Off-Road Cargo Trailer Suggestions

Nevadamtnbear

New member
Greetings. I'm new here, and I've been checking out several threads on people doing custom builds on cargo trailers for off-road use. However, all seem to be about the transformation of the cargo trailer for camping in, and the focus really seems on the interior modifications. I'm approaching this from another angle - I need to find/customize a 6x12 or larger cargo trailer to be able to handle some pretty legit high clearance rock navigation use.

The primary high clearance need is an annual event where I run a backcountry ultra running aid station at a trail intersection. The dirt road up to the spot is generally navigable (could get a Subaru up it no sweat if one isn't worried about Nevada pinstripes) without the need for much additional clearance. The kicker is the last 1/16 of a mile which is a bit of a boulder field with the need for navigating over and around boulders and the trailer axles & tongues are regularly scraping rocks. I'd prefer to have a comfortable amount of clearance and less brute force getting all the gear and equipment up and down the mountain.

We've been scraping (literally) by with a borrowed 5x8 trailer, but the race has grown as well as the volume of food & equipment I have to haul up, so we're looking to get our own 6x12 trailer and either getting it customed or doing the work ourselves to get higher clearance both for this annual event, but also to allow us to use it for hunting and to get camp up higher and into less accessible areas. This trailer buildout will be just for hauling gear and equipment, not for sleeping/camping in.

I'm curious to get more information on what modifications people have done to the axles/wheels to get the higher clearance? Tips, suggestions, feedback is welcome. We're probably going to do this to a second trailer the following year, but outfit it with foam insulation and water proofing with a AC and coolbot unit to turn it into a refrigerator/ice trailer and then I can substitute that out for the borrowed ice trailer I haul up every year and to allow us to use this second trailer for meat processing, keg cooling, etc. ourselves.

Thank you in advanced for your feedback.
 

Theoretician

Adventurer
Pictures of the road would be good, but it sounds you might want to think about chopping the back off of a junkyard truck. Easy to modify for clearance and payload, can use a shell to enclose it, but you’d basically be stuck with the 5x8 bed size.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Tandem Dexter Torsion Axles, they make some that provide pretty nice lift.. that will raise the axle beam up to the bottom of the floor and give you alot of clearance under it, and they are fully independent, with 4 wheels it'll walk over stuff easily.. with so much length infront of and behind the axles such length is not going to traverse anything too technical, but you'd be surprised where you can get em.. if you've gotten an unmodified cargo trailer back there already, a lifted bigger one would probably make it across a boulder field if your careful.. gonna be some risk of frame damage if you load it heavy and then drag its ass off something, mebe some skid plates or casters could help
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Start with leaf springs and a 3500# axle.... or heavier.
Go spring over first and spin the axle. Add spacers or buy rims that fit. Pull the fenders and buy the tires of choice. 33x10.50R15 might be ideal. Or 7.50R16s if you need to keep it skinnier.

I just put the 7.50R16s on my Jeep. They might be 8ply, LRD but they ride better than the 33x10.50R15s it had.
These are 32" tall. Your trailer likely will come with 28" tall tires.


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Nevadamtnbear

New member
Sounds like you need two rigs and smaller trailers. 6x12’s don’t do well beyond rough graded roads.
I wish it was that easy. At this point, I'm currently hauling 600-700 gallons of water up the road (one trailer load) depending on the weather forecast, a high side 6x10 dump trailer for drop bags, two 2 John porta-potty trailers, the ice trailer with 1200 lbs of ice + kegs + coolers with perishables, and the current 5x8 cargo trailer, plus 3 truck beds loaded with gear. I'm trying to not be *SO* reliant on needing other people to help haul gear in and out to the best of my ability (finding people with adequate vehicles, driving skills & desire is sometimes hard). I'm working on getting a well and vault toilet put in, which will help me reduce 2-3 trailer hauls and be good for the trail users the rest of the year. However, this event continues to grow and the volume of stuff increase proportionally too. Though, if I succeed in my quest to get the well and vault toilets, that may result in improvement for the last section of road to get the drill rig in for the well drilling and hauling up trailers will be a breeze.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
I wish it was that easy. At this point, I'm currently hauling 600-700 gallons of water up the road (one trailer load) depending on the weather forecast, a high side 6x10 dump trailer for drop bags, two 2 John porta-potty trailers, the ice trailer with 1200 lbs of ice + kegs + coolers with perishables, and the current 5x8 cargo trailer, plus 3 truck beds loaded with gear. I'm trying to not be *SO* reliant on needing other people to help haul gear in and out to the best of my ability (finding people with adequate vehicles, driving skills & desire is sometimes hard). I'm working on getting a well and vault toilet put in, which will help me reduce 2-3 trailer hauls and be good for the trail users the rest of the year. However, this event continues to grow and the volume of stuff increase proportionally too. Though, if I succeed in my quest to get the well and vault toilets, that may result in improvement for the last section of road to get the drill rig in for the well drilling and hauling up trailers will be a breeze.
Is this a Sierras race? Sounds like Truckee to Reno race
 

Nevadamtnbear

New member
Tandem Dexter Torsion Axles, they make some that provide pretty nice lift.. that will raise the axle beam up to the bottom of the floor and give you alot of clearance under it, and they are fully independent, with 4 wheels it'll walk over stuff easily.. with so much length infront of and behind the axles such length is not going to traverse anything too technical, but you'd be surprised where you can get em.. if you've gotten an unmodified cargo trailer back there already, a lifted bigger one would probably make it across a boulder field if your careful.. gonna be some risk of frame damage if you load it heavy and then drag its ass off something, mebe some skid plates or casters could help
Thank you. That's the direction I was looking for. And, yes, that's why I'm looking for a wee bit more clearance. We're not running the Rubicon trail here, but need to get through some relatively technical driving.
 

Nevadamtnbear

New member
Start with leaf springs and a 3500# axle.... or heavier.
Go spring over first and spin the axle. Add spacers or buy rims that fit. Pull the fenders and buy the tires of choice. 33x10.50R15 might be ideal. Or 7.50R16s if you need to keep it skinnier.

I just put the 7.50R16s on my Jeep. They might be 8ply, LRD but they ride better than the 33x10.50R15s it had.
These are 32" tall. Your trailer likely will come with 28" tall tires.


View attachment 529684
Thank you! Those are sweet and that's a good direction to look too. We're not super tuned into building up, but not opposed and definitely willing. This is actually some good suggestions not only for our direction, but to point my 14 year old boy in - he's starting a rebuild on a 64 Jeep Gladiator. He's who I'm enlisting to help us with this cargo trailer project.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Here's some inspiration or turnkey solutions: https://www.coloradotrailersinc.com/trailers-off-road

Though with as much weight and stuff as you want to haul I'd go for a tandem 7x16, over 6x12.. you basically get twice the weight capacity, and 800 gallons of water is more than 3500# last I checked.. or have someone build you a custom tandem 6x12 which wouldent make it have as much overhang off back..

Another nice thing about torsion axles are they adjust to weight load nicely, dragging one back empty is not like empty leafspring bouncing around.
 
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calicamper

Expedition Leader
I would just have somebody with a big heavy truck drag a double axle water tank trailer up. Then do your dry gear in the trailer. I’ve done crew support for large Triathlon events the amount of stuff check points can require is crazy having one guy with a truck being charged to drag all of it to a rough remote spot is crazy.
 

Nevadamtnbear

New member
Here's some inspiration or turnkey solutions: https://www.coloradotrailersinc.com/trailers-off-road

Though with as much weight and stuff as you want to haul I'd go for a tandem 7x16, over 6x12.. you basically get twice the weight capacity, and 800 gallons of water is more than 3500# last I checked.. or have someone build you a custom tandem 6x12 which wouldent make it have as much overhang off back..

Another nice thing about torsion axles are they adjust to weight load nicely, dragging one back empty is not like empty leafspring bouncing around.
I had looked at those Colorado Trailers, but the price point had me at Oooh "h" "e" double hockey sticks NO. Lol. I'm willing to work on modifying a stock trailer for our needs.

The water trailer isn't an issue. The (borrowed) dump trailer we use for that had reasonable clearance, and even with the weight (4,800 to 5,600 lbs of water alone without trailer included), that hasn't been the problem other than making certain we have a truck capable of pulling it - which hasn't been an issue for the past few years as we have been using my husband's business partner's cattle hauling truck. Sadly, our borrowed cargo trailer just doesn't have have the clearance, and while we've managed, but because I have to upgrade my capacity, I'm looking into ways we can upgrade a stock cargo trailer that I can use for this 1x year event and then have it available for us when we are fortunate enough to draw tags and get out in the middle of nowhere Nevada to set up a pretty plush camping outfit. Good news - 99.9% of the time, it will be on pavement or at worst corduroy dirt roads, but a handful of times it may have to get through some road needing a wee bit extra clearance.
 

Nevadamtnbear

New member
I would just have somebody with a big heavy truck drag a double axle water tank trailer up. Then do your dry gear in the trailer. I’ve done crew support for large Triathlon events the amount of stuff check points can require is crazy having one guy with a truck being charged to drag all of it to a rough remote spot is crazy.
We get the water up without an issue, as the dump trailer we use has enough clearance (barely). Yes, it is crazy how much *poop* one has to get out there. Unless I get the road improved, I'm stuck with the same old same old - and the challenge of an ever increasing amount of soda/food/equipment/supplies/medical/communication/etc. to get up there. I enjoy the challenge - but I wouldn't mind making the hauling aspect a little less challenging.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
What is the total weight you want to load into this trailer ??

You are getting tons of ideas but unless you know that number.... we are wasting our time.
 
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