My first sight of the GO camping trailer was a kind of “wow” moment. Streamlined and tucked neatly in my garage bay, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And with a smaller footprint than my sedan, I’m left marveling: How does such a cool looking trailer with a sleek, aerodynamic top convert into a 4-sleeper camper? Time to load it up and find out.
Super-compact tent trailer
Light weight and haulable by regular sedans and SUVs, no need for a gas-guzzling pick-up.
Multi-use and adaptable to uses other than camping
Perfect for a family of 4
Comfortable off-ground sleep.
Hauls a ton of gear and equipment.
Hyper-engineered with much attention to detail and functionality
Attention-getting conversation starter at campgrounds
Light on Creature Comforts compared to other tent trailers.
Curiously Cool Way to Go.
The trailer, weighing in at 840 lb., glides smoothly and hook-up is a snap. OK, 4 snaps: hitch mount, electrical, and two safety cables. The next question is how best to secure my things. The utility space is deliberately open to accommodate lots of gear, to be used as a toy hauler or to handle other types of transport (for example, the GO website – which is also very cool – shows the trailer with a loaded refrigerator). For my own gear haul, Rubbermaid storage boxes fit nice and snug when the trailer top is cranked down to its lowest position. Generous gaps in the trailer’s side bars, though, mean that small or narrow items have to be well secured onto the trailer. Case in point: my folding chairs easily slip through. A simple solution is to bind all four of them together with a good strap and wedge them between other items.
To help secure gear, GO has a clever track system running under the length of the trailer on each side that lets you move tie-down anchors into preferred position. These anchors are tightly secured to the track by hex bolts. The one improvement I would like to see on this is some kind of quick release lever to make it a quicker operation. My hex wrench is nowhere to be found at time of departure. And so I just made do with the default positions.
GO also accommodates roof rack systems for mounting bikes, boats and cargo boxes – an added plus for loading “toys” in addition to (or instead of) a vehicle roof rack. What’s nice is that the low profile of the trailer makes loading easy, even for shorter people like me. My unit comes fitted with a bike mount, and I load my bike, a nice option for GO owners who will want to bring all their outdoor toys with them on their camping trip.
Gear secured, I hit the road for a two-hour drive to the ferry terminal at Anacortes, WA, heading for San Juan Island. I’m new to trailer hauling and wonder how GO is going to feel behind my SUV. As I start out, I wonder that I’m pulling anything at all. In fact, I can hardly even see the GO profile in my rear or side view mirrors. Expecting to have to compensate more for turns, I experience almost no difference – in fact, I’m overcompensating. Pulling GO actually adds a fun dimension to the drive. No rattle or shifting. Smooth as sailing. All a credit to what SylvanSport calls their “hyper-engineering.”
Meanwhile, I’m curious as to what the other drivers on the road are thinking about this road warrior. Sure enough, I do get long sideways glances from people in vehicles. And I smile back. Yes, this is a cool trailer. And fun to pull.
At the ferry terminal, I experience another plus. With GO measuring in at about 12 feet, my combined vehicle + trailer is well within a 30-foot length. Three feet more of trailer and my $94 ferry ride would jump to $251 (GO is starting to pay for itself already!). Ferry savings aside, the trailer is just nicely compact and maneuvers so well. As I pull on to the car deck, three ferry personnel saunter over to examine GO with admiring stares. Along with them, I share my fascination with this trailer and do my best to explain how it is designed to set up. Soon enough I will be arriving at our destination to experience the set-up.
The campground is on the west side of San Juan Island, and our site overlooks a picturesque Haro Strait populated at this time of the year with migratory Orca whales. As we drive GO into the county park, inquisitive gazes abound. Campers are particularly interested in others’ gear, and as I start to set up, one neighbor visits our site, practically beside himself with enthusiasm for GO. Even the veteran camp host wanders over to take a gander at this novel trailer.
I’m getting help in the setup process from my sister-in-law, who took delivery of GO and was instructed by the dealer. Good thing. This isn’t your standard stop-and-crank-up variety, and it involves a series of specific operations. I get stuck periodically on what fits where or in what order – to be expected for first-time setup. But in the end, everything works just as it should, and the logic of each part of the setup makes sense. Even brilliant sense. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
The only frustration in the whole setup process comes at the initial stage of setting the feet. They are spring loaded and flip down easily, and a sturdy bar is provided to jack them into height position. But because we’re on uneven ground (it’s a grassy pull-in area) and the legs have a rather limited extension, GO ends up unbalanced. I also find it difficult to get good leverage on the jack because the bar is short; an extra six inches of length would make a big difference for using one’s foot. In the end, I have to repark GO to a more even spot and set the feet again, and the trailer now sits level.
The GO dealer is able to set up the trailer in camp mode in 11 minutes. It takes me considerably longer for my first try. But it’s a nifty result: a camp trailer with ample head room that allows one to walk up-and-in by a sturdy, fold-down step; a durable yet well ventilated two adult-sized sleeping berths cantilevered out from the trailer on each side; a fold-down dining/work table suspended over the floor, with the two sleeping berths (and accompanying mattress pads) serving as benches; and a sizeable vestibule that extends outward from the back for protection from the elements. GO has the option to accommodate two smaller persons in between the adult berths with an additional panel and set of mattress pads. This option eliminates the table function (at least for nighttime sleeping), but it’s a reasonable compromise, and I find that the cavity beneath these additional berths is a good place for personal gear storage.
Our family of 5 (including a teen and 2 tweens and 2 smaller adults) a spent the night in the trailer. It was much more comfortable than our regular tent. Though the self-inflating camp mattresses are a little thinner than our own, the flat platform more than made up for it and being off the ground was a definite bonus, keeping the tent cleaner and reminding the kids of the need to take off their shoes before entering. The air circulation inside was excellent and we appreciated still being able to see the trees and the stars from our sleeping positions which for me is the essence of why one tent camps.
Coolest. Camper. Ever.
There is no mistaking GO from other travel trailers, even in its camp mode. I find myself looking over it from the campfire, walking around and admiring it from different angles. National Geographic Adventure calls it “Coolest.Camper.Ever” – a line that GO now sports on its trailer decals. And it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Cool does come at a price, however. At $8,500 as of August, 2014 (and that’s before a delivery charge that can range from $525-$995, unless you plan to take free delivery in Brevard, NC), GO does not come cheap. And so this extraordinary trailer is not likely to be jumped at by ordinary families in the market for a serviceable camping trailer. There is a large variety of trailers that provide even more amenities and creature comforts for significantly less cost. But for a family who intends to haul a lot of gear and large “toys” this is an ideal set up.
* Disclosure: I was loaned to GO Trailer by the manufacturer, Sylvan Sport, for this review. I was not asked by the company to express a particular point of view. This review is based on my own experiences with the trailer and the opinions are entirely my own.
by: Darran Hanson