How to Keep Your Horse Warm in Winter

Girl feeding a horse, sitting on a cart in the winter.

As the cold of winter settles in, prepare to take care of your horses – but not too much care.  Coddling can be almost as dangerous as not taking enough precautions. When it’s cold outside, resist the temptation to keep your horse heavily blanketed and locked in a toasty barn without adequate exercise. With the proper feed, water, exercise, shelter, and blanket, your horse will stay warm enough to spend most days in the great outdoors. Continue reading

Emergency Accessories for your RV

Ready for disaster - checking off the items on the emergency  preparedness form

When it comes to traveling and camping, planning can only take you so far. As you probably already know, accidents and emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere, and we want you to be prepared. Here are 5 Emergency Accessories you should have for your next RV trip.

  1. Road Hazard Kit – Before you even get to your destination, there’s a good chance you’ll have to do a bit of driving. Don’t let your trip get ruined by an unexpected bump in the road. Make sure you have a road hazard kit, complete with jumper cables, tow rope, tire repair, flashlight, etc. You can purchase these items separately or as a kit.
  2. Roadside Assistance Plan – While it’s not technically an “accessory,” having a good roadside assistance plan designed specifically for RVs could really come in handy. These plans can pay for towing, lodging during repair, flat tires, etc. RV roadside assistance plans are offered by most of the top insurance companies including Good Sam, AAA and more.Tourist motorhome on the roadside in New Zealand's mountainous South Island
  3. Emergency Food Kit – Bad weather, power outages, a flat tire, you name it. There are many reasons why you may not get to your camping destination as planned, and you’ll have an RV full of unhappy people if you didn’t think ahead. Pack an emergency food kit with high-calorie bars, drinking water, and non-perishable snacks that can get you through a long day (or two).
  4. Emergency Lighting – What’s worse than breaking down on the side of the road? Breaking down in the middle of the night with no lights. Make sure you pack flashlights, light sticks, emergency candles, and lanterns so you can get your RV repaired as quickly as possible. These will also come in handy if there’s ever an outage at the campground, or you just want some mood lighting out by the campfire.
  5. Hand-Crank/Solar Radio – A portable radio may seem silly when you can get all the information you need on your phone. However, you may not always have a phone signal while you’re driving on back roads, and it’s important that you’re aware of any bad weather coming your way. You can also opt for a battery-powered radio, but make sure you have spare batteries on hand.

Hopefully you’ll never have to use any of the emergency equipment in your RV, but if you do run into some trouble on the road or at the campground, you’ll be glad you were prepared. To prevent any potential (non-weather related) issues, make sure your RV is in great condition before every long road trip. Do a thorough walk-through of your unit, or visit the service department at Crossroads Trailer Sales to let the experts help you out. If you eve get caught in a sticky situation, call our roadside assistance team at 856-697-4497 and we’ll come to you.

Crossroads Trailer Sales is the #1 RV and Trailer Dealer in New Jersey Since 1988. Keep checking our blog for the latest RV news, featured units, tips and tricks, and more! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest too.

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5 Tips for Buying a Horse Trailer

iStock_10259053_LARGEBuying a horse trailer is a big decision that impacts the safety of your equine charges, the ease and safety of your travel and, of course your wallet.  With thousands of models to choose from, at all price points, let your needs inform your decision with these 5 tips for buying a horse trailer.

The Right Size for Your Horse

Understand what’s right for your horse or horses. No matter how fancy a trailer looks, or what a great deal it is, if your horses can’t travel safely and comfortably, it’s not the trailer for you. Measure your horse or horses from tip to tail and shoulder to shoulder to make sure any trailer you’re looking at is a good fit. Your horse needs to be able to spread its legs and have room to use its head and neck for balance to travel safely. Measure your prospective trailer purchase to check for head room – remembering that trailers with curved roof may consider the peak of the roof the trailer’s height, while your horses head may be closer to the outside wall.  When checking the floor measurements, take into consideration wheel wells, which may steal some of your horse’s standing room.

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The Right Size for You

The right trailer will not only be comfortable for your horse, it can be towed safely behind your vehicle, hold all the gear you need for your equine adventures, and be right for your lifestyle. With choices ranging from small single-horse bumper towed trailers to slant five fifth wheel living quarter models, understand, your needs and towing capabilities.  A bumper towed trailer is the simplest and least expensive horse trailers, but may not be up to the weight of your load and has limited storage. The lightest bumper towed trailers can be towed by a small truck of SUV.  A gooseneck trailer, which uses a ball hitch in a truck bed, offers a more stable tow and distributes the weight of your trailer across the center axle of your truck. Many have tack rooms and feed storage built in.  A truck outfitted with a hitch in the bed is required.  If extended travel is your plan, consider a fifth wheel living quarters trailer, where both you and your horse can travel and comfort and style.  These trailers have the most room for you and your horses, and can be outfitted with enough luxury to match to swankiest motorhome or just have simple living quarters. Fifth wheel living quarter trailers are the most expensive and generally require a heavy duty towing vehicle.

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Safety First

Look for features that keep both you and your horse safe. If it’s a used trailer, keep an eye out for exposed sharp edges or protrusions and worn flooring. If it’s new, look for quality workmanship which will add up to safety: Sturdy walls, stout underfloor bracing and quality latches and gates. Look for a trailer with adequate ventilation: Windows that slide open and overhead roof vents are a must.

Choosing the Right Style

Before making a decision, know what style trailer is right for you:  Manger, walk-through or slant-load. While a trailer with a fixed manger may sound convenient (and the storage area beneath the manger appealing), the manger may be problematic for your horse, who may spend the day inhaling the dust and debris from the hay and feed right below him. The manger may also take up valuable space, inhibiting your horse’s ability to spread his legs and move his head.

A straight forward walk-through trailer may be the simplest choice. The horse walks on behind the handler, who keeps going through a full-size door at the front of the trailer. While space for tack and feed may be limited in smaller walk-through trailers, the design gives the horse room to brace himself, while giving the handler a quick escape from an unruly equine.

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If you need to haul more than one or two horses, consider a slant-load trailer.  Perhaps not suitable for larger breeds, a slant load trailer makes it possible to haul more horses in a compact trailer.  Slant load trailers do have disadvantages: the wheel wells can take up valuable floor space and horses traveling on an angle may have difficulty absorbing the bumps and twists of the road.

Ramp or Step-Up Trailer

While step-up trailers are far more common, some horse trailers have an added on ramp.  While step-up trailers are industry standard, if safety is your priority, a ramp is safer for you and your horses. Make sure a ramp is easy to lift, spring assisted, and that there is only a tiny gap between the ramp and the trailer.

Explore the many options in new and used horse trailers at Crossroads Trailer Sales, New Jersey’s #1 RV and trailer dealer.

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Roadtrip Essentials: What to pack for your next trip.

little boy and toddler girl sitting on suitcases ready to travel, kids travel concept

Packing for a road trip or camping trip can feel a bit overwhelming, especially when you have a large family or little kids. Instead of stressing or rushing at the last minute, use this easy guide to make sure you bring all the essentials. Continue reading

How to Keep Your Horse (or Pets) Cool in the Summer

Red border collie dog and horse are friends at sunset in summer

Long summer days are perfect for family fun and made even better if the day is shared with family pets or on horseback. Keep the summer fun healthy for everyone, including your horse, pony, and family pets by recognizing that heat and sun can be dangerous for your animals.

Blazing sun, high humidity, confined spaces, over-exertion and dehydration are all potential risks to horses, ponies and pets in the summer months. Keep you and your pets cool with awareness, timing and a big dose of precaution.

Take advantage of the long days, and plan strenuous activities with your horses and pets in the cool early morning or in the long shadows of the early evening. “Limit strenuous riding to late evening or early morning when the temperature is lower,” recommends the  Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “ Use less tack in the hot summer by minimizing saddle pads and leg boots.”

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The same rule applies when you’re considering a jog with your dog. “On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours,” says The Humane Society of the United States, “and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing.” When the temperature goes up, take down the intensity and duration of exercise with your pet, according to the Humane Society. “Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible,” says the Humane Society, and “always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.”

In horses, dehydration, respiratory distress, and colic – even fatal heatstroke or heat exhaustion – can all be caused by the sun and humidity of summer, according to the Dr. Fosters and Smith Veterinary Supply website. Keep your horse safe from the perils of summer with some common sense safe guards.iStock_000085393831_Medium

According to Doctors Fosters and Smith website, horses can drink more more than 25 gallons of water a day when the temperature is above 70 degrees.  Offer free, cool, clean water in a suitable bucket throughout the day; keep water troughs clean and filled.  Turn horses out to pasture in the early morning and make sure there’s shade– natural or man made. When horses are working in heat and humidity and sweating excessively, offer electrolyte supplements to avoid muscle cramps, fatigue and colic.

Once your horse is back in the barn or other shelter, turn on the stable fans and open doors and windows to increase ventilation. Use misting fans or sponge cold water over your horse. Quality fodder is especially important in summer months. Feed hay provides the energy horses need to help control  body temperature and support the natural the cooling process.

Woman washing her dog, Golden Labrador Retriever, outdoors on hot summer day

Cool off hot dogs by directing them into shade or bringing them indoors on hot days.  Remember, for your canine friends, a fan alone may not do the trick, according to the Humane Society.  Unlike people, dogs sweat primary through their feet, the Humane Society says, so fans alone are not effective.

Do not keep horses confined in steamy hot trailers for extended times and never leave dogs in locked cars – even with the windows cracked, says the Humane Society.

When the family pets are outside, make sure there is plenty of protection from direct sunlight.  The Humane Society reminds pet owners that dog houses and other similar shelters are not protection from the heat – pets need lots of air circulation so an open-sided shelter is best.

Also, keep pet water bowls full and clean, adding ice whenever possible, the Humane Society recommends.

Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, reminds pet owners that high humidity makes it difficult for animals to cool themselves.  If your pet isn’t stressed out by bath time, use a kiddie pool, sprinkler or hose to offer a quick cool off on the hottest of days.

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Before the heat of summer sets in groom your horse or pets for the dogs days of summer. Trim your pet’s coat short for the summer to help keep them cool.  Also groom your horse’s coat, says Doctors Fosters and Smith website, and clip the mane and tail.

For more great tips on taking care of your horses or pets, check back for more blog posts! In the market for a new horse trailer? Don’t forget to browse our extensive online inventory or stop by our lot!

Maintenance Tips: How to Keep Your RV in Top Condition

Image provided by trailerlife.com

Keep your RV in top condition for safe travels, cost savings and maximizing your resale value. Wash, check, flush, clean and apply a healthy dose of founding father, philosopher and inventor Benjamin Franklin’s axiom, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when it comes to your RV.

Whether you vacation is in a motorized RV or a towable, RV maintenance is a big job, but ignoring routine maintenance and cleaning your RV inside and out can lead to big trouble and big expenses. Establish a routine for daily cleaning and checklist for throughout the year to keep your RV in top condition. Continue reading

How to Take Great Photos of Your Horse or Pet

Little boy with camera is shooting his dog

Taking winning family photographs on an RV vacation, around the house or for special occasions, may mean including fur-covered friends, big and small. From horses to Chihuahuas, you can take great pictures by applying a few fundamentals to your pet photography.

Keep three words in mind as you prepare to photograph your horse or pet: light, level and location.

Before you actually start snapping pictures of your horse or pet make your preparations because once you begin, there won’t be much time. While animals are man’s best friend, a pet is not always a photographer’s best pal and won’t wait while you fiddle with gear and poses. Have a plan before you press the shutter and it will be a better experience for you and your horse or pet.

Light

Unless you have a high level DSLR and a separate speed light — flash or strobe – you can use off the camera, think natural light when it comes to taking pet photographs. An on-camera light, especially on a pocket camera,  will cast a weak light directly into your pet’s eyes, creating red eye, loss of detail and inaccurate color – and that’s if you are lucky enough to get your shot. The shutter on smaller cameras can lag from the time you push the button – add in time to regenerate the flash – and your window for a great picture is probably gone.

The best light for your pet photography is natural light, preferably outdoors. Look for a clear area with nice, even light and put the sun at your back, shining directly on the spot you’ve chosen for your photograph. petphoto7

“Palm reading” is a simple, unscientific way to check the quality of light for your pet photograph. With the sun still at your back, hold your hand out, palm up, over your photography area. See how the light plays across your palm. Are there speckles from a nearby tree? Is the light a dull gray because the sun is blocked? Adjust the position you’ve chosen for your photograph until the light is soft and even on your palm.

Plan to take your photograph first thing in the morning or in the last light of day, avoiding the harsh, detail-killing light of mid-day. Because the light travels further to reach us in the morning and afternoon hours, it is more diffused, or softer. Morning light is cooler and cleaner and is especially pleasing when shooting lights and darks. The late afternoon – the hour before the sun sets — is warm and works best for shooting golden or reddish colors.

Location

Your pet is the focal point of your picture, so don’t let a cluttered background steal the show. petphoto4Choose a location at least eight feet away from the background to help create separation between your pet and the background. Look through the viewfinder of your camera, past the subject, scanning for light poles, multi-colored, multi-textured buildings and distractions. Pick up any debris and clutter. Shift around – keeping the sun at your back – to minimize distractions in your photograph. A few steps can make a huge difference in the content of your photograph.

Remember, you want your horse or pet to be the star; the background should just fade quietly away in your picture. Look for a simple hedge or fence, rolling green hills or open field, with an inviting light.

Level

The best way to get a great shot is to get down to the level of your subject. petphoto5

Photographing animals is about capturing our relationship with our horses or pets, and the window to that relationship is in the eyes. Get down until you and the camera are eye level with your pet to help show the partnership you share – even if it means laying down. When equines come into play, it may mean climbing on a utility ladder, box or fence to get eye-to-eye with your subject.

Standing tall above your pet is the superior position and casts your pet in an inferior light. Shooting from this position may be good for a gimmick or “pet shaming” photograph, but it can create distortion – a big head and little body – and will result in more of a caricature rather than a portrait of your pet.

Shooting from the inferior position – the photographer is lower than the subject — is a hazard of equine photography, and leaves many a photographer wondering why their prized pony’s dimensions look a little “off.” Level yourself with your horse’s eyes.

Zoom In

Now that light, location and level are settled, zoom in, if your camera allows. While it’s tempting to ratchet out to the widest angle to capture every inch of your horse or large

animal, the wide angle will create distortion that alters the proportions of your pet. Adjust your zoom while looking through the viewfinder until you see proportions that look natural. Ifa full-body image is what you need, just back up and get further away.

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A great photograph captures the personality – or soul – of your pet. The windows to the soul are the eyes and that’s where the camera needs to focus. San Francisco based pet photographer Josh Norem says it succinctly, “If the eyes aren’t in focus, the shot is wasted. End of discussion.” If your camera allows, set the focus for a single focal point – and aim for the eyes — rather than “auto,” which will focus on the point nearest the camera — probably a nose or paw.

Preparation and Shooting

Chefs call it “mise en place” or “everything in place” — all the ingredients and tools — ready to go when it’s time to start cooking. In pet photography, it’s also the key to success.

Decide when and where you’re going to shoot, have your camera set and ready to go, check your background for distractions, have a blanket to lie on or your ladder to climb for the picture set up, before your pet enters the scene.

Have your pet ready to go – brushed, groomed – and happy. A quick play session before the shoot will get everyone in the right frame of mind (no pun intended).

Stay relaxed but work quickly. Use treats or a toy held over the camera to grab his/her attention. Avoid having other people on the scene shouting out instructions that may confuse or stress out your pet and take attention away from the camera.

Shoot quickly. If your camera has a “sports” or “burst” setting, use it to shoot a series of pictures rather than trying to get the one perfect image. Remember, you’ve already done the hard work – checking out the light, choosing the right location and getting on the right level – now you’re composing your photograph with a focus on the eyes.petphoto6

Most animals have a short attention span for photography. If you don’t get that perfect shot, come back tomorrow and try again. The results – and the experience — will be better for everyone.

When you’re ready to go “on location” for your pet photography, be sure your RV is road worthy with a service visit to the professionals at Crossroads Trailer SalesAnd for all you horse enthusiasts, don’t forget to browse our great selection of new and used horse trailers.

Winter Outdoor Photography Tips

It’s a beautiful morning at the campground and fresh snowfall has turned the woods into a photographic playground. Before heading out on your winter outdoor photography trek, read these simple preparations and tips to make sure you return home with great photos.

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Protect yourself

No photograph is worth frostbite. Prepare yourself before heading out on a winter photo expedition. Wear multiple layers of moisture-wicking materials and cover your head. Resist the temptation to go gloveless or wear fingerless gloves. Instead, visit a camera shop and check out the selection of photography-friendly tech-sensory gloves designed to keep your hands warm, while freeing your fingers to work the camera’s controls.

Protect your gear

Protect your gear and make sure it’s ready for action when you spot that forest creature out in the snowy field.

Pack your camera in a waterproof, insulated backpack to keep it warm, dry and safe until you’re ready to shoot. When you take it out, keep it close to your body, preferably under a jacket or scarf.

Your camera’s battery will deplete quicker in colder temperatures than warm, so carry a spare – or spares. Keep the spare battery in a pocket close to your body to keep it warm.

Avoid condensation on your equipment when you come back to your warm fifth wheel after a cold winter photography safari. While still in the field, wrap your cold camera in an airtight plastic bag so condensation forms on the outside of the bag, rather than on and in your camera equipment.

No plastic bag available? Make sure your camera warms up slowly. Sit it on a cold windowsill or unheated, protected porch and gradually move it to a warmer area.

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Getting the white right

A mostly white, snowy scene on a bright, clear day is a surprisingly difficult photograph to take. Camera meters base their exposure on a neutral, or 18 percent grey tone, so an all-white image may fool your automatic meter, resulting in snow that looks dull and gray. Expose for the brightest area in your frame to make sure you capture the bright whites.

If your camera has the option to adjust the exposure compensation, try adjusting it manually to a +1 or +2 to cue the camera that it’s shooting something bright and white.

When it’s coming down

Shutter speed is critical when snow, rain or sleet is coming down. Consider the effect you’re looking for. A slow shutter speed will result in streaks and blurs from the precipitation. A fast shutter speed, 1/250 and above, will result in a clearer, crisper image.

Bring out detail

If your camera uses interchangeable lenses, consider using a polarizing or UV filter. A polarizing filter will deepen the sky, cut down glare and bring out detail that might otherwise be lost. On a hazy, foggy day, a UV filter will result in clearer, crisper images. Either filter will protect your expensive lens glass from the elements. Add a hood to the end of your lens to block flares of light from bright sun light bouncing off the white surroundings.

Timing is everything

No matter the season, shooting in the early morning or late afternoon is the right decision, but never more so than in winter. The low angle of the sun results in longer, more dramatic shadows, which can add much needed contrast to your composition. Use the cool quality of the morning light and warm glow of “golden hour” and cut-down on the bright glare of mid-day sun.

Adding some color

Now consider color and composition. Without the fresh green sprigs of spring, golden leaves of fall and brilliant blues of summer, winter photography can seem monochromatic. Look for a bit of wildlife, a green branch, a flash of blue or an early spring bulb. Frame your photograph, so that the angles and curves in your image draw the eye to the speck of color for the most dramatic image.

If you’re making a winter portrait, consider the final image: do you want a high-key image – one that celebrates shades of white – or a study in contrast?

If your subject is dressed in winter whites, turn your attention to the exposed flesh and eyes. The skin tones and highlights in the eyes will become the focal point of your picture. Use a short focal range of 5.6 or below and set your subject at least eight feet in front of the background. The background will become a soft wintery blur while the subject remains in sharp focus.

A brightly dressed subject creates natural separation from the background. Look for a “clean” background — a wall of white or a cleared field — so the colorful subject is the standout star of the image. When a person or wildlife is the focal point of your image, shift from metering on the brightest white and take your reading from the flesh or fur.

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Close to home

It’s easy to lose track of time when Mother Nature surrounds you in her winter cloak, but no photograph is worth staying out too long or wandering too far afield. The best photograph just may be a tiny slice of nature right outside your door.

If you need a safe, comfortable base for your winter photography safaris, visit Crossroads Trailer Sales for a full-selection of four-season towable travel trailers and RVs.

 

 

Tips for Choosing the Right Toy Hauler

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If your camping gear has expanded far beyond folding chairs and fishing rods to four-wheelers and motorbikes, it may be time to move up to a Toy Hauler to meet your action camping needs.

Even if the “action” on your camping agenda is touring around the campground in your golf cart, a Toy Hauler may be the right choice for your next RV.

Sports Utility RVs (SURVs), known as toy haulers, combine living space with a cargo area for your motorized toys. Toy haulers are an ideal solution for those who want to travel with their ATVs, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, golf carts and other motorized vehicles. In larger models, the rear compartment holds vehicles and gear with a gate that does double duty as a loading ramp. The front of the unit is outfitted as living quarters.

Toy haulers are also an excellent choice for people whose work takes them on the road; with the front providing comfortable accommodations while keeping tools of the trade, merchandise or show models safely stored in the cargo bay.

Since the early 2000s, toy haulers have become a major segment of the recreational vehicle market, with choices ranging from mini trailers to full-featured Fifth Wheel Toy Haulers. With more than 70 models of toy haulers on the market today, there’s an SURV out there to carry everything from a single dirt bike to a small passenger car.

Choosing the right toy hauler starts with knowing your own camping habits and destinations. Consider what toys and how many people are coming along for the ride when deciding which toy hauler is right for you.

Weight Matters

How much your camping toy weighs will be a major factor in choosing the right toy hauler. A full-loaded toy hauler is significantly heavier than a traditional Travel Trailer and comes with its own driving and braking challenges. Assess the towing capacity of your vehicle before making your toy hauler choice.

Structural design and capacity will play a big role in choosing the right toy hauler. Some top of the line, full-size toy haulers are big and stout enough to carry a small family vehicle, while some smaller towable trailers will not be up to the task. Ramp design, strength and angle will also play a critical role in choosing the right toy hauler.

Next, consider where your adventures take you to determine if you need a toy hauler with off-road capabilities. If snowmobiles are going in the cargo bay, add four-season weatherization to your toy hauler checklist, or face the possibility of broken water tanks and lines.

Fifth Wheel Toy Haulers

Perhaps the best mix of spacious accommodation, towing ease and cargo space is found in a fifth wheel toy hauler. Fifth wheel toy haulers are designed to be towed behind a truck equipped with a fifth wheel hitch in the bed. The over-the-bed tow design adds stability and ease of towing to weighty toy haulers that can range from 20 feet to more than 40 feet long.

The stability of a fifth wheel toy hauler also makes it a better choice than a motorized toy hauler if your action camping takes you off road.

If the family and multiple toys will be along for the ride, a fifth wheel may also be the right toy hauler choice. Many fifth wheel toy haulers will sleep up to six people with a hard wall separating the cargo area from the living quarters. Options in the cargo area can include fold-up sofas, workshop or storage areas and room for multiple toys or, even in some larger, stout models, room for an additional family vehicle.

Travel Trailer Toy Haulers

From the simplest mini toy hauler to a 36-foot luxury model, travel trailer toy haulers offer convenience, versatility and flexibility at a variety of price points.

Lower heights, lighter weights and some smaller sizes make travel trailer toy haulers a good choice when your action camping takes you far off road. Bumper hitch travel trailers require less specialized towing equipment than a fifth wheel and are available at a more modest cost than a motorized toy hauler, making them desirable for RVers looking for a simple road to family fun.

With a range of sizes and designs, tow-behind toy haulers offer RVers the most choices, from mini all-in-one trailers with fold-down beds in the cargo bay to a massive towable with all the comforts of a luxurious coach. The largest of the towable toy haulers will feature a living space with a cargo space separated by a solid wall, much like a fifth wheel or coach toy hauler.

There’s no better way to choose the toy hauler that’s right for you than looking in person. Crossroads Trailers, New Jersey’s No. 1 dealer in fifth wheels, has a full-selection of new and used toy haulers and the staff expertise to guide you to the right toy hauler.