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All-Sport Trailers

If you have been in the trailer industry as long as I have,you can reflect on trends and the evolution of a product. One product I believe that has been evolving quickly is the enclosed all sport trailer. The best place to see this evolution at its most diverse is the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Show and Sale or the Alberta Power Sports Show. While both of these shows have been dubbed “sled shows” and are run by the provincial snowmobile associations they are so much more than just Snowmobiles shows. 

Over the years I have watched non-snowmobiling recreation power sports creep into these shows (there was a wake boarding boat at the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Show and Sale this year). As the products on display have broadened so too has the versatility of trailers at this show.  Many of the trailers showcased were not just “sled” trailers they were trailers to haul products for all seasons and all sports.  Thus the name all sport. 

So what is an all sport trailer? Its name suggests it is a unit that can transport all power sport equipment.  Fair enough, but the reality is that most of the “all sport” dubbed trailers can only transport a few types of units the name would otherwise imply. So if you are shopping for a true all sport trailer, below are characteristics to look for and reasons why:

  1. Extra Height: If you want to just haul sleds and quads height is not an issue. But as soon as you decide to transport a UTV you will need extra height to clear the rear ramp door opening.  I generally recommend an 84” interior height that will allow for 78” in rear ramp door clearance.  With lots of UTV’s having 76” as their overall height that provides the clearance you need.
  2. Lowboy or Middeck as opposed to the traditional 8.5 ft wide highboy (deck over trailer):  This type of trailer allows for a lower ramp incline making it easier to load quads, sleds, or UTV’s.  The lower ramp angle makes it easier to back sleds in, which is required for many loading configurations with a lowboy or middeck trailers.  The lowboy trailer also allows you to haul a vehicle, and with that toy hauling capacity, now you have an all sport.
  3. 5200 - 6000 lb axles: The machines keep getting bigger and thus heavier.  In the case of mountain sleds 11’ in length is not uncommon and these come with bigger engines every year.  While the manufactures strive to keep the weight down it does continue to creep up. The same trend goes for ATV’s and UTV’s. With the primary cargo getting bigger and heavier more axle capacity makes sense, certainly if you are transporting extra gear along with your snow machines or quads.  The larger axles also provide the payload capacity for a vehicle and can handle some of the rougher roads you may need to travel on to get to your adventure destinations.
  4. Extra Length: As mentioned before all the units are getting bigger and longer. A thrity foot long trailer used to be a rare unit, now we try to keep in stock. While it is not the common size (26’ is still 90% of the units sold) it is no longer uncommon.  Twenty foot long (16’ straight wall plus 4’ v-nose)  3 place trailers with extra height are a very popular size; but because they are too short to transport a car they are not considered an all sport trailer.
  5. 8.5 wide: While 7’ wide inline units are gaining popularity as a multi-use units (they fill in as a standard cargo trailer in the off season) and are easier to tow, turn, back up and park; they have less capacity and of course cannot haul a car (8.5’ wide is needed for a vehicle).

Several additional points to note:

  • These units can be steel frame or aluminum frame. The difference is weight and cost. I use the 1/3 rule: aluminum reduces the curb weight by about 1/3 but adds to the cost by about 1/3 more.
  • Escape doors: Many folk insist they need these.  I agree shimming out your window like a Bob and Luke duke is not a fun task in a confined space of an enclosed trailer. I have a few words of caution.  First if your car has very low clearance there is chance you will not be able to use the escape door because the car door will not clear the inside fender of the trailer.  Second, customers have gotten quite excited about the escape door only to discover after loading their car the escape door does not line up their door, so I would suggest taking some measurements first.
  • Heaters, cabinets, stereos, benches, fan tails, oh my!  The list of options is vast.  Customers sometimes buy the options instead of the trailer.  Figure out what you need and then what you really want and go from there…

Shopping for an all sport can be an exciting experience.  Have fun, and talk to an expert.