We've all seen the funny pictures of boats being towed in the backs of pickup trucks or on top of flat bed trailers. And I'll preface this by saying I'm not an auto mechanic or engineer. Nor am I a student of all the latest gizmos and gadgets on today's more passenger friendly tow vehicles for towing boats. I'm just an avid angler who has been towing a boat for 2 decades and had the good fortune to talk to a lot of professionals who have towed boats for many more decades than that.
In talking with several guys a couple years back I started my search for my next tow vehicle. I wanted to know what was important to them in terms of having a good long lasting tow vehicle that got the job done and was also a good ride when not towing a boat. From their I compiled a list of features that were important to me in my next tow vehicle.
The following is what I came up with for the conveniences and necessities of a good tow vehicle for towing my boat:
- Enough power
- Tow package
- Good suspension
- Powerful brakes
- Backup camera
- Good audio system
- Hands free system
Several great trucks were on the market a couple years ago and there continue to be great improvements in tow vehicles every year. But I started limiting my search by brand pretty early. I'm somewhat loyal to companies that support fishing. So that pretty much put Toyota and Chevy at the top of my list, while I did check out the others brands as well.
In the end I found a Toyota Tundra that met all my prerequisites, and I couldn't be happier with the choice. Several things have made my choice the best tow vehicle I've owned to date and I think they should be considered when buying a new tow vehicle.
Necessities of Tow Vehicle
First, I really love the power and ride it has pulling my Ranger Boats Z520 with 250 Evinrude. That's a lot of weight to shuck around, stopping and starting around town and on the way to the ramp every week. You want a truck that has enough "oomph" to go when you need it and enough stopping power to keep you safe even when others are not.
The truck came equipped with a tow package, heavy duty brakes and a V8 engine. It pulls the boat up and down hills with ease and I always feel in control of the boat when I'm driving. The tow package had a class IV hitch receiver and jacks for both flat 4-wire connectors and round 7-wire connectors as well as places to attach your chains.
The truck never gets too hot when towing, even hundreds of miles with the boat. The cooling system and all of the engine was suped up to be able to handle the extra load. And I don't feel like my boat is pulling me around and hopping me up and down over bumps like some of my past tow vehicles did. The suspension is good on this truck and it makes pulling a boat seemingly effortless.
Necessary luxuries in my opinion
The backup camera makes it easy to back right up to your hitch in one try, as well as backing the trailer down the ramp into the right depth of water for trailering my boat at the end of the day. It's an amazing convenience you don't realize you use so much until you don't have it.
I travel a lot covering fishing tournaments and other events and I also fish a lot of lakes each year throughout the Midwest and south. Long road trips go a lot better with modern technology like hands free Bluetooth connectivity to my iPhone. Not only can I listen to my favorite music or comedy recordings on long trips but I can carry on hands free calls with a touch of my steering wheel. I even have certain regular contacts voice activated to call just by speaking their name. I can adjust the channel, song, volume and even my call volume without ever taking my hands off the wheel.
I also have the sliding rear back glass. That's a nice convenience to have when you're trailering with a buddy and need to converse while loading a boat.
And I love the roominess of the interior. I've traveled long distances with four big guys and we all rode comfortably to our destination with the boat in tow. The huge middle compartment is big enough to hold a laptop and camera gear, the dual glove compartments give you added storage as well as several small compartments overhead and on the doors for sunglasses, medications, knives, or whatever necessities you need in your vehicle at all times.
The rear cargo light makes launching and loading in the dark a lot nicer too. Some consider these luxuries but I consider them necessities if you travel a lot.
Jason upgraded his tires to General Tire Grabbers and his rims to ATX Artillery.
Upgrades for look and feel
One thing I did for my own personal enjoyment was add rims and rugged tires to my Tundra. I wanted a bit smoother, softer ride that I thought I could get from larger and wider tires. So I ended up installing General Tire **** and ATX Artillery 20-inch Rims. The tires and rims are a bit wider than my stock tires and I was very pleased with not just the look of the truck but more importantly the ride. These General Tires look like rugged off-road trail burners but they have a noise dampening quality that makes them a great ride for everyday use too. The rims are basically no maintenance. I get them a little dirty, I just spray them off and I'm good to go. That's what an outdoorsman wants. You don't want rims you have to continually clean to keep looking great.
One of the biggest selling points on my truck was also the 2-year free maintenance I got when I purchased my Tundra. You only get your oil changed every 5,000 miles on this truck which is nice to begin with, but my dealer changed it for me free of charge for the first 5 oil changes! Thus far the truck has only been to the dealership 5 times and that was for routine oil changes. You have to love a truck that is low to no maintenance.
Overall, I, like all the other Tundra anglers I've spoke with, am very pleased with my purchase after two years of traveling everywhere from Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Illinois and beyond and towing a boat to lakes like Guntersville, Table Rock, Dardanelle, Kentucky Lake, Dale Hollow and more.
The truck looks and feels new after two years. It rides like new after two years. And most importantly it tows like new after two years. That's all an avid angler can ask for in a tow vehicle for towing boats.
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