How to Pack a Bike Trailer

How to Pack a Bike Trailer
If you've ever traveled more than one day on a bicycle, you know how difficult it is to take everything you need. The more bags you attach to the bike, the more difficult it is to steer and balance. Bike trailers make life a lot easier and single wheel models, like the BOB, can even go off road. A big advantage is the ability to disconnect your trailer when you reach camp so you can get around without carrying excess weight. Since your trailer's weight distribution has an impact on the bike's performance and your personal convenience, it's important to pack it properly.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Plan Ahead

Things You’ll Need:
  • Gear bags
  • Bathroom scale
  • Packing materials
  • Bike tools
  • Spare tubes
  • Air pump
  • Chain lube
  • Spare parts
  • Extra trailer hitch pins
 
Step 1
Take only what you need. Don't give in to the urge to overload your trailer with items you'll rarely use. Make a list of essential items and pack them first. Then go on a ride to see how the trailer handles before adding anything else. An overweight trailer will make ascents more difficult and descents more dangerous. Your bike's brakes should be able to stop within a reasonable distance.
Step 2
Organize your gear. Since you'll be opening the trailer frequently, pack the things you need the most on top. Put similar items together in zippered bags so you can find them quickly when you open the trailer. You can pack hygiene items in one bag, cookware in another, food in another and so on. Label the bags and keep a list of their contents with you.
Step 3
Distribute the weight. This is especially critical with a single wheel trailer. Try to keep the tongue weight, where your trailer connects to the bike, between 5 and 7 percent of the trailer's gross weight. If the tongue weight is too high, your rear wheel will bottom out and if it's too low, your rear wheel will float. After loading the trailer, check the tongue weight by resting it on a bathroom scale that's been raised to the riding height of the hitch. Always pack heavy items near the center of the bottom of your trailer. Too much weight on either side will cause the trailer to lean excessively on corners.
Step 4
Pack your gear so everything fits tightly together. Any space between items will cause shifting inside the trailer, which could damage your cargo and affect the ride. Use packing foam or other filler material if necessary.
Step 5
Carry spares with you. Make good use of the trailer's storage capacity by packing bike tools, spare tubes for the bike and trailer, an air pump, chain lube and any other parts you might need. The moving parts in your trailer increase the odds of a breakdown, but it won't be a problem if you plan ahead.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
It's easy to lose the pins that connect your trailer to the bike. Pick up a few spares at a hardware store and add them to your repair kit.
 
You might bend the trailer's attachment hooks if you connect them to the bike while your trailer is fully loaded. Always hitch your trailer before you pack it.

Article Written By Dan Eash

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.

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