Adventure travel is about getting out and seeing things and experiencing different cultures with friends or family.
Why build an Adventure Trailer?
I travel a lot with my immediate family as well as with my Peach State Overland family. Having gone on many trips and having my truck filled to the brim with stuff, I thought that now might be a good time to transition to a trailer. Also every year my wife and I take my son down to Florida and with filling the truck up with only one child, I had to ask myself, what happens when we have another one? At this point the decision to build a trailer became a no-brainer.
Being the guy that typically likes to refurbish things, I spent months looking for a military ammo trailer to start my build. Last year I found one that I could start working on in my garage. I was so excited, but after a little more research I found out that all trailers (or anything painted by the military) prior to 1980ish contained paint with lead in it. After a positive lead test, I decided to look for a newer trailer to start my build. It’s just not a risk I am willing to take with a 3 year old. A few months later I found an ad posted on craigslist for a good ole fashioned flat trailer. Once I reached out to the owner of the ad I found out that it was a trailer fabricator in middle Georgia called Southern Steel Mobile Welding & Custom Trailers. I met the owner Cody and he was excited to help me work on this project.
I sent Cody several forum write ups and articles on home built off-road trailers and we began the build. For the base of the trailer we used 2”x3” steel and the sides were made out of 1.5”x1.5” steel tubing. The rectangular part of the trailer was made 4’x6’ so I could accommodate my Mt Rainier tent on the top. This frame rests on a 2,000 lb axle with some basic 1,100 lb leaf spring (that I intend on upgrading at some point). Cody added a drop down tailgate, and a 2” hitch receiver in the back for additional carrying capacity if needed.
Floor and Sides
Once Cody delivered the trailer to me, I was excited to finish the build. Of course by finish I mean make trail ready, one can never “finish” an overlanding build. 🙂 I promptly went over to Home Depot to build out the flooring and sides. For the floor I used ½” sanded pine, and faced it with Fiberglass Reinforced Panel (FRP) to make it as weather resistant as possible. I glued, trimmed, and notched the floor and dropped it in. I did not bolt it down to limit rusting. For the sides I opted for cedar tone prefinished pine fence pickets. These privacy fence pickets came prefinished and coated with a water resistant sealer. For the tailgate I mitered a sheet of pressure treated plywood for a nice cooking surface. To save money I opted to not have all the 1.5” tubing capped off, so I filled them with Great Stuff. Not perfect, but it works for a budget build.
Wheels and Tires
After installing the floor and sides I budgeted for a larger set of tires, and since the trailer came with a 5×4.5” wheel hubs, I also needed a wheel adapter so I could run Toyota wheels. I ordered a set of 2” spacers/adapters and I am glad that I did because there would not have been enough space for a full size truck tire without the additional 2”. I later found a set of 4 2nd gen 4runner wheels with tires (for $100) with some decent tread for our spring trip. I ultimately want to get a matching set of wheels and tires so I only have to carry one spare. I currently keep the spare for the trailer under my truck.
After getting these tires mounted and some temporary taillights mounted, I got a tag for it and debuted it by taking some donations up to Gatlinburg for the Smoky Mountain fires. The trailer road very smooth with the load and I was happy with the performance of the current setup.
The Rack and Other Additions
The ultimate goal of this trailer was to make an all in one ready at the drop of the hat camp trailer. In the next month, I got the materials to make the rack, and I chose to use the Electro Galvanized Super Strut from Home Depot. Those of you that know me know how much I love this stuff because of its strength and weather resilience. It also comes with a lot of available parts to make anything you might need. The Super Strut gave me a great surface to mount the Hi Lift on one side of the trailer, and the Rotopax gas tank is just mounted to the wood surface on the other side for even weight distribution. The most recent upgrade is the remote controlled LED work lights. Check out the video on my Instagram @4runner84!
I still have many more plans for this trailer this year. I would like a tonneau cover and to fully seal the sides. This would ideally make it as waterproof as a truck bed. I also want to add fenders and mud flaps as well as a spot to mount the spare. I also will need some sort of stabilizing system so I can use the tent while disconnected from my truck. I will also need to purchase a 3-axis hitch soon to I can take it on some moderate trails.