To Norm, I have one of your galvanized hitches on my Jayco camper van and have now done around 22 thousand km on our around Aussie trip. It’s been a breeze using it. I had a bloke in Kununnura who was leaving for the Gibb River the next day and wanted one immediately offer me $500 and his old hitch for me to swap with him he was so impressed. Anyway I gave him your info I’m sure you will hear from him. Do I get commission? :)
When choosing an towing hitches, there are many variables to consider.
Well let me start with a couple of the things I think are an absolute must have for any quality off road hitch or off road coupling.
Towing Hitch Must Haves
Your off road coupling must have an ADR Australian design rule stamp of approval. If you buy a caravan, boat or trailer hitch without one, in my opinion, you have rocks in your head. Let me ask you a question. Would you drive a car without Australian standards approval? It is not only a matter of quality, but can also pose a real danger to anyone on the roads. If the coupling comes off or breaks it can do some serious damage. Download the ADR Rules for Off Road Couplings.
Easy to use is probably the next ‘must have’ for me after safety. If you have ever disconnected your off road tow hitch in a sandy or muddy situation to get yourself unbogged, you will realise the need for it to be easy to reconnect. Some off road hitches available give absolutely no room for error of any amount in misalignment while connecting, in fact most of them. Best to get an off road coupling that has an aligning tool on the body that helps guide all the holes into alignment.
I suggest using the old KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) method when it comes to boat, trailer and caravan off road couplings. Simply the greatest complaint of hitches overall is that they are hard to connect..!!!! We all know our intention is to do some off-roading. Be aware of small tolerances and fiddly parts that have a potential to jam or create difficulties when coated with mud or bull-dust. Small parts also damage much easier. Do you ever remember rolling your old box trailer or camper van forward to hitch it up to the tow ball and it kind of got the better of you as it was heavier than you thought and slammed into the bumper, number plate or tow ball. What if it slammed into your new off road vehicle or off road hitch? Is there anything that could easily get damaged? How are you going to connect up now? Worth thinking about, it’s happened to all of us. Keep it simple and robust with large parts supported by quality bushing. Making sense?
Look for an off road tow hitch that ideally has 2 safety methods for securing the connecting pin in place. A lot of caravan and trailer hitches just use a lynch pin holding in the connecting pin. I do not believe this is enough. There really needs to be some sort of backup safety device for securing the connecting pin in place and ensuring everyone’s safety.
What to Avoid
I recommend an off road coupling that has the connecting pin load from the side not the top, as hitches that have connecting pins that load from the top have a handle sticking up that can limit off-road angles, prevent easy hitch up due to overhanging ute trays and spare wheels being in the way, they will also fowl with barn doors and tail-gates. Just one misjudgement with one of these hitches will cost you way more in repairs to your car, than the cost of the correct off road hitch.
Avoid off road tow hitches that have small fiddly parts and too many moving bits. KISS (Keep It Simple Silly). The more functions your off road trailer coupling has, other than being a simple hitching device the less reliable it will be. Complicated off road couplings cost more, complicate hitching up, have potential for problems and easy damage, loose bits and they do the job better? Do some homework and make up your own mind with our off road tow hitches?
Be careful of buying an off road trailer coupling or caravan hitch that will not provide enough off road angle ability. There are a couple tow hitches out there that just don’t have enough ability off road. To start with the standard tow ball hitch. If you are going to do any outback adventure chuck out the tow ball and get a proper off-road hitch. A couple others have limited off road ability as I have experienced. During a trip in the Bungle Bungles I crossed a simple small washout that most anyone on a trip would encounter and I bent the connecting pin so badly it jammed and I could not get it out of the towing hitch. I suggest making sure the off road hitch you choose gets to at lease 45 degrees minimum and do not be too adamant of getting over 70 degrees as you will most likely will never use it.
The last recommendation is that you stay away from any tow hitches or off road couplings that do not have some type of urethane or nylon bushing (not another metal) in all major joints (especially the main rotational body on the trailer side) as these off road tow hitches may seem nice and firm now but a few thousand kilometres off-road and you will need a set of earmuffs so you do not go crazy. Grease in these joints only lasts a few seconds on corrugations and it all gets pumped out. If you buy one without bushing you “WILL” experience clanking and rattling.
The OzHitch hitches and couplings are designed to overcome all hitch problems (including the ones mentioned above), so try an OzHitch device and see how much you love it.
N.B. Whatever you do and whichever off road hitch you choose, please only use brand name caravan, trailer and boat hitches produced by the original manufacturers. Some poly block couplings amongst others are being copied and are NOT as good in quality. Original manufacturers have a whole lot of experience and time invested in giving you better and safer products for 4×4 experiences. The copies may be fairly cheap to buy but it is important to think about the real cost if it breaks and leaves you stranded or if it hurts someone. I can assure you as we have been in the hitch and coupling industry for 25+ years and having seen a whole lot of broken ones.
Stick to these simple rules for off road tow hitches and you will have an enjoyable off road experience.