Like anything, towing a trailer has its pros and cons. A trailer can bring added storage and gear hauling capabilities but also a lot of dead weight. So how do you know if you are destine to trailer your gear? Weigh the pros and cons below and see where your priorities align!
A slideshow of my trailer setup, complete with additional interior lighting because the factory light was inadequate.
THE PROS OF TRAILERS
The biggest benefit I have found in hauling a trailer is the freedom you have for securing gear outside of your vehicle. Sure, with a truck as I have, you can secure gear outside the vehicle, that is, not in the passenger seating area, but it's exposed to the elements and in view of prying eyes. Even after you get to camp, it's practically a must that you unload the vehicle before attempting to go anywhere else. With a trailer, you don't have to carry that concern with you. Simply lock your gear into the trailer and, when you get to camp, drop the trailer, empty it at your leisure, and roll out to do other things whenever you want! Total freedom!
A trailer can provide necessary flexibility when picking a vehicle. In my case, I started with a full size truck. As that truck ages and nears replacement, my options without a trailer would be to pick another full size truck which can be a major expense these days. Having a trailer on the other hand means I can carry the same amount of gear as before but with any vehicle with an appropriate tow rating no matter what the size!
Additionally, having a trailer that can support a rooftop tent gives you the ability to house more of the passengers you brought especially if the campground has limits on the number of tents you can place on the ground at your site or if you simply prefer sleeping up off the ground.
Let's face it, finding trailer parking can be a challenge but towing a trailer looks really cool!
THE CONS OF TRAILERS
Towing a trailer is like driving a car with twice the length. Not that you are looking to run any races but you won't be diving in an out of any traffic with a trailer in tow. You will also have to account for any tight turns as a trailer will require a wider turning radius. For the most part, this doesn't pose any serious negatives to trailer towing. It's pretty much the physics of trailer towing no matter what the trailer so you just get use to it.
Although it is not as complex as a vehicle, it will require maintenance. Tires will need to be rotated and replaced, brakes, if applicable, will need to be adjusted and replaced over time, and licensing and ownership fees if applicable will all need to be tended to. Maintenance is likely something you already handle with your vehicle so adding in another probably isn't a big deal. More or less, if ownership fees apply, you might feel more strongly against trailers due to that point alone.
Additionally, you are now putting more wear and tear on your vehicle by dragging the extra weight. Keep in mind that the transmission might not like that extra weight and might show wear sooner than you think.
Fuel economy... Whatever you think you get fully loaded with gear in your vehicle alone, drop it again when you put the weight of a trailer behind you. For me, that was a 2-5 MPG drop in fuel, economy depending on the trip, when compared to just the vehicle loaded with gear. Just keep that in mind when budgeting for your next trip as you will need to account for the greater use of gasoline.
Didn't think I was going to point out the elephant in the room? Of course I am! Yes, the trailer itself is a great cost as well. Depending on who you purchase your trailer from, how it's setup, and any other customizations you request, the cost of the trailer itself is undoubtedly going to be steep. That alone is the greatest deterrent in my opinion.
READY FOR A TRAILER?
Switching to a trailer has many benefits as well as drawbacks. Depending on what you hope to accomplish with a trailer, you might not mind the drawbacks as is the case for me. It is certainly a decision that should not be made lightly given there are a lot of costs associated with a trailer. Some of those costs you may never recuperate if you were to decide a trailer isn't for you after purchasing one. Be sure to give it adequate thought before taking the plunge and whatever call is right for you, you won't regret it!