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Last year, I parked my gas-guzzling, full-size four-wheel-drive truck and started hunting out of my wife’s old Subaru Forester. And I’m certainly not the only one who has downsized his hunting rig. Having to spend three to four dollars per gallon of gas has caused many hunters to re-evaluate and subsequently down-size their driving options.

And for the most part it’s been a success, at least for me. Barring extreme conditions, my little all-wheel drive Subaru can go most of the places my old truck could, and do it while getting about twice the gas mileage. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes miss the hauling capacity of my truck. If you’re a gundog owner who hunts out a compact vehicle, you know what I mean. Finding space for all your dogs and gear on hunting trips can be a pain, especially if you own multiple dogs.

I found a potential solution while strolling the aisles of last year’s Pheasant Fest: the Space Trailer. This is not a typical small trailer you’d find at a home-improvement or cheap tool store. This thing looked to be extremely well-built and rugged. But what really set this trailer apart was its ground clearance, a full-length lockable cover, and storage racks for lashing additional items like kayaks or other small boats, bikes, etc. It looked perfect for securing and protecting all my gear on hunting trips so I could free up plenty of room for all my dog crates in the car.

I struck up a conversation with company owner Todd Olson, who, with his brother Brennan, founded Space Trailer because they were basically in the same boat I was.

“My brother Brennan and I are both outdoorsmen,” said Olson. “But don’t drive big trucks, so we needed more space. After searching for a trailer to fit our needs we couldn’t find one so we decided to build our own. We didn’t necessarily set out to build a hunting trailer or kayak trailer our objective was to design a trailer that would appeal to many different people that need more space.”

Olson likens his do-all trailer to a Swiss Army knife. We talked some more, and a few months later I had a short-term loaner Space Trailer hitched up to the Subaru and packed for an extended bird-hunting trip to Montana. I was going to find out how viable a small utility trailer towed by a small car could really be on a long bird hunt.

First, the particulars: The 6500 model I used weighs 600 pounds, has a bed area of 4×8 and 65 cubic feet of storage under its lockable, weatherproof cover, and has a 1,000-pound capacity. It has a rear gate you can unlock and lower, and comes with a mounted spare tire, a tongue jack and a nifty handle you can use to push the unhitched trailer around (the unhitched trailer was very easy to move around by myself). The Space Trailer also has noticeably more ground clearance than most other cargo trailers. In addition, the one I used had optional rails on the side of the cargo box and “Space Bars” to which you could lash boats, bikes, etc. Space Trailer also makes a long-tongue model of the 6500 for longer canoes and kayaks. My standard model had a total length of 10 feet.

My initial impression of the Space Trailer after picking it up and towing it home was that it was exceedingly well-built and towed perfectly. I’ve dealt with cheap trailers before, and this one was orders of magnitude above those ones that you buy from certain cheap tool stores. On a trailer, it’s the little things that, taken together, add up to either big trouble or no worries. All the little things on the USA-made Space Trailer were of high quality, from the frame and the axle up.

The wiring is protected within tubing, the LED trailer lights are very bright, the 13-inch tires (optional 15-inch) don’t look like they belong on a kid’s toy, and the hitch and safety chains are quality. The aerodynamic cover is molded from thick ABS plastic, has a full-length rubber gasket that seals out road dust, opens easily, and once locked down, is very rigid.

The cargo box itself is steel, and the bed of the trailer is marine-grade plywood and has recessed tie-downs for securing cargo. The trailer frame itself is of two-inch steel square tubing and has five cross-members. I crawled under the trailer to take a look at the trailer’s welds. They were good.

It should also be noted that my loaner trailer was not a brand-new unit tricked out especially for me. In fact, it was one of Space Trailer’s used rental units that had just been towed down here by a family from Minnesota (where Space Trailer is based) who was taking their daughter to college in Texas. I met the family on their way back to pick up the trailer, and asked them what they thought of it. “Loved it” they said. I thought it spoke something to a company’s confidence in their product that Space Trailer didn’t feel the need make a special effort to give me a new unit, knowing I was about to, quite frankly, abuse it for some 3,000 miles.

In September, I easily fit everything I needed for a two-week trip (hunting gear, sleeping bag, camping gear, coolers, clothes, dog food and dog water containers, etc.) into the Space Trailer 6500’s bed, with plenty of space left over. I then loaded up the dogs and headed north. In a word, the Space Trailer performed flawlessly. On the highway the trailer pulled behind my Subaru like a dream. I literally bounced it over hundreds of miles of rough dirt roads in Nebraska and Montana and never had a lick of trouble with it. As happens with anything you tow, my average mileage did drop a bit (in this case by about two to three miles per gallon) but it was still far better than what I’d get in my truck, and for the first time I was able to match my short-bed truck’s gear-hauling ability.

It should be noted that my Subaru has a sewing-machine-sized, four-cylinder, 165-horsepower engine, and I had zero issues pulling the trailer. It had ample ground clearance on rough roads (and if you need a truly rugged off-road trailer they also make a “Highrider” model for larger trucks and SUV’s that boasts three additional inches of ground clearance and additional racks), and was very easy to back up and maneuver.

I used the Space Trailer on almost all of my hunts this season, including many local trips and one long trip to South Dakota, but I have to admit, during the three months I had it in my possession, I used the Space Trailer to haul all sorts of items, from construction supplies (it’ll easily hold 4×8 sheets of plywood) to using it as a portable storage building, so I guess Olson’s Swiss army knife analogy was a good one.

During duck season I simply left my waders and decoys and other assorted gear in the trailer all the time. When I wanted to go hunting it took just a few seconds to hitch the trailer up, and I was on my way. If I’d had a small sneak boat or kayak to duck hunt out of this season, it would have easily fit on the trailer’s racks.

If you’re in the market for a well-built, well-designed small hunting trailer that can do pretty much anything and go anywhere, I’d certainly take a long look at the Space Trailer. At $2,499, it’s not cheap, but then again it’s also not to going to fall apart on you going down the highway.