Trailer Hitch Height Guide
HOW TO CALCULATE & SELECT A DROP OR RISE HITCH FOR YOUR TEARDROP TRAILER
When the day comes to pick up your teardrop trailer, we want everything to go smoothly on the logistics end of things, the less figuring-out we need to do the more relaxing your day will be. We’ve put this guide together to help you prepare for picking up your Timberleaf Teardrop trailer.
The information here is applicable to any bumper-pull trailer out there, so regardless of what you’re pulling, these calculations will work for your vehicle and trailer!
Our trailers are equipped with either a 2” ball hitch, or a Max-Coupler articulating hitch, depending on the suspension package you have selected. All necessary hardware and hitch pins to attach the ball coupler or Max-Coupler to the trailer are provided with your teardrop.
- STANDARD PACKAGE: 2” BALL COUPLER
- ALL-ROAD PACKAGE: MAX-COUPLER
- OFF-ROAD PACKAGE: MAX-COUPLER
What you will need to bring with you to connect the trailer to your vehicle is a drop or rise ball mount hitch. Shown below are a ball mount hitch with a 2” ball (left), and a ball mount hitch without the ball (right). If you are getting a standard package trailer from us, you will need a ball mount hitch with a 2” ball, with the drop or rise height that we’ll calculate further down the page. If you are getting an all-road or off-road trailer from us, you will need the drop or rise ball mount without the ball, and with a 1” diameter hole. More on that below.
Vehicle-side tow ball mount with 2” ball.
Vehicle-side tow ball mount without a ball.
Calculating Drop/Rise Hitch Height
When calculating the necessary drop or rise hitch height, you will need to know the height to the top of your vehicle’s receiver tube, and the height to the bottom of the trailer’s coupler, measured when parked on level ground, with the trailer level with the ground. Simply subtract the height of the trailer coupler from the vehicle receiver and the resulting number is the amount of drop or rise you will need.
The measurements below reflect the bottom of our trailer’s tongue mounted receiver tube* (B in the diagram below)
- STANDARD PACKAGE (CLASSIC & PIKA): 13-1/4”
- ALL-ROAD PACKAGE (CLASSIC & PIKA): 15-1/2”
- OFF-ROAD PACKAGE (PIKA): 19”
- OFF-ROAD PACKAGE (CLASSIC): 21”
*These measurements reflect the coupler heights on trailers with our specified tires. If you have requested custom tire sizes on your trailer, your trailer’s hitch height will vary.
Looking at the image below, we want to calculate for C. It is simply A – B = C. For example, if you’re picking up a Standard Package trailer with your new crossover SUV (CUV), and your CUV’s receiver height when measured to the top of the receiver tube is 16”, and the trailer’s coupler height measured to the bottom of the coupler is 13-1/4”, you will need a 2-3/4” drop hitch.
So far the calculation is very straightforward as our example vehicle has a receiver height that is greater than the coupler height of the trailer. The result of the equation is simply the amount of drop you need for your hitch. But what if your vehicle’s receiver height is less than the height of the trailer coupler? For that, you will need a riser hitch. Typically a ball mount will be applicable for both a rise and drop. For instance, a 2” drop hitch is also a 3/4” rise; the greater the drop, the greater the rise.
If you’re picking up an All-Road equipped trailer with a Subaru Outback, which commonly has a 14-3/4” receiver height, and the All-Road has a 15-1/2” coupler height, your calculation will result in a negative number. For our purposes, negatives represent a rise.
One more example; if your new Toyota Tacoma has a receiver height of 18” and you are picking up a Classic with the Off-Road package which has a coupler height of 21”, you will need a rise hitch of 3”. Represented below as negative three.
Max-Coupler Articulating Hitch
For generations, we have come to know and trust the industry-standard ball hitch. These are available in 1-7/8”, 2”, and 2-1/4” ball sizes commonly. They are tried and true, easy to hook up, and if you’ve towed before, chances are very high that these are how you’ve attached your trailer to your vehicle. They are the perfect companion for pavement-bound trailers and trailers that see mild off-road time. Where they fall short, however, is the path before you becomes steeper, and involves dips, crevasses, and twisting, undulating terrain. The ball hitch is limited in how far your trailer is allowed to twist, dip, and tilt in relation to what your tow vehicle is doing. And in a worst-case scenario of an extreme differentiation between the vehicle’s angle and the trailer’s angle, the stamped steel coupler attached to the ball can even be stressed enough that it loses its grip on the tow ball. No one wants that!
For many years, the go-to for rugged off-road hitches was the Pintle hitch, commonly used by heavy industrial equipment and military equipment. They are extremely strong, robust, fairly easy to use, and allow a much larger range of movement and strength over the standard ball hitch. A Pintle hitch is made up of a large horizontal donut-shaped ring on the trailer’s tongue, and a vertical pincer-like hook that fully encapsulates the ring. The drawback of a Pintle hitch is that, despite its robust strength, it is still a metal-on-metal mechanism with a small amount of wiggle between the components to allow smooth operation without binding. So while very capable off-road, it tends to transmit thuds, clangs, and bangs through the tow vehicle’s chassis which is felt by the driver and passengers.
Ever since our very first Off-Road teardrop, we have been using the Max-Coupler articulating hitch from CU Offroad. We have found it to be a wonderfully reliable, quiet, and easy to operate off-road capable trailer hitch that eliminates the slop, knock, and vulnerability of a traditional ball hitch when used off road and in high-angle situations that you may encounter while venturing down forest service roads and trails. Once you are familiar with the operation and hook-up procedure involved with the Max-Coupler, you may find yourself preferring to tow with a Max-Coupler over a standard trailer ball… I know I have!
The vehicle-end of the Max-Coupler takes the place of the common tow ball and even mounts to the same drop or rise hitch. The yoke assembly includes a massive 1” bolt with custom-made bushings, it bolts into the same location as your standard 2” tow ball on a drop hitch insert. When selecting your drop or rise hitch, be sure to get one with a one-inch hole, some lighter duty and heavier duty hitches will have a smaller or larger hole, these are incompatible with the Max-Coupler. The Max-Coupler yoke assembly provides the lateral axis of movement needed for your trailer to turn smoothly, rotating on their custom made bushings.
The trailer side of the Max-Coupler inserts into our tongue receiver on the trailer as you would install any drop hitch onto a vehicle. It is held in place with a standard 5/8” hitch pin, and utilizes a series of custom polyurethane greaseable bushings to provide the vertical and torsional movement required by the trailer to navigate undulating and challenging terrain.
To connect, simply back the vehicle up to the trailer and locate the yoke assembly on the vehicle hitch directly below the cylindrical bushing of the trailer-end of the Max-Coupler. Once parked, lower the trailer tongue until the bushing is fully seated into the yoke of the Max-Coupler; you can then insert the red T-handle 5/8” hitch pin through the yoke and bushing, allowing the trailer and vehicle to be combined together. Insert the safety pin, connect your chains, check lights, and you’re good to go!
Due to the custom polyurethane bushings used throughout the Max-Coupler assembly, and the tight manufacturing tolerances, the Max-Coupler is a silent, secure, and easy to use articulating hitch alternative to the age-old ball couplers and Pintle hitches. We provide a Max-Coupler with each of our All-Road and Off-Road equipped trailers for confidence on any terrain.