Let’s get down to business. Off Road towing is a great experience, and it can mean that you and your camping companions get to visit some pretty fantastic places, but you still have to make sure that you’re educated on how to tow your camper trailer the right way.
At Mars Campers, we love to take our campers out and give them a good go– and by this we mean we really put them to the test when it comes to how off road capable they really are.
Our campers are built to handle almost every surface you can think of, and that’s why we love them.
But even though Mars Campers are built for roughing up, there are still certain measures that travellers need to make to make sure they are safe at all times on the road.
If you’ve worked hard for an awesome getaway in your camper, the very last thing you want is to have it end early because something has gone wrong.
Because our trailers are so lightweight and easy to tow, it can become easy to forget that you do still have extra weight behind you and your driving may need some slight adjustments.
At Mars Campers, we have done our best to create the largest possible living space while keeping it as light as possible, but if you don’t take care it can turn sour very fast!
There are some general things that every driver should know before they head off on their grand trailer adventure, but don’t stress, off road towing is a ton of fun once you have the right tools to do it.
Australian roads feature a range of surfaces depending on where you are travelling. You could find yourself in the outback, the snow, on some uneven surfaces or uncapped roads, sand… the list is endless!
First, let’s cover the very basic things to remember when towing your camper. While most of our campers will tow fine behind most cars, it’s important that you choose the right one for you and your family.
We know, we know, there’s a LOT to consider when you’re choosing a camper, but one of the most critical is that you select one that your car can support.
Most 4X4 cars won’t have trouble towing even the biggest of campers, however, some smaller cars might find it tough, especially when going up steep hills or around tight corners.
If you’re not sure, check your cars owner’s manual for the towing capacity and of course, the team at Mars will be happy to help you sort out this detail.
When you get on the road, take your time. We know you’re excited to reach your destination, but what’s the point of getting there fast if you’ve A) Scared your passengers half to death or B) End up needing the services of the Royal Flying Doctor?
We’re sure you have been the driver stuck behind a slow camper trailer but let that be their problem. Australian roads offer lots of opportunities for those cars to overtake you.
While it’s obvious that you should follow the speed limits, consider taking it a little slower– especially if you’re new to towing your camper trailer! A few games of I spy should help you pass the time.
It’s important to remember too that having your trailer behind you makes your overall length much longer, so you have to think about this when you’re turning corners, coming to a stop, changing lanes and parking.
To ease your mind, give things like reversing and parking a few practice runs beforehand in an empty car park.
If possible, hit the road early! Not only will you thank yourself when you’ve reached your destination earlier with more daylight hours to actually enjoy it, you’re more likely to avoid heavy traffic. Also, most people are more alert before lunchtime, so you’ll be more focused and aware of anything that could go wrong.
Being up early also means lowering your chance of running into a Kangaroo (literally and figuratively).
Let’s chat about some of the common risks that campers often come across when towing their camper trailers.
Overtaking: remember- you are longer than you think! In your car it can be safe and easy to quickly swerve into the next lane over, but any sudden movements with your camper behind you could end badly.
The wind from passing trucks: You will have felt this wind when you’re driving, it’s enough to make your grip the steering wheel tighter, and the same can happen with your camper. It might be just a slight shake, but if it catches you by surprise it could give you a scare.
Swerving: In Australia, coming across wildlife (dead or alive) on the road is about as common as coming across people eating vegemite on toast. Unfortunately, swerving can result in real danger, so try to avoid this at all costs.
Wind: Bad wind can only mean bad things. When the wind gets bad you should get off the road. Try to plan ahead by checking forecasts and changing up your schedule if need be. The beauty of a camper trailer is you can stop and spend the night wherever you need to stop. Stay safe and start again tomorrow.
Swaying: To avoid your camper swaying all over the place, make sure the weight inside is distributed evenly.
Like we said before, you’ll find yourself in a range of situations with different surfaces, but let’s take a look at taking your camper on the sand.
Driving down a beach is an experience quite like no other. As only certain beaches in Australia allow it, when you get the chance to do so it would be real shame if you couldn’t because you weren’t prepared.
Although it does take a bit of skill, it isn’t rocket science. Let’s break it down to give you a bit of an idea of what’s involved.
You will get stuck at some point or another, accepting it is your first step in making sure you know how to handle it when it does.
Reducing your tyre pressure is one way to make driving and towing your trailer on sand much easier. In simple terms, decreasing the pressure helps you to float across the sand instead of sink down.
The pressure you lower them down to will depend on both your car and your trailer, so make sure to always chat to an expert before doing this. Once you have found what pressure works and is safe, measure how much tyre surface is covered by sand for next time!
The trick when you’re driving in sand is to stay on top of the stuff; you want to float across it. And the more sand you can displace, the more you will float. Don’t forget to re-inflate before heading back onto the road.
Although this isn’t necessary for normal towing, having the wheels of both your car and your trailer match up width wise makes it a whole lot easier to drive on sand, as the trailer is following in the tracks of your car and has already been compacted.
This may not be possible depending on your car and trailer and if your wheels don’t match up, it’s not the end of your sand adventure, its simply an added bonus!
We’re sure you’ll come across lots that you want to slow down and marvel at, but sorry– that dolphin in the distance will just have to wait.
Keeping a solid speed will reduce your chanced of getting bogged and help you ‘glide’ across the sand instead. Don’t go crazy and think you need to fly across the sand, just try and maintain a speed once you get going.
If you do find yourself stuck, and you will at one stage or another, here are some basic guidelines to stop it from ending in disaster.
Ease off the accelerator. Continuing to spin your wheels will only dig you in further. Try rocking back and forth. If the sand is compact enough, it may just let you drive away.
If you are struggling to get the wheels to stop spinning, try slightly pulling up your hand break.
Ironically, when you accept you’re going to get stuck no matter what, you don’t get stuck as much. And when you do, you know to stop immediately, and stay off the brakes. Braking on sand can build up little piles of sand in front of the tyres that make it hard to get started again.