We're just back from a long, windy extended weekend at Overland Expo 2016. In the past when we've made the trip to Northern Arizona, monstrous expedition vehicles like the EarthCruiser FX and EarthRoamer XV-LTS have always made the biggest impression. This year, the big story was really small ... teardrop size, in fact. There was a veritable explosion of interesting off-road trailers, everything from single-person teardrops, to bruising boxes, to simple steel cargo beds with roof tents.
There's something inherently awesome about a small trailer that can roam the Earth's most rugged terrain and support human life independently for days and weeks on end. But there were so many rugged off-road trailers at this year's show, we almost became blasé about the whole thing. Almost. There were still a few models that really stood out in terms of design and features. Here are our favorites, in no particular order:
Rover Trailers' All Over Rover
The metal teardrop with wood interior is a timeless design, but it also tends to feel a little derivative after seeing hundreds over the years. You don't have to stray too far from that well-worn formula to make some noise, though. The rough edges and shiny stainless steel countertop of the new All Over Rover trailer really make it pop. That polished aluminum shell shining under the Arizona sun doesn't hurt, either.
Designed by Utah's Rover Trailers, the All Over Rover features a powder-coated steel frame below an insulated TIG-welded aluminum body, which can be painted or polished to the near-mirror level you see above. The trailer starts at US$16,336 for the most basic version and runs to $24,281 for the Trail Hawk (that name sounds kinda familiar), which includes equipment like the stainless steel countertop, 10-in sink with electric faucet, Bose Bluetooth sound bar, memory foam mattress, interior TV/DVD player, generator and Yeti cooler. We included a photo of the three price/equipment levels in our gallery section for those interested in breaking it down further.
BundutecUSA specializes more in pickup truck campers, but we could argue that the most interesting thing at its expo booth was the Trekken trailer. Sort of a cross between a box and a teardrop, the Trekken has more of a cargo-hauling interior, but the optional mattress on display at the show turns it into a very compact 1/1.5-person off-road teardrop. The flat roof supports a roof-top tent for more sleeping capacity – in the photo below, it's wearing the new BunduFlip two/three person tent, which will launch in the Northern Hemisphere summer.
The base Trekken trailer starts at $4,999, weighs 700 lb (317.5 kg), and includes a locked rear cargo door, LED lighting, a seven-way plug, and 12-volt and USB outlets. In addition to the slim mattress and roof tent options, the Trekken can be built up with available add-ons like a 12-volt pull-out fridge, solar panels and a BunduAwn electric awning. Iowa-based BundutecUSA also says that it'll work closely with customers on customizing the trailer. The model on display at the show, with its BunduFlip roof tent, pull-out tray with Group 24 battery, roof vent, VersaTrack wall-mounted organization system, and other options was listed at just under $9,950.
Backcountry Box Base Camp
Idaho's Backcountry Box has added an alternative to its rugged, flip-top gear-haulin' Rocky box trailer (which can be outfitted with a roof tent itself), with the rugged Base Camp aluminum trailer, a more camping-oriented gear box that can be fully customized. The basic $7,995 Base Camp weighs 950 lb (431 kg) dry and includes a DryMax floor with laminated rubber diamond plate, a 2,000-lb (907-kg) spring axle, 31 x 10.5-in AT tires, LED exterior/interior lighting, a seven-way plug, and Thule 60-in Aero Blade Load Bars with adjustable track.
Backcountry Box's options list runs deep and includes everything from camping standards like a $1,495 CVT roof tent and $1,695 slide-out kitchen with sink and cooktop, to Thule gear baskets and racks, and a $495 Deluxe Kenwood stereo package. We really like the versatile Camp Chef stove with grill and griddle that remove to reveal the dual-burner stove below, providing a versatile grill/griddle/stove without taking up extra counter space with individual units.
Moby1 XTR Short Body (SB)
Utah's Moby1 made a name for itself a few years ago with the rugged XTR. Now it's readying a smaller, lighter version that it's calling the XTR Short Body (SB). The new model weighs about 500 lb (227 kg) less than the XTR (which should put it around 1,300 lb/590 kg dry) and features a simpler configuration without the slide-out tailgate galley equipment. Inside is a full-size bed, and a roof-top tent can be mounted up top.
Moby1 is still finalizing the design and isn't even sure the "Short Body" name will stick around. It doesn't have pricing ready beyond saying that it'll start below the $18,500 base price of the XTR. It plans to add more info on its website in the near future.
Hiker Trailer Off Road
Denver's Hiker Trailer offers a variety of sizes of highway-ready trailers, and it recently expanded its lineup with an Off Road Deluxe model. The basic off-road Hiker starts at $8,595 and has a 2x3-in steel frame with aluminum body, a 3,500-lb (1,588-kg) axle, 33-in tire-wrapped 17-in steel wheels suspended by leaf springs, a front storage box and rack, a galley door, a seven-way plug, and other basic equipment.
Just like many of the other trailers here, the Hiker gets cozier and more functional as you start checking off options boxes. Of particular interest is the Zamp Solar system, which Hiker owner Rob Reeve relies on to run his CPAP sleeping machine and other onboard equipment. According to him, the combination of 160W panels, Interstate Group 24 battery and 600W inverter keeps all the equipment powered on road trips, without any need for hooking up to the grid. Other options include a slide-out galley tray and awnings.
PB Fab Off Road Trailers
The simplest off-road camping/cargo trailer layout we saw this year, PB Fab's Expedition trailer, is essentially a steel cargo cage with a roof-tent supports 3 feet (91 cm) above. The roll bars on the ends of the upper frame protect the tent or upper cargo from branches, rollovers and other hazards, and the main cage keeps all your gear protected inside. The trailer provides plenty of work space with its side fender/shelves and fold-out 24 x 48-in (61 x 122-cm) tailgate. A removable tongue helps compact things down for storage and can be attached to the rear during trailer/vehicle extractions. The white show model pictured below includes a marine-grade plywood floor covered in bed liner, custom leaf spring suspension, 6,000-lb (2,722-kg) axle and ARB roof-top tent.
Customization is a theme running through this entire list, but PB Fab takes it one step further – even wheels and tires are sold separately or supplied by the customer, and components like the axle and shocks can be customer-selected. Prices (not including wheels/tires) start at $3,750 for the EX-J trailer designed for small/mid-size SUVs and trucks, $4,250 for the EX-L aimed at mid/full-size SUVs and trucks, and $4,500 for the EX-EL designed for full-size vehicles. California-based PB Fab doesn't advertise a long list of camping options, but it does mention available equipment like tilting and removable roof bars for accommodating larger equipment on the trailer bed.
We looked at the original Turtleback off-road trailer two years ago, and now Turtleback is in the process of developing a lighter, smaller trailer designed for smaller utility vehicles like the Subaru Outback. The test model's spec sheet includes an aluminum chassis, UCF Flexiride rubber torsion axle, LED lighting, Deka Group 24 AGM marine-grade battery and Blue Sea Systems marine-grade electrical components, slide-out kitchen with stainless steel two-burner stove and sink, 30-gal (114-L) fresh water tank with 12V pump and hot water heater, exterior shower and more. The trailer lists in at 1,150 lb (522 kg). Phoenix-based Turtleback told us that it's still finalizing and testing the design.
Check out more pics of the above trailers and a few others in our gallery.