Driving in the winter is nerve-racking enough all on its own, especially when snow and ice start to build up and you see vehicles slipping and sliding all over the place.
But attach a travel trailer to your vehicle and then try to drive through snowy, icy, wintry conditions and not at all uncommon for that stress and anxiety to get ratcheted up a couple of extra levels.
Travel trailers generally aren’t really designed to work the way that four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicles do. They aren’t going to help you plow through the snow, they aren’t going to bite into the ice, and they generally aren’t going to do anything but slip and slide around – hopefully in the right direction, the direction that your vehicle is pulling the trailer in.
Thankfully though, with a simple upgrade – snow chains designed for travel trailers – you’re able to enjoy a lot more traction.
You’ll feel a lot more confident driving on roads that have a bit of snow and a device on them with a travel trailer attached to the back of your vehicle thanks to the bite that these chains provide.
If you’ve never purchased or used travel trailer snow chains in the past, though, it’s not hard to feel a little bit overwhelmed by all the options out there. That’s why we have put together this detailed guide.
By the time you are done with the inside information we highlight below you’ll know exactly have to do to not only find the best travel trailer snow chains on the market today but also install them correctly, take advantage of the benefits that they provide, and avoid installation errors and mistakes that render even the best snow chains useless more often than not.
Now that we have that out of the way, though, let’s dig right in to finding you the best snow chains for your travel trailer!
Table of Contents
Why You’d Want to Use Travel Trailer Snow Chains in the First Place
There is one thing that we want to highlight before we jump right in, though, and that’s the fact that not all towns, cities, and municipalities are going to be comfortable with you driving around with snow chains attached to any of your tires – travel trailer, truck, or SUV.
This is definitely something you’ll want to look into before you drop any money on quality chains, especially if you are planning on driving your travel trailer all over the place during the winter (particularly on interstate roads and highways).
As we highlighted above, your travel trailer isn’t going to have any “drive wheels” that are powered and capable of pushing through snow or safely navigating icy roads.
The wheels on your travel trailer are “dead”, and that they are only ever supposed to move when the trailer is being pushed or pulled around by your vehicle.
This is perfectly fine when you have a vehicle capable of safely towing your trailer on the highways and byways you want to navigate, but as soon as you start to talk about heading off-road or introduce wet, snowy, and icy road conditions you’re looking at an entirely different animal altogether.
All of a sudden that travel trailer that was perfectly lined up and following your vehicle with every twist and every turn is slipping and sliding all over the place on its own, sometimes in different directions than where you want your vehicle to go.
Because the trailer is attached (because it usually is pretty heavy) it doesn’t take a whole lot of this counter activity in the back to throw your vehicle around the road – especially when your vehicle is having to navigate wet, snowy, and icy roads itself!
By adding quality travel trailer snow chains you’re able to immediately upgrade the tread and the traction capabilities of these tires. They aren’t going to be powered the way that four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle wheels are, but they are going to bite a lot more consistently into the road (through ice and snow) and avoid a lot of the slipping and sliding around that would have happened otherwise.
Related reading: Do Travel Trailers Need Snow Chains? – Best Advice
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can tackle roads that haven’t been plowed at all after a big storm (you still have to get through all that snow), but it does mean that a couple of inches of white powder, freezing rain, or legitimate ice aren’t going to have you white knuckling your drive every inch of the way any longer.
The traction benefits of these chains are game changing and that’s why you’ll want to take advantage of these accessories in the first place.
I have chains for both axles of my truck and one axle of the trailer. But when I travel in the snow, conditions can change quickly so be prepared. I use these link chains on my truck and the cable chains on the trailer.
? Purchase: You can purchase these tire snow chains today! Just follow the links to Amazon where you can see current pricing.
How to Find the Right Travel Trailer Snow Chains
Now that you better understand why you want to buy travel trailer snow chains to begin with it’s important to go into how to find the right chains for the tires you have attached to your trailer.
Know Your Tire Sizes First
The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out the size of the tires that you are looking to protect with chains.
If you still have an owners or operations manual for your travel trailer you’ll likely find details regarding trailer size in them somewhere, but if you’ve purchased a secondhand or previously owned trailer the odds are good that you not only don’t have that manual but that the tires themselves have been replaced (by you or a previous owner) and may not be the same size a longer.
Related reading: LT vs. ST Tires for Travel Trailers: What Works Better?
Thankfully though, tires universally have size information and other data printed directly on them – pretty prominently, right on the outside of the tire itself. Tire sizes are molded into the sidewall of tires for easy identification, but if you’re having a tough time finding the size of your specific tires you can always look up the model number (or any other identifying details, including brand-name) on the internet to figure out exactly what size tire you are working with.
The next piece of the puzzle here when it comes to tire size is figuring out whether you have SAE Class S, Class U, or Class W clearances that you are working with. These clearances will help you find tire chains that are a perfect fit straight out of the box, and it’s well worth looking up this data directly from the manufacturer of the tires you have attached your trailer.
Choosing a Link Type
Now you want to figure out the best Link type forward with for your tire chains. There are a bunch of different types and patterns that you can pick and choose from, but we highlight some of the most important ones below.
Think about the road conditions you expect to face and choose a link pattern that makes the most sense for those situations.
Square links have fantastic traction snow and great grip capabilities on the ice, though they will produce a bit of a bumpy ride compared to some of the more rounded over options on the market right now.
D links offer many of the same benefits that square links provide but with a slightly rounded over edge that produces a smoother ride, offering the best of all worlds most of the time.
If you expect that you’re going to have to go through really deep snow or mud, and won’t see too terribly much ice, twist links are the way to go. They don’t have the same bite on ice that the two options above have, but they’ll still help you get across slippery roads pretty well all the same.
If you’re going to be dealing with really light snow (powder or dustings) but still don’t want to run the risk of slipping and sliding all over the place that is a good idea to look for roller links that are really just steel pieces wrapped around a cable system. They don’t have really any bite on ice, but the ride that you’ll get out of these is very comfortable.
Choosing a Tire Chain Pattern
After selecting the type of link form you want to go with it’s a good idea to start looking at the actual chain pattern that’s going to wrap around your individual tires.
Ladder Pattern Tire Chains
This is the pattern that most people think about when they think of travel trailer snow chains, a pretty stereo typical ladder pattern that crosses your chains horizontally over the tread to provide a lot of grip and great stopping power when you’re moving forwards or backwards.
Diamond Pattern Tire Chains
Diamond patterns are used by folks that want to have nearly full coverage for their tires without having to fill pretty much every space of rubber with a chain. The chains crisscross vertically and diagonally, improve traction and stopping power when moving forward and during turns, and are especially useful when you are in deeper snow or on ice.
How To Fit Diamond Pattern Snow Chains >> Check out the video below:
Diagonal Cable Tire Chains
If you be dealing with a lot of twists and turns (like on backcountry mountain roads, for example) you’ll want to consider going with a diagonal pattern or a diagonal V pattern for your chains. These patterns provide great traction and stopping power moving forward and in reverse but also offer a bit of side to side traction as well.
Important Things to Look For When Buying Snow Chains
Different travel trailer snow chain manufacturers are going to implement different kinds of features and different kinds of options into their chains, many of which can dramatically improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the chains themselves compared to “chain only” options.
At the same time, some features are more marketing than anything else and not at all that useful when the rubber meets the road (no pun intended) which is why we’ve highlighted the most impactful and beneficial things to look for when buying snow chains below.
Some of the highest end tire chain options money can buy are going to have systems built right into them that automatically tighten up and self-reliant when you drive around.
You’ll obviously want to double check that this system is working the way it was intended to on a regular basis periodically through your drive, but there’s a lot of confidence and a sort of “hands-off” approach to taking advantage of these kinds of chains.
A less expensive alternative to 100% automatic adjustment chains are assisted adjustment chains, solutions that use integrated cams, pulls, and other tensioning system that allow you to get a more custom and secure fit with a little bit of help than having to do everything on your own.
These chains aren’t going to self adjust on the fly the way that the automatic adjusting options will, but they do make quick work of locking in your chains so that you get a tight fit that you know you are going to be able to trust. They are also a lot easier to pop off quickly, too, when you are done using these chains.
Quick Release Mechanisms
Even a lot of quality manual adjustment chains include quick release mechanisms that let you make quick work of popping chains off of your tires after you have tightened them down and really securely fit them to your travel trailer.
Usually this mechanism is located in a single spot on the chain pattern (sometimes just a quick release pull, other times a locking lever) but sometimes you’ll have to press a couple of buttons or pull a couple of levers to get everything to pop loose.
This is a must-have kind of feature, though. Nobody wants to have to fiddle with tire chains any longer than absolutely necessary, especially when the weather starts to warm up and you no longer have need for these traction accessories.
Anytime you’re talking about metal products that are going to be coming into contact with ice and snow (frozen or freezing water) and the salt and chemicals road crews throw down to clear this stuff away the potential for rust and corrosion shoots through the roof.
Double verify that the tire chains you are purchasing for your travel trailer are protected with a durable coating material that has a reputation for standing up to these kinds of chemicals and road salt, but also a coating that isn’t going to chip away or tear off as you drive down the road.
Rim protection features help to keep these tires from banging into and beating up your travel trailer wheels, destroying the way they look and even potentially compromising the structural integrity of those wheels as soon as you pop these chains off.
This is a bit of a nicety to have as opposed to a necessity, but if you want to keep your travel trailer looking just as good as brand-new it’s not a bad idea to spring for these kinds of protective elements.
If the roads that you are going to be traveling are particularly icy it might not be a bad idea to get your hands on chains that have built-in icebreakers or ice spikes.
These features are designed to look like little studs or little cleats that are built right into the chain pattern itself, providing even more bite and even more grip than what you were going to get out of chains alone. Some localities and municipalities have banned or outlawed these kinds of icebreaking features, though, so that’s definitely something to double check on before you drop any extra money on this kind of feature.
Installing Chains on Your Travel Trailer
Finally we’ve come to installing the snow chains on your travel trailer – a process that looks pretty simple and straightforward on the surface, but often times is a lot more complex or a lot more difficult to pull off than folks expect.
You’ve probably seen a lot of people simply throw their tire chains down in front of the tires that they want to wrap before pulling the trailer forward and driving over them – but that’s precisely the LAST thing that you’re going to want to do if you want to speed this process up and avoid tangles, headache, and hassle.
It is instead a whole lot easier to first drape the chains that you are putting on your travel trailer tires over the top of the wheels themselves, allowing the forward side of the chains to drape down and hit the ground in front of where your tire is going to be when you pull forward.
You’ll now want to grab that extra chain material and pull it under the front of these wheels as much as you can. Jump into the vehicle that you are telling your travel trailer with, pull forward just a little bit (maybe only a couple of feet), and then popout to connect the loose ends of the chains around your tire.
8 Steps to Installing Winter Tire Chains >> Check out the video below:
After you have connected the entirety of the chain engagement system you’ll want to go through the tightening process if you have a manual or assisted adjustment chains setup. Even automatic chains usually have adjustments you’ll need to make straightaway before the automatic capabilities kick in while you’re driving, and you’ll want to tackle that right now.
After getting everything fit the way you want it to it’s important to drive a couple of hundred feet down the road (or in the back section of a parking lot) so that you can pop out of the vehicle and double check how everything is working.
Far too many people tighten things down one time or rely on the assisted and automatic setup to do everything for them, never double checking until they find themselves slipping and sliding all over the road a mile or two down the line – all because their tire chains popped off and are now gone forever!
It’s always a good idea to double check and verify that you are good to go, especially before you head out on a trip across a pretty nasty road conditions.
And there you have it, the ultimate guide that covers pretty much everything you’ll ever need to know about travel trailer snow chains.
As long as you zero in on the elements we highlighted above (understanding what chains do, how they work, how to find the right sizes, and what features to focus on) you really shouldn’t have all that much trouble getting your hands on the best set your trailer.
It really all comes down to thinking about the types of roads you’re going to be going across, the kind of weather you expect or anticipate running into most often, and finding chains that are going to suit those needs (and your budget) as best they can.
Be sure to do your research and due diligence about specific chain manufacturers and even chain models. You need to know that you are getting something reliable, something durable, and something that has a proven track record of keeping people safe when road conditions are less than ideal.
Lastly, we just want to remind you that not all localities and municipalities are going to look favorably on your travel trailer wrapped up in chains. If you’re just driving through that may not be an issue, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to look into all the same just to avoid getting stopped and dealing with all that headache and hassle.
You’ll also want to understand that these chains are going to add a lot of traction and a lot of stability to your travel trailer in less than perfect conditions but it isn’t like you are giving your travel trailer four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
Understand the limitations of hugely important and effective solutions and you won’t find yourself in over your head trying to go across roads that really are impassable – tire chains or not!
Keep these details in mind and you won’t have anything to worry about when it starts to snow or the roads start to freeze.
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