Travel trailers vary in their weights, and because of this, they have different capacities and purposes.
Before going on an adventure with your travel trailer, you need to know the weight to ensure it's within its construction limits. It's important you understand how to weigh a travel trailer especially if you are always on the road.
The weight of your travel trailer depends on a lot of factors, and this article will help you figure out the best way to determine your travel trailer's weight.
Why Do You Need to Know Your Travel Trailer Weight?
Do you realize that purchasing a travel trailer above the capacity of your towing vehicle, might damage your tow vehicle? And what's worse, even cause serious accidents to yourself and those on the road with you.
The major reason why you should know the weight of the trailer you are driving is "SAFETY". When you exceed the weight limit of your trailer, you are allocating extra weight to the frame, tires and axles.
Knowing your trailer weight means you'll be more aware of its cargo carrying capacity to prevent reaching the maximum weight; plus you won't have to exceed the maximum towing capacity of your tow vehicle.
Keep in mind that your trailer will weigh differently when it's empty and when it's fully loaded. So, if you are certain of your trailer's weight, you can determine what the weight distribution hitch should be.
What Affects the Weight of the Travel Trailer?
Generally, many things can cause a significant effect on the total weight of travel trailers. Let's look at a few;
Naturally, the size of a travel trailer is the major factor that determines its weight. A small camper trailer will obviously weigh less than a bigger trailer with intricate floorplans. The length of the trailer will also affect its weight; a 17-foot trailer will weigh more than a 13-foot.
There are different types of travel trailers; there's the teardrop camper, toy hauler, fifth wheel trailers, and classic travel trailers. The designs of these travel trailers have a huge impact on overall weight.
Rv manufacturers use different materials in building a trailer, so construction type affects the weight of a travel trailer.
Travel trailers built with fibreglass construction usually feature smooth exterior side walls. These trailers have aluminum metal structuring making them lightweight, compared to stick-built trailers that are built with aluminum corrugated siding on the inside.
Features and Amenities
Travel trailers with many amenities such as refrigerators, air conditioning, sinks, slide-outs, and a fully equipped kitchen, will weigh significantly more than teardrop trailers with a small sleeping capacity and kitchen.
The weight of a travel trailer can vary greatly based on its standard features.
Water and Liquids
Water tanks add over 400 pounds to the weight of the trailer. For instance, if your travel trailer has a 50-gallon fresh water tank, filling it up will mean an extra water weight of 500 pounds to the actual weight of your trailer.
Travel trailers with inbuilt generators are heavier than the variants without. Additionally, the size of the generator will affect the weight of the trailer. So, if you are interested in purchasing a lightweight travel trailer, consider the generator size as well.
Camping gear, food, and other basic accessories needed for convenience will add to the trailer's weight.
Slide-outs add more weight to that of your trailer; however motorized slide-outs are known to have insignificant differences in the weight of a trailer. Or, you can consider pop ups, as they are lightweight.
Understanding the Travel Trailer Weight Terminology and What They Mean?
The terminologies used in determining the total weight of a trailer can be confusing if you don't have prior knowledge. So, let's help you figure things out faster.
Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)
This is the actual weight of a travel trailer when it's parked at the dealer's shop with no water in the propane tanks, no batteries installed, and no water in the holding tanks.
There's a difference between the final towing weight and the unloaded weight; because as soon as you pull the trailer from the dealership, its weight increases because of all the things already packed inside.
Also, note that unloaded weight is also referred to as dry weight, empty weight, or curb weight. To get the exact dry weight of your camper, you need to unload everything inside, including the full tanks and batteries because they all add so much weight to your trailer's weight.
Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
The CCC of a trailer is the maximum cargo weight you can carry in your trailer. The cargo weight includes a full propane tank, water tanks, and any other minor equipment the dealer adds after they purchase the trailer from the manufacturers.
Most trailers come with very low cargo capacity, and when you factor in all the above mentioned, you'll have only a few weights left before reaching or exceeding the gross vehicle weight rating of your trailer.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
The gross vehicle weight rating of a trailer is the maximum weight the trailer weighs when it's fully loaded. The GVWR indicates what a loaded trailer should weigh according to the manufacturer.
To get the weight of the trailer;
Dry Weight + Cargo Carrying Capacity = GVWR
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
The GAWR is the combined weight of each trailer axle, and the maximum load the axle of the trailer can support. For instance, if your travel trailer has two axles weighing 3,000 pounds each, then the GAWR is 6,000 pounds.
Tongue weight also referred to as the dry hitch weight is the total amount of trailer weight that's transferred to your tow vehicle through the trailer's tongue.
Knowing the tongue weight is what makes the difference between a safe and dangerous towing journey. If there's not enough weight on your trailer's tongue, it'll be unbalanced and sway from side to side. The right tongue weight is usually 10 - 15% of the total loaded trailer weight.
This is the total weight capacity of your travel trailer. It's the maximum amount of weight you can add to the cargo area of your trailer in addition to its dry weight.
The axle ratio is the number of revolutions the driveshaft makes to spin the axle one complete turn.
So, if your travel trailer comes with an axle ratio of 4:35:1, it means the driveshaft turns 4.35 times for one full spin.
Hitch Weight Rating
The hitch weight is the amount of weight the travel trailer's tongue places on the hitch it's mounted to. If you are buying a camper trailer, know the camper weight and the towing capabilities of the tow vehicle.
Typically, your tow vehicle will have a maximum tow weight and maximum hitch weight rating.
Net Carrying Capacity (NCC)
The NCC of your trailer is the weight of all your personal belongings included in the trailer. The NCC is calculated by subtracting the unloaded trailer weight from the gross vehicle weight rating.
Sleeping Capacity Weight Rating (SCWR)
The SCWR is the manufacturer's designated number of sleeping positions multiplied by 70 kg (154 lbs). In essence, this means that the SCWR os 154 pounds times the number of passengers carried.
Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
The gross combination weight rating is the maximum allowable weight of both the loaded tow vehicle and the loaded trailer.
The GCWR can be calculated by;
Gross Vehicle Weight + Gross Trailer Weight/Loaded Trailer Weight
How Much Do Travel Trailers Weigh on Average?
On average, travel trailer weighs about 1000 - 8500 lbs, but you should know that the weight of a trailer varies greatly based on length, size, and other factors.
Travel Trailer Weight Variation Based on Length
Here's a camper weight chart showing the different average weights for travel trailers based on their total length.
Travel Trailer Length Average Weight
10 - 12 feet 1200 - 1400 lbs
13 - 15 feet 1500 - 1800 lbs
16 - 18 feet 2200 - 2400 lbs
19 - 21 feet 2600 - 2900 lbs
22 - 24 feet 3000 - 3600 lbs
25 - 27 feet 3700 - 4200 lbs
28 - 30 feet 4300 - 4900 lbs
31 - 33 feet 5000 - 5900 lbs
34 - 38 feet 6000 - 8500 lbs
Average Trailer Weights of Popular Types and Models
The type of your trailer will determine the average weight;
Small Travel Trailer
Small trailers usually have a dry weight of 1,100 pounds to 3,500 pounds, and a gross weight of 2,000 pounds to 6,000 pounds. Knowing what a travel trailer weigh helps determine what type of travel trailer the tow vehicle can tow.
Small campers have a small cargo capacity of about 800 pounds, and depending on the model, you might be lucky to find one that can carry up to 1300 pounds.
Popular models of small travel trailers include;
HQ12 BLACKSERIES Trailer- 3,962 lbs - 19 ft https://www.blackseries.net/travel-trailers/hq12
HQ14 BLACKSERIES Trailer - Dry Weight 4376 lbs -19.8 ft https://www.blackseries.net/travel-trailers/hq14
Large Travel Trailer
A travel trailer up to or more than 20 feet long with an average weight of 6500 pounds is classified as a large travel trailer.
The overall weight of large travel trailers also depends on their amenities, features, and number of axles. When fully loaded, a large travel trailer can weigh anywhere from 6,300-11,000 pounds.
Examples of large travel trailers;
HQ 15 BLACKSERIES Trailer - Net weight 4,971 lbs -23.3 ft https://www.blackseries.net/travel-trailers/hq15
HQ17 BLACKSERIES Trailer - Net weight 5,731 lbs - 23.8 ft https://www.blackseries.net/travel-trailers/hq17
A toy hauler is a gooseneck with a living space and large storage space for transporting sports equipment, gears, dirt bikes, ATVs and UTVs. When unloaded, toy haulers weight ranges from 3,500 to 12,000 pounds.
They are designed for transporting even recreational vehicles or small campers, hence they have an average cargo capacity of 10,000 pounds.
The average gross vehicle weight of a toy hauler ranges from 16,000 pounds to over 22,000 pounds, and it'll need a one-ton truck to tow.
Examples of popular models of toy haulers;
TH19 BLACKSERIES OFF-ROAD 19FT TOY HAULER WITH 10FT GARAGE - 24.9ft - Net Weight 5,431 lbs - https://www.blackseries.net/toy-haulers/hq19t
HQ22T BLACKSERIES OFF-ROAD 22FT TOY HAULER WITH 14FT GARAGE - Net Weight 5941 lbs- 28.2ft https://www.blackseries.net/toy-haulers/hq22t
5th Wheel Trailer
Fifth-wheel trailers typically weigh as little as 5,000 pounds, while the larger models can weigh up to 15,000 pounds or more. When loaded, the GVWR ranges from 17,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds.
The average load capacity is a little under 6,000 pounds, for added cargo like camping gear, extra fluids, and other equipment.
Popular models of 5th wheel trailers;
Forest River Arctic Wolf 265DBH8 – 8,284 lbs., 31.9 ft.
Jayco Eagle HT 24.5CKTS – 7,530 lbs., 29.5 ft.
Grand Design Reflection 150 Series 290BH – 8,294 lbs., 34.0 ft.
Escape 5.OTA – 3,885 lbs., 21.2 ft.
How To Find The Weight of Your Trailer?
You can find your rv weight on the yellow (VIN) sticker located at the entry door. It's important to go with the figure indicated by the manufacturer, and not what you see on the internet.
How Do You Calculate the Weight of a Travel Trailer?
To calculate the weight of a trailer;
Travel Trailer Weight = Dry Weight + Cargo Weight + Fluids and Water
Here's an example
If the dry weight of your camper is 7,000 pounds, and your fresh water tank has the capacity of 35 gallons, and your propane tank weighs 30 pounds when full. What's the weight of your trailer when the cargo weight is 3,000 pounds?
Answer: First note that 1 full gallon equals 8.34 pounds, so 35 gallons;
Water weight = 8.34 * 35 = 291.9 pounds
Dry weight = 7,000 pounds
Cargo weight = 3,000 pounds
Propane = 30 pounds
Trailer Travel Weight = 291.9 + 7,000 + 3,000 + 30 = 10,321.9 pounds
Where Can You Get Your Travel Trailer Weighed?
You can't tell if you have a lightweight trailer or a heavy trailer if you don't weigh it properly. Yes, it might come at an extra cost to weigh your trailer, but not a significant amount compared to what could go wrong if you have an improperly loaded rig.
Weight ratings will differ based on the size and various lengths of travel trailer models; the only way to be certain of the exact weight of your trailer is by measuring it.
Commercial Public Scale (CAT Scale)
While the CAT scale might not be termed unreliable, one thing is certain; it's not capable of giving you the exact weight of your travel trailer.
Here's why; the CAT scale weighs per axle, and at first this might not seem like a problem, but what happens when you have a triple axle trailer?
In cases like this, you cannot tell what the exact side-to-side weights are, and not all trailers have the same weight on both sides, as a result of different amenities that may be on one side of the trailer.
Weight Position Weighing
To get the actual weight ratings on your tow setup, the weight position weighing is best, although less accessible.
With this method, individual tires are measured, unfortunately, you'll only find this option at big RVing events.
Some rv dealerships offer weighing services, especially to customers who want to purchase from them, or even service their trailers.
Depending on your location, you might find a landfill with scales delegated for weighing travel trailers.
Agricultural Weigh Stations
Most times, rural areas near farming communities have a public weighing scale for travel trailers and even motorhomes.
You might be able to get your trailer weighed at a private trailer company. Some companies offer weighing services to travel trailers, motorhomes, and trucks.
How Much Does It Cost to Weigh Your Trailer?
Weighing your travel trailer costs between $60 to $90, but note that this is for a wheel position weighing.
What Happens If Your Trailer Weight Is Overweight?
When your trailer is overweight, it can cause the brakes to fail. If your trailer is swinging, it can drag your tow vehicle off the road, thereby endangering other road users well.
Exceeding what your tow vehicle is designed to tow will strain your engine, speed up brake wear, and eventually damage your tires and chassis.
Why Is It Dangerous To Overload Your Trailer?
An overloaded trailer will basically put stress on the brakes and make it difficult for you to control. Putting too much load in your trailer puts you at risk of breaking the connection between the trailer and your vehicle.
When this happens, you might roll towards the corner, because the excessive load has increased the trailer's mass centre.
Are There Any Legal Restrictions or Regulations Regarding Travel Trailer Weights?
Yes, just like the speed limit, there's a weight limit as well.
The law on your location might vary, so it's important to do your research. You'll get into serious trouble if you are in an accident that was worsened as a result of your trailer being overweight.
Some states might require your vehicle to stop if it exceeds 8,000 lbs. So, as a general rule, if your rig has a GVWR of over 10,000 lbs, you should try to stop.
How Does the Weight of a Travel Trailer Impact Its Stability and Handling On The Road?
The weight of your trailer determines how balanced your vehicle will be while on the road. When there's improper distribution, you are at risk of;
Reduced gas mileage
Suspension or frame damage
More risk of swaying and tipping
What Steps You Can Take To Prevent Overloading Your Trailer?
To make sure the average weight of your travel trailer is not exceeded;
If you are going camping with your small travel trailer ensure you pack only what's needed.
Based on the manufacturers' specifications, don't exceed the number of people to carry, as this can cause uneven weight distribution
Use lightweight materials like aluminum when you want to make any repairs or modifications
Eco-friendly Practices to Reduce Travel Trailer Weight
By reducing your trailer weight, you are practising safe travel trailer towing. Some of the ways to reduce travel weight, especially for smaller travel trailers;
Reduce water weight by switching to a tankless RV water heater. Plus, you can fill up your freshwater tank to one-third of the tank.
Get rid of your holding tanks before hitting the road
Replace heavy furniture with lightweight versions
Thin out the chaos; use plastic storage containers instead of shelves
Spring clean and throw out unused items
What is The Impact Of Weight On Travel Trailer Lifespan?
Pushing the limits of your trailer and tow vehicle will largely decrease their lifespan. Gross vehicle weight ratings are put in place not to lowball you into buying a heavy-duty bigger truck if what you need is a smaller travel trailer, no.
Going over the weight capacity will not only put other campers on the road at risk but shorten the lifespan of your trailer as you are putting too much pressure on the wheels and suspension system.
How Much Do Other Types of Travel Trailers Weigh?
Average Empty Weight by Trailer Type:
Canoe / Kayak Trailer: 200 pounds
Jet Ski Trailer: 300 pounds
Motorcycle Trailer: 500 pounds
Fishing Boat Trailer: 600 pounds
Tow Dolly: 600 pounds
A-Frame Camper: 1,700 pounds
Large Boat Trailer: 2,200 pounds
Pop Up Camper: 2,300 pounds
Small Horse Trailers: 2,900 pounds
Gooseneck Flatbed Trailer: 7,200 pounds
Gladly, you have learned how super easy it is to get your rv weighed, and don't forget the dry weights doesn't qualify as the exact weight of your trailer.
Having proper knowledge of camper weight distribution will save you from a lot of stress while on the road. Also, it's very important to know what your camper weigh as it affects many other things.
So, if you are buying a big trailer, be sure you are getting a heavy-duty truck to match it.
1. Can You Tow A Trailer That Is Heavier Than A Car?
It depends on the size of your tow vehicle. However, the total weight of your trailer should not be above the car's maximum towing capacity.
2. How Much Do Small Travel Trailers Weigh?
The average weight (UWR) of a small travel trailer is between 1,200 pounds to 3,900 pounds.
3. How Much Do Longer Travel Trailers Weigh?
Long travel trailers between 32 - 38 feet long typically weigh between 7,200 pounds to 8,500 pounds.
4. Does Trailer Weight Include Tongue Weight?
Yes, the tongue weight is about 10 - 15 per cent of the travel trailer's weight.