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Tpherr

Trailer Recommendation

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Does anyone have a recommendation on a brand of trailer? We are buying a new trailer for our troop and all the reviews I see for trailer manufacturers are three stars or lower. 

I prefer to find a  site that has objective reviews (like consumer reports) but can’t find any

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15 minutes ago, Tpherr said:

Does anyone have a recommendation on a brand of trailer? We are buying a new trailer for our troop and all the reviews I see for trailer manufacturers are three stars or lower. 

I prefer to find a  site that has objective reviews (like consumer reports) but can’t find any

You're right....there aren't many good, solid, objective reviews of cargo trailers around, so probably the best thing is to find local dealers and just go see them in person and evaluate them based on your objective criteria: space, egress, weight, solidity of construction/materials, etc.

Don't forget to budget some $$$ to customize the trailer. Most troops like putting logos or slogans on the trailer and most build shelves and boxes into the interior to handle the kinds of equipment you want to carry. Some ideas for trailer customization are in the Bryan on Scouting site: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/05/03/trailer-insides/ 

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Posted (edited)

"If I could go back in time to when I started scouting" ... I'd do what I saw another troop do that I thought was really cool.  They found an old broken down medium sized pop-up camper.  The gutted it.  Removed all the heavy weight junk until it was just a shell.  Then, they re-sealed the base and used it as one big portable storage box.

  • The low profile reduced wind drag.  Even a minivan could pull their scout trailer.  
  • The pop-up camper top was still in-tact.  A scout on each end could lift the cover and lock the roof up so they could access the insides.  
  • The openness of the trailer promoted completely emptying it.  In my experience, large troop trailers become the main storage.  Troops carry thousands of pounds of extra stuff to camp that they use once a year.  The result is only a guy with a Dodge Ram 25,000 can pull the troop trailer.  

 

Edited by fred8033
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I found that the bigger the trailer, the more it drives the camping part of the troop program. If the patrols find transportation for their own gear, exactly what needs to go into the trailer.

I'm not saying don't get a troop trailer, but usually it's the adults that want one to fit their program, not the patrol's program.

Barry

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By the way, trailers are easy theft targets. We've had three trailers stolen, and our CO would not let us use their insurance. Insurance companies told us that custom painting the trailer is the best way to deter theft. And while that seems to be working with our newest trailer so far, it doesn't stop them. The bright red custom painted troop trailer down the street was taken in broad daylight. However, I understand why the insurance company recommended custom painting because the SM called the police immediately after passing their trailer be pulled down the street.  

Barry

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I cannot recommend a specific trailer, but I can vouch for the effectiveness of an old school bus modified for Scouting.

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We've had a few trailers over the years.  Off the top of my head, I can't think of the brands.  Looking around online, they look alot like the ones made by Haulmark.

The pack had a single axel trailer with a side door.  I really liked the side door as it allowed us access to gear without having to open and close the rear door.

The troop has two.  One is a small single axel - kind of like a small uhaul trailer  The other is a larger double axel - again with the side door.  We switch back and forth based on need.  We utilize trailers more than family cars because we also have access to a small bus.  This lets us load us the bus with Scouts & a few adults.  All gear fits in the trailer.  So, usually a trip is just the bus and a car or two.  This model has simplified our transportation coordination quite a bit.

 

I second the comment about having some budget to put in shelving.  For the first few years the pack trailer had no shelves.  They stored all their gear in the trailer and as a result, it was constantly a mess.  Shelves were a good upgrade.

The troop trailers don't have much organization, but we use them more for need driven carrying of equipment and gear and so that contents are constantly changing.  The troop doesn't permanently store any gear in the trailer - we utilize storage at the CO for equipment.

 

The pack mitigated the theft concern by first buying a wheel lock.  Later we moved the trailer to a fenced in storage area where people stored boats and trailers.  Cost us a few hundred dollars a year - but it was well worth the peace of mind. 

 

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Our troop has a Tru-Trailers 2 axle trailer and we love it; It can be pulled by a light truck or SUV (Chevy Colorado, or similar) but it is generally pulled by a F-150 or Silverado 1500.

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My son's troop has a small trailer. That along with a pickup for when needed ensures they have everything they need. I'm all on board the idea of small trailers. 

My troop (different from my son's) had their trailer stolen a few years ago. There was a rash of trailers being stolen in the region (which I share with another poster here), and a lot of scout troops were suddenly missing not only their trailer, but they also stored all their gear in them. My troop has a storage room, so most of their gear was in there. Unfortunately, they had also recently returned from a camping trip, so not all their gear was saved. 

Long post in short bullets. 

1) If you have a trailer, practice unloading it after camping trips and reloading it before then. 

2) Do your best to secure it. We have a chain and bolt sealed in concrete. If you aren't aware of it, boom goes the axle if you try to haul it away. 

3) What you can haul sets the tone for your camping like Eagledad said. Adults are really lazy folks, as we like our comforts so we're willing to carry everything. 

4) Big trailers mean you're required to have something to haul it. If you don't have the ability, you're in trouble. Usually not a problem for us, but now we're down to two folks with the trucks capable of doing the hauling. 

5) There's a summer camp in the state that has a huge grade going down into the camp and coming out. I've not been there, but my SM talks about how many folks tend to ruin their transmissions because of it. 

6) After our trailer was stolen, it of course made big news in the region. And a company stepped forward and supplied a new trailer with custom paint job etc. It's a beautiful trailer with shelves and everything. 

 

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21 hours ago, Tpherr said:

Does anyone have a recommendation on a brand of trailer? 

A trailer is a pretty simple design so I am not sure if the brand will make much difference. Here are some things to consider:

Doors - how many and how do they open. We like a side and 2 back doors that swing open - not the ramp kind of door. Its easy to get what you want, easy to load etc. A ramp may be hard for scouts to open and may need clearance in back to open.

Axels - the more you have the bigger the trailer which means bigger vehicles to pull.

Hieght - we currently have 2 trailers The one that is 7 foot tall is easy to organize and load but not great to tow. The other trailer is lower 5' and requires crawling if you need to organize but it tows like there is nothing behind you.

 Tires - make sure to get good tires rated to go the speed you plan to go.

Tounge/hitch - I prefer a wheel on the front end vs a foot. This allows you to maneuver the trailer easier when it is not hooked up.

Wrap vs paint - wraps will fade much faster than paint.

Shelves/storage - lots of good ideas online, try Pintrest

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1 hour ago, TMSM said:

A trailer is a pretty simple design so I am not sure if the brand will make much difference. Here are some things to consider:

I'll add a few that I think are key

  • Weight when empty - Gear only adds more weight.  Our trailer is 6x12 or 7x12 and must be 1500+ pounds empty.  So even empty, vehicles are affected by the trailer.  On one camp out, we rented a low profile UHaul aluminum trailer.  We had that thing packed tight and you could still not feel it behind the car.  
  • Wind drag - How high and what shape is the trailer?  Some trailers will pull easier than  others just because of shape and height.
  • Steel or aluminum - This directly goes to weight but also affects cost.  But, a light weight trailer will save the volunteers money replacing their transmissions.  Seriously. 

I've been in multiple troops due to having too many sons.  For one troop, I regularly pulled their trailer.  In the other troop, I refused to pull the trailer as it was a beast filled to the brim with cast iron and heavy chuck boxes and stuff.  

I would easily advocate for a troop to spend a few extra thousand to get a good light weight trailer.  It's a matter of being kind and considerate to your current and future volunteers.  

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14 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I'll add a few that I think are key

  • Weight when empty - Gear only adds more weight.  Our trailer is 6x12 or 7x12 and must be 1500+ pounds empty.  So even empty, vehicles are affected by the trailer.  On one camp out, we rented a low profile UHaul aluminum trailer.  We had that thing packed tight and you could still not feel it behind the car.  
  • Wind drag - How high and what shape is the trailer?  Some trailers will pull easier than  others just because of shape and height.
  • Steel or aluminum - This directly goes to weight but also affects cost.  But, a light weight trailer will save the volunteers money replacing their transmissions.  Seriously. 

I've been in multiple troops due to having too many sons.  For one troop, I regularly pulled their trailer.  In the other troop, I refused to pull the trailer as it was a beast filled to the brim with cast iron and heavy chuck boxes and stuff.  

I would easily advocate for a troop to spend a few extra thousand to get a good light weight trailer.  It's a matter of being kind and considerate to your current and future volunteers.  

Agree.  Our Troop is in the process of buying a new trailer.  Our current 1996 6x12 trailer is too heavy for everyone but me and my vehicle to pull.  We are looking to sell it and use some of the money to buy a new one.  They are so much lighter and easier to pull.  I have been eating the cost to rent a trailer for our recent campouts.  The easier you make it for volunteers to help, the more volunteers will help.

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All - thank you very much for all of the ideas and input. We are a large troop and have used a trailer for years but with 80 scouts in the troop and usually 50+ that attend summer camp, we needed a larger trailer for all the gear. I did see some great ideas on organizaion of trailers and will use some of what I found. I ordered a 7x14 trailer with dual axles, rounded front and seemless walls as we wrap our trailer with our Troop info. We also decided to go with a taller trailer (7' internal height) as we plan on building a false floor to store some of longer items that we currently hang on the walls. Hopefully it is delivered on time and we can do ur build out in time for summer camp. 

If anyone is interested in a 7x12 single axle trailer with a 6'6" intenal hieght, let me know, We will be sellting our current trailer once summer camp is over. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Tpherr said:

... I ordered a 7x14 trailer with dual axles, rounded front and seemless walls as we wrap our trailer with our Troop info. ...

Good choice.  Of course, I'm laughing.  Sometimes column advice doesn't match the needs of the original poster.  I was far off.  Of course, now your troop will require new scoutmasters to own a 3/4 ton pickup.  :) 

Your choice is fine and makes sense.  With a 80 person troop, I'd be tempted to have two trailers to support multiple events or allow people with smaller vehicles to help pull the trailer.  I've always thought some months might be nice to split the troop (when we were larger).  Those interested (younger patrols ??) could go to the district camporee and the more adventurous patrols could do a hiking trip or canoe trip.  

You might want to keep your existing trailer to support smaller events or to store less-used gear.  

Edited by fred8033

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