A little back story to how we came to own our Off Grid Expedition 2.0 trailer. When I first started overlanding way back when in 2013 we began with a nice tent. I was convinced I would never need a trailer. We even did the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route with said tent and a lot of gear stacked on the FJ Cruiser roof rack. We hope to repeat this trip in 2020. After finding a friend a good deal on a M416 trailer he asked me if I wanted to go in 50/50 with him on the trailer. Then the trailer journey began.
It’s hard to be concise when trying to describe owning 6 different trailers in 6 years. Repeat after me, “There is no perfect trailer.” Needs change, budgets change, dreams change. I like to try new things. Since 2013 I have owned a M416, a Turtleback Clone (with Turtleback parts), a Turtleback trailer, a VRV Teardrop, another military tub trailer (Little Green) M100, and our Off Grid Expedition 2.0. Although "Little Green" is more of an around town utility trailer for us it could easily be converted to another camping trailer. The point of this LONG article is we have a lot of experience with a lot of different styles of trailers. For a list of pros and cons of each trailer take a look at our Quick Take article.
I am an Ambassador for Off Grid trailers and can use this experience to help you determine what is the best trailer for you. If that doesn’t make your head spin and you want to learn more read on. If not Off Grid trailers are amazing go buy one! 🙂
My buddy and I owned the M416 for a little over a year. It was a fun little trailer but I hated lifting gear boxes over the sides. We sold the trailer. He decided to buy a Turtleback. If I was going to continue the trailer life I wanted something with doors where gear could be easily be taken in and out.
On the El Camino Del Diablo trail in southern AZ.
At the time my dream trailer was a Turtleback trailer but it was something financially out of reach. Another friend convinced me I could build a DIY version of a Turtleback. With the help of MANY, including Dave at Turtleback, we built a great DIY version. One that would never be as refined as an actual Turtleback but a great trailer none the less. It was a lot of fun to be involved in the design and building process. I even did a bit of the welding. During that time I started working at Turtleback part-time. Dave offered the opportunity to own one (sweat equity). After about 2 years I sold the “Prequel”, as I called it, to a great family in OK. A few months later I became the owner of a Turtleback in late 2016. By the way the ‘Prequel” is now back in AZ. The 3rd owner loves it.
Take a look at our Anatomy of a DIY Trailer articles for more insight.
Enjoying the beauty of Cascade National Park in WA.
Trailer 3: Major Life Change:
A little before Christmas 2016 I finally owned my dream trailer. I joined some friends on the White Rim Trail in Utah the day after Christmas. It was an exciting trip! I never thought I would own Turtleback. Then life changed again. In February 2017 my wife and I decided to build our dream home. As costs rose we needed to sell the trailer for much needed cashflow. Life is crazy but the even bigger dream required the sale of the Turtleback. After a short 8 months of ownership it was gone. Turtleback builds great trailers. If you are in the market for a non-teardrop designed trailer you should consider Turtleback. I've included a photo of our front view at "Hacienda Kracht" to show why we made the move. Life is an adventure. #DreamItDoIt
The White Rim trip proved to me I didn’t like sleeping in an RTT in cold weather. The daytime temp never rose above 35 and nighttime was around 18-19f. There are ways to mitigate the cold like running a heater in the annex. 23 Zero nows sells an interior insulating blanket as well. RTT tents are very roomy. There is some nostalgia to climbing up into the "tree house" but on windy, wet, and cold nights you can't beat sleeping in a teardrop!
Lockhart Basin, UT. During our post-Christmas holiday adventure.
When we are not on the trails we are blessed to enjoy these views. #DreamItDoIt
Once the dust settled on our home purchase I was ready to explore owning an offroad teardrop. I researched a few different brands and models. At the time I had a specific budget. That budget would not afford me a trailer with a kitchen and water. I came upon the VRV product line and opted to get their larger model. VRV is no longer in business. IntechRV offers a couple of similar product lines. There are a few articles on our site which show details of the trailer and what we did and didn’t like about it. The main pro was it was very roomy. The bed could convert to a single bed which made it really easy to get dressed in the trailer, get in and out, and even have the dogs sleep on the floor if need be. It was a good basic trailer but didn’t meet the demands for all of the type of trips we like to do. When I originally purchased the trailer I thought if it could do 75% of the terrain I like to explore I would be ok. In the end I decided I wanted a true off-road capable trailer again. I found a buyer in Oregon and off it went. The VRV proved I love sleeping indoors. No more cold tent, no more tent flapping in the wind. If it was raining so what.
I was well aware of the Off Grid product line at the time of the VRV purchase but it wasn’t in the budget. Gradually I came to the conclusion to get a trailer capable of what I want to do it simply required a larger budget.
Trailer 5: Honorable Mention Little Green
I get bored, I get online, I spend money... Little Green came into existence when I decided I needed a project. We live on some acreage and I wanted to have a nice little utility trailer. I have thought about making it more of a little camping trailer/gear hauler but it is in such nice original condition I really don't want to hack the trailer up. I did come up with a creative way to add a full articulating hitch without hacking up the tongue. Who knows if 2020 will bring any changes to this trailer.
Trailer 6: Off Grid Expedition 2.0
You made it! Let’s talk about the Off Grid trailer. Why I chose it and a 60 day review.
In my opinion the Off Grid trailer line are the best built teardrop/squaredrop trailers on the market. No wood, all metal, and an equivalent build quality to Turtleback Trailers (My previous standard for build quality). There are many competitors in the offroad teardrop space. Most are made of wood. Some say they are meant for offroad and will likely fall apart on the trail.
Our original purchase reasons were as follows:
- Craftsmanship - This is very important to us. No corners cut. Built to last.
- Rugged design - Timbren suspension, all-metal construction, easy access to wiring and water tank, well thought out accessories
- Built for the trail - A 50 degree rear departure angle which will clear even the roughest terrain.
- Convenience - Built-in kitchen, water, and well thought out storage areas - If you haven’t experienced the convenience of a quick camp setup and takedown you don’t know what you are missing. We do lots of trips where we pack up daily. An Off Grid makes this easy. Having our trailer packed and ready to go less food and clothing allows us to take more trips, longer trips, and more last-minute trips. We rarely forget anything because it is already packed. Other than pillows. Way too many purchased on the road. 🙂
- Passion - I believe the owners of Off Grid are as passionate about this lifestyle as we are.
Mojave Road 2020
60 Day Review
You can view our DIY modifications article here. I have had lots of fun customizing this trailer. It has lived up to our expectations. All of our experience on different trips with different trailers has culminated into this purchase. I have taken 4 trips with the trailer to date. It has been tested on moderate trails from day 1 and each time we take the trailer out we enjoy it more. The wife hasn't gone out yet but she was involved in the purchase decision. Our setup gets more dialed in with each trip. With minor gear and organization changes the trailer has become a pure joy to camp in. Our next trip is to Death Valley. There will be a complete write up on this trip in the coming weeks.
There have been no major issues with the trailer. A few screws rattled loose (common issue), we offered a suggested for an improved design with the water tank to Off Grid (it is being adopted) and overall the trailer has been great. Setup is minimal and teardown is just about as quick. The heater is great. We try to keep the cabin clutter free other than a couple of chairs so if you need to crawl in and go to bed it can be done in seconds.
Are there things I would change about the trailer? Of course and most have been handled with the DIY modifications I have already put in place. It would be nice to have the option for a 2nd 11lb propane tank for our propane campfire. Since we opted to put our spare tire on the roof rack I may add a mount on the tongue for this. An optional factory mount would be even better. I might streamline the electrical system to use only 1 battery in the trailer and add a DC to DC charger to ensure both my vehicle and trailer battery are charge to maximum efficiency off of the alternator. We do have solar for both the trailer and truck. We don't normally run the fridge in the trailer. I use the front box for additional storage. On the occasional trip with our dogs the fridge goes in to maximize space in the FJ. This is a personal choice and there are pros and cons to this setup. While it is convenient to have a fridge in the trailer and powered by its system I have always preferred to have one in the vehicle. Our FJ Cruiser also has been modified to accommodate this. That is an investment in time and money. For many it doesn't make sense to do so. We have had a fridge in the FJ for 7 years and have owned multiple brands. A blog post on all of the changes over the years to our FJ Cruiser is probably in order. Bottomline having a fridge is a game changer. It's great one is included with each Off Grid Model.
Mojave Road 2020
I say it over and over again. There is no perfect trailer. However, for us the Off Grid is about as perfect as it gets. I am sure the brand will evolve some over time based on owner feedback. That might be the only reason to sell this one.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I am extremely passionate about just about everything "overlanding." We have taken many trips like the AZ, UT, and ID Border to Border trips along with countless others. All of that experience has helped formulate the gear we carry and the trailer we wanted to own. ANY trailer purchase is a big decision. We have been incredibly lucky in life and have enjoyed lots of adventures over the past 7 years. We hope this article is useful in your purchase decision. Feel free to reach out and ask questions. As an Ambassador for Off Grid I can help you make your purchase decision and save you a little bit of money too.
Enjoying some cold weather camping with friends on the Mojave Road. January 2020