Trailering For Newbies: Choosing the Best Trailer for the Job and for Your Truck

2016 ram heavy duty hd 3500 laramie longhorn towing bigtex case tractor
Towing heavy weights.

There are dozens of different types of trailers out there. How do you choose the best trailer that fits your needs? Will your truck be able to safely and confidently tow the trailer you choose? These are the questions that will be answered on this installment of “Trailering for Newbies!”

What kinds of trailers are out there? There are: 5th-wheel and bumper-pull camping trailers, boat trailers, flat-bed / tilt trailers, horse and livestock trailers, gooseneck heavy equipment trailers, box trailers, car-transport trailers, and many more. It really depends on what you want to do or what you need to carry.

Last time on “Trailering for Newbies!“, we discussed how to choose the best truck for your towing needs. Check it out for a different perspective on the question of getting the best truck and trailer.

Let’s approach the trailer question by looking at the three trailers that TFLtruck uses on a regular basis. We partnered with Big Tex Trailers and CM Trailers for our real-world trailering needs. They have a wide variety of cargo and livestock trailers that allows us to test an entire spectrum of trucks and SUVs.

Big Tex Cargo Mate horse trailer
CM Trailers Stocker

This is a 14-foot “Stocker” trailer. Its maximum capacity is 7,000 lbs as the manufacturer label clearly states. It basically means that it uses two 3,500 lbs axles underneath. This trailer is approximately six feet wide wall to wall. It is relatively narrow, and we use it for testing midsize pickup trucks and smaller SUVs. We load it to anywhere between 4,500 – 6,500 lbs for our Ike Gauntlet and highway MPG tests.

We use this narrow trailer for testing midsize trucks and SUVs because these trucks are narrow themselves. This trailer offers better rearward visibility and the dual axles offer good stability. Please note, this trailer uses a two-inch hitch ball coupler, which is typical for a trailer of this class and weight rating.

CM Trailers Cargo Mate

Next is the 20-foot “Cargo Mate”. It has a maximum rating of 12,500 lbs. You can always choose a cargo trailer like with different axle ratings to get to a desired capacity or a lower price. For example, this trailer is also available with two 5,000 lbs axles for a total capacity of 10,000 lbs. At 8.5 feet, this trailer is much wider than the “Stocker”. We use it to test full-size and heavy duty trucks. We generally load it with water ballast or carry our next project vehicle.

A wider full-size truck with extendable towing mirrors is necessary to tow this box trailer safely. It is wide, tall, and relatively long to require a bigger and heavier truck with a longer wheelbase for better trailering stability. This trailer uses a 2 and 5/16 hitch ball coupler.

All of our trailers have weight distribution hitch (WDH) mounts. We will discuss how to properly hitch a trailer and setup a WDH in our next installment of this series.

2016 chevy silverado 2500 hd z71 midnight edition max towing
Big Tex Trailers – 3XGN Gooseneck

Finally, here is the big boy gooseneck heavy-equipment trailer. This one is the 3XGN, and it is rated at a maximum capacity of 30,000 lbs. You can carry a lot of weight here! In fact, this trailer is rated so heavy that it will require the driver of the truck to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This particular trailer has a 25-foot flat deck and a 5-foot dove-tail with folding ramps. You can get these trailers in many lengths and with different dove-tail configurations. We use this trailer to max out the newest heavy duty dually 3500-series trucks.

This trailer requires a frame-mounted gooseneck hitch with a ball that is accessible in the middle of the truck’s bed. The towing truck needs to have enough payload capacity to handle a trailer of this size and weight. A good ballpark figure for the tongue weight for such a trailer is around 15% or 4,500 lbs for a fully loaded 3XGN.

If you have further questions, you can always turn to our book – Truck Nuts Book. and wrote this book together specifically to answer all of the trailering questions.

Please keep your questions and feedback coming! You can use the comments section below or send your questions to