Choosing the Best Coupling Hitch for your Offroad Camper Trailer
Travelling to remote places in Australia with a camper trailer means tackling some pretty rough terrain. Your vehicle and camper trailer might be ready for this but is your hitch up to the task? Here is our guide to choosing the best coupling hitch for your offroad camper trailer.
Consider the road and terrain you will be driving on
Do you plan to tow your camper trailer primarily on the bitumen or are you going to head down badly corrugated gravel roads? How about heading off those gravel roads and squeezing into narrow tracks, plunging into river crossings, arching over fireroad water bars or even lining up for an attempt at the famous Cape York 'Gunshot' creek crossing?
If you are only going to stay on the bitumen then a standard on-road ball coupling may be all that you need. However, most genuine offroad camper trailers are equipped with a poly-block style coupling - this will cover both types of terrain well. Below is a table of where you can go with these two types of couplings.
Table 1: Trailer Coupling Ability vs Terrain
| Coupling Type
|| Graded Gravel Roads
||Rugged Fire Roads
& Narrow Tracks off road
(steep water bars, ruts and ledges)
|Support for Stability When towing
| On-road Ball Coupling
|| Y - but noisy
|| N - not enough articulation
|| Limited and far less if lubricated
| Off-road Pintle Style Coupling
|| very poor as there is limited friction on the vetical axis
| Off-road Poly Block Coupling
The benefits of a Poly-block coupling
One of the most popular poly-block couplings around is the TREG Poly-Block Offroad coupling made in Adelaide, South Australia. This is used on many offroad camper trailers in Australia. When looking to buy any off-road camper trailer make sure the coupling you are looking at is as good as the TREG Poly-block coupling. Consider the following;
Make sure it is easy to dis-connect the poly-block coupling.
Yes, disconnect is more important than "connect". Consider this: you are stuck in a dry sandy creek bed and you need to "extract" the off toad camper or caravan from the bed as well as the vehicle. You apply the parking brake to the off road camper trailer or caravan (one touch is ideal) and drive or winch the vehicle out. To do this easily, the hitch that separates without having to lift it is by far the easiest to use! Just disconnect the poly-block coupling. and return to the rear of the off road camper trailer of caravan to complete a rear end recovery using the standard extraction recovery points.
Enhanced Stability with a friction hitch.
Whilst minor to the other recommendations for stability, a dampened hitch with rubber is far better than a smooth pintle. University tests found that there was a slight advantage in caravan "sway" by using a hitch that had "friction" between the components. The poly block coupling has the rubber from the poly block "rubbing" on the base of the "U" piece on the vehicle. For this reason, we only use and recommend Treg hitches. The slight safety benefit and ease of instant disconnect without lifting, overrides any extra time to connect.
Make sure it is easy to connect the poly-block coupling.
TREG poly-block couplings use a simple heavy-duty steel pin to connect trailer to the vehicle. Simply push this through holding the built-in 'T' handle and secure with linchpin. DONE. Disconnecting is just as simple.
Ensure it has great articulation for offroad adventure.
When you are dropping down 'Gunshot' and your camper trailer is still on the bank it's good to know that you are not going to get stuck because of your camper trailer hitch! To cope with this kind of terrain your camper trailer needs to go up-and-down, side-to-side and be able to roll side-to-side to cope with the terrain. This requires great articulation between vehicle and camper trailer in three axis' of rotation.
The 'up-and-down' and 'side-to-side' articulation of a TREG is provided by a pin rotating inside the poly-block. Rolling 'side-to-side' is achieved where the poly-block section rotates on a shaft inside the fixed half of the coupling. What this means for you is a low-maintanence hitch with great smooth articulation (the articulation motions work together).
Look for a quiet and smooth ride.
A great feauture of the TREG is that you are connected to your offroad camper trailer with heavy-duty poly material. This material is great at absorbing and dampening vibration so you enjoy a smooth ride. With these vibrations dampened the coupling also provides a quieter ride.
Look for a low-maintenance hitch with minimal moving parts.
Everything that travels offroad requires some kind of maintenance. More moving parts means more maintenance and the chance of something going wrong when you are in the middle of nowhere. A TREG offroad coupling has a minimal number of parts and only requires greasing on the main shaft - and this is easy with the integrated grease nipples.
More-than-adequate Tow Rating
The forces experienced by a coupling when you travel off-road can be far higher than on sealed roads. It is a good idea to have a coupling that is rated well above what is required to tow your off-road camper trailer. The TREG poly-block coupling is rated at 300kg tow rating.
For more helpful information about offroad camper trailers download our FREE guide below:
Cameron Johnston | Kimberley Group