If you have the right equipment towing a trailer can be an easy and enjoyable adventure. Have bad equipment and it can be dangerous and a night mare. If you tow a car, camper, boat, or tool trailer, I know there is one experience you don’t like; hooking up the trailer to the hitch.
You basically have two options and I have done both. First, if you are by yourself, you wear the seat of you tow vehicle out by jumping in and out to see how close the ball of the hitch is to the trailer and if it is lined up correctly. Once you get it close you start pushing or tugging on the trailer to get it the last inch or so to match up with the receiver.
Second, if you have someone with you; they stand by the trailer and make hand signals or yell directions to you. If you are real high tech you may have walki-talkies to help with the shouting. Usually, this results in screaming and statements like, “No, your other left!”
As entertaining as this might be for those of you with a sick sense of humor, I just discovered something that promises to stop all this. I love electronic gadgets, most men do. I just came across the Swift Hitch. It is a portable back-up camera and viewer.
It is has two parts. The first is a very small camera that has a magnetic base which can be mounted on any metal surface. The second is a hand held viewer with a color 2.5 inch LCD screen. The camera even has seven infrared lights for use at night.
Since our tailgate is plastic we also obtained the tripod suction cup mount. It worked perfect and made backing up to the hitch extremely simple. Keep in mind you still have to get close with the rear view mirror but that isn’t too difficult.
We tested this product briefly as soon as we opened the box and charged the two units. It only took 2.5 hours for a full charge on both. While the two units were charging we immediately started thinking about what other uses we might have around the shop for the camera. Here are just a few ideas we came up with. We tested some and will be trying others over time. You will get a full, honest opinion of each we try.
- Ever wish you had an eyeball on the end of your finger? Stop laughing! What about those times when you can get your hand into a place where you can’t see and you are feeling around for a lost nut or a missing screw? Take the camera off its base and stick it in there and look around.
- Can’t get down to see something down under the shelves? Use the camera just like you would a mirror with a light built into it.
- Mount it on the trailer when you are backing up and you can’t see your blind side (backing up and turning to driver’s side, place the camera on the back passenger side).
- Can’t see the loading dock from the driver’s seat? Place the camera on the back of the trailer, no problem now.
- Want to see what the animals are up to in your trailer while you are on the road. If the trip is less than 3 hours, just mount the camera back inside the trailer and watch the little critters as you travel. For trips over 3 hours you will need to hard wire a charger to the camera but that isn’t a big deal.
Do you have suggestions? Send them to us and we will give them a try if we can.
These are all good ideas but is the Swift Hitch up to the challenge of hooking up to a trailer in 3 easy steps? YES!
When we first got the unit and discovered our tailgate was plastic and the magnetic mount would not work for the camera we were really bummed out. We tried a lot of alternatives but nothing worked satisfactorily. The next step was to call the company and complain. They listened and then simply said you need our suction coup mount, we will send one out. I can’t believe the difference. I mounted the suction cup, put the camera to the mounting plate and presto, everything as it should be. Now, I had been frustrated trying to hook up the trailer tying to do it without properly mounting the camera and it was not a good experience but as soon as I mounted the camera correctly on my tailgate it was a breeze. Please remember though you still must use your mirrors or a buddy to get you within range of the camera. A couple of pictures are provided to demonstrate exactly what you are going to see in the viewer.
This is what you see when you are getting close to the trailer. A swing to the right or to the left and you are right on target.
Here is the image on our FIRST try; the hitch ball is directly under the trailer.
The camera is approximately 3.5” long and 1” square. It is small. The case is metal and very sturdy. The dimensions do not include the mounting base. The base can be quickly and easily removed for hand held operations where space is limited and a mount is not required. The viewer is plastic and hand held. It measures approximately 3”x5” and is 1” thick.
The camera is on the left, an iPhone in the middle and the viewer on the right. The carry bags are also shown. Not shown is the suction cup optional mounting bracket.
Both units are very basic with only on and off switches. However, the switch on the viewer doubles as a switch for the Mirror View or Normal View. Hold the button down and it turns on or off. With the unit on hit the button briefly and it switches between Mirror and Normal view.
This Mirror or “reverse image” feature on the viewer is actually very important and helpful. If you have trouble looking forward and backing up and knowing which way to turn the wheel this feature may come in handy or may just confuse you even more. Basically, what it does is make the viewer image match that of the rear view mirror. That is, if you look into your rear view mirror as you back towards the trailer and then look down at the camera viewer for that final approach you will be looking at “a mirror image” on the screen.
The night vision has a 15’ range and the camera/viewer has an estimated 300’ range. This will allow you to keep a watch over your car at a show while you are out looking at other cool rides or watching over your open trailer while you are having a meal at a restaurant on the trip home. Remember though that the batteries have only approximately a 4 hour life span between charges.
The package comes with two soft little bags to carry the camera and viewer in. The battery charger is a dual 12 volt cigarette charger so both units can be charged simultaneously.
USING IT: At this time we will not elaborate on the non-intended uses we dreamed up. As for helping us hook up the trailer without jumping in and out of the truck? One word….TERRIFIC. THIS IS ONE TOY THAT REALLY WORKS AND EARNS ITS KEEP. You will likely not want to spend the money for this if you only use your trailer once a year or so (why do you have a trailer you only use once a year?) but if you are regularly hooking, up this is the way to go. If you use different vehicles to tow with like we do, the non-permanent mount is perfect. You can use it on anything you have and even lend it to a buddy when he wants to tow. We have used it around the garage and found it very helpful. We used the camera to look inside a fender well to see where a light socket was disconnected on one of the cars. This little aid prevented us from having to remove a tire. We also stuck it over a radiator on our tractor when we couldn’t get our head in a location to see if it was low on fluid. Worked great. We will add other uses in this location as we try them.
Suggested retail is approximately $300.
We have had the unit for a while now and highly recommend it. It accomplishes the task it was designed for; is fun to play with (use your imagination) and is reasonably priced for a high tech gadget.