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Suitable trailer for a Toyota 4Runner TRD off road 6 cylnder rated to 5,000 lbs with a towing package

I am interested in considering a European style trailer that is safe to haul two horses with the rig in my title. I have been assured that such trailers as Brenderup, Bockmann, Sirius, etc will be safely hauled by said 4Runner. My concern is that I live in the northern Rockies and trailer down some pretty horrendous Forest Service roads to get to trailheads and for camping in remote areas. Can any of these trailers handle such conditions without getting beaten to hell? And can the 4Runner handle haulng this kind of trailer over mountain passes and in bad weather?

Currently my setup is a 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500 with Quadrasteer and 167,000 miles on it. It is an expensive rig to own, and seems to need something expensive done to it every year. And my current trailer is a 2017 Maverick two horse slant, HS Steel, which I upgraded to be better than new (insulated roof, undercoating, all new AA doug fir floors). I love the 4-steer in the truck, and I think the Maverick is a piece of crap, but it does have a tack room and works well for camping (though the terrain I take it on has been hard on it–brake wires torn, wheel wells torn loose, etc).

My husband just bought the 2019 4Runner with towing package and I’m going hmmm… If I sold my current truck and trailer I’d have enough cash to buy a new euro trailer I can tow with the 4Runner.

Anyone here have experience using euro trailers in rugged wilderness conditions? Over high mountain passes? With a 4Runner or equivalent? How did it go? Do they hold up?

Any makes/models you can suggest that would work well for my situation?

My mare likes to ride backwards and hates the slant.

Most European countries have trailer speed limits well below the normal US highway speeds (around 50 MPH) while most every one in US hauls at traffic speeds 70/75 MPH that can be 80 MPH.

In your search check specifically the trailer tire’s speed ratings as well as manufactured suggested ratings

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Have you driven these with your 4Runner by itself? How does it handle them for you? The vehicle is well designed for off-roading (which, let’s be honest, some forest service roads should be called trails), with the correct upgrades and a smart driver. It is not very good at hauling horse trailers, generally.

Also, euro trailers are decidedly NOT well suited to such conditions. It’s just not something that is done much in the UK or Western Europe. It’s not something most people do with horse trailers anyway. The suspension and small tires alone almost preclude the idea.

Keep in mind that towing capacity ratings are done for Best Case Scenario: flat pavement in good weather and a perfectly balanced STATIC load. You’re about to try to do the opposite of all of those things. How much does a full setup (camping gear, water, food, horses, tack, ALL of it) weigh? You need to stay probably at the 50% capacity mark, maybe a little more if you’re VERY experienced in off-roading and recovery.

Keep in mind that people loading these rigs down with camping gear (including the serious overlanders) are taking LESS weight and better balanced loads than you are, and they still sometimes push the limits of these vehicles just getting to the trailhead. You’re going to be taking the same amount of ‘stuff’, plus horses and THEIR gear. Have you done a recovery with the truck and trailer? Getting stuck in the mud or creek crossing is very common just on the ‘roads’.

The last thing you want is to be going downhill in the rain and be pushed by a trailer and horses, and see another car coming up the road. This is not the rig I would choose for such adventures.

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I had a Brenderup for several years and really liked it. You should be within specs for towing, but I would not recommend it for the types of roads you’re describing based on my experience.

The Brenderup can be pulled by a smaller vehicle because it’s designed differently and is a lighter weight. One way they get the lighter weight is the materials. I don’t know that they’d hold up well to those driving conditions.

FYI - one reason I sold my Brenderup is they are no longer selling in the US and it’s difficult to get parts. Keep that in mind if/when you start looking.

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They also have very low clearance in order to accommodate lower sitting vehicles used to tow them (like VW and BMW SUVs or crossovers). High centering a trailer is a nightmare.

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The low clearance issue is a biggie. I have adjusted to it by putting much bigger, better tires on my Maverick trailer–they are 10-ply and designed for what I do. The tire shops around here are familiar with these conditions. The Forest Service hauls their horses down these “roads” in stock trailers and has to have tires that work for that.

We certainly have a ton of experience driving such roads–in a Toyota station wagon, in a Honda CRV, in a Subaru Forester. They are definitely more like trails than like roads, in many cases. We have hauled a 1979 Circle-J two-horse straight load through creeks and mud (using the truck, not the aforementioned vehicles). The 4Runner is much more capable than any of the previously mentioned vehicles–it goes through sand and is truly off road. Tires make a huge difference and all the tire dealers around here understand what to put on a vehicle used for this kind of terrain. The Circle-J held up a lot better than the crappy Maverick, but unfortunately, because of its age, my trailer repair guy said the axles could snap at any time, so we sold it.

Everyone with horses in my area will do this kind of hauling at some point, if not routinely. It’s where the good riding is!

I never drive faster than 60 mph on the highway hauling horses. Not interested in replacing my transmission, thank you very much! And our speed limit here is 80.

I should think that if any European trailer is built to withstand a car crash, and can be fitted with 10 ply tires, and has suspension that is comfy for the horse, that it could certainly do what my old Circle J could do. Especially as it is narrower. The wheel covers keep getting pulled off on the Maverick because it is wide. A straight load avoids that.

I realize you would never ever use a 4Runner to pull an American horse trailer, but the European trailers are supposedly engineered so that a 4Runner is appropriate. Mind you I am extremely safety conscious, studied trailer towing in depth before buying my 3/4 ton truck, and wouldn’t dream of hauling with anything less capable when it comes to American trailers.

I could also go down Forest Service roads but not ones that require high clearance and still get to a lot of good trailheads.

I don’t have plans to consider a Brenderup because they are no longer made here, but I am very interested in the other European trailers that are available here. Does anyone here have experience with these?

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You should post in Horse and Hound about the brands you’re considering - from what I understand, some of the most available brands in the USA are the ones notorious for lower quality overseas. (Equi-trek?).

I was seriously considering these at one point and did a ton of research, but ended up with a truck and American trailer.

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I have a Toyota Highlander with a towing package, also rated to 5,000 lbs. I used to have a Brenderup that worked beautifully with this vehicle, and I never had any issues towing. I used it primarily for local trips with a single horse (although it was a 2 horse model trailer) on relatively flat terrain. Clearance was an issue; I had to be careful to avoid roads that were too rough.

If I were to buy another European trailer, I would look into Böckmann trailers. While I really liked my Brenderup, I don’t think I would buy another due to the fact that they are no longer made, and it can be challenging to get work done on them due to a lack of available parts and support.

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@fivestrideline that’s an excellent idea. And I have heard some negative mutterings about Equi-trek.

Can you say more about your thought process that led you to ultimate go with truck and American trailer? And which truck and trailer did you get?

I have a 2012 F-150 4WD with the 5.0L V8. It was a guy’s hunting truck before, so has a lot of upgrades that serve us well.

My trailer is a 2010??? Exiss Eventer something extra wide and tall 2 horse straight load with extended tack room and A/C unit. This thing is massive, my 16h TB can fit his entire body and face between the chest and butt bars :laughing:.

My main reason was price. I got my whole rig for $26k in 2021, which is outrageously expensive but a steal at post-COVID prices. A euro trailer alone would be more than that, since the used market is almost non-existent.

Second reason was multipurpose utility - we needed a 4WD for Wisconsin winters, and a truck with camper shell serves our needs well for camping, kayaking, and the dogs. It also hauls around feed and hay and mountain bikes and whatever else we need. Ford has been reliable for us, and my SO is a mechanic so the gas engine + easily accessible parts has made the few minor repairs and upgrades we have done a breeze.

Same goes for the trailer, it’s easy to work on and easy to find a dealership if needed to source parts. It also comes apart inside to be a very useful cargo trailer with a ramp, and has been used to move house a few times.

If I were shopping again, I’d get a reverse straight gooseneck and gas F250 or F350.

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@fivestrideline Can you elaborate on your note about the euro trailer suspension? My Brenderups ride smoother than anything, thanks to the euro suspension.

I’ll be the dissenting opinion. I’m a two time Brenderup owner (Baron and now a Solo). Neither Brenderup had lower clearance than the Hawk trailer I borrowed, and maybe 2 in lower than my friends huge 3 horse with weekender. I don’t seek out rough roads (and would purposefully avoid them whenever possible) but do have to traverse our driveway with the trailer. Seems easy right? Nope. It’s currently washed out like crazy and is about a quarter mile long and very steep (if I remember, I’ll grab the grade read out and photos from my truck). It’s BAD. I can’t even count how many people have gotten stuck, and the holes are nearly knee deep in places. And yet the Brenderup handles it beautifully while the Hawk got big stuck.

Now I will say, EquiTreks have extremely low clearance. They wouldn’t be my choice.

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@kaya842, that is super interesting. our driveways are twins. and i’ve always wanted a Hawk trailer and that would be my pick if I was keeping my 3/4 ton truck. What do you tow your Brenderup with?

I was referring to clearance and durability.

If it isn’t obvious, most of my knowledge comes from off-roading, overlanding, and rock crawling type of adventures. This doesn’t translate 1-1 for hauling horse trailers in the mountains, but I’ve seen a LOT of borderline to underpowered, underequipped, overloaded rigs in places that shouldn’t have been a problem, but became A Problem. I’ve also seen the monumental efforts it can take to extract them. That’s part of the fun of off-roading, but not something I would risk with my horses in tow.

I, personally, do not think that pushing the limits of a tow vehicle and trailer before you even hit the gravel is a SAFE choice. You have to consider payload AND towing load when calculating all of this. There is also a difference between hitting the driveway in and out each day vs miles of forest service roads on a trip. Knowing the terrain intimately + a short distance = being able to get away with it. This is why the local kids in rigs held together by duct tape and spite can get away with some remarkably dumb stuff - they’ve been out there doing those trails for years.

I really hope I don’t come across as unreasonably negative, but my main issue here is with the towing vehicle. I think you could do the Euro trailer (with proper research on materials, clearance, repairs, etc) and a good truck, even a smaller truck than OP has currently. I don’t think that the 4Runner, or anything similar like a Taco, is a good choice for this use.

I’ve been stopped at the bottom of a hill in deep rutted gravel, because we had to let someone pass coming down, and realized we were gonna have to work for it to get momentum back and get moving again. No way would I want to be hooked up to ANY horse trailer in that situation.

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Also, keep in mind that the 5000lb capacity is the max - at sea level to 3280ft elevation. Your (payload and towing) capacity drops by at least 10% for every additional 3280ft of elevation.

This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but you really need to know the weight of all your stuff before making a decision. General guidelines for live weight like horses is to run at 80% or less of max capacity. Add in elevation, and that 5000lbs may be closer to 3500lbs or less.

Obviously number and guidelines like this are just math vs real world applications, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re looking at safety and long term wear and tear on a vehicle.

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@fivestrideline, I consider your setup to be dangerously underpowered. I would not be hauling that trailer with anything less than a 250 /2500 truck, and once you put a camper shell on it, IMO you need a 1 ton dually. And maybe switch to a diesel. A gas F150 might be okay for local, level travel on good roads. But it would fall apart with that kind of a load with the kind of travel I do.

I don’t know where you live, but I don’t think you can translate your rock-crawling adventures to horse trailer towing with a 4Runner and a Brenderup. Because no person who cares about their horses would go rock crawling with their horse in tow–if I came across a section of road that demanded rock crawling and I have any kind of rig with a horse on board, I would simply back up and turn around.

You have already surpassed the limits of your tow vehicle by my standards, just to do normal travel. Again, I don’t know your location or terrain, but it sounds like you don’t have a clear idea of the kind of trailering I do, and I don’t know how to make it clearer. I’m not out there popping wheelies or grinding up the off road terrain. I am simply trying to get to a trailhead down a forest service road–one that passenger cars (if their drivers know how to drive) can get down.

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I will definitely look more into the elevation factor. Thanks for the heads up on this. I live at 4,600 feet, and I routinely haul to over 6000 feet, and there are some places I like to go that get to 8,000 feet. I have never noticed any change in my hauling capability due to changes in elevation, but definitely worth examining as a factor. Thanks.

Possibly my hauling capacity is affected but I don’t notice because I have a firm policy of keeping my truck’s RPMs to 3k or lower, and going as slow as necessary to maintain that.

So a cursory Google led me to an article at cars.com that investigated this very question of elevation’s impact on towing capacity. Apparently only Ford warns its drivers to reduce towing capacity with elevation gain, and the author of the article set out to learn why. Chevrolet and Dodge both said they have already taken elevation change into account with their towing recommendations. Toyota said their vehicles are not affected by elevation change. Apparently it depends on the type of gas engine and how they aspirate air.

This is certainly not definitive, but it does indicate that one can’t make a broad statement across the board for all vehicles.

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This is not true. I know exactly what my rig weighs, what my towing and payload capacity is, how much I can load in it, and where I can and cannot take it. My truck is not stock, but I did not feel the need to lay out all the specs. And yeah, I never said to get a rig like this for your intended use. It is also a little funny to me that you are saying this, while simultaneously wanting to use a V6 SUV as a tow vehicle for horse camping in the Rockies off of mountainous forest service roads.

I’ll admit that the elevation factor came from my research when looking for a trailer for my particular Ford, and I did assume it would be more consistent across manufacturers and engines, so that’s on me. That said, elevation does absolutely affect performance. If you’re milking the engine for all the power it is worth, these are things to keep in mind.

Also I said, it is not just in rock crawling that I have experience, but driving vehicles in all sorts of off-pavement conditions. That doesn’t mean you have to consider my suggestions, but I do think being realistic about the capacity of your tow vehicle and the conditions is important.

I definitely got off track from the trailer question by focusing on the tow vehicle. That said, as you know, back up from your capacity the weight of all your gear, people, animals, water, etc etc and give yourself a good buffer in consideration of the conditions and instability of the payload. If those specs still leave room for the Euro trailer? Cool.

I do not believe that they will be any more durable than what you’ve already had, but my experience is limited to a fiberglass/composite American style trailer and 0 in-person experience with a Brenderup or similar, so I can’t say anything about those. From a materials standpoint, aluminum and steel are easier to repair, and much cheaper.

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BlockquoteI do think being realistic about the capacity of your tow vehicle and the conditions is important.

That’s exactly why I am here. I’ll dig into this until I feel confident about any conclusions I may draw.

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(For clarity: I do not think the euro trailers are all fiberglass and composite. Frames and all that. I’m just saying when you get a stress crack or send a rock through the nose, it’s an easier repair to do an aluminum or steel.)