WARNING: This is an off-topic post. Sort of. It is not specifically backpacking related, but more of a general outdoor sports topic. You have been warned, do not complain to me.
DISCLAIMER: I was not given a Sylvan Sport GO trailer to review for this. I used my own motorcycle and my own gas money to traipse across three states in order to see them. So do not go about thinking I am only praising the company because of some gift they gave me. (Note to Sylvan Sport – I would GLADLY accept a donated trailer if you had one you needed to get rid of. Or a t-shirt. Just sayin’…)
What is it?
When I was at Trail Days, I had a brief encounter with an alien trailer. It reminded me of a spaceship, or something stolen from a NASA warehouse. It was not like any trailer I had ever seen before. At its core, it was a flatbed utility trailer, but the sides were made of thick aluminum “bars” that arced through space, looking like something that landed on the moon. Then I watched it being “deployed”. All of a sudden, this utility trailer transformed into a large and comfortable pop-up camper trailer. I was amazed.
The person setting it up told me the trailer was the GO model by Sylvan Sports. Unfortunately, the magical transformer trailer was actually being used by a vendor, and was not a demo trailer. The look on my face must have shown the disappointment, as the gentleman setting up camp stopped what he was doing and found a brochure for the trailer in his duffle, suggesting to me that I should check out their website and YouTube videos. Apparently, every trailer comes with a supply of brochures to hand out.
The brochure actually amazed me even more, showing me that the GO trailer is a multi-functional platform. It can be a utility trailer, a toy hauler, an anything hauler, or a deluxe tent-on-wheels. The platform can tilt down, negating a need for a ramp if you wanted to carry an ATV or motorcycle. The large aluminum bars will support any of the popular rack systems, whether for bikes, canoes, kayaks, or whatnot. The website shows the trailer being used to haul firewood and construction materials. In camper mode, the trailer is a moderately sized sleeper trailer, with an adjustable layout to fit your needs.
Sylvan Sport was founded in 2004 in the heart of eastern outdoor country – Brevard, North Carolina. The Go trailer was conceptualized when founder Tom Dempsey realized that camper trailers had to be modified to be a true backwoods tool, and even then, were often not right for the job. He set about to design and eventually manufacture a trailer designed around that outdoor lifestyle, making sure each trailer is built solid and right here in the good ol’ U.S.A. This is one of those products that truly is “built by outdoorsmen for outdoorsmen.”
Though the website, I learned that Sylvan Sport does not have any dealers. They make direct sales to customers, and rely on a network of owner-demonstrators, where owners of the GO trailer agree to demonstrate it to those in their area who are interested. As it happened, there were two owners somewhat nearby, so I emailed them both.
I first meet with Karen M., from Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She gave me a quick walk-around of the trailer, answering all of my questions, and showing me how the trailer sets up and stows away, right in her front yard. Yes, the neighbors were watching. She even allowed me to assist with the setup and take down. It crossed my mind that maybe if I broke something, I would get to buy it from her, but alas, she was on to me and kept a close watch. I was so excited to see the trailer up-close that I completely forgot that my camera was in my saddle bag!
Thankfully, the next day I was able to meet with Keith B., from Herndon, Virginia. Keith and his wife are co-owners of their GO trailer with Mary R., of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, sharing the trailer and passing it back and forth as needed. Like Karen, Keith was great – he answered a few more of my questions, allowed me to completely set it up and take it down (yes, with his guidance and supervision…). And this time, I remembered my camera! (Too bad the sun was in a bad spot for some of the pics…) Seeing and using the trailer for a second day was really nice, as I had a basic knowledge of how it worked and could focus on some of the details I had missed the first day. All in all, definitely worth the drive through rush hour traffic.
Ultimately, I want one. Now. I have visions of week-long trips into the mountains, kayaks or canoes atop the trailer, with my mountain bike, camping gear and a grill stashed in the trailer. Road trips through the western mountain ranges, varying the daily activities and using the Go as a base camp. But I know that the responsible thing to do is to wait until after my thru-hike, when I have more stability in life. Then again, when have I ever been responsible?
An informative walk-thru of the GO.
GO Testimony by Gareth Tate.
Special thanks to Bonnie Chiles at Sylvan Sport for going back and forth with me to find local trailers to view, and to Karen, Mary and Keith for working with my crazy schedule and allowing me to drool all over their Go trailers!
I would love to hear about any experiences you have had with the Sylvan Sport Go trailer. If you have any comments, advice, or topic suggestions, please use the comment box below or use the Contact Me page up top.
Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”