What to pack for your first trailer camping trip:
- Hitch receiver
- Brake controller (only if you have an all-road or off-road suspension package)
- Gear ties (Nite Ize or Voile Straps)
First things first, you have to be able to safely tow the trailer. This is a great article to get you up to speed on hitch receiver requirements. Unless you already have a brake controller installed in your vehicle, a brake controller is a great option (we recommend proportional, more on that here). Finally, a set of rubber gear ties is key for securing wires and the handle of the front trailer jack while driving (also useful for hanging the solar panel at camp).
Towing can often be a daunting task if you’ve never towed before, but this is one of those times where the “practice makes perfect” adage really rings true. Pulling a trailer will affect your turning radius as well as the distance required to stop – even with trailer brakes. Our trailers are very compact and won’t impact your turning radius as significantly as a large cargo trailer, but it’s a good idea to approach turns a little wider than you would otherwise. Because your braking distance will be affected, it is important to begin slowing down a little sooner than you would otherwise, and give a bit of additional space between you and vehicles in front of you.
When entering tight roads, parking lots, and unknown pathways, be sure to consider if you have enough space to turn around, or be prepared to back out. The most difficult aspect of learning to drive with a trailer is backing up; whether parallel parking or simply backing out of / into the driveway, backing up a trailer is one of the least intuitive parts of trailering, especially when towing a short trailer like a teardrop. We recommend taking your time, go slow, practice, but most of all: don’t forget that you can just pull straight forward to correct any mistakes you’ve made and try again – we have all been there! If you notice your trailer wandering to one side or the other, turn your steering wheel toward the mirror you see your trailer in, and it will begin to correct its direction.
Check out some of the available brake controllers here.
Sarah Labowitz and Pete Molick live in Houston, TX and their favorite place to take their Pika Off-Road is Big Bend National Park.