Part 2 of Steve's Sled Trailer guide. To see part 1 which focuses on steel vs. aluminum click here
Picking an Enclosed Sled Trailer: You decided you did not want to clean off your sleds every time you reach your destination. Or you need somewhere to store your machines in the summer, or you want to work on your sleds out of the wind in the staging area. Whatever your reasons, you’re going to buy an enclosed trailer; now which type? Your options are many.
To help you understand your options here are how they’re generally classified:
The first way enclosed sled trailers are classified is by how many sleds they carry: 2 place, 3 place or 4 place.
The second way they are classified is by deck height: lowboy (deck is as low to the ground as possible) mid-deck (the deck is raised for some clearance but not too high, keeping the ramp angle down) and highboy (the deck is above the wheels so the platform is a full 8’ wide).
The third way the trailers are classified by is width, which tends to fall into two broad categories 7’ or 8’ wide (which is really 8’6” wide).
Lastly, the frames will either be steel or aluminum.
When it comes to deciding which class of trailer is right for you, it really comes down to your specific needs, but I will give you some things to consider with the most popular classes that may help your decision making.
2 place, highboy, 8’ 6” wide: This class of enclosed sled trailer tends to be the most economical. It is usually single axle without brakes, so a half tonne truck can pull it with no problem. They are often aluminum so they are quite light, which makes them even easier to move around. It is a great starter enclosed trailer. The down side of this trailer is that unless you bump up to tandem axles you do not have a drive off front ramp, and if you add another axle and a front ramp your costs sky rocket. That said, with a reverse option on today’s sleds, is the front drive-off ramp really needed?
2 or 3 place, lowboy, 7 wide: This trailer with a steel frame is also very economical. Being 7’ wide and lower to the ground means they pull well behind a truck. Plus, they are tandem axles so their ride is smoother than a bouncy single axle trailer. They also have a front ramp so you can drive your sleds in and out with ease. Beyond those points this trailer is also being used year round as a traditional cargo trailer because it is just the right size – not too big, not too small. Contractors love the access to the trailer with two ramps. The downside of these trailers is that the loading of three sleds can be difficult, but once you figure out the configuration needed it is not an issue. As well, being only 7’ wide there is not a lot of room on the inside for cabinets and racking.
3 or 4 place, lowboy, 8 wide: These enclosed units have become more popular as a multi-use unit or toy haulers. Instead of just sled trailers the ramp can be reinforced and you can haul a car or side by side MUV if you make the rear door opening high enough. If you have a lot of different toys this becomes a really economical option. Instead of two trailers you can get one built for all your toys. The down side is that you have full size fender boxes inside the trailer to maneuver around when loading your sleds, but trust me that is not a difficult issue, and if it is, are you sure you want to chase powder between the trees? The other issue with the lowboys is adding a heater. Generally the propane tanks will have to go on an extended hitch so your trailer gets a little longer overall.
3 or 4 place, mid-deck, 8 wide: These units are another popular class of toy hauler, but with a little bit more clearance. The extra clearance comes in handy for added features such an underbelly mounted fuel tank and propane tanks. The fender boxes inside the units are not as high and can be easily driven over. The disadvantage of these units is the extra clearance; if it is going to be a toy hauler trailer a lot of cars will not be able to make it up the higher angled ramp.
3 or 4 place, highboy, 8 wide: If there is a traditional enclosed sled trailer, this is it. It is still the most popular option for an enclosed sled trailer. They have a full width deck so it is very easy to drive and position your sleds for travel. The full width provides lots of room for cabinets and racking on the walls. They have lots of clearance, they track well behind a vehicle on snowy roads, plus with all the deck clearance there are no problems adding options such as on board fueling stations or under deck mounted propane tanks. Quite simply, they are specifically designed to load sleds and all their accessories the easiest out of all the trailers on the market and as a result, people buy them the most. The downside of the units is the fact that they are specifically designed for hauling sleds, being so high up you have a hard time loading cargo or recreational power sport vehicles. Lastly, again being so high up in a cross wind they act as a big sail and they push the tow vehicle around a lot.
There many other options to consider when buying a sled trailer such as adding heat or cabinets, the type of interior walls, little features such as kick plates and floor drains...the list is endless. I was talking to a manufacturer about his enclosed sled trailer production run this year and he estimated that 90% of the trailers will be unique coming down the line. The point is, there are a lot of choices in the market place. Make sure that when you are looking for a trailer you talk with someone that can educate you and provide you with all the options so you can get your trailer, your way.