When Nissan USA invited Parentology out to Yosemite National Park to learn the ins and outs about towing for our readers, we were immediately on board. Mattie Schultz shares what we learned in Parentology’s 2019 Trailer Towing Guide!
Towing, hitching, trailering — whatever term you use, it basically means pulling some sort of apparatus behind your car. Sometimes that’s a boat, a moving trailer or a camper that turns campground outings into glamping experiences. According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, RV sales hit their highest level ever in 2017. And why not? Towing and trailering is an easy way to get outside and see the nation without sacrificing comfort.
Consider Your Vehicle
Before you drop money on a camper or trailer, think about your current car. Can it tow something behind it? Does it have a hitch and the power to pull a heavy and cumbersome trailer? Small cars can possibly pull a lighter and more compact trailer, like a teardrop-style, but if you’re looking to haul your family, gear plus a trailer, consider a larger vehicle.
Parentology spoke with Nissan about which of their fleet is family-friendly and can load up and haul even the largest trailers. The Armada, Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition and Rogue are SUVs that can handle a rugged road, as well as offering up choice amenities to keep everyone comfortable and happy on hours-long car rides.
As for seating and towing capacity, here are how the Nissan vehicles stack up.
Armada: seats eight, max towing capacity 8,500 pounds
Pathfinder: seats seven, max towing capacity 6,000 pounds
Rogue: seats five, max towing capacity 1,100 pounds
Nissan Titan XD: a six-seater for big hauls has a towing capacity of almost 12,000 pounds
*The Titan, Armada and Pathfinder come with a tow hitch receiver; the Rogue doesn’t have one included.
Styles of Campers
There are myriad styles of campers to choose from that can be hitched and towed behind vehicles. Popular options for those new to towing include iconic Airstreams, as well as smaller and lighter teardrop trailers, like Colorado Teardrops, or Happier Campers.
If you’re new to towing, smaller trailers will be easier to get used to on long drives. They don’t, however, sleep as many people.
The Colorado Teardrops Summit and Mount Massive models both sleep four. The Happier Campers main model, the HC1, is a customizable, modular system, that can be changed up on the spot. It can sleep up to five, depending on your starting layout and configuration set-up choice.
Airstream has a variety of travel trailers ranging from very large (the Classic is 30 to 33 feet; sleeps up to five) to smaller styles akin to teardrop styles, like the 16-foot Basecamp (sleeps two), or the 16- to 22-foot Sport (sleeps four).
There’s also the Flying Cloud, which sleeps eight, and has models ranging from 19 to 30 feet. The Flying Cloud sleeps up to eight and has a slew of floor plans to choose from for customization.
Tips to Get Started
Before leaving the lot with your shiny new trailer, make sure you know how to hitch it to your car. Follow a checklist to ensure everything is connected, secured and safe. Here are steps to consider including on the checklist for your particular hitch and trailer:
Start by making sure that the trailer is raised high enough off the ground so the car’s ball mount will be able to fit under the coupler on the trailer.
With the help of another, back up the car so the trailer ball is directly under the trailer’s coupler.
If your trailer uses a swing jack, use the crank on the jack to lower the trailer and coupler to secure over the ball mount. At this point, you might need to slightly move the car forward or backward to accurately line all the elements up.
With the latching mechanism, lock the ball into place.
Next, secure the safety chains or cable to the car. Make sure the safety chains are crossed underneath to have the most secure and straight connection in case the coupler becomes disconnected and you need to stop.
From there, connect any wiring for lights and brakes, as well as the emergency breakaway connector, if you have one. This breakaway connecter activates the tailer’s brakes if all other securing mechanisms (safety chains, coupler) become disconnected.
Once you’re all hooked up, take a practice drive. Go up and down hills and down. Practice wide turns. And yes, backing up will be the hardest part. All-in-all, with a little practice, the entire process will become less daunting.
Soon enough, you’ll be on the road, heading someplace special in the great outdoors.