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The Ultimate Hitch

Written by  Adam Tolman
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The ultimate off road trailer hitch

Pull your offroad trailer with confidence with either the Lock-n-Roll or the Max Coupler.

Self-sustained travel is the goal of all overland travelers and especially on longer adventures where extra gear is needed, there isn’t always enough room inside or on top of the vehicle.  With a wife and four kids I quickly ran out of space even with efficient minimalist packing. So like many of you, I turned to a high-clearance off-road trailer to carry the extra gear required for extended adventures.

For those that use trailers, we want a trailer that is capable of going anywhere the tow-vehicle can and therefore need a towing coupler that’s up to the task. A standard 2” ball hitch just isn’t going to cut it when the trail gets technical.  A coupler with a much broader range of movement is needed for serious off-road travel.  There are several options to choose from but I’m going to focus on two of the more popular couplers.  The Max Coupler from Kilby Enterprises, and the Lock-n-Roll hitch from Great Lakes Forge.


The Lock-n-Roll Hitch
The Lock-n-Roll hitch is an effective coupler for any offroad trailer, with one minor flaw.

The articulating Lock-n-Roll trailer hitch is an off-road trailer hitch that allows a full 360 degrees of rotation and 3 axis movement.  It uses a patented latching system that gives a tight connection that doesn’t have the clanking noise and jerking action of a pintle hitch and will allow you maneuver your trailer down the most technical of trails.  The other thing that makes the Lock-n-Roll unique is the 360 degree bearing made from a solid forged piece of steel instead of a threaded connection found on some other full rotation couplers.

The Lock-n-Roll hitch is two parts.  The vehicle side (left) controls vertical rotation, and the trailer side (right) handles sideways and rotational movement.


I have used a Lock-n-Roll on my trailer for more than 5 years.  As advertised the connection is quiet and movement is smooth and easy.  It requires very little maintenance which is nice after hundreds of miles of dirt roads.  The best feature of the Lock-n-Roll is how the hitch is connected:  Flip the latches open and roll the trailer into place and lower the trailer side of the hitch into the latch with little effort.

The Lock-n-Roll is simple to connect.  Dropping the trailer side into the slots on the vehicle side is quick and easy.


The one flaw with the Lock-n-Roll is that it can bind when backing the trailer at extreme angles near being jackknifed. When this happens the vertical axis of the coupler pitches upward and causes the side-to-side rotation to bind.  If this happens and you continue to back up the hitch will bend and twist the section for sideways rotation.  This scenario is very rare but can occur.  It happened to my hitch recently and could have eliminated all side-to-side rotation had I backed up any further. Great Lakes Forge claims to have addressed this issue on the newer hitches by using thicker, stronger steel in the construction that will resist bending.

This is the position that creates problems for the Lock-n-Roll.  When the trailer side gets pitched upward like this the sideways rotation is restricted and it can bend.


The Max Coupler
The Max-Coupler is made by Kilby Enterprises.

The Max Coupler is a tri-axis offset design that allows virtually unrestricted movement without binding.  It uses a greasable rotational joint that provides smooth, quiet movement.  It also uses sleeved polyurethane bushings and a standard hitch-pin for the truck to trailer connection.  It’s a worry-free connection that moves freely and can handle extreme angles on challenging trails.  The combination of the poly bushings and the greasable joint make the Max Coupler even quieter than the Lock-n-Roll in my testing.

The Max Coupler design makes it virtually impossible for it to bind at any angle.  I tried repeatedly to back the trailer into all the crazy angles that I could to try to duplicate the binding that happened to me with the Lock-n-Roll. I could not get the Max Coupler to bind in any scenario.  If it were to bind, the place most prone to bending would be the vehicle side bracket, which if it were to bend would not affect the use of the hitch.  The result could mean the hitch pin could be bound and require it to be cut out, but it wouldn’t cause a trip to be cut short.

My one complaint about the Max Coupler is actually hooking the trailer to the tow vehicle.  It required me to more carefully move the trailer into just the right position much like you need to do with a ball hitch.  It is a minor complaint, but is still something that needs to be pointed out when comparing these two couplers.

In conclusion, both the Lock-n-Roll and the Max Coupler are going to provide a quiet secure connection with virtually unrestricted movement and are both capable of tackling more technical terrain with ease.  Both are comparable in price at around $230.  I prefer the hitching action and latch system of the Lock-n-Roll, but prefer the smoother movement with less risk of binding with the Max Coupler.  Both hitches are great for off-road trailers but if I had to pick just one that I had to stick with it would be the Max Coupler.

Sources:

Lock-n-Roll Trailer Hitches
https://locknroll.com/

Kilby Enterprises -  Max Coupler
http://www.kilbystore.com/products-max-coupler.html

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