For those who don’t own an RV with a rear garage or don’t want to tow a utility trailer, Freedom Hauler offers a unique solution
Around our campfire in Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest, we love to discuss the day’s adventures riding UTVs. Descriptions abound of how deep the water was on a river ford, what it felt like negotiating a particular switchback and how steep that hill climb really was.
As much as we love off-road adventures on dirt machines, we don’t want an “adventure” when towing our trailers and side-by-sides to a camping spot. We want the on-road travel to be as stress-free as possible, which can be a challenge when considering what we want to bring along.
Enter the Freedom Hauler tote dolly, which provides an additional weight-bearing axle and added platform to haul what you want to bring without adding a utility trailer. The Freedom Hauler is fundamentally different from a trailer because it attaches at two points and always stays in line with the RV.
HOW IT WORKS
At the heart of the Freedom Hauler technology is a unique Pressure Sensing Steering Axle (PSSA) that automatically aligns the wheels in the correct direction. Rather than simple casters, Freedom Hauler has a full automotive-style axle system with steering knuckles, leaf springs and tie rods. The geometry of the steering knuckles allows the axle to react to the direction of the RV. It even works in reverse!
A signal from the tow vehicle’s backup light engages an actuator that rotates the axle to the proper angle, allowing the self-steering axle to operate in reverse. This means you can back up your RV as if the tote were not attached (except for the additional length). It automatically stays in line with the trailer, allowing the tote dolly to function as an extension of the RV rather than as an additional trailer.
HOW WELL IT WORKS
For this project a Freedom Hauler equipped with a motorcycle loader was mounted to the back of a fifth-wheel and put through its paces to measure function and practicality. Right out of the gate, a 90-degree turn was made to the left as the fifth-wheel left the shop area. Sure enough, the wheels turned and then straightened out as the trailer came back in line with the truck. When you see how the Freedom Hauler stays in line with the RV, you know you are seeing something fundamentally different from trailer towing.
While on the street, the rear of the fifth-wheel and the tote traveled in tandem while the wheels of the tote turned to make the corner. During the testing procedure, Freedom Hauler owner Tim Steele provided some advice, which was mostly to drive like the tote was not there. While making tight turns and some backing while turning, it was easy to see how the actuator rolled the axle into position for a change of direction as the driver shifted into forward or reverse.
All of the backing maneuvers were accomplished just like the Freedom Hauler wasn’t there because it really does function as an extension of the fifth-wheel trailer. The actuator that rotates the axle into forward and reverse positions worked seamlessly.
Since the Freedom Hauler is an extension and not a trailer, the tote dolly can have a deck as short as 5 feet and remain very stable on the road. This gives owners the option of adding cargo space while keeping overall length in check. Available sizes include 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 feet of deck space, measured front to back. Base price ranges from $5,900 for the 5-foot Freedom Hauler to $9,900 for the 12-footer.
HOW IT’S USED
For some RVers, the Freedom Hauler can be a good alternative to a toy hauler because they can keep their current trailer with its features, floorplan and paid-for status. Current toy-hauler owners may want to add a Freedom Hauler to increase their toy-hauling capability.
Some trailer owners would love to have additional capacity, but the idea of adding another trailer and towing double (aka triple) seems overwhelming, and often is prohibited. The Freedom Hauler may be a great solution in those states without a legal double-towing provision because it is an extension of the RV rather than an additional trailer. You will need to check with your state or province if there is a law prohibiting multiple trailers. Most classify the Freedom Hauler as an extension rather than a trailer. Overall length restrictions still apply.
FEATURES AND OPTIONS
Freedom Hauler has been moving very purposely toward modularity in its design. This means Freedom Hauler owners can add several upgrades at the time of purchase or they can wait to order accessories as need and budget dictate. In addition to the standard features intrinsic in the design (powder-coated steel deck, automotive-style axle components, real wheels and tires, leaf-spring suspension, built-in tie-down points), buyers can also select deck extensions that double as side rails, toolboxes, spare-tire rack, shocks and ramps.
Freedom Hauler also offers an optional trailer-conversion kit that allows you to hook the tote up to a standard hitch ball and use it as a trailer behind practically any vehicle that is rated to tow. The conversion kit resides onboard under the deck and can be deployed quickly and easily in seconds by pulling a pin and sliding the coupler forward. An automatic mechanism locks the steering axle in a fixed, neutral position so the tote can be towed as a trailer.
Off-road enthusiasts understand the need for hauling toys with an RV and the fact that one size does not fit all. The Freedom Hauler uses impressive technology and exudes a high build quality, and the company continues to develop new innovations. The staff does a great job talking with and listening to customers. Personnel are honest and straightforward about the capabilities and limitations of the product, emphasizing safety as a top priority.
Larry Walton is a longtime outdoor and automotive writer-photographer providing content for enthusiast magazines and product communications. A lifelong RVer, he currently lives in southern Idaho with his wife, Robin. These days the Waltons can often be found camping in the Sawtooth Mountains and exploring desert landscapes and local mining roads with their Polaris RZR side-by-side.