Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide

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This Gear Index was originally published in January 2021 and was updated in July 2022.

We know one of the core tenets of bikepacking is minimalism. We’ve waxed lyrical about the benefits of paring down possessions to the bare necessities so we can tackle rugged mountain passes without busting a gut. After all, a light and lively bike is invariably more fun to ride than one laden with the kitchen sink and more, especially on off-road routes and those with more challenging trails. So, why carry more?

  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking trailer family

Simply put, trailers are fantastic tools for transforming our existing bikes into something completely new, transcending what we thought we can do with them. They can be used to carry ski equipment or kayaks. To haul water for trips through deserts. To ferry our children on family adventures. Even to bring along our pets.

And because life isn’t just about bikepacking (sadly), here’s the best bit: trailers offer a practical, space-efficient way of facilitating a car-lite lifestyle back at home, helping make our cities more relaxing and liveable places. In fact, there’s little to beat the adaptability of trailers and their power to turn an everyday bike into so much more… and back again, in the minute it takes to unhitch them. Unless you own a dedicated cargo bike, we think almost everyone who rides a bike would find value in having one in their stable.

Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide

  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring

Bikepacking with a Trailer?

A few reasons why bikepacking with a trailer can be a great idea:

  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring

Types of Trailers for Offroad Touring

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of trailers that are suited to bikepacking: two-wheel models and single-wheel models. In terms of family trailers, there are also ‘trailer bikes’, or tag-alongs, which are great for when your child has outgrown their enclosed trailer but isn’t ready to go it alone just yet – often around the 4-8 age range. Within these types, some attach to the dropout or chainstay of your bike, and others to the seatpost, or even a rack.

For this Gear Index, we’ve also chosen lighter-weight models that are built with touring in mind rather than pure cargo-hauling. We’ve also honed in trailers that are designed specifically for off-road use, rather than the more road-orientated options that are less likely to survive the rigours of rough-stuff riding.

family bikepacking in Salida, CO

Two-Wheel Trailers

Two-wheel trailers are rotationally decoupled. This means that beyond the effort of hauling the weight itself, they have minimal impact on the handling of your bike, no matter how much load you carry. They can typically carry high payloads and they handle especially well at slow speeds. However, they can be prone to flipping over if one of the two wheels catches an errant rock or you hop a curb. If you’re towing a baby or infant, we recommend packing heavy gear as low as possible to help improve stability.

Most higher-end models offer adaptor accessories to work with internal hubs and different dropouts, but it can take some research to figure out what works with what – the Robert Axle Project is a great place to head if your bike has thru-axles.

  • Two-Wheel Bicycle Trailers
  • Two-Wheel Bicycle Trailers
  • Two-Wheel Bicycle Trailers

Many two-wheel child trailers double up strollers (pushchairs), which can be really useful for exploring towns and any off-the-bike activities. On buses, planes, and trains, they can often be folded down and transported for free, without counting as part of your luggage. Child trailers come in different widths – wider is more stable – so check the trailer spec and making sure it works for you. In terms of usability, the width of the doorway to your home is a good data point to consider. For hot climates, it’s worth looking out for models with mesh side panels in addition to windows. If you intend to ride with the front flap rolled up, full-length mudguards on your bike will help keep dust at bay. Higher end child trailers feature some form of suspension, which is recommended for off-road touring.

Single-Wheel Trailers

Believe it or not, single-wheel trailers have been around since the 1950s! Their slim profile makes them inherently better suited to both narrow trails and wiggling through traffic. They tuck away out of headwinds and have minimal rolling resistance. Some are hitched to your bike’s dropouts with a proprietary axle, whilst others attach to the seatpost.

  • Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide
  • Single-Wheel Bicycle Trailers
  • Single-Wheel Bicycle Trailers

Trailers that hitch to the seatpost impact the handling of your bike less than those that mount to dropouts. They also have a much tighter turning circle, which is useful for day to day use. However, as the steering axis is further forward, they cut corners and catch in brush – an issue on tight and winding trails, and city furniture too – so you’ll need to take this into account when you ride.

Models that hitch to the dropout track well but are prone to wrestling with your bike when heavily loaded – if you have a full-suspension rig, this can create wear on bushings and bearings. These kinds of single-wheel trailers are best suited to hardtails with stiff rear ends.

  • Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide
  • bikepacking trailer cargo

For off-road touring, it’s best not to overload a single-wheel trailers, despite the manufacturer’s rating, especially if you are a light rider yourself. This will help limit the trailer’s impact on the way your bike rides. Pack the heaviest items low in the trailer. If you experience speed-wobbles, move the weight forwards and spread some of the load across your bike, such as in a framebag.

For demanding terrain, we prefer single-wheel trailers that use 20″ wheels as they roll better over rocks and uneven terrain with less tendency to kangaroo behind you. It’s also easier to find high-quality, tubeless-ready replacement tyres. Fitting large volume tyres and running them at low pressures can help too.

Dog trailers

Many heavier dogs prefer the stability of a two-wheel trailer – especially larger ones – because it won’t tilt from side to side as you ride. But for medium-sized dogs especially, single-wheel trailers can be a great option – search the internet (and the comments below) and you’ll see all kinds of ‘unofficial’ contraptions that owners have made to convert BOB Yaks for pet transportation. Either way, it may take a little time before your best friend is used to #dogtrailerlife, or they may love it immediately. For those showing concern, try putting their favourite blanket or toys in the trailer and use it to take them for walks initially to build up a positive association.

See our Guide to Dogpacking for more ideas, including suggestions for converting a BOB Yak, as well as this Youtube video for tips on training your dog to jump in and out of a trailer. Also, give Bikecanine and give Dion and Kesho a follow on Instagram. Our in-depth review of the Frances Cycles Farfarer also revolves around hauling a dog, and as such, the trailer comes highly recommended.

  • Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide
  • Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide

Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide

  • Bike trailer for dog, Bikepacking with your dog, dogpacking
  • Bikepacking with your dog, Bike touring, dogpacking

We’ve included a number of off-the-shelf options in the listing, but there’s nothing to stop you using a cheap or second-hand child trailer too – just note that dog-specific trailers tend to offer a lowered entry for easy access and a more robust, utility finish, with a liner that’s easily removed for washing and is more resistant to paws and claws. Smaller dogs, weighing in at 5-10kg or so, are likely best off in a basket or milk crate.

Other purpose-built options to the ones listed include the Swivel Dog Bike Trailer (with suspension) and the DoggyRide series – like the Novel 15, with its cargo rack. In terms of hop up kits, Dogycomponents offer a suspension upgrade for the Burley Tailwagon! With thanks to @tipsyrider and John Freeman for the additional images.

Trailer bikes or tag-alongs

A cross between a trailer, a bicycle, and a tandem, tag-alongs are a great option for children who have outgrown the need to be in a fully enclosed trailer but aren’t quite ready for their own bikes, at least for a multi-day trip. They’re especially useful during that in-between age when your sprogs can ride their own bike confidently but struggle to cover longer distances. Just like a tandem, they are a great way of chit-chatting as you ride. A trailer bike also allows you to do the brunt of the work when your kid is running low on steam.

  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring
  • Bikepacking with a trailer, bicycle trailers for touring

A tag-along doesn’t handles less surefootedly than a tandem as there’s more flex between the two bikes, though thanks to its ‘hinge’, it can feel more manoeuvrable. What’s more, you can attach it to an existing bike and it’s much easier to transport on public transport and in a car.

We’re big fans of tag-alongs for mixed terrain bikepacking trips as they allow a parent and child to ride confidently on dirt roads, tackle the occasional highway, navigate through busy cities, and cover reasonable daily distances. If making the jump from a child trailer to a trailer-bike, bear in mind that your child will now be fully exposed to the elements, and whilst they can coast, they won’t be able to take those refreshing afternoon naps. You’ll want to add full mudguards/fenders to your bike if riding in the rain, and it’s a good idea for your child to wear eye protection in case of errant stones fly up behind you or dust kicks up.

List of Bikepacking Trailers and Criteria

With all of the above in mind, here’s our list of trailers, covering both single-wheel and two-wheel models, designed for cargo and family use and even pets. Because we can’t list everything and this is, ultimately, a bikepacking website, note that all the cargo trailers are models we consider burly enough for regular off-road use, and come in the 5-7kg range – rather than the many heavier and more dedicated urban haulers that also exist. Whilst the dog trailers are more barebones, all the enclosed child trailers we’re listing also feature suspension, so they’re gentler on your child’s body.

If you’re planning to keep to mellow forest roads and bike paths, you can certainly get away with more economical options, or budget models of trailer brands we’ve listed. Either way, there’s no reason why almost all these trailers can’t double up for general duties back at home, be it commuting, the school run, or trips to the grocery store.

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  • Burley Piccolocontract Close
  • Carry Freedom Y Small Trailercontract Close
  • Frances Farfarer Trailercontract Close
  • Thule Chariot Litecontract Close
  • Tout Terrain Mulecontract Close
  • Tout Terrain Singletrailer Sportcontract Close
  • Tout Terrain Streamlinercontract Close
  • Weehoo Turbo Bike Trailercontract Close
  • Aevon KIT L80contract Close
  • Burley Coho XC Trailercontract Close
  • Burley D’Lite Xcontract Close
  • Burley Nomadcontract Close
  • Burley Tailwagoncontract Close
  • Croozer Dog Peppacontract Close
  • Croozer Kid Vaayacontract Close
  • Extrawheel Mate Solocontract Close
  • Freeparable T2 Trailercontract Close
  • Hinterher H Fifficontract Close
  • Hinterher H2O - 66 Komplettsetcontract Close
  • Kolofogo Cargocontract Close
  • Kolofogo Tahoecontract Close
  • LEGGERO Enso Sail Familycontract Close
  • Polyroly Classiccontract Close
  • Radical Cyclone IV Trekking Bicycle Trailercontract Close
  • Topeak Journey Trailer TXcontract Close

Downsides to trailers

Whilst trailers can open up a whole new world of possibilities on tour and at home, they have their downsides. Trailers are especially awkward on hike-a-bikes; there are many routes we’ve posted on this site where they wouldn’t be recommended. They take up room, be it on public transport, planes, or in cars. Transport policies aren’t always trailer-friendly, which is where models that can be easily dissembled or folded come into play. You may need to carry a different set of spares, there’s added rolling resistance, and there’s the sheer weight that has to be taken into account, particularly if you’re flying. Don’t drag your brakes, as this can cook your brake pads – it’s better to pump them to control your speed and be aware that running a trailer is likely to wear through your pads more quickly.

If you’re using a trailer, be sure to give extra thought into planning the logistics of your trip, both getting there and the terrain itself.

  • Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide
  • Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide

Buying Second-Hand Trailers, discontinued models, and DIY options

Bear in mind that some trailers are now discontinued but are still worth hunting down. Chariot is the brand that now lives under the Thule umbrella – older models are just as good as the new ones and are long been favoured by expeditionist families and you’ll see them in many of the pictures in this post. The BOB Ibex is a popular option for trail maintenance – effectively, it’s a Yak with a coil spring – and the Weber Monoporter is another interesting take on a single-wheel cargo trailer. One of my favourite trailer bikes – which we’ve included in this roundup as it was only recently discontinued – is the Tout Terrain Streamliner trailer bike, pictured below.

surly ecr tout terrain streamliner

Child trailers are a great investment and will likely last you several years. However, sturdier options are invariably expensive, so it’s always worth checking the local second-hand market. Given that these products are age-specifc, there tends to be a regular trailer turnaround, as families outgrow them all the time.

If you are opting for a second-hand trailer, bear in mind that for regular, off-pavement adventures, we’d always recommend choosing one of the more reputable trailers on the market. A trailer designed for riding mellow rail trails and bike paths will be different from one intended for more rugged terrain, and this will always be reflected in the price, and in the case of child trailers, a form of suspension. But if your needs are more modest, there are all kinds of keenly priced options to be found on Craigslist and the like.

Be aware that many trailers use proprietary hitches, so check that whatever you buy is compatible with your bike’s wheel size, its dropout system, or its seatpost diameter. The Robert Axle Project is a great resource for teaming new bikes with modern thru-axles with older trailers that were designed for QR hubs.

We haven’t included them here, but there are many cargo trailers on the market designed primarily for city use – and a variety of DIY schematics to be found online for those handy with a welding torch. Our friends at Campfire Cycling in Tucson – longtime trailer fans – have compiled a great DIY roundup, which you can read here.

Should you find yourself heading down the DIY rabbit hole, be sure to check out this bamboo option from Carry Freedom, as well as this kit from Donkey Bikes.

Bikepacking with a Trailer: The Complete List and Guide

Hiring a trailer

If you live in the UK, you can hire all kinds of trailers – for children, dogs, and cargo – as well as tag-alongs from Bike Trailer Hire. The company also sells its rental fleet too.

For this Gear Index, we’re focusing on models that are designed with off-road use in mind and are certified for human transportation, but dig around online and you’ll find plenty of more affordable alternatives as a means of going car-lite.

As with all of our other Gear Index lists, there may have been one or two options we missed. We welcome additional trailer recommendations – please see the criteria listed above for more details about this Index.