3 can be outfitted with wheels to match your vehicle for redundancy and an extra margin of safety should you get a flat (Land Rover and 120mm PCD wheels coming soon).
The S3 also has many of the amenities you would expect in a trailer that breaks the 100K price point, including solar power, lithium house batteries, air conditioning, an induction cooktop, a smart touch display to monitor camper systems, and a washing machine. A composting toilet eliminates the need for a black water tank and doesn’t require fresh water to operate— it’s a little unexpected but smart. Finally, multiple water tanks and a filtering system lets you draw your water directly from untreated fresh water sources, effectively extending your off-grid capacity.
To learn more, visit the Kimberley Kruisers website here.
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