Travel Trailer Weight or RV Weight

It is important to know the weight of your camper.  I’m not just talking about the gross vehicle weight which is the maximum weight of the camper plus it’s all contents, I’m talking about the dry weight (unloaded weight) and tongue weight, also known as hitch weight.  The dry weight is the actual weight of the camper when it is unloaded from supplies and all of the water is drained out.  This weight should be known when you are buying a camper to make sure that your tow vehicle is rated to pull it.  The trailer tongue weight is the amount of weight that is put onto the vehicles hitch.

Each Camper, Fifth Wheel and Travel Trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  This is the maximum weight including all supplies and passengers which the trailer can safely carry.  The manufacturer of the camper lists the GVWR on a sticker or plate somewhere on the RV. But, you must know the actual weight of the camper so you can calculate the amount of passengers and supplies you can carry and still be under the GVWR.

The manufacturer of the camper usually offers a brochure that with state the expected dry weight of your camper model but that is the average weight without options.  If your dealer has added options such as: ladder, larger propane tanks, extra battery or spare tire & carrier, your camper will actually weigh more than the average dry weight.  If your camper is new, your dealer should be able to tell you the exact weight of your camper.  When a camper is new, instead of having a title, it start with an MSO – Manufacturers Statement of Origin.  This is created when the camper is complete and given its VIN (vehicle identification number).  The MSO will have the dry weight of the camper printed on it.


If you currently own or are considering purchasing a travel trailer or fifth wheel, you will also need to know the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of the tow vehicle. That’s the maximum weight the tow vehicle can pull plus its own weight including fuel, cargo and passengers.

Ex.  Your truck weighs 7,000lbs when fully loaded (fuel, cargo & passengers).  Your truck has a GCWR of 16,000lbs.  You can safely tow a 9,000lb camper.  It doesn’t matter what the GVWR is for the camper is higher.  Just make sure that you have allowed for the camper’s dry weight plus an additional 500-1,000lbs extra for water & cargo weight.  You don’t have to load your camper to its max weight.

If you are unable to obtain the dry weight of your camper, you can always take your camper to a local scale house.  You can find them under public scale in the yellow pages.  Typically they can be found at truck stops, scrap yards and grain/feed stores.

To find all the necessary weights for a tow vehicle/trailer combination follow these simple procedures:

  • You will need to weigh the tow vehicle separate from the trailer.  Have full fuel tanks and typical passenger load aboard to get your weight.
  • When weighing the trailer, have your propane tanks full. If you will be traveling with fresh water onboard in the fresh water tank, you should also have it filled to the level at which it will be when traveling.
  • To get your hitch weight, pull onto the scale just far enough that only the tow vehicle (still with full fuel and passengers) is on the scales and get a weighing. This weight minus the tow vehicle’s weight equals the hitch weigh.
  • The tongue weight of a travel trailer the range of 10% to 12%. A fifth wheels hitch weight should be more in the range of 20% of the fifth wheel’s weight. NEVER exceed the tow vehicle’s maximum rating.
  • To get the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight, drive the tow vehicle and trailer fully onto the scale. The weight of the trailer is the GCVW minus the tow vehicle weight.

You only need to get a regular weight slip, not a certified weight slip which is most normally used by commercial truck drivers to be paid for their loads.

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES:

Trailer Hitch Classes

Trailer Towing Tips

[tags]travel trailer weight, rv weight, pop up camper weight, trailer tongue weight[/tags]

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