Our take on the MORV Explore

Our take on the MORV Explore

Manley Explore Trailer with Toyota TacomaThe Tacoma & FJC Mag team have put over 4,000 miles on the MORV Trailer (with CVT RTT) this summer with multiple Arizona, Utah, and Colorado trips. We can honestly say this trailer has taken everything we’ve thrown at it and performed flawlessly in sand, mud, dirt, and rocks. We’ve both had plenty of trips to test this gem out, so here are our thoughts.



 Right out of the gate there were a few things to take note of.  You definitely have more room to store things for the trip.  This is both good and bad.  The good side, you do not don’t have to cram things and have little idea where you put them.  The bad side, you have more room so you tend to overpack. There went what little gas mileage you might have had in a V6 Tacoma. Of course another plus is the fact that if you are camping somewhere for a few days and still want to take the truck for some wheeling, you drop the trailer and you are off.  

When the MORV trailer showed up I was very impressed by the way it was put together.  Very solid construction, nice shock system with the lid, and the tire size matching the truck makes the tow a nice ride.  The trailer weighs 775# empty but with a 2000# capacity, it tends to fill up.  It is nice to be able to put things like the propane, camp chairs, and equipment in the trailer instead of the truck.  The frame is a fully boxed 2”X4”X1/8” mitered and fully welded.  The tub is 14 gauge with an 1/8” floor.  The outside seams are all ground smooth for a clean look before the entire tub and frame are powder coated.  They use a solid axle with leaf spring suspension because you do not don’t want to skimp here.  I really like the fact that they have an actual tail gate that makes for a great table top for cooking or eating.  

The trailer pulls like a dream behind my truck. Honestly, other than when you come to a mountain incline you cannot tell the trailer is even there.  I am completely blown away with how it rides on the highway.
Then I took it off-road.  With the Max-Coupler hitch, off-camber, sudden elevation climbs and descents were easily handled.  The positive connection between truck and trailer is something I have I’ve never experienced. So far I think the most angle I have tested is about 20 degrees one way and 10-15 on the truck in the opposite direction.  That puckered me more than the truck and & trailer, that’s for sure.
Having the rack and the rooftop tent actually seem to help with the backing up to park the trailer, you are  less likely to lose sight of the trailer during a sharp turn.  With enough practice you can park this rig just about anywhere you can find a flat camp site.  

There are some other things that MORV is doing that I really like.  You have a limited selection for trailers:  MORV Original, Utility, and the Explore.  Yes, there are some options to choose from but they are limited as well.  My favorite option is the choice between having the frame and tub made overseas and one that the entire trailer is made and assembled right here in the good old USA.  Amazingly their quality seems to be pretty impeccable with either of these choices so the difference is personal preference to spend the extra $1500 for the US made or not.  Prices are pretty reasonable as well and you can get into the MORV Original with the import frame and tub for under $3000.00 to the MORV Explore 100% Made in the USA for under $7800.00.  

All in all, my use of this trailer is going to be dependent upon just what we are up to for that trip.  If we are going somewhere that we are going to be setting up camp for a couple of days, I guarantee you will see us towing the trailer.  If it is a wheel to our spot and wheel back out you might just see my truck though it might still come down to a coin flip!  I do have to admit that it does look pretty nice hooked up to my truck!


While attending the 2013 FJ Summit in July, I was able to camp and explore with a Manley ORV (MORV) trailer mounted with a tent by Cascadia Vehicle Tent (CVT).  With this opportunity to test the MORV and CVT setup, I decided to take a slight detour on the way to Ouray.  The normal route to Ouray from the Front Range is a beautiful drive offering great views and a variety of terrain to travel through, but what better way to test out the setup than to take a detour down to Lake City and see how well the trailer handled the rugged Engineer Pass.

One of the first benefits of the off-road trailer setup in our situation is the ease of transferability between vehicles.  If you have a capable receiver hitch, you can hook up and hit the trails. FJC Magazine had the trailer down in Colorado Springs, so I made the trek down to pick up it up. I was hooked up and ready to go within a few minutes, full with most of the gear I needed.  Once you have reached your camping destination and wish to explore, you can easily unhitch the trailer and be on your way.

Like many trailer users, I was glad to have the added storage capabilities outside of the truck.  On long trips, I normally have to pack my bed full, most of the time limiting my views through my rear window.  The trailer has a great deal of storage to allow you to spread the cargo out between vehicle and trailer.  There are countless customized options that you can incorporate into the trailer if you can manage it.  I have seen people mount a slide out grill and ice box, water tanks, additional camp lighting, solar panels and secondary battery systems and much more.  No matter what options you incorporate into your trailer, make sure everything is secured properly!  While traveling through the rugged terrain to Ouray, I was disappointed when I found my grill in a dozen pieces after I overlooked properly securing the grill within the trailer.  

Some of you may wonder how the trailer handles on-road versus off-road.  With the narrower wheelbase and the added weight of the tent elevated off the trailer top, stability was a major concern of mine.  However, the trailer tracked behind the truck perfectly; I barely noticed it was there.  

When traveling on the rugged terrain of Engineer Pass, most of the tasks handed to the MORV were handled with ease; however there were some noticeable downfalls of towing a trailer over rough roads.  The journey over Engineer Pass is a typical high mountain pass in the San Juans with narrow shelf roads, tight switch backs and occasional tight tree sections.  Fortunately, like the on-road handling, the trailer tracked behind the truck fairly well throughout the trail, making the switchbacks a non-concern.  The springs on the trailer are rated and & tuned for a full load of cargo, so when the trailer is not at max weight, it can be bouncy. Neglecting to air-down the trailer tires can also lead to additional instability at higher dirt road speeds, so you will end up going slower than you normally would.

When traveling off-road with the trailer, you may experience added difficulty when backing up in tight situations.  As many of you know, proper trail etiquette gives the uphill traffic the right of way which poses a huge problem when you have a loaded trailer behind you as you’re traveling downhill and come across uphill traffic.  If you are lucky, you are given a pull out to allow room for the uphill traffic or the uphill traffic realizes you are  towing and pulls over to allow you pass.  If not, you are left with the daunting task of backing the trailer uphill.  A spotter will come in very handy if you are faced with this situation.  
Between the ease of setup and elevating your sleeping quarters off the ground which may consist of mud, rocks and other non-pleasant campsite features, having the MORV trailer on a multi-day event such as the 2013 FJ Summit proved to be a great addition and improvement to the camping lifestyle.  I have especially enjoyed the ability to unload unwanted weight from the truck and having a secure location for extra items.  This helped to keep the truck lighter for trail runs unlike the bed rack/roof rack mounting system which keeps your camp within your vehicle.  The trailer also allows you to leave camp setup the entire duration of the event and there is no need to break down camp every time you need to use your vehicle.  Simply set up, and enjoy!



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