School me on towing a small trailer off-highway?

carbon60

Explorer
I've only ever towed a 20' command post behind a Tundra. I am receiving a 2500 lb teardrop this weekend, with Timbren axleless suspension and am going to tow it behind my HDJ81. I assume that towing on-highway is nothing onerous, but I can't seem to find a nice writeup of tips for towing off-highway and off-road. Using a proportional brake controller.

What do I need to know on fire roads or worse?

Thanks,

A.
 

4S50

Member
I have towed a lighter, (1400 lbs.), trailer with leaf springs and solid axle many miles off road, including several trips over the Rubicon, Mojave Road, Dusty Ershim. Going slow is important so the trailer can not transfer weight unexpectedly and turn over. Also, I have found having trailer brakes advantageous on the trail to keep the trailer from pushing the Jeep downhill. (Before I put brakes on the trailer it pushed the rear wheels off the ground once at thr bottom of a steep granite slab). I added a switch in the wire from the brake light switch to the brake controller that allows me to easily deactivate the trailer brakes use the vehicle brakes in technical challenges (boulders, ledges, etc.) and still use the trailer brakes manually when needed, or quickly reactivate the brake controller. I also use a swivel hitch, similar to a Maxcoupler.
Also, plan your routes carefully, backing up or turning around on the trail can be a lot of work sometimes.
 

Louisd75

Adventurer
There was a great write up on here somewhere. I'll have to poke around in a bit and see if it's in my bookmarks. The biggest thing I've found is to slow down. Many of the issues I've read about with flipping trailers involve going too fast. This is especially true if the trailer wheels extend wider than the tow vehicle. The track width of my truck and trailer are the same but I still find it helpful to angle the rear view mirrors down in tight spots so that I can see what the trailer wheels are doing.

My teardrop was my first towing experience other than an all highway U-haul experience. I spent some time driving circles and weaving in my cul-de-sac to get an idea of how the trailer tracks. I also played around in the empty back 40 of a nearby mall parking lot, practicing turning into parking spots and then backing into parking spots. My wife will help spot when backing. Our rule is that she only uses "Stop" or "The trailer needs to move passenger" or "The trailer needs to move driver". Anything more complicated and I'll hop out for a better idea of what's going on.

I have trailer brakes as well. I haven't had to adjust the settings much from the initial setup. I will say that in my experience there is a big difference in towing with them vs towing without them. The trailer is much more noticeable without them, and not in a good way.

I played around a bit to find the tire pressure that worked best for me. I wound up at about 25psi on road, 15 off. Even with shock absorbers the lower pressure makes a different in the trailer hopping around. Don't forget that you'll need to be able to reach the trailer tires with your air compressor too, so you may need a longer hose or cable.
 

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carbon60

Explorer
There was a great write up on here somewhere. I'll have to poke around in a bit and see if it's in my bookmarks.
That's exactly what I'm after, but haven't located.

I played around a bit to find the tire pressure that worked best for me. I wound up at about 25psi on road, 15 off. Even with shock absorbers the lower pressure makes a different in the trailer hopping around. Don't forget that you'll need to be able to reach the trailer tires with your air compressor too, so you may need a longer hose or cable.

Tire pressure was definitely a question. I run 45-50 psi in my truck tires, on-highway. The same tires on the trailer with 40% less load should have less pressure, so I'll try it at 35 psi to start with.

Thanks for the replies!
 

bluejeep

just a guy
It's nice to have the tongue long enuf so you can back up and tuck your vehicle backside close in to 'jack knifing' to get around those tight trail corners.
 

Attachments

grogie

Like to Camp
I find towing off-road is fun. It's amazing where we can take trailers these days! I think a big part of successful towing off-road is knowing where you can and cannot take a trailer.
-Plan your routes.
-Avoid tight switchbacks, and narrow trails where others have to pass.
-If you have concerns, get out and walk ahead to see if you can get through.
-Keep an eye out for wide spots to turn around, or back into.
-Practic turning around in as short an area as possible.
-Practic unhooking the trailer and turning it around if the worst happens.
-Be okay with parking the trailer at a campground and go expore with out it.
-Plan a recovery if you had to unhook and retreave the trailer if you got stuck (like if you had to winch the trailer out of mud/sand).

I've had to do turn arounds on trails. One time, I could not back up a hill I had just driven down and couldn't go forward, so I unhooked, pushed the trailer into a bit of a ditch, turned my Jeep around, and then rehooked up. Another time, I had to drive my Jeep up onto a berm on the side of a trail in order to get the trailer straright, so I could back the trailer up straight enough to get my Jeep turned around. That's all fun!

I'd also say that off-road you've got more to hit the trailer on when making turns, so rememeber to make those wide turns so the trailer doesn't get hung up on a tree or rock on the side. And last, keep weight in the trailer low. IMHO, I see some trailers with too much weight up top and just look tippy to me.

Enjoy the teardrop!
 

SoCal Tom

Explorer
The only thing I will add is, as much as possible turn to the Drivers side. It’s easier to see the trailer out your window.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
spinning tires is alot harder when you have a few hundred extra pounds hanging off the back heh (unless its a beach/dunes).. put brakes on it even if its small enough to not need em, and put brake controller within reach.. when your going down a steep grade with loose gravel under you best to use the trailer brakes so you know its gonna stay behind you.

Go slow, take it easy.. get some FRS/GMRS radios so you can have people spot you through tight situations you cant see well and if you need to backup a long ways to find a place to turn about.

Load trailer correctly and keep its center of gravity low and it'll follow you near anywhere.. if you need to air down your tow vehicle, air down your trailer too.
 

carbon60

Explorer
spinning tires is alot harder when you have a few hundred extra pounds hanging off the back heh (unless its a beach/dunes).. put brakes on it even if its small enough to not need em, and put brake controller within reach.. when your going down a steep grade with loose gravel under you best to use the trailer brakes so you know its gonna stay behind you.
It has brakes and I'm 95% through installing a Redarc Tow-Pro Elite in the truck.

Thanks!
 

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dreadlocks

Well-known member
oh one last piece of advice, remember conditions might not be the same going in as the way out.. for easter I pulled through some technical stuff to get to the spot I wanted, easy peasy.. no worries at all, 2 days later we go to leave in a complete downpour of slush/snow mix.. and my confidence was not near as high going into it, everything was muddy and slick, though it made it through like a champ it put a different perspective on things.. I might of had to stay an extra day or two if I had got my self into the situation where conditions made it impassible.. so be prepared for those turn of events.. Ive gone out before and had a thunderstorm that swelled up all the creeks and got me nice and stranded for a few days..

Know your limits, and work up your confidence.. then keep it in check so you dont do stupid and its just like anything else.. is the risk worth the reward.
 
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