ProPride 3P Trailer Hitch: A Potentially Life-Saving Investment

Lisa Fritscher October 5, 2012 No Comments

Flagstaff Travel Trailer

Our new travel trailer is long and heavy.

Dad and I spent the first seven years of our full-time RV lifestyle dumb and happy. Although my parents did as much research as they could before buying their first travel trailer, there were innumerable things that simply never came up. Brake controllers, for instance. When we began shopping for a new travel trailer in March 2012, every salesperson we met was appalled that we did not have a brake controller. This meant that we had towed the trailer for seven years without any way for the trailer brakes to engage! Luckily, we never had any incidents, even when crossing the Continental Divide. Still, going without a brake controller is not exactly a recommended activity. So when we bought our new trailer, we also invested the $150 in a good brake controller.

Our Saga

Sway Control Hitch

A traditional sway control hitch works for many vehicle combinations.

We also knew next to nothing about hitches. When my parents bought their trailer, the salesman recommended a weight distributing hitch with sway control. He sold them an Equal-i-zer, a popular midrange brand that was perfectly suited for that particular trailer and tow vehicle combination. However, our new trailer is both longer, at 31 feet, and heavier, at 7400 pounds loaded, than the old one. It is also rear-heavy, since we have opposing rear slides. Meanwhile, our tow vehicle is a Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer. It can handle the trailer, but needs a bit of help with stability. While the Equal-i-zer is a fantastic hitch, it was no longer right for our particular combination.

We upgraded to a Blue Ox, a more robust hitch with fabulous customer ratings. But for reasons that we simply could not fathom, the Blue Ox did not control our trailer sway at all. We had it readjusted several times, but eventually came to the conclusion that it simply would not work for us. It was time to take more drastic action.

Premium Hitches

ProPride 3P Hitch System

The ProPride 3P is a different kind of hitch system.

By this point, it was clear that a traditional weight distributing hitch with sway control would not meet our needs. We assumed that the length and heft of the trailer, paired with our short-wheelbase tow vehicle, required a premium option.

Designed by avid RV enthusiast and travel trailer salesman Jim Hensley, who perfected his ideas over a 40-year period before licensing the patent to a manufacturing company in 1994, the Hensley Arrow was the original sway-eliminating hitch. Rather than controlling trailer sway after it starts, the Hensley Arrow locks the trailer and tow vehicle together by projecting the pivot point forward, off the hitch ball and into the midsection of the tow vehicle. This stops the rotational movement that induces trailer sway.

Although the Hensley Arrow remains enormously popular today, we were equally intrigued by the ProPride 3P. A later design by Jim Hensley, the ProPride 3P is manufactured by the former Vice President of Hensley Mfg, Inc. The ProPride is based on the same concepts as the Hensley Arrow, but the design is slightly different.

Both hitches are similarly priced at around $2400, although Hensley sometimes has less-expensive remanufactured units available. With such an investment at stake, we went back and forth between the two hitches, gathering information and opinions online before making a final decision. Ultimately, we chose the ProPride due to personal preferences as well as the incredible accessibility and helpfulness of the company owner, Sean Woodruff. Nonetheless, we truly believe that the Hensley product is equally worthy.

Ordering a ProPride 3P

Neither the Hensley Arrow nor the ProPride 3P is sold through dealers. Both hitches are designed for self-installation, and are sold only through their respective manufacturers. When we made the decision to order the ProPride, we called Sean, who walked us through the process of placing our order on the ProPride company website. Besides the hitch kit, we ordered extensions for our trailer chains and 7-pin electrical cord. Although they may not be necessary for all trailer-tow vehicle combinations, the extensions are often required because the hitch adds an extra foot in length between the tow vehicle and the trailer.

At the time of our order, the manufacturing process was a bit backed up, so Sean advised us to allow three weeks. The website allowed us to monitor the status of our order, and Sean was always available by cell phone for more personalized information. As it turned out, he was actually able to ship out our hitch less than two weeks after we placed the order.

About the ProPride 3P

ProPride 3P Hitch Package

We don’t look like every other vehicle going down the road!

Because Dad has a very bad back and we do not carry much of a tool chest, we were reluctant to install the hitch ourselves, so we arranged for our selling dealer to perform the installation. When we arrived at the dealership on installation day, we were very glad that we had! The system is massive, weighing in at over 200 pounds altogether. Of course, it is shipped in sections and those who are comfortable putting together mechanical devices should have no real problems. For us, however, it was well worth the few hundred dollars charged by our dealer.

The major components of the ProPride 3P are the stinger, the hitch box, the yoke, the weight distribution bars and the weight-distribution jacks. I was extremely confused at first, as are most people who are new to this type of hitch, so let’s break it down a bit.

The stinger is the metal piece that fits into the hitch receiver on the tow vehicle. It looks similar to the draw bar on a traditional trailer hitch, only there is no ball at the end. Instead, the stinger slides into the center of the hitch box. The stinger is the only piece of the setup that is not permanently installed on the trailer’s A-frame. It is easy to remove when not in use, and is fully adjustable to fit a wide range of tow vehicle-trailer combinations.

The hitch box is the main central unit of the ProPride. The box has a ball that locks onto the trailer’s coupler, preventing any possibility for rotation. The stinger slides in and is locked in place with two latches. The entire system is secured at the hitch box.

The yoke is a metal frame that fits securely underneath the trailer’s A-frame. In tandem with the hitch box, it ensures that the trailer stays steady and sway-free.

The weight distribution bars are available in multiple sizes from 600 pounds to 1400 pounds, depending on the trailer’s tongue weight. However, we strongly suggest that you discuss your particular setup with Sean before ordering bars. Although our tongue weight is only around 800 pounds loaded, he recommended the 1400 pound bars for our setup. The weight distribution bars are permanently attached to the trailer’s A-frame, making it much easier to hitch and unhitch from the tow vehicle.

The weight distribution jacks control the adjustment of the weight distribution bars. Unlike traditional weight distribution and sway control systems, the ProPride 3P is infinitely adjustable, allowing us to dial in our preferred setting. A power drill makes raising and lowering the jacks easier, but a manual wrench is provided with the hitch.

Our Experience

ProPride 3P Hitch Components

The main components of the ProPride 3P are easy to see here.

It took our dealer the better part of an afternoon to install the hitch. Wonderfully detailed step-by-step instructions are included, and Sean is just a phone call away. We watched the installation process, and it looked relatively straightforward. A competent handyman with a tool chest and a strong back could easily install it in less than a day.

There is a slight learning curve to hitching up the trailer. The stinger-hitch box coupling is sort of like docking at the space station! But we got the hang of it fairly quickly, thanks to a range of YouTube videos that demonstrate the process step by step.

We could feel the difference in towing as soon as we hitched up. Where before, we couldn’t go much above 35 mph on a day with no wind, the ProPride allowed us to go 55-60 mph in moderately strong gusts. Although we could still feel the push of a passing semi-truck, the ProPride turned a previously terrifying situation into a gentle and easy to correct non-event.

Yet the ProPride seemed to unmask another problem, one we hadn’t noticed with the other hitches, while we were busy trying to stay on the road. Whenever we hit the brakes, the trailer lurched to the right side. A trip to Camping World revealed that the trailer brakes were stuck on that side, and that issue was corrected under our trailer warranty. Nonetheless, the trailer continued to pull to the right on stopping.

Trailer Alignment

After ruling out any problems with the tow vehicle alignment or the hitch, we had Camping World perform a laser alignment on the trailer, which revealed the true source of our troubles. Due to a manufacturing defect, our trailer is badly out of alignment! That issue caused the unstoppable sway with the other hitches, and was now causing the pull to the right.

We genuinely believe that the ProPride 3P saved our lives. Its ability to lock the trailer and the tow vehicle together compensated for the alignment issue, preventing sway from developing. Instead, it gave us a gentle hint that something was not right by allowing the pull to the right to occur during braking.

Our Impressions

The Internet is filled with loyal fans of both Hensley and ProPride who claim that their hitches saved their lives during emergency situations. Until we developed our own issue, however, I largely took such claims with a grain of salt. After all, how often are we in an emergency situation, right? But now I realize that emergencies can arise anywhere, at any time. You never know when it will be your turn for something weird to happen with your trailer.

Even in a day-to-day, non-emergency situation, I do believe that the ProPride (and probably the Hensley as well) provides a safer and more comfortable tow than a traditional hitch does. We had a traditional system on our previous trailer and it worked fine. I was rarely particularly scared. Yet I know that I would have been more confident overall with a premium hitch. Unexpected situations are a way of life on the road, and I try to minimize the impact that they will have on our lives.

Do you need a ProPride 3P? Not necessarily. If your tow vehicle and trailer are well-matched, a variety of mid-range hitches will likely meet your needs. If you have the extra funds, however, a ProPride hitch provides additional safety, comfort and peace of mind. As someone on the RV forums once said, “You have a $30,000 tow vehicle and a $25,000 trailer. Is $2,500 really too much to spend on holding them together?” Ultimately, that is a question that only you can answer for your family.

Related Articles:

RV Shopping: Weights and Measures
RV Shopping: Weight Distribution and Sway Control
RV Shopping: Getting the Best Deal
RV Shopping: Meeting Your Family’s Needs

avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

Tags: Tips and Hints

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.