If you're like many outdoor-oriented folks, unless you own a decent-sized truck or SUV, your vehicle is barely big enough to haul you, your friends and/or family, and all the requisite gear without some very creative loading and strapping of equipment to roof-racks, the trunk and even the bumper. Add in a few trips to the local lumber store for home-improvement supplies, and your car is screaming uncle. What you need is a trailer. But many trailers today work well for one use, but not so well for another. And where oh where do you store it without having your driveway or condo garage start to look like a wayward home for unwanted trailers – especially once the trailer starts to rust, which most do in short order.
What you need, dear reader, is a Thule Trailer, constructed of corrosion-resistant galvanized steel and aluminum to stand up to the elements and, as best a trailer can, look somewhat classy. Yes, we've had folks walk all the way across a parking lot, and even lean out of a truck window to ask us, "That's one awesome looking trailer…where did you get it?" Yep, you know you're towing one piece of quality gear when others on the road publicly express trailer envy.
The SNEWS® Grass Valley-based world headquarters has had the Thule Model 1205 Trailer in the testing program since January 2006. Model 1205 comes with a removable, aerodynamic ABS plastic cargo cover system that reduces drag and the effects of crosswinds and slipstream. The cover is lockable for extra security, and features gas prop lift assist, while six internal D-rings aid in securing cargo. The cargo box measures 7 feet in length by 4 feet in width, and the sidewalls are 16 inches high. The total weight of the trailer, when empty, is approximately 400 pounds, and payload capacity is 1,252 pounds. Its wheels are 13 inches in diameter with pressed rims fitted with radial ply tires, just like one finds on an automobile.
Our trailer was delivered nicely packaged on a pallet, with the promise of easy assembly in no more than two hours. Well, granted, we received one of the first models off the assembly line, but it was not quite as easy as advertised and did require a little bit of construction ingenuity and MacGyver-like creativity. We have been assured all kinks have been worked out of the system, and we’ll take Thule at its word here. Once assembled and hooked up to our trailer hitch, the smiles quickly arrived.
We quickly appreciated the smooth ride of the trailer, both empty and fully loaded, thanks in large part to the stability provided by a V-shaped tongue that extends well back into the trailer bed, combined with the radial tires and independent suspension. Even over rough roads and when powering out of a sudden maneuver to avoid obstacles, we experienced no weaving, common with trailers of lesser quality.
The drop-down tailgate is very easy to use, extremely secure when locked down, and completely removable in just a few seconds if desired. Plastic tie-down buttons spaced at 1-foot intervals around the top edges of the sides as well as the front and rear of the trailer allow you to quickly and effectively secure a tarp if the need arises.
Our trailer has been filled with dirt, used to haul garbage, filled with furniture, loaded down with 1,000 pounds of gravel, and used to tote gear. We've used it with the ABS top on and, more commonly, with the top off. We've rolled our ATV in and rolled it out, more than once carelessly glancing a wheel off one side or the other in the process – OK, so we like to drive a bit fast up the loading ramp. We've left it out in the intense California sun and through several driving rainstorms. It's experienced mud, ice, snow and numerous cleanings with a hose, and then simply left to drip dry. After one year, we have no dents, dings, or even one mark of corrosion. We're impressed!!!
We appreciate the fact that the trailer features a stow-away design, which will allow a user to tip the trailer on its end (gate side down) and store it against a wall or a garage or storage shed. We tested this feature and, while useful, if you need your trailer more than once a month, it's not quite as easy as it sounds unless you have two people. Also, unless you have straps to secure the trailer in its end-down position, don't even think about it. 400 pounds of trailer suddenly tipping away from the wall is enough to take the fun out of any day if it falls on you, your car or, worse, a small child.
Our only real suggestion for improvement for the near-perfect trailer is with the ABS lid that Thule says is removable. Thule needs to find a way that the removal and subsequent reattachment of the lid is simple and easy to do without requiring more than the release of a few clips and attachment points. Currently, removal is best accomplished with two people, and reattachment requires more than a casual bit of grunting and shimmying of the lid to get it repositioned and secure. Why is this important? Because for most folks, the trailer will be used just as much with the lid on as off, especially if you want to haul items that are taller than the lid when it is down.
Thule now provides a number of accessory items for the trailer too, one of which we would suggest is not an option at all, and should be included with every sale – the wheel jack. Without the jack, users will have to be creative to remove the trailer from a hitch and reattach it, especially when it is fully loaded and the tongue weight is suddenly more than few pounds.
All minor quibbles really and, frankly, if Thule finds a way to make the lid more user-friendly, and includes the wheel jack, we'd have to say this is about as perfect a trailer design as we have seen. Versatile, durable, stable when towed, with a bit of design class to boot. What more could a discerning trailer-owner want?
SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $1,500
For more information: www.thuletrailers.com