Overlanding With or Without a Trailer? How to Decide

Overlanding With or Without a Trailer - How to Decide

Overlanding allows you to get to various camping destinations that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. If you want to bring a trailer along for the ride, you’ll be able to sleep and operate in luxury. Without a trailer, you won’t have to worry about carrying as much weight.

So, should you go Overlanding with or without a trailer? You should go Overlanding with a trailer if you have a lot of equipment to bring or if you’ll be stopping on uneven terrain. If you’re bringing a trailer to camp, then you can have a comfortable bed wherever you go.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn:

  • Whether or not you should bring a trailer for Overlanding
  • How you can overland with a trailer attached
  • Frequent issues that people experience

Should You Overload With a Trailer?

Oftentimes, overlanding with a trailer or without one is based on personal preference. There’s no denying the luxury of having everything in an enclosed space, including a bed and cooking gear. However, you might not need all of the room if you’re not overloading your vehicle in the first place.

Here are numerous pros and cons of Overlanding with and without a trailer:

Pros with a Trailer

  • You’ll be able to leave your Overlanding vehicle empty. Everything will be stored in the back of the trailer, so the vehicle will be spacious and clean. It’s also nice because you don’t have to worry about vacuuming and removing dirt or dust from all of your gear since it’ll be in a trailer.
  • You can camp anywhere you go. Tents are nearly impossible to sleep in when you’re parked on uneven, rocky terrain. With a trailer, you’ll be able to set up shop and get a good night of sleep on gravel, sand, snow, and almost anywhere else.
  • Trailers can have awnings on them, providing shade on sunny days. Not only does it feel much better, but you’ll also broaden the places that you can go since heat will no longer be an issue.

Cons with a Trailer

  • Your vehicle will undoubtedly be slowed down by towing a trailer. Everyone knows that acceleration dips and gas mileage goes down as well. You’ll end up spending more money whenever you’re pulling the trailer, and your MPH will significantly drag if you have a full load.
  • Trailers are usually fairly expensive. Since they’re outfitted with off-road gears, wheels, and other equipment, the prices are out the roof in some cases. You can find a used model, but then you risk running into mechanical issues.

Pros without a Trailer

  • You can cruise along without having to be slowed down or worry about taking wider turns. Anyone who’s driven with a trailer can tell you that wide turns are frustrating when there’s too much traffic on the street.
  • You save tons of money by not needing to buy a trailer. Another way that you save money is that you don’t have to worry about your transmission being worn down from towing. It’s a win-win in the finance department.
  • You don’t have to worry about weight limits. Whether it’s the specific road that you’re driving on or your vehicle’s towing capacity, not having to stress about limits is a fantastic feeling. Just jump in the vehicle and get going!

Cons without a Trailer

  • You’ll be forced to sleep in a tent or the back of your vehicle if you’re camping. Unfortunately, this drastically limits the places that you can go Overlanding (unless you know of a flat campsite).
  • You’ll also be limited to the amount of gear that you can bring with you. Some people who start Overlanding don’t have too much equipment with them. As the years go on, they start to bring more and more items. If you’re starting to ramp up your gear selection, it might be a good idea to get a trailer.

How Do You Overland With a Trailer?

If you’ve never gone Overlanding with a trailer, then you might be a bit worried about how difficult it is. After all, it’s definitely more challenging than towing a normal trailer on flat pavement.

Those who have towed a camper trailer might be familiar with the wide turns and reduced acceleration, but it still doesn’t account for the uneven terrain that you’ll encounter when Overlanding.

Here are five tips to help you out when you’re Overlanding with a trailer:

  1. Go slowly. Nothing beats a slow pace when you’re trying to learn the ropes. Overlanding is challenging by itself for beginners, so try to take it easy when you’re cruising off-road with a trailer on the back.
  2. Get the right type of tires. Smooth or normal road tires will get shredded when you’re off-roading. You need chunky, deep tread on a large set of tires. Most overlander trailers will come with a good set but double-check just in case.
  3. Evenly load the trailer before you leave. Try not to stack everything in one spot. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling the weight being pulled back as you drive forward. Uneven weight is also bad for the trailer since it can mess up the tire alignment.
  4. Bring a can of tire repair kit with you wherever you go. You never know when you might get a flat tire when you’re Overlanding. Nothing’s worse than being stuck in the middle of nowhere without any cell reception or tires to drive with. The solution takes a few minutes to work, and you’ll be back on the road (or rocks, sand, snow, etc.).
  5. Don’t go too steep! Part of the fun of Overlanding is going up and down steep hills, but most trailers aren’t designed for it. Even if yours is, you’ll risk pitch-forking or rolling if the weight is unevenly distributed.

Common Mistakes

Even if you’re a pro by now, everyone makes mistakes. Let’s examine a few common problems that people run into when they’re using a trailer while Overlanding.

  • Driving as if you didn’t have a trailer hitched would be a huge mistake. You’d be surprised how many people slam on the gas when they’re going off-road, even if they have a trailer on the back.
  • Using a spare tire in place of a proper off-road tire is another issue. Spare tires should be used when your tire goes flat, but you need to get back to a mechanic as soon as possible. Don’t continue driving further into the landscape if you have a spare tire attached.
  • Not putting anything in a trailer at all can also be a problem. You might think that no weight at all is a benefit, but the trailer needs something to weigh it down. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that you’re not underloading or overloading your trailer.

As you can see, there are all sorts of rookie mistakes that can be made. You might’ve accidentally been doing some of them yourself! The good news is that you’re now well-equipped to use a trailer with your overlander vehicle wherever you go.


Overlanding is a blast, and it’s even better if you can kick back and relax in a nice trailer once you get to your destination.

That being said, you might prefer the ease of driving and comfort of a tent. It’s all based on personal preference, although there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both styles of Overlanding.

Next time you start to look at new trailers, remember to check the tires, weight capacity, and interior dimensions.


Jeremy Hoxie

Born and raised in beautiful Northern Michigan, I've have spent two decades enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. When not working on RigForge, I spend my time Overlanding and tackling off-road trails while sharing my experiences and testing gear along the way. My current rig is a 2013 Jeep JKU Moab.

Recent Content