If you are towing a trailer off road, you’ll see pretty quickly that rocks get flicked up a lot, and they do a fair bit of damage in a short time. This is exactly why so many people who take caravans and campers off road often have some form of stone protection.
Even on a short gravel road, your vehicle will flick up a huge number of rocks and they will hit your trailer, and potentially do expensive damage.
Even worse, sometimes they hit your trailer and bounce back to your vehicle, and you’ll see plenty of 4WD wagons and dual cab utes using cardboard and plastic to cover their back glass, as they end up shattered all the time from stray rocks.
There’s a heap of different stone protection options, ranging from aftermarket mud guards through to stone guards on the front of caravans, rock tamers and stone stompers.
Take a look at a caravan that’s don’t a lot of gravel without a decent set of stone protection and you’ll see the chassis will be absolutely peppered with chips, including when its been really well galvanised.
Caravan and camper stone guards
Most caravans and camper trailers come with a mesh guard on the front, to stop stones flicking up. These work, but have a couple of problems.
The first is they get in the way all the time, and can even be hit when you are turning depending on the clearance you have. Beyond this though, they deflect the rocks, and often they can bounce off and hit your rear window, which results in a frustrating and expensive time.
There’s a lot of different mud flap options out there, and Rock Tamers are one of the most common.
These are essentially two large, removable mud flaps that hang off the rear of your vehicle, and are supposed to ‘tame’ any rocks that get flicked back from your 4WD wheels.
Obviously they will help, but they also have a habit of kicking up dust, and are not as effective as stone stompers.
Single piece mud flap
I’ve seen a few people make up one big mud flap that covers the entire back of their vehicle.
Again, this will work to catch the rocks, but it will kick dust up, it will hurt your fuel economy and it can actually play havoc with the cooling of your vehicle as it reduces the air flow past your rear differential and can make things cook.
The stone stomper is the best stone protection product on the market, and that’s not my opinion; its the general consensus out there.
They utilize a mesh that hangs horizontally from the rear of your vehicle to the back of the drawbar on the caravan or camper trailer. It’s on elastic bungee cords so as you corner the mesh stays taught and takes up the slack.
This prevents any rocks from hitting the front of your caravan, and it also stops any chance of rocks bouncing off the van and heading back towards your car.
These are not exactly cheap, and will wear out after many years of abuse, but you won’t find too many people that are unhappy with the way they perform.
They do a great job of keeping the dust down, and work really well.
Of course, if its muddy, or you need regular access to the rear of your 4WD there are some disadvantages, so look carefully into whether you are prepared for the cost too.
Cardboard on the rear window
If you have a window on the rear of your 4WD (and most people do), you are mad towing any trailer on a gravel road for extended periods without something protecting the rear window.
Thousands of people every year have rocks that bounce from the car to the trailer, and back to the rear window, and best case it will crack.
Worst case (like one family told us), you’ll wonder why the aircon isn’t working so well, and why things are so dusty, and then you’ll pull up at the end of the day and find out you have no rear window at all.
The fix is simple; get a couple of cardboard boxes and tape them onto your rear window, so any stray rocks cannot smash the glass!
The cost of a replacement rear window can be far more than a windscreen, and availability is also not always quick or simple!
Proper rear window protector products
You can buy a couple of products that are designed to protect your rear window, without having to tape cardboard on! Plasweld is one of the better known products, with the units costing $280 each.
Do you risk it?
Obviously, you don’t need to do anything, and a lot of people don’t. However, if you do end up with a smashed rear window the repair costs can be huge, wait times in the weeks and its a frustrating thing to go through. Cardboard is easy enough to do, and well worth it.
If you want to keep your van or camper in as good condition as possible, then a stone stomper is probably worth it, and we have always wanted one, and attempted to order twice, but its fallen short each time.
What do you do for stone protection?