As we have mentioned numerous times, we are gear hounds. From the latest knife, to the lightest sleeping pad, we are constantly on the lookout for new gear to try. So it should come as no surprise that while scanning the internet for new things to drool over, I found these amazing expedition trailers being built not only here in Texas but virtually in my back yard! Trailers like these are not new. In places like Australia, they are old shakes with companies that have been around for years.Finding one in the US used to mean either importing one, buying one second hand or building one yourself. So you must imagine my excitement to know that some were being build less than an hour away.
As I pulled up the shore of Point Venture Texas on the shores of Lake Travis just west of Austin, I saw Will and Dana had just arrived at our meeting spot with two of their amazing trailers and two handsome kids in tow. Immediately my eyes was drawn to how clean and well built these trailers were. While the they looked almost identical, one sat a little higher on some meaty 37" Goodyears. Both sported rooftop tents and awnings as well as BBQ pits on the rear of the trailers. Unlike many expedition trailers I had seen in the past, the tents and awnings were mounted on an exoskeleton as opposed to being directly mounted to the lid. Both were black and very eye catching.
As Will continued to set up the trailer we talked about how Ethos Off Road came about. Will has always been a tinker. The kind of guy that the neighbor might stop by and ask how to fix something that recently broke. Instead of explaining how to fix it, he's the kind of guy who'll tell you to "just bring it by and I'll take a look." Handy neighbor to have no doubt! Will, Dana and their family are very active in the outdoor community. From hunting and fishing to camping and going to the beach, this is a family that loves that outdoors. It became evident pretty quick that they needed a way to haul their gear without having to unload it each night into a hotel room and reload it in the morning. The obvious answer was something that they could tow behind their Jeep or truck. After finding travel trailers unsuited to their needs and trailers, similar to what they now offer, out of their comfortable price range, Will decided to build one!
His first trailer build was a converted ex-military M416. This was the proving grounds for his ideas, and it was a success. Soon came the encouragement from family and friends to build and sell them. Knowing his limitations, Will partnered with Gary Fiveash of 5 Star Fabrications in Jonestown Texas. Gary and his company are one of the preeminent metal fabricators in this area and thus a match made in heaven. With Gary's fabrication skills and Will's experience and ingenuity, they started on the prototype. Not surprisingly, the prototype sold before it was completed! What amazes me is that from initial order time, the tub can be ready in as little as 3 days! From there, the sky is the limit. The X1 has many features and each one can be built different. It is essentially an a la carte build with the customer's imput as to how the trailer will end up. Want solar and batteries? OK! Want water storage with a pump? Check, we can do that! Will also states that he will soon be announcing a line of similar trailers for the DIY or budget builder.
So let's talk about the trailer itself and some of the things that caught my eye. For one, the tub is only three pieces! The sides and the floor are one bent and formed piece with the end and front cap welded in. Both of the end caps are "broken" in an X - pattern to help with rigidity. Will explains that the reason that the tub was built this was way was to cut down on the amount of welds and potential failure points as well as man hours. The lid itself is one solid piece with the X - pattern break for strength as well. On one side of the lid is a massive custom piano hinge and two lift struts to ensure that the lid will lift easily. The lid and tub are designed like a tool box lid to keep it weather tight and secure. To the front of the trailer is an elevated cooler rack, (perfect for those Yeti or Brute Coolers that Ethos offers) as well as a propane tank mount. The tongue is lengthened to allow for more storage and to calm the towing manners. As opposed to a standard ball hitch, the X1 is fitted with a lock and roll hitch for better articulation and security. At the rear of the trailer is the BBQ pit that can slide out to give you more room. While currently Will uses an off the shelf model, he is designing a custom, well-built BBQ pit to replace it. Looking underneath I noticed one thing missing - an axle! Will made the decision to go from a traditional leaf spring and axle set up traditionally found on most trailers to an award winning Timbren Industries axle-less set-up. This set-up is renowned for its quiet, soft ride with no frame restrictions and gives the customer the benefit of additional ground clearance for the trailer. Moving back up you can't help but be drawn to the well designed exoskeleton that the roof top tent and awning attach to. The frame slides up and down on lift struts and is raised or lowered by a hand crank. Dana was quick to point out how easy it is to set up and even with her petite frame, she is able to pull into a camp site and be completely unfolded and set in under 5 minutes! Pretty amazing. Will and Dana are careful who they work with and feel fortunate to have partnered with Cascadia Rooftop Tents to offer affordable tents to their customers. When I asked Will what he thought his ideal customer base might be, he of course mentioned the overland and offroad crowd but he was quick to point out that there are untapped markets here in Texas. For instance, hunters and coastal fishers can benefit from a mobile, easy to use basecamp with sleeping quarters and lockable weatherproof storage. I can tell you that Texas Avid Outdoors' recent trip to Big Bend could have greatly benefited from one of the amazing trailers.
Just sitting and talking with the Herrings, you can see the passion for what they are doing. Family is of the utmost importance to them in addition to honesty and hard work. They talked numerous times of trips that the entire family had taken and the fun they had. When I mentioned to Will that it really seemed like he enjoyed what he was doing, he smiled and said, "When something is fun, it's easy to do." Like myself, I'm sure there are plenty of you out there that can understand that feeling. While I have yet to take one out personally, I am happy to recommend Will and Dana at Ethos Off Road Trailers to you. You'll get a well designed and built trailer from a great group of people. Give them a call and start getting your perfect trailer built. Tell them Texas Avid Outdoors sent you!