I am looking to buy a 4 kayak trailer. This trailer will make 2 1200 mile trips per year. Is a trailer from ie Harbor Freight or Red Trailer as safe as a Malone or Rack and Roll. Big differance in cost. Is it worth it ?
I've used my Harbor Freight trailer for 1800 mile (round trip) trips and haven't had any problems at all. Get the 12" tires.
Your mileage may vary.
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Safe in what sense?
With the Harbor Freight, you put it all together and choose your own supports/padding/cradles/straps/ropes and all that, so it’s as safe as you make it.
A 4x8 HF will haul up to about 14 to 15 feet with a reasonable amount of overhang. On a long trip, this might not be as safe as a long trailer or a setup that has lights further back. Of course you can put the lights where you want them or extend the tongue.
All the normal precautions apply with any trailer: bow and stern lines, checking straos/ropes periodically, checking for overheated bearings, taking a spare and tools,
Bigger tires give a smoother ride. The suspension will also be stiffer on the utility trailer, but out on the interstate that’s not a big deal. Careful over train tracks and offroad.
Smaller wheels are fine on Interstates
On our way from the Denver area to northern Montana, I periodically checked the small “donut” wheels on our snowmobile trailer. They were barely warm, never anything more than that. We drove 70 mph on I-25 and I-90 (which have a 75 mph speed limit).
It is a myth that wheels smaller than 13" will overheat. We’ve had our trailer almost 8 years and that’s never happened. Keep the tires properly inflated instead of running them too soft (that’s what contributed to the Bridgestone exploder syndrome).
The main advantage of larger wheels is that you can buy the tires at any tire shop. We have to go to a trailer or other specialty store for ours. OTOH, ours cost less.
On a side note…towing the trailer did not decrease gas mpg on this 2400-mile round trip. Rooftopping on a previous long trip caused more than a 10% drop in mpg.
We bought a new Trailex four kayak trailer at the Jersey Paddler Expo in March. All aluminum, excellent product. I use it constantly and it’s fantastic.
… but a lot of that comes from people who overload the trailers that have small wheels. In that case, they will overheat. Don’t ask…
Find you a good used boat trailer
with at least 13" wheels, preferably 14". After converting it, you’ll have a lot better trailer.