27/05/2013
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Camping guide to trailers

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So, why do you need a trailer? Because you can carry a whole lot more gear when you go camping, without having to compromise on space in your car; indeed, putting bulky loads on a trailer may well lessen the possibility of damaging the car in any way. There’s a bit more peace of mind, too, in carrying items like gas cylinders by trailer rather than inside the car. And, when you get on-site, you have a safe place to store things like chairs and tables etc, should you wish.

And with full-on trailer tents starting at some £2,000, it’s easy to see the attraction – not least the extra versatility – of a trailer. Do note, too, as you add any extras - including spare wheel etc – the effect on payload (ie how much load you can carry). Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to certain options initially, do bear in mind their availability in the future.

There something important kicking into the world of lightweight trailers later this year. Type Approval. Yes, it’s a European thing, but this time around there’s no complaints: it’s all about levelling the playing field as far as lightweight trailer manufacturing and supply is concerned.

Type approval for trailers brings them into line with cars, that have had to be type approved since 1998. What it means is retailers will not be able to sell non-type approved trailers after this October. If you spot what looks like an amazing bargain prior to this cut-off, it’s probably going to be a product that won’t achieve type approval. That’s not such a big deal, but if you’re thinking of venturing into mainland Europe, or selling the unit at a future date, that’s where you’ll lose out.

We’ve picked a representative selection of trailers for this article. You might like to check out the offerings from others, too, such as the likes of Caddy (as sold by Towsure, as well as others), Indespension and Franc (the latter are made by the Trigano group, who obviously know a thing or two about camping, but tend not to have a great representation here in the UK). You can also get as more traditional look with the wood-sided trailer offerings from the likes of Lider and Weymar.

By all means do some research online. But, without doubt it will pay to shop local and buy from a specialist – not just for the better choice but also the after-sales back-up in terms of parts replacement, additional accessories and – perhaps most important of all – the advice you’ll get.

Top tips

  • Covers are a great idea, but you’ll pay extra for them. There’s usually a choice – ranging from flat, tarpaulin-style elasticated covers all the way through to solid, lockable fittings which, of course bring extra security. Needless to say, it’s worth looking out for retailers’ special offers.
  • A jockey wheel is usually an optional extra on trailers like this, but it’s a useful fitting to have for extra manoeuvrability as well as stability – or even just keeping the trailer level for loading. Just remember to wind it up and tuck it away before you set off.
  • Security is an issue, for sure. There’s not going to be a lot you can do if a thief is determined to get at the contents of your trailer, but you can take a few steps to make sure it’s not the whole unit itself that gets stolen. Padlocks, hitchlocks and wheelclamps should all be considered. 
  • A hinged tailgate will always come in really handy. There may also be a tipper action. That’s unlikely to be considered useful for your leisure gear, although it could prove itself very worthwhile for other activities beyond camping.
  • Maintenance for trailers like is actually quite minimal. Keep an eye on tyre pressures, in particular, and any suspensions system may need occasional greasing (many are maintenance-free). You’re unlikely to use your trailer to the point where tyre tread is worn to illegality, but cracking sidewalls could be more of an issue – blowouts aren’t much fun. Look to replace after five years.


What about insurance?

“Trailer Insurance can be a cost effective way to protect against physical loss or damage to your trailer, from just £47.70 per annum. Make sure to check that ‘loss of use’ cover is included, as the insurer may contribute towards the costs of hiring a similar trailer (should yours become unusable following an insured incident), enabling you to continue your holiday.

“It won’t usually cover any personal effects, luggage or camping equipment being transported by the mobile container. This will require more specific insurance eg as an extension to a home insurance policy and camping equipment insurance.” Iain MacDonald, Shield Total Insurance
 
More information?

The National Trailer and Towing Association is the trade body for trailer suppliers. Its website includes updates on legal topics as well as listing for trailer retailers, towbar fitters, parts suppliers and more. There is also a listing of companies who hire out trailers. Check it all out at www.ntta.co.uk.

See more buying advice here, plus see our online reviews for the latest camping products put to the test.

Back to "Practical Advice" Category

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