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  1. #1
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    Do You Pull A Trailer?

    For my first X-county tour starting next spring I'll be pulling a YAK-BOB trailer. Do those of you who pull a trailer find you tend to overload it? Right now I'm looking at tents and having a nice BIG tent with plenty of room for me and my trailer is a really tempting idea. However, that big tent will probably weight about 6+ pounds and I just may very well deeply regret every extra pound I have to haul up a long hill climb. You experienced trailer pullers please chime in here and help me stay on the straight and narrow! BTW, I'm 5'7", 180#s and 71 years on the planet.

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    On my first trip on the Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California in 2011.I had a burley nomad trailer.I brought everything, including the kitchen sink,that was a big mistake.Just don't over do it. In Arizona a few years ago I saw a guy hauling a Bob trailer, he had stuff piled up as high as his bicycle seat it was unbelievable.

  3. #3
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    Do You Pull A Trailer?

    I have a BOB. I used it on a tour with my wife on our tandem. It was loaded pretty heavy, but at least the weight wasn't on the bicycle, where I would have really had to contend with the weight. With the BOB I hardly noticed it being there.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I frequently overload my trailer, at least for me, often with 50+ lbs of groceries, but I would never use one on a tour.



    IMO with the Bob trailer's empty weight of 14 pounds I'd already be at almost half the weight of my entire touring payload, 35 lbs. (with front and rear panniers); and you will feel those extra pounds on every hill.

    We also fly, or take a train to the start or return trip home from the finish of our long tours, and it is one more piece of baggage to deal with.

    With a little discipline, overloading your trailer doesn't have to be a problem,e.g., why the need for a bigger tent, another 2-3 extra pounds, just to store gear that is made to be outside. The same goes for panniers.

  5. #5
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    I've sometimes toured with a trailer since that's a way for me to carry the suitcase I use when taking my Bike Friday folding bike on plane trips as checked baggage. It's been handy on trips where I was returning from a different airport and therefore couldn't leave the suitcase stored. As others have said, it's very easy to go overboard on carrying stuff when one has a trailer available. And the trailer itself weighs a considerable amount. So I prefer to just use a pair of rear panniers and try to keep the weight down to about 50 lbs. - 25 lbs. for the touring bike, 20 lbs. for the packed panniers and rack, plus about 5 lbs. for water and food (more if going through an area without resupply options).

  6. #6
    Senior Member B200Pilot's Avatar
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    Hi there,

    A bike trailer is useful if one needs to go on a self supported tour where food and water are not available for days at a time; something like the Australian Outback. It's also nice to distribute your weight but if you plan to tour in places where you don't need to haul 30 liters of water with you, I don't think you need it. The extra weight of the Yak is not worth it for "solo touring". I use my BOB yak when I go on short camping trips with my wife. She doesn't have a touring bike, so I carry everything. The BOB Yak is great to fit a 12 pack of beer, food and the camping gear. Otherwise, I don't use it. I'm going on a small tour (8 days) next week and I was thinking of bringing the Yak with me but after a week of full loaded tests around my city, I decided to cut down on many things and leave the trailer home. It's your choice. For me, the trailer is no big deal once on the open road, but navigating it around big cities, elevators, subways, is impossible. Also uphill is no fun either.


  7. #7
    Senior Member Aushiker's Avatar
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    I tour with a trailer (now days an Extrawheel Voyager) and sometimes without a trailer. I make my decisions on where I am going, what my needs will be (e.g., carrying water or food for days) and what bike I am using but again in the context of the tour (e.g., if I use my Giant XTC 2 mountain bike it can only accommodate a couple of panniers up front so the Extrawheel becomes the "rear rack" so to speak if needed).

    For example my next tour is a ~ two week ride of mainly dirt roads from Esperance to Albany in the south-west of Western Australia. I will just use my Surly Long Haul Trucker with panniers for that ride as I will only need to carry water for two to three days at max.

    One thing I don't do is park my bike or trailer in my tent nor would I carry a tent to do so. I much prefer to be more lightweight than heavyweight so for example my tent of choice is a Tarptent Scarp 1. The trailer is there to carry the load, not to add to the load with unnecessary items.

    Surly Long Haul Trucker in touring modes ...





    Giant XTC 2 in touring modes ....






    I used to tour with a BOX Ibex way back when ...



    Andrew

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    For my first X-county tour starting next spring I'll be pulling a YAK-BOB trailer. Do those of you who pull a trailer find you tend to overload it? Right now I'm looking at tents and having a nice BIG tent with plenty of room for me and my trailer is a really tempting idea. However, that big tent will probably weight about 6+ pounds and I just may very well deeply regret every extra pound I have to haul up a long hill climb. You experienced trailer pullers please chime in here and help me stay on the straight and narrow! BTW, I'm 5'7", 180#s and 71 years on the planet.
    I had a BoB that I bought with touring in mind and used around town, but decided it was not the best way to go for touring.

    I then did a fairly heavily loaded (45-50 pounds) coast to coast tour using 4 panniers. On that tour I took a very heavy tent and cursed it every day. I was carrying a good bit of community gear for our group of three.

    I gradually went lighter and lighter. I went from 45, to 30, to 20, to 15, to 11 pounds of gear and from 4 panniers, to 2 panniers, to stuff sacks and other gear strapped on. Through all of that I was comfortable and had what I needed to camp and cook.

    As listed, I have experienced a wide range of packing styles. A few things that I learned from all of that are that, for me at least:
    1. Lighter is better
    2. A big tent is just more bulk to carry without much benefit. I am generally in it only if sleeping or reading. Neither require much room.
    3. Shedding pound on the gear list means being thoughtful but ruthless with packing decisions
    4. You really NEED very little gear
    5. Bike, panniers, and most gear can stay outside just fine. I only take in the most theft worthy stuff and what I need to sleep and get dressed in the morning.
    6. Making your gear choices first and then deciding on the bike and luggage options to suit makes more sense than picking the luggage first. That way you take what you need not what you have room for.


    So, I would have suggested that you not decide on the trailer until you had your gear list sorted out. Since you already have, I'd suggest you work out the packing list without thinking about the trailer and how much it can carry. Don't take anything because it is on someone else's list, or because it seems clever. Don't take spares for anything that isn't absolutely essential. Remember that you can buy things along the way if necessary.

    Don't mistake a lot of space or a lot of stuff for comfort. Where comfort is important is on the bike and while sleeping. On the bike the less stuff you carry the more comfortable you will be. While sleeping it takes very little space to be comfortable.

    Suggested reading:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight

  9. #9
    Garlic
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    I'm in staehp1's camp, literally and figuratively. I think I went through about the same process of getting to where my entire packed load, in two panniers, weighs less than the trailer you're looking at, and I've never been more comfortable since I'm not totally wiped out at the end of a day of cycling. And it's often a simple matter to cycle another ten miles or so to get to a better place to camp if you don't like the first place you picked, or the weather's really awful and you decided to go to the next town for a motel, or the warmshowers.org host who offered to put you up is a really long day away, etc.

    One question to ask is, "Am I packing for a camping trip, or a bicycling trip?" If the answer is the former, heck, load it up! And there's nothing wrong with that.

  10. #10
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    Why in the word would you want to bring a trailer inside your tent? Trailers get dirty. Trailers get muddy. Trailers take up space. A B.O.B. trailer has metal edges that can damage tents and mattresses.

    Have you done one mile of touring? If not, I suggest you give it a try, or at least load up that trailer and dry bag with a bunch of weight and go ride some hilly terrain. You will get a better idea of what the experiience is like and what you aere capable of than you will asking others on BF.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Lighter the load, the more fun the ride. Or the hike. Just don't skimp on water.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Trailer with 2 wheels is more stable when used as a utility hauler between tripps ..


    and if you only have your gear in the trailer , it is possible to put it all in a bag with backpack straps
    and in places where you have to get off the bike and cross things like road washouts, fallen trees, and climb stairs & such ..

    a bike with panniers would be a struggle , but you can wear the trailer and carry the un-laiden bike much easier .


    and it's easier to carry a big jug of water to refill your handy on bike drink bottle ..

    FWIW tents with awnings over your bike and trailer get into the 10 pound range or so ..


    Out here, BoB trailers towed by road bikes gets the job of traveling with your gear on your favorite bike done, fine..


    myself I have 2 , 2 wheel trailers.. A Burly CoOp flatbed with 20" 406 QR wheels

    and a folds flat Carry Freedom City, that tows, paired with my Brompton.. 12.5" wheels ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-05-14 at 11:04 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    and if you only have your gear in the trailer , it is possible to put it all in a bag with backpack straps
    and in places where you have to get off the bike and cross things like road washouts, fallen trees, and climb stairs & such ..

    a bike with panniers would be a struggle , but you can wear the trailer and carry the un-laiden bike much easier .
    Funny, but I found just the opposite. With the gear on the bike I can just lift it over obstacles or carry it up stairs. With a trailer I have to take the trailer off and carry it separately (and awkwardly). That and the need to ship the trailer to and from distant tours, in addition to shipping the bike were major reasons why I elected to get rid of the trailer.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    That is why I have a Portage pack in my Bike trailer , same thing canoeists used to explore the North starting in the Great lakes

    wear the bag, carry the boat, to the next body of water.


    Utility at home still gets the trailer used, since I dont own A BigF'ing Truck .


    I did a bunch of 5 bag wrestling when not on the bike tours ..
    And dragging it all down stairs to get from a train Platform then dragging it back up to get to the other one.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-05-14 at 12:44 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Funny, but I found just the opposite. With the gear on the bike I can just lift it over obstacles or carry it up stairs. With a trailer I have to take the trailer off and carry it separately (and awkwardly). That and the need to ship the trailer to and from distant tours, in addition to shipping the bike were major reasons why I elected to get rid of the trailer.
    I think what he is suggesting is that if you happen to have a giant bag with backpack straps you can put the trailer and its bag in that bag, put it on your back and wheel or carry the bike. Maybe so, but who travels with a bag large enough to accomodate something like a fully assembled B.O.B. is a mystery to me.

    I am with you. My GF has toured with me using a trailer, and three people had them when I crossed the country. It does present some challenges. As heavy as it is, I can still usually get my bike with panniers up things like motel stairs in one trip without removing the panniers. Not so easy with a trailer. And when we went out west a few years ago, the B.O.B. had to be shipped in a separate box. Fortunately, for our western tour before that one we were able to rent a B.O.B. for about as much as it would have cost us to ship one round trip. During that trip, we got a motel room one night due to flooding in the town where we were to have camped. The room was on the small side. The extra floor space taken up by the B.O.B. made getting around the room somewhat difficult.

  16. #16
    Senior Member arfer1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis Le Tour View Post
    For my first X-county tour starting next spring I'll be pulling a YAK-BOB trailer. Do those of you who pull a trailer find you tend to overload it? Right now I'm looking at tents and having a nice BIG tent with plenty of room for me and my trailer is a really tempting idea. However, that big tent will probably weight about 6+ pounds and I just may very well deeply regret every extra pound I have to haul up a long hill climb. You experienced trailer pullers please chime in here and help me stay on the straight and narrow! BTW, I'm 5'7", 180#s and 71 years on the planet.
    Your tour sounds like fun! I've toured many miles and taken many trips with a BOB trailer and enjoyed it. But you're right that a trailer encourages you to pack more than you might need and to pack heavier items (e.g. a two-person tent instead of a one person tent). Having a packed trailer definitely makes hill climbing difficult, and many is the time I've had to dismount and push my bike/trailer up a step hill. Nevertheless, I appreciated being able to bring gear that made my trip comfortable. On the other hand. your LHT is built to carry a lot of weight, so with front and rear panniers, you might be able to take everything you need and eliminate the weight of the trailer. If I was contemplating a long tour like yours, and had LHT, I think I'd leave the trailer at home and just try to pack everything on the bike.

  17. #17
    Newbie REBELYELL's Avatar
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    I tour with a Burley Nomad,and on the chance a loose dog come running for the chase they always go for the trailer.I just do short week long bikepacking tours around Az. a couple times in the winter.
    Can't Never Did

  18. #18
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I've done both ways: panniers vs. a Bike Friday style trailer system. On the whole, I think I still prefer panniers for lower overall weight and maneuverability, but the trailer definitely had some bonuses. One questionable bonus, as you mention, is that you can toss stuff into that trailer and not dwell on the extra weight/bulk. When going on level ground, it's fantastic, almost like riding unloaded. When going uphill or over rough terrain, not so fantastic. I tend to travel with items of dubious use to the average tourer, so I can hardly claim any experience in regards to the joys of ultralight touring, but I have found that getting my gear from four panniers down to two has made for more pleasant riding. And I have found that the comparative ease with which you can add gear to the trailer can be a temptation.

    One issue for me is that often my trips are as much about camping as they are about riding. My latest trip had me carrying items that were more focused on the camp site, like my camp chair, cooler, frisbee, extra non-biking clothes. All made possible by the trailer (although going back to four panniers would have done it as well). I'm not sorry to have brought those items because I ended up using them, enjoying the use of them, and, in the long run, I probably spent as much time or more at camp than I did on the bike. But if I were going on a trip that was primarily a bike tour, I would want to pare down my gear quite a bit.

    So I would say to asses your needs and goals, and make your decisions that way. If you were going to share a tent with someone, or spend rainy days spent entirely in the tent, then a larger tent might merit the extra weight, but if it's just so you can bunk with your trailer, it's probably not worth it. For me, finding a small, portable tent (I sleep in a hammock tent now) was the thing that led me back to bike camping. I don't know what it would take to persuade me to take a "real" tent. Probably it would take a sudden interest on the part of my wife in accompanying me.

    So, I am in no position to argue against "unnecessary" items in your trailer, but you will pay for every pound you add, so make sure your extra gear provides a real benefit in your trip rather than using the "it fits, so I might as well take it" line of reasoning.

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