Off-Road Trailer Shopping

Salvaged Parts, Roosevelt, OK
Off-Road Trailer Potential?

For quite a while I’ve been wanting an off-road trailer.  An off-road trailer, for me, is a trailer large enough to hold all my essential camping gear so I won’t have to load my 2013 Army Green FJ Cruiser to the hilt.  An FJ has 67 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.  I’m looking for a trailer with 60 cubic feet capacity, or close to it; my photography and personal gear will still be loaded in FJ.  I’m not a rock-crawling enthusiast and won’t be doing any of that, but I do want to be able to go up-and-down anything defined as a “Trail Open to All” or a “Road Open to All”.  I want FJ to be able to get “there” and “back” and I want a trailer that follows like a shadow.

If money was no object, but it is, I’d have already ordered Schutt Industry’s “Xventure” in Toyota Army Green and been done.  Right now, this is a lot over my budget at $12,000 plus.  Another caveat is that the interior height of the bed is 18”.  That’s the absolute minimum clearance I have to have; I’d prefer 20” plus.  Another great option is the Adventure Trailers “Horizon”.  It’s interior bed height is 30”, more than adequate for my needs.  The only physical issue I have with this trailer is the lip I’d have to lift things to get over and into the bed when the tailgate is down.  I’m sixty-four and have a few boxes that are pretty heavy for me to lift anymore.  Lifting them onto a tailgate and then pushing them into the bed is not near as difficult as lifting them onto the tailgate and then assuming a less than idea position for lifting weight in order to lift them over the lip and into the bed.  I’m pretty sure this would lead to extra visits to my chiropractor, Dr. Rose and eventually further consultation with Dr. Brandon for treatment of L3 nerve root radiculopothy.

Below is a list of two off-road trailer reviews and below those are links to off-road trailer manufacturers.

Reviews:

Links to Manufacturers:

All in all, I’m having a difficult time finding a trailer that meets my needs/wants and also fits my pocketbook.  Toward that end, recently I was passing through Roosevelt, a very small town in western Oklahoma, now known for its salvage yards.  I noticed a lot alongside State Hwy 183, a lot filled to overflowing with salvaged pickup beds (see photo).  Almost all were without, tailgates, axles, lights and lenses.  Most were in very good condition, otherwise.  I’m wondering to myself it it would be worthwhile to acquire one, and have my own off-road trailer built using one of these for the bed?  I’m not able to build the chassis myself so I wonder if I’d save any money, or not?  I’m also wondering what I’d have as far a looks go when it’s finished?

I welcome all comments and ideas.  Please comment if you have any good thoughts and/or suggestions.

Past Reflection

Tent Camping
Camping – Davis, OK Area

Nothing better to do on a dark rainy day than scan old negatives.  I came across this one and thought I’d share.  I took this picture on a camping trip in late autumn of 1977.  The campsite is somewhere in the Davis area but the exact location has long slipped from memory.

I was young, dumb, and poor and the only camera I owned back then was a Nikkormat FTN with a 50mm f2 Nikkor H-C lens.  The 50mm was the only lens I had at the time.  In fact, it and the Nikkormat FTN were the only Nikon equipment I’ve ever owned.  I still have them both.  The film was Kodak “Pan-X Plus 125”.  I never have used B/W much so this was a treat when I came across the negative.

I wish I still had that tent, too.  It’s an 8×10 Coleman “American Heritage”.  Having straight sides there really was a lot of room in it.  I recall once, we had four cots setup inside.  Speaking of cots, I have no explanation why my cot is outside; I can’t remember a thing.  I wish I still had it because it would make a good cold weather tent for me.  It’s canvas and because it didn’t have a rain fly, the windows on the side zipped up tight.  It wouldn’t carry much of a load of snow, but it’d be warmer than the tent I have now.

Please excuse the scratches on the negative.  Back then, I kept negatives in the original paper envelopes in which they were shipped from the labs.  Again, I was young, dumb, and poor and didn’t preserve them properly.  It was years later when I finally bought sleeves and began to keep my negatives in them.  Of course, the damage was already done.

Fresh Start

Sunrise behind Mt. Scott
Longhorn cattle graze as sun rises over Mt. Scott.

I went camping this past weekend.  I needed to get away from people, get closer to myself and nature, and reconnect with my photography.  The part about getting closer to nature and reconnecting with my photography was true enough, but getting away from people was anything but that!  I think everyone who owned, or could borrow, a tent had the same idea and showed up at the same campground.  Heck, some didn’t even have a tent.  They slept in their car.  It reminded me of camping at Catfish Bay, Lake Texoma over 40 years ago:  leaving an overcrowded urban trailer park to stay in an even more overcrowded tent city.  It was fun back then;  it ain’t today!  So my intention for a weekend of gritting my teeth through the pain in solitude while pursuing a great photograph was blown first rattle out of the box.

I still had the gritting and gnashing of teeth in response to pain, but I also had the irritation of people to deal with:  people who don’t even bring a flashlight to camp, people who use charcoal lighter fluid to start a campfire, people who bring large screen TVs to keep their kids occupied, and a divorced dad trying to impress their kid and wind up being a total jerk.  However, I was determined to put myself in the right place at the right time for the best opportunity to make a good image.  Since I barely slept a wink, waiting for sunrise was not big deal, and after spending the afternoon observing the loonies around camp, it was real easy to leave camp early enough to be set up for sunset.  All I really wanted was GOD to paint the sky in magic.

Alone

On clear nights the stars are always incredible at Sandy Sanders WMA!  Somewhere around nine o’clock one night and before I got ready to cozy up in my sleeping bag, I ventured into the cold night air to admire the sparkling stars under a moonless and black dome.  I was not disappointed.  Even though January in Oklahoma is not the most favorable season to view the Milky Way, it could be seen faintly stretching northwest to southeast over my campsite.  In fact the best view was behind my tent toward the northwest.  It was very cold but the air was perfectly still.  (On still nights Sandy Sanders can be sort of creepy because it’s so eerily quiet.  The silence is broken only by the occasional coyote yelp.)  Because my camera gear was locked inside my FJ, I knew condensation would not be a problem.  I gathered my gear and set up to take a shot.  A UCO candle lantern was burning and hanging from the top of the Big House Four tent from a loop creating a really nice yellow glow that helped to illuminate the rest of the campsite.  Even though the Milky Way was faint, I still like the picture enough to use it as the background image of the menu on my blog.  The two glows are the horizon are from Texola and Erick, small communities located 25 and 15 miles away as the crow flies.

Sandy Sanders WMA Camping

I arrived at my campsite about 4:00 PM.  It’s now 7:00, and I’m in the tent.  There was no time or opportunity for photographs this evening.  I did take a moment to walk the very short distance to the edge of the canyon to watch the closing moments of the sunset.  My camp is all set up and ready for action.  My tent is just the right size for me:  Big House 4 by Big Agnes.  I have a cot, a table, a chair, a Portable Buddy propane heater, and many more amenities that make it comfortable.  I’m writing this by the light of my candle lantern.  It’s hanging from a loop on the roof of my tent.  It’s not bright but it lights up the entire tent.  I brought the store of food into the tent tonight.  There are no bears and since there was no time to cook supper, I plan on snacking tonight before going to bed.  5:30 AM is going to come early and it will be cold and dark.

Winter Camping

I’m preparing to camp this upcoming weekend at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area in western Oklahoma.  It’s been very cold for the past few weeks, but are predicting daytime temps in the upper 50s for the next several days.  I’m taking advantage that and heading west.  I’ll be camping in my three season tent and using a propane stove for heat at night.  The sky should be incredible due to there being no moon at night.  I can hardly wait.