When we purchased our Lifestyle Reconn R2 Hybrid Camper, it came with a number of products that we’d never used before. Of course, I’d seen the DO35 hitch around many times, but until you actually own one, its funny how you really don’t think much about it.
Our soft floor camper trailer ran a Treg hitch, and the off-road boat trailer that we also tow has one too. Asides from this, we’d had some experience with the McHitches, and that was it. I hate the Treg hitch, and would not recommend it to anyone after owning a DO35.
What is a DO35 hitch?
There are lots of ways to couple a trailer to a vehicle, and there are at least 8 different hitch types that I can think of off the top of my head. The DO35 is a Cruisemaster hitch, and they are now onto their V3, or third version. 35 stands for 3.5 tonnes, and you can get a DO45, which is rated for 4.5 tonnes.
The DO35 is a fully articulating, off road rated hitch that is easy to use, and Cruisemaster are a very reputable caravan and camper trailer suspension/off road coupling business.
Do they perform well?
Coming from the Treg hitch, I was absolutely gobsmacked at how much easier the DO35 hitch is to use. They are simple to take on and off, lock in easily, are completely silent and articulate exactly as you need them to.
They come with a neat little dust cover that clips into place, and if its locked down you know the pin has been hit and the hitch is actually secure, which double checks your hitch up process and keeps the dust out of the hitch.
The fact that these are the standard hitch on most high end off road caravans and trailers speaks volumes. They are a great hitch, and have the reputation to match it.
DO35 Hitch problems
Over two years of use, we have had ours stick a couple of times, and in every case it was due to the 4WD applying too much tension either forwards, or backwards. If this happens, you can feel the hitch isn’t releasing when you are trying to wind the jockey wheel up, and it generally lifts the tow attachment up in the tow bar.
Just jump in the car and let it roll forwards or backwards the few millimetres that it needs to, in order to relieve the pressure. Of course, make sure you don’t have too much pressure on the jockey wheel when you move the vehicle (and that its nice and clear) or it can pop up and damage something.
If you don’t relieve the sideward pressure, you apply a huge amount of stress to your jockey wheel, and risk it coming off with a bang, and damaging something. I actually bent our Ark Jockey Wheel slightly because of this, but now know when its not coming off like it should be.
This is most common when you park on a slope, and the van wants to go a different direction to the car. Our primary way of doing it today is to park on the ramps to level the van, and put the chocks in place, then release the handbrake and put the vehicle in neutral and it pulls apart enough to relieve all pressure and the hitch comes off easily.
DO35 Hitch Lock
Cruisemaster make DO35 hitch locks, which is what we use. This simply prevents someone from hooking up. It’s only a preventative measure, as anyone can still hook the chains up and drive off, or simply unbolt the hitch and replace it with something else in a matter of minutes.
If you want a cheaper DO35 lock, you can use the hitch pin locks that you secure your tow bar hitch to the vehicle with. They don’t fit as well, and would be much easier to cut off with a battery grinder, but they do the trick too.
How much is a DO35?
The DO35 hitch is about $430, and comes with the male and female pieces that you need to make it work, along with a spanner to tighten the male piece onto your tow hitch, a dust cover and the hitch itself.
You can fit them yourself pretty easily, but make sure the bolts are done up correctly.
Would I get another DO35?
In a heartbeat. I’ve seen a few other hitches on the market, and even the auto hitch ones, and I reckon for the strength, quality and design you still can’t go passed a DO35.
When you look at the major off road caravan manufacturers, along with the hybrids and camper trailers, the DO35 is probably the most common by a long shot, and that speaks volumes in itself.
Please note this opinion is completely unbiased too, as we received the product as part of our hybrid camper trailer that we purchased second hand, with our own cash.
If you are looking for a hitch upgrade, you can’t go past the DO35. It’s amazing. Our Cruisemaster DO35 Hitch review is another great big tick.
I enjoyed your article, thank you.
Would it be worth investing in the hitch for blacktop driving as a general rule, or only if doing off road towing?
Honestly, probably not. They would be quieter, and if you ever rolled your vehicle it might stop the trailer going over, or vice versa, but the benefits for on road use probably end there.
I guess that’s something I could have covered in the post!
All the best
We have a DO35 come off on rough terrain smashing into the back of the ute.
After inspection found that water and dust had managed to get into the springs which in turn stopped them working properly. After undoing the three Allan key nuts found that there was so much dust and water in there that the springs had actually rusted, so much so that the red button would not pop up fully letting the hitch actually slip freely between open and closed as per a video I showed to Cruisemaster.
Their answer was that it was not a warranty problem. I beg to differ as something that is supposedly a “world beater” all terrain hitch should not be able to bind up so as not to work due to poor springs as I replaced the springs with a much better set that will not dust.
Saying that I have now replaced it with a different hitch as I am sick and tired of people professing to be world beaters when in fact they use cheap junk. There seems to be so much of this going on in the off road campervan industry as it looks like there is no actual laws banning such things.
Sorry to hear that. Certainly not what you want to happen, and not a very good response from Cruisemaster. How old was the unit? What did you replace it with?
All the best
Hi Arron, Have a look at my invention. Hitch-Ezy automatically double locks when lowered to engagement on its unique tow-pillar. The self centering charactacteristics are superior to other couplings because the diameter of the head of our tow-pillar is substantially larger (55mm) i.e no need to be so accuarate with positioning before lowering the jockey wheel. It is fully sealed with O-rings at each potential point of contamination of the internal workings. Hitch-Ezy will always release smoothly at any angle or when there is a residual load in any direction; the occasional sticking problem you describe with your DO35 will not occur with Hitch-Ezy. Dummy pillar, alloy pillar-cover, mounting bolts and stainless steel handbrake included . Alo an arthritis aid for frail users. can be secured with a conventional padlock and you store the greasy dummy pillar in the pillar cover when you are hitched up. No need to buy a special lock that gets greasy and has no dedicated storage system. It made in Melbourne. Sorry I cannot compete on price with the DO35.
Nice work with the invention. Looks like a pretty amazing, high end piece of kit.
All the best with your endeavours!
Can you help please.
Hayman Reese (28/10/22)
In Feb we bought a New Swag V2 Kakadu Camper Trailer (https://www.swagcampertrailers.com.au/v2-kakadu-4-berth-premium-offroad-forward-fold-camper/ which is fitted with a McHitch 3.5T Coupling. Our vehicle is a 21 Isuzu D Max X Terrain Dual Cab Ute. In August we bought a Hayman Reese Heavy (275KG – 365KG Weight Distribution System (from Repco Toowoomba) to be fitted for a trip to Adelaide. The system would was not able to be fitted and we left on our holiday without the load leveller system. I have been advised by McHitch that an Adaptor Plate is required to be fitted to the head for it to work and am thinking he is referring the McHitch coupling. The problem is McHitch is in Lithgow NSW & we live in Toowoomba Qld. Do we have any other options Rgds GB
Weight distribution bars are not intended for off road use, and put immense strain on various components. I don’t like them at all. I would suggest you get your tow ball weight correct, and if you are still unhappy go back to Swag/Mchitch/Hayman Reese. I am not familiar with any adaptor plates, and have had very little to do with the McHitch (which is very different to the DO35 hitch we’ve written about).
All the best
Hi l just have brought a do35 hitch l fitted my self very easy and this is a made in australia with australian steel .the new do35 v3 plus hitch is lighter and stronger than other versions
Good to hear you are happy with it. I think V3 has been out since 2018.
I’m not actually sure where they are made, but they are a good product for sure.
All the best