Originally Posted by catwoman
One of the advantages to a large trailer is the "campability". Could put a little kitchen in it, lots of gear, a motorcycle for shuttle etc.
I've pondered a trailer like GBWW's or teletoes'. You could add a small kitchen up front--RV stove/oven (they're $50 on Craigslist or from junkyards), BBQ or lpg connector for your river stove, small hand pump water sink, LED lights. Flip the front lid up, set an EZ-up over it, and you've got an instant home base for daytrips, or the party at the take-out.
Check out some of the handbuilt camper trailer forums. Teardrops 'n Tiny Travel Trailers.com Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailers • Index page
has some great builds. One could build a low-roofed bread box trailer so you could sleep inside, have a "galley/kitchen" hatch so you could cook outside--but under cover, and haul the raft on the semi-low roof. Add a roller on the back and a winch on the front, and it wouldn't be a huge problem if your raft was 4' off the ground. Less weight than a trailer that was big enough to put the inflated raft inside.
Another option would be a 1-ton Ryder/Budget/UHaul van conversion. You'd have a common big block Ford or Chevy engine and very common parts available. They have slightly better gearing than Class-C motorhomes. If you kept your kitchen and amenities small and flexible, you could load an inflated raft in a 16' box. Parking and backing would be easier than mine.
Every solution is a compromise--you just have to pick what works best for you most of the time. We do a lot of daytrips, so the UHaul works well for us when we're traveling 3-5 hours from home to do out-of-area whitewater runs. Madison, Gallatin, Yellowstone, Lochsa, Clark Fork. We take it up the North Fork and Middle Fork Flathead only if we're sleeping overnight and doing Saturday-Sunday laps. I don't use the UHaul for daytrips on those rivers. It's just not convenient.
Last winter, I put a 7-speed transmission in it from a slightly larger medium-duty truck. It dropped the cruising RPM's a good 500rpm, and my fuel economy went up about 1.5mpg loaded. I used to get 10mpg empty, no trailer; 8mpg with a trailer, and 6.5mpg hauling a 4x4 inside and another on a trailer behind me; now I can get 10mpg with the rafts behind me and almost 8mpg with two 4x4's. I don't get much better than 10.5mpg with no raft trailer behind me...at anything faster than 65mph, it's a brick pushing a wall of air, and wind resistance is a bigger fuel economy killer than engine speed.
I got the stink-eye one time backing it down the ramp at Tarkio, but I was fully on my own side of the ramp and I had my rafts loaded in far less time than the nameless commercial outfit who backed their bus down the center of the ramp and had a good ol' vaudeville time loading their 5 red rafts and a busload of custies!