Taking a caravan or camper trailer onto a soft sand track can be a daunting undertaking when you have little experience off-road. But, good preparation and some recovery gear, will give you the confidence to tackle Australia’s beautiful beaches which can be the highlight of your holiday!
Read on for our tips for how to safely tow your caravan or camper trailer on sand.
Let’s talk tyre pressure
It’s important to understand why you need to lower your tyre pressure in your tow vehicle and trailer for sand driving.
Lowering tyre pressure increases the surface area of the tyre, speading the weight of the vehicle and trailer across a greater surface area. This results in increased traction and prevents tyres from digging down into the sand quite as much, meaning you’re less likely to get bogged! You will also enjoy a far smoother ride, with fewer bumps and jolts.
How much should you lower your tyre pressure for sand driving?
That will depend on local conditions as well as your vehicle weights. There are many viewpoints about the ideal PSI range for sand driving but generally, a PSI of between 15 and 22 is ideal, or around half of the recommended PSI for road driving for your tyres.
Be careful not to deflate your tyres too low or you run the risk of popping the tyre off the rim, which will really ruin your day.
The best advice is to do what locals are doing. Ask questions – locals are almost always happy to give advice. 4WD and off-road groups online are a great way to ask questions about local conditions, including tide times, and get advice from those with experience.
Try this Facebook group with almost 30,000 members for 4WD and camping enthusiasts here in SA.
Maintain a steady pace
Keep a consistent pace. Not too slow or you will lose momentum, drop down into holes and make the engine work harder. A steady speed will assist with comfortable movement across an uneven surface and lower the risk of tyres digging in.
Take advantage of existing tyre ruts
The sand in the existing tracks has already been compacted down by vehicles and you’re less likely to find a soft spot and get bogged. Keep your vehicle and trailer in the existing ruts.
What if you get bogged?
- Get your mindset right – don’t panic, don’t be embarrassed. Getting bogged is a part of the off-road driving experience.
- Stop spinning your wheels if you know you’re bogged – you’re only digging in deeper.
- Try rolling backwards and forwards by a metre or so to compact the sand enough to allow you to drive out.
- Try to reverse out following the same tracks – again, this sand may be compacted enough for you to drive out.
- You can reduce your tyre pressure further but be cautious not to go down too low (be very careful deflating to under 15PSI).
If this all fails, it’s time to get out and start digging. Two recovery boards are good, but four are better. The last resort should be a snatch strap recovery but this means you need to have a travel companion or be in an area where other 4WD users are around. Only attempt a snatch strap recovery if you know how to safely perform one. It’s always better and safer to be able to recover your own vehicle.
What gear should I carry?
- Recovery boards
- Tyre pressure gauge
- Air compressor to deflate and inflate your tyres
- Snatch strap – this will only be helpful if there are other vehicles around
An electric brake controller is a legal requirement if you’re towing over 2,000kg. An adjustable electric brake controller will help with towing your caravan or camper trailer in sand, by allowing you to use lower brake settings and helping your trailer not to dig into the sand if you brake suddenly. Our electric brake controller of choice is the REDARC Tow Pro Elite. Contact our team to chat about a suitable electric brake controller for your vehicle.
Click here to read our article about how electric brake controllers work.
What you need to remember:
- Reduce tyre pressure to increase surface area
- Maintain a steady pace so that you float over the sand as opposed to dipping into every ridge and hole
- Use low range gear to maintain a steady pace, with enough power
- Carry recovery boards and a shovel at a minimum
Towing your caravan or camper in sand can be intimidating but the only way to gain experience is to get out there and do it, knowing that you’re going to get bogged but that is how you will learn. Some basic recovery equipment is important and will give you the confidence to know that when you inevitably get bogged, you are capable of recovering your vehicle.
Driving on the sand is a fantastic experience that can lead you to some of the most beautiful parts of South Australia, and particularly some of the greatest free camping sites. So be prepared, research the area, learn from the locals, and most importantly, enjoy yourself!