Updated: May 15
As with any big purchase, there is so much to think about when choosing an overland trailer. Here are some of the major considerations we made before buying our Vorsheer XER trailer. Of course, everyone's situation and adventure style are different so take what helps and leave what doesn't.
Before I get started, as a very important note, getting as far away from people as possible is pretty much our main goal when camping and overlanding. That, and finding good places to fish. Therefore, our equipment has to be able to go pretty much anywhere our Tacoma or Jeep Wrangler goes (my Jeep is something of a mall crawler these days, but I digress).
For these reasons, when we decided to invest in a trailer, we strictly looked at overlanding trailers because the design and size of the trailer wouldn't limit us from our weekend city and people escapism.
#1 - Price
As with most, the price was a big consideration for us. We would have LOVED to buy a Turtleback, but the mid $30,000's to $40,000 just was a big chunk of money (like more than half the price of the 4Runner I will own someday). Other options, like Tuff Stuff, Schutt, and Smittybult were in the $8,000 - $18,000 range, which was much more manageable.
Vorsheer offered a mid-price option that appeared well-built (though we have yet to put it to the test) and thoughtfully designed. However, our initial research revealed the trailer had more features than we needed like the fridge and water heater. In hopes of getting one without all the bells and whistles built at a lower cost, we contacted Vorsheer through Facebook and asked if they did custom builds. They do, but only if you are willing to pay $50,000 or more—so that clearly was not an option.
In the end, we determined if we were going to spend the money, we were going to spend it on what we wanted. And we both wanted the Vorsheer. While we paid more than we were first planning, we were able to get a great interest rate on a 7-year loan (though, we plan to pay it off the trailer in a couple of years) and both feel good about the purchase, for now anyway.
#2 - Layout and design
The next biggest consideration to price was the layout and design of the trailer. There are typically two layout options with the current overlanding trailers offered, a gallery with a sink and stove that rolls out of the back or, alternatively, out of the side.
Common Competitor Layouts
Vorsheer XER Layout
We preferred the galley that extended from the back because it meant we could park in smaller spots. Models where the tent unfolds to one side and the galley comes out the other make for a larger footprint. This may seem trivial, but just last summer camped in a site that barely accommodated our truck and our Springbar tent. So, the scenario does come up.
An argument could also be made that opening the awning on the Vorsheer (see diagram below) makes the footprint just as wide, which is true. However, we won't always need to use the awning but will need access to the galley (i.e. we MUST be able to make coffee in the morning and access beer from the fridge).
#3 - Suspension and clearance
Once we have put the Timbran suspension included on our Vorsheer XER trailer to the test, we will write a post. Until then, do your own research to make sure the suspension is durable, easily serviced, and has enough travel to absorb whatever terrain it encounters. Timbran checked all these boxes for us.
When it came to the underside of the trailer, we were mostly concerned with clearance. The underside of the other trailer we were considering had tubes and wires exposed; ready to be pulled or punctured by the first sharp stick. Vorsheer, on the other hand, had nothing but clearance; 22" to be exact.
#4 - Tent and awning
Now, this is my favorite part. If you know anything about overlanding gear, you know 23Zero is one of the best rooftop tents around and is the one Vorsheer includes with their trailers. While one of the other trailer tents was larger, when I climbed in it, the material didn't appear as tough as the 23Zero and the zippers felt cheaper. In my opinion, the very best part of the 23Zero tent is the skylight—if you don't have the rainfly on, you can unzip the window above your head and see the stars. Up until now, we've used a large canvas Springbar tent, which is super nice, but there is no mesh in the ceiling, making it hard to see out at night unless you have the doors partially unzipped.
The awning included on the trailer is a 180-degree 23Zero awning, but we prefer the 270-degree model so that it covers the galley. We are considering a couple of options to ensure the galley has shelter 1) sell the current awning and upgrade to the 270, or 2) fabricate a way to easily move the awning from the side of the trailer to the back when parked and in use. Then, be able to move it back to the side for traveling.
Vorsheer XER Trailer Layout with Awning Extended
Covering the galley will only be an issue in inclement weather. We hope our Vorsheer trailer will allow us to go to the mountains much earlier in the spring and much later in the fall, so bad weather is likely.
#5 - The trailer company
Though Vorsheer hasn’t been around long as a company, we took the risk of buying from them because of the price range, attention to design, the likeliness to hold up after many long hard miles, and they are made only a state away. As I mentioned earlier, the hardiness of the trailer is yet to be seen and we will definitely be posting about how the welds, appliances, and electronics are holding up on the washboard dirt roads and with Rocky Mountain weather.
We firmly believe anyway to get out into nature is a good way—trailer or no trailer. But, we are looking forward to the gifts of time and freedom our overlanding trailer will afford us. Best of luck in your search for the right trailer.
Until next time, wishing you safe travels to anyplace wild.