Advice on trailer vs teardrop

jacobconroy

Hillbilly of Leisure
I have an RTT on my 2 door JK, an off-road trailer with an RTT on top, and a 13 foot Scamp camper. I'm loading up to go camping this morning...and I'll be taking the Jeep & Scamp combination. Turns out that I like to have a bathroom and a place to hang out if the weather goes to crap (Scamp). But, I like to sleep in the RTT that is on top of the Jeep. I'm not too crazy about my off-road trailer.

I didn't see any mention of a companion in your post. If you plan to take a female pal....bathrooms are a good thing. They like 'em. ;)

After years of practice with 2-door JK towing, I would tell you that Jmanscotch is correct. If you are towing anything more than 1000 lbs, you will need trailer brakes. Might save your life. You should probably have brakes no matter what. My 13 foot Scamp is just under 2000 lbs when fully loaded, and this is the absolute max for a 2 door with 4.10 gears. Might want to check your owners manual for your towing capacity before you buy. A Jeep (2007 JK) with 3.X gears is only rated for 1000 lbs per Chrystler.

If you are towing 2000 lbs in a 2 door JK, you will probably need air bags in the rear, you will need to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, you probably won't exceed 65 MPH, and you will probably be going uphill at 40 MPH. You might be scared crapless half of the time. Jeeps suck for towing and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have towing experience and big, brass huevos. Just kidding. Kindof.
 

ottsville

Observer
After years of practice with 2-door JK towing, I would tell you that Jmanscotch is correct. If you are towing anything more than 1000 lbs, you will need trailer brakes. Might save your life. You should probably have brakes no matter what. My 13 foot Scamp is just under 2000 lbs when fully loaded, and this is the absolute max for a 2 door with 4.10 gears. Might want to check your owners manual for your towing capacity before you buy. A Jeep (2007 JK) with 3.X gears is only rated for 1000 lbs per Chrystler.

If you are towing 2000 lbs in a 2 door JK, you will probably need air bags in the rear, you will need to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, you probably won't exceed 65 MPH, and you will probably be going uphill at 40 MPH. You might be scared crapless half of the time. Jeeps suck for towing and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have towing experience and big, brass huevos. Just kidding. Kindof.
A stressful multi-hour drive towing with the wrong vehicle is a sure way to ruin many a relaxing weekend.
 

Louisd75

Adventurer
I knew matching the width of the vehicle or at least the trailer being smaller was preferable, but I didn’t think about or I had forgotten to consider the width of the wheels and the track they will follow.
As near as I can tell, there are no commercial teardrop manufacturers that recess the wheels to match the track width. Some manufacturers build trailers with a 4' wide body, but IMO that's too narrow if you're sharing the bed. Is it doable? Sure. Heck, my wife and I shared a twin size bed for a while at the start of our relationship (and it was lots of fun) now we have a king though. 5' wide seems to be the most popular body style and will let you put almost a queen size bed in. The problem is that with the wheels not recessed into the body, you add approximately a foot on each side with the wheels and fenders. It's not the end of the world. Heck, the vast majority of teardrops are built with the wheels outside of the body, it's just one more thing to be mindful of when rolling down the road and it's something that's easy to forget about because it's behind you.

Going slow and enjoying the scenery off the beaten path seems to me like one of the main goals, not a rush to get to a place to camp for the night, so I think I could handle making it a leisurely pace. Avoiding the extreme stuff was part of my concern of having a teardrop that’s only capable of light off-roading as opposed to a utility trailer that could handle anything. And without the experience yet of being out west in some of these areas I wasn’t sure what I would find when I got there. I’d hate to actually get there one day and see that all the roads require a considerably beefed up rig.
There aren't many situations where slowing down doesn't help. And you'd probably be surprised at how capable a teardrop would be with careful line selection and slowing down a bit. That is a gripe I've read about where mixed group are traveling, where some have trailers and some don't. The trailers make it, they just have to take it easier going through the more technical sections. The thing about being "out west" is that it's such a vague descriptor of the region. Any areas in particular? We've got everything from tight twisty roads lined with trees and rocks to wide open flatland. There's just so much variety available that it's hard to narrow down.

I have seen a few other options that I liked, part of why I have continued to look at the Intechs was because they have a ton of interior space with their layouts, seemed to be built well, and I was hoping to keep the price fairly close to $10k or less. If my price range was higher I see there are plenty of beefed up teardrops that can handle anything. But at this price consideration, from what I’ve come across so far, my choice is a lightly off road capable teardrop or if I need more off road capabilities then I’d have to go with the utility trailer with the RTT.

Intech also has an even smaller one, without the slide out kitchen so the tongue weight would be considerably less. I’m trying to also keep in mind that since I’m not currently living out West that most of my usage of the trailer will be places that I don’t need much off road capability at all. But I don’t want to sacrifice the biggest motivation to having one, which would be getting out to do some primitive camping in areas that you can’t take a regular RV.
I think that Hiker Trailer has been mentioned. Lead Dog Motorsports is another in your approximate price range with a similar body style.
 

theboatlife

New member
As a former 2 door JK owner, I'd be very careful with your trailer choice. An ultra short wheel base JK isn't an ideal tow vehicle, tough trails or not, so definitely consider something lighter and with brakes equipped.

I’m by no means an expert at towing and trailers, but I keep reading up on things as I can. I do have some experience from towing a fish and ski boat with my old YJ, and more recently a utility trailer and motorcycle with my JK. I know the 2 door JK isn’t the best tow vehicle but it’s the vehicle I really wanted and camping is secondary. I did order the 3.73 gears so the tow rating for my Jeep is 3500lbs, which I plan to stay well below.

I’ve seen people towing some pretty big campers with 2 doors and it’s not something I ever plan to do. A good balance between small, light, and comfortable is the idea.
 

theboatlife

New member
After years of practice with 2-door JK towing, I would tell you that Jmanscotch is correct. If you are towing anything more than 1000 lbs, you will need trailer brakes. Might save your life. You should probably have brakes no matter what. My 13 foot Scamp is just under 2000 lbs when fully loaded, and this is the absolute max for a 2 door with 4.10 gears. Might want to check your owners manual for your towing capacity before you buy. A Jeep (2007 JK) with 3.X gears is only rated for 1000 lbs per Chrystler.

If you are towing 2000 lbs in a 2 door JK, you will probably need air bags in the rear, you will need to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, you probably won't exceed 65 MPH, and you will probably be going uphill at 40 MPH. You might be scared crapless half of the time. Jeeps suck for towing and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have towing experience and big, brass huevos. Just kidding. Kindof.
This is my most recent towing experience, NY to TX with my JK.

 

theboatlife

New member
There aren't many situations where slowing down doesn't help. And you'd probably be surprised at how capable a teardrop would be with careful line selection and slowing down a bit. That is a gripe I've read about where mixed group are traveling, where some have trailers and some don't. The trailers make it, they just have to take it easier going through the more technical sections. The thing about being "out west" is that it's such a vague descriptor of the region. Any areas in particular? We've got everything from tight twisty roads lined with trees and rocks to wide open flatland. There's just so much variety available that it's hard to narrow down.
I keep saying out West because I’m in SE Texas now, but there’s a high likelihood that I’ll be living in Denver within the next 5 years. And from there I will have a lot more options for places to go.
 

Jmanscotch

is a Texan
I’m by no means an expert at towing and trailers, but I keep reading up on things as I can. I do have some experience from towing a fish and ski boat with my old YJ, and more recently a utility trailer and motorcycle with my JK. I know the 2 door JK isn’t the best tow vehicle but it’s the vehicle I really wanted and camping is secondary. I did order the 3.73 gears so the tow rating for my Jeep is 3500lbs, which I plan to stay well below.

I’ve seen people towing some pretty big campers with 2 doors and it’s not something I ever plan to do. A good balance between small, light, and comfortable is the idea.
There's plenty of options for making it a more confident and comfortable towing rig on the highway, the thing I was really warning about is more when you're off road on less stable surfaces than asphalt. Even in SE Texas. Put your JK on a slight downhill section with loose dirt, wet red clay or even just wet grass, and the trailer will be more likely to push the rear end of the Jeep around, hence the ideal scenario of trailer brakes (plus it'd just be easier on the Jeep, better in panic situations on-road too).

If you make it to Colorado some, it'd be very useful here too, even if you're not doing technical trails. Stupid things like this happen when you're in off camber situations, with slick surfaces and a 2 door JK:



 
I'd get one of those small jeep tent trailers. Can't take more than 5-10 minutes to open up and much cheaper than a teardrop. I like how tent trailers bring the outside inside, 360 degree views instead of small windows to peak out of. Storage is also important. I can't stand paying for storage and losing time to go pick it up, drop off, etc. Much cheaper than a teardrop and should hold it's value well.

With the lack of cabin height I'd be concerned the teardrop cab would only lend itself to one thing - sleeping, whereas a tent trailer could allow for at least two people to sit down and eat or whatever. On a bad weather day would be nice to play cards with chairs and table. You can sleep in anything, but I tend to look at buying stuff like this thru the lense of a bad weather day. Will it allow you to enjoy bad weather camping trip or will you be forced to scrap the trip entirely. I think something that allows for inside table and chair where you can at least have fun drinking playing cards with another buddy could make all the difference in the world.
 

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Louisd75

Adventurer
I'd get one of those small jeep tent trailers. Can't take more than 5-10 minutes to open up and much cheaper than a teardrop. I like how tent trailers bring the outside inside, 360 degree views instead of small windows to peak out of. Storage is also important. I can't stand paying for storage and losing time to go pick it up, drop off, etc. Much cheaper than a teardrop and should hold it's value well.

With the lack of cabin height I'd be concerned the teardrop cab would only lend itself to one thing - sleeping, whereas a tent trailer could allow for at least two people to sit down and eat or whatever. On a bad weather day would be nice to play cards with chairs and table. You can sleep in anything, but I tend to look at buying stuff like this thru the lense of a bad weather day. Will it allow you to enjoy bad weather camping trip or will you be forced to scrap the trip entirely. I think something that allows for inside table and chair where you can at least have fun drinking playing cards with another buddy could make all the difference in the world.
A couple of counter arguments :) Our last camping trip was a great definition of foul weather. Five days, four of which were non stop rain and two days of winds gusting to 50mph. The pop up tent campers packed it in and left. No problems with the teardrop. We've got just shy of 48" of height inside, which is more than enough to sit up right and move around. Sure, you're not standing (unless you're a four year old, she's got plenty of room), but as a family of four we had no problem hanging out and playing old maid. I had a tablet with kid's movies preloaded as a backup but never even unpacked it. Cooking and whatnot was done under an awning on the lee side of a vehicle and wasn't a big deal. Also keep in mind that the hard sides can be leaned against while you're inside.

And before you think I'm just a koolaid drinking teardrop fanatic, I'll point out the issues we did have. We spent most of our time outside despite the weather. As Alfred Wainwright said, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." We're pretty well set up in regards to clothing and so long as we stayed downwind of stuff the wind wasn't an issue. The transition from inside to outside of the trailer was a little bit challenging, particularly trying to figure out what to do with all of the wet outer layers. I still don't have a good solution for this but we have some ideas for the next time we go out. Our rain gear never really got the chance to dry out while we were camping. We did have a bit of an issue with humidity within the trailer. We couldn't open the windows very far due to the weather, and we couldn't open the vent on the roof very much due to the rain. I've got plans to add some sailboat clamshell style vents on the sides to allow for more ventilation. It didn't help that there were four of us sleeping inside, but a walk around the campground showed that pretty much every other trailer had fogged up windows, so I don't think that issue was unique to us. Another thing I'm looking into is how to fit an awning to the side (either making one or buying one) to allow for more dry space. It'd be pretty straightforward to add walls to an awning should we find a need to, but we'd likely be limited by wind, which is the same issue that the pop up campers had during our trip.

There was one thing that I found interesting in regards to the weather. Despite it all, we spent quite a bit of time outside. The campsites around us all had larger trailers. Over the course of four days we only saw a handful of other people outside due to the weather. It just seemed really odd to me that people would take the time to go on a "camping" trip but then spend the whole time inside of a trailer. Seems a surefire way to get cabin fever to me, but to each their own.

Also, fwiw, I've spent approx a year and a half living out of the back of a Toyota Tacoma with a canopy, so my idea of "luxurious space" may not necessarily jive with yours :)
 

Teardropper

Active member
Realistically do most “expedition” people use their trailer/teardrop down some easier dirt roads or fire roads and then unhook it and use it as a base camp for fun trails around? Or do those trails out West really need an elaborate off road setup to get out away from everything to really camp and enjoy them?
Generally speaking, you can't go driving willy-nilly across BLM or USFS ground. It's down to two-track roads.

And yes, find a good boondock camp, unhitch and go explore.



 

Teardropper

Active member
The campsites around us all had larger trailers. Over the course of four days we only saw a handful of other people outside due to the weather. It just seemed really odd to me that people would take the time to go on a "camping" trip but then spend the whole time inside of a trailer.
I saw the same thing one Labor Day weekend. We were camped next to a large lake with all kinds of wildlife to watch.





The big rigs pulled in and the occupants spent twenty minutes unhitching and leveling. They cooked and ate inside and I assume watched TV or played video games. We never saw them again. They could have stayed home and parked in their driveway and done the same thing.

Odd way to enjoy the outdoors.
 
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ottsville

Observer
Odd way to enjoy the outdoors.
I tend to agree, but for me there are times where it's just nice to get away home where there is always that list of things I *should* be doing. Nothing like stretching out in the camper or hammock with a good book and not seeing the paint that needs touched up or the lawn that needs mowing or whatever else needs to be done.
 

Phxdsrtrat

Observer
A couple of counter arguments :) Our last camping trip was a great definition of foul weather. Five days, four of which were non stop rain and two days of winds gusting to 50mph. The pop up tent campers packed it in and left. No problems with the teardrop. We've got just shy of 48" of height inside, which is more than enough to sit up right and move around. Sure, you're not standing (unless you're a four year old, she's got plenty of room), but as a family of four we had no problem hanging out and playing old maid. I had a tablet with kid's movies preloaded as a backup but never even unpacked it. Cooking and whatnot was done under an awning on the lee side of a vehicle and wasn't a big deal. Also keep in mind that the hard sides can be leaned against while you're inside.

And before you think I'm just a koolaid drinking teardrop fanatic, I'll point out the issues we did have. We spent most of our time outside despite the weather. As Alfred Wainwright said, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." We're pretty well set up in regards to clothing and so long as we stayed downwind of stuff the wind wasn't an issue. The transition from inside to outside of the trailer was a little bit challenging, particularly trying to figure out what to do with all of the wet outer layers. I still don't have a good solution for this but we have some ideas for the next time we go out. Our rain gear never really got the chance to dry out while we were camping. We did have a bit of an issue with humidity within the trailer. We couldn't open the windows very far due to the weather, and we couldn't open the vent on the roof very much due to the rain. I've got plans to add some sailboat clamshell style vents on the sides to allow for more ventilation. It didn't help that there were four of us sleeping inside, but a walk around the campground showed that pretty much every other trailer had fogged up windows, so I don't think that issue was unique to us. Another thing I'm looking into is how to fit an awning to the side (either making one or buying one) to allow for more dry space. It'd be pretty straightforward to add walls to an awning should we find a need to, but we'd likely be limited by wind, which is the same issue that the pop up campers had during our trip.

There was one thing that I found interesting in regards to the weather. Despite it all, we spent quite a bit of time outside. The campsites around us all had larger trailers. Over the course of four days we only saw a handful of other people outside due to the weather. It just seemed really odd to me that people would take the time to go on a "camping" trip but then spend the whole time inside of a trailer. Seems a surefire way to get cabin fever to me, but to each their own.

Also, fwiw, I've spent approx a year and a half living out of the back of a Toyota Tacoma with a canopy, so my idea of "luxurious space" may not necessarily jive with yours :)
Like you my family and I spent a week camping in some pretty dreary conditions. Rained with wind almost constantly the 5 of the 7 days of that trip. Now, on my teardrop I have a roof rack which had 3 of those rack awnings attached (left, right and front) and a huge Bus Depot 8' x 11' awning attached temporarily to the roof rack over the galley. We also had the awning wall option for one of our awnings which was very nice for getting out of the weather for a family of 3. The permanently attached awnings did ok in the winds. The Bus Depot was basically a sail and ended up in all kinds of disarray no matter now I staked it down. After that trip we made some changes...

We're down to just one permanent awning, it's just a bit larger. We still have the Bus Depot awning for the galley area but only set it up when it rains excessively or we need the shade. We purchased a teardrop "side room" from Camp Inn. It's a tiny little changing area room that is easy to setup and attaches nicely to a teardrop. What we learned is that if we had to get out of the weather the inside of the teardrop was fine. We just had to sit cross legged. If that was an issue into the truck we went to watch a movie.

Bottom line is, we have had tent trailers in the past. The teardrop was a change we made last year and wouldn't go back. My wife and I sleep in the teardrop. I have a shell on my truck where my son sleeps. This works out great and is very comfortable. We all have a "hard sided" solution and there really isn't any substitute for that, especially in windy conditions.

-Curtiss
 
Good to know. I've never camped in a teardrop. Surprised you could fit 4 in there in comfort all day with a teardrop that doesn't appear any taller than your truck.
 
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