Overland trailer tires – the breakdown

By: Discount Tire

view of camper trailer with all-terrain tires

Are you in the market for an overland trailer? Doing your research? Or maybe you already own one?

For the ultimate level of storage for your overlanding or camping excursion, no roof rack or loaded-up off-roader can beat the additional storage of an expedition trailer.

With the ability to mount your rooftop tent and store your camping stove along with any other gear you might want to hitch up for your next adventure, (including an additional spare tire) an overlanding trailer is basically the ultimate upgrade to any overlanding setup.

But have you stopped to think about overland trailer tires?

We’ve covered trailer tires before, but here’s a quick refresher on the basics :

Normal vehicle tires have flexible sidewall designs to accompany the steering and braking systems that transmit power and direction to the road. As trailer tires (also called “ST” or “special tires”) don’t have these responsibilities, they’re pretty much only designed to dissipate heat and support the weight of your payload.

Special tires (ST) are used for trailers because they keep the rig in place and have a higher load capacity compared to light truck (LT) or passenger tires. They also have thinner treads to help reduce any negative impact to your vehicle’s fuel economy when towing.

But when it comes to overlanding trailer tires, it’s a completely different picture.

Should you put all-terrain/mud-terrain tires on an overland trailer?

A big part of the draw for the overlanding enthusiast community is the rugged aesthetics of upfitting your vehicle and its accessories. As such, a recurring theme across many overlanding and off-road enthusiast forums is to equip the same all-terrain or mud-terrain tires to their off-road trailer or camper as they do to their truck.

But doing so is more than just for looks.

A/T and M/T tires are going to have substantially better protection from puncture and tire failure on the trail than your average trailer tire. While the load range might not be the same between an A/T and a dedicated trailer tire, overlanding trailers usually don’t weigh anything close to what you’d normally tow on a more traditional tire.

In general trailers are also pretty low to the ground. Most overlanding enthusiasts modify their vehicles by lifting them and adding bulkier tires, so equipping an A/T or M/T will also help to lift them up just enough so that they’re more level with the vehicle doing the towing.

There’s also a school of thought in the overlanding community that you can mount the same tire and wheel setup on your trailer as you do to your truck, allowing you to rotate tires in and out as needed.

Matching the tire/wheel size and bolt pattern of your trailer tires to your vehicle has another potential benefit: you can carry one or more spare tires that can work for both your vehicle and your trailer.

And as a last resort if you experience more than one tire failure on your truck while in a remote location, it gives you the option of sacrificing your trailer tires to rotate in to your vehicle in order to get you back to civilization.

(Don’t forget where you left your trailer, and be sure to go back and get it!)

Across various overlanding blogs and forums, it appears that the Toyo Open Country M/T and Falken Wildpeak XLT are some of the more common choices for overland trailers. Some teardrop camper and overland trailer manufacturers even equip BFGoodrich KO2s (and others) directly to their adventure trailers.

Are all-terrain tires on a trailer safe?

While this may be popular with enthusiasts and seasoned experts, Discount Tire doesn’t recommend equipping all-terrain, mud-terrain, or any other non-trailer tire on a trailer or camper under normal circumstances.

Because these tires are designed to be used by a vehicle rather than a trailer, the built-in flex in each tire’s sidewall can create potentially hazardous trailer sway at highway speeds.

On top of that, they’ll also increase your vehicle’s overall rolling resistance, which can will lengthen braking distances and significantly reduce fuel efficiency.

But most overlanding addicts know what they’re getting themselves into well ahead of time. In the context of dedicated overland trailers, which often even come equipped with shocks or air-ride suspension to help traverse the roughest trails and obstacles, they very well might be a necessity.

Need expert advice?

AIf you’re not sure about the tires in your overlanding setup are ready for your next adventure, make an appointment or stop by one of our locations to talk with one of our experts or to get a pre-trip tire inspection.

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