The beauty of camping with a trailer towed behind your SUV or truck is you just hook up and roll … right?
While having a self-contained camping trailer truly adds convenience and spontaneity to the car camping experience – and makes setting up camp once you arrive super-fast – there are some really important things you need to consider about towing and setup!
Do I Need a Special Vehicle to Tow a Camper Trailer?
Chances are you can probably tow a camper of some kind with the vehicle you already own. Remember, camping trailers take in a wide range of sizes from the tiny teardrops that are more popular each season to the mammoth fifth-wheel toy-haulers. The place to begin your search is the owner’s manual for your vehicle. It will tell you the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for your car, truck, or SUV and you can begin your search for the right camper trailer from there.
Do I need to Worry About Sway While I’m Towing?
Trailer sway is an important consideration because it affects safety on the road … and that’s critical. Just remember three things:
- The 10 Percent Rule – make sure you have 10 percent more weight on the tongue than behind the axles.
- Height of the Hitch – adjust the height of the trailer hitch on the tow vehicle so that tongue and trailer ride level. You may also want to consider an added sway control device based on your trailer manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Brake Controller – Any trailer over 3,500 pounds should have a brake controller. If you do get into a situation where you have some swaying, you can easily reach down, apply the trailer brakes a little bit, and it will straighten you out safely.
Should I Tow With the Water Tanks Rull or Empty?
With modern trailers it doesn’t matter that much. The systems are built to handle towing just fine if the fresh water system is filled. Generally, you’re only adding 50-pounds or so off additional weight, so there’s little to be gained by rolling empty. With the tanks full when you leave home, you know you can pull in anywhere to camp with the convenience of onboard water ready to go.
Why Does the Trailer Need to Be Set Level? How Do You Do it?
The trailer should be as level as possible for several reasons. First is simple comfort. If it’s out of level, you’ll notice it moving around in the trailer and lying in bed. Second, and even more important, is that the trailer systems work better when they are level, especially the refrigeration system. If you run the refrigerator too long in an out of level position, you can actually damage it.
First, choose a level site on which to park. Modern trailers come with jacks all-around to help level and stabilize the trailer. If the ground is soft put down blocks under the foot of the jacks and then deploy. On some trailers, these jacks are powered; others are manual. (For manual jacks—buy a rechargeable power driver and a socket that fits the nut on these jacks. Use the driver to speed deployment. It takes a small fraction of turning them by hand.) If your trailer isn’t equipped with bubble levels both side-to-side and front-to-back, you can add these for less than $20 – a great investment in saving precious camping time.
Only deploy any slide-out rooms after the trailer is leveled and stabilized.
How Do I Hook up Water and Electricity?
When you select a campground and a campsite note whether they have “full hookups” (which means both water and electricity, and sometimes satellite/cable at the site) or if it’s just water or electricity or if it’s primitive which means no hook ups. Most trailers have 30 amp electrical systems, so make sure the site’s hook up matches your needs. When you pull into a site, note where the hydrant and electrical box are located and position the RV trailer as close to them as you can. Connect to water with a lead-free hose and electric with the power cable for your rig. That’s it.
RV and Trailer Accessories and Maintenance
1. RV Axle Wheel Covers: Keep the tires on your vehicle protected during the off-season or when you're parked. These Classic Accessories tire covers slip over your wheels and have an elastic back panel for a custom fit.
2. RV Bike Cover: Keep your bicycles ready to go while on the road in your RV with the RV Deluxe Bike Cover from Classic Accessories®. This lightweight cover protects up to three full size bicycles mounted on a hitch mount rack, track, or hanging bike rack.
4. Boat and RV Wash: The Bass Pro Shops Premium boat & RV wash quickly cleans grit, dirt, and stains. The concentrated formula removes grit and grime and is safe for fiberglass, plastic, chrome, and painted surfaces. Biodegradable, lake-safe formula contains no phosphates.
5. Tire Sealant: Multi Seal® Tire Sealant with Kevlar® for RV and Trailer prevents up to 95% of flat tires and virtually eliminates slow leaks, saving you time and money on your road trip.