Are you in the market for a new or secondhand travel trailer? Are you wondering how much does a travel trailer weigh so you can be sure that your vehicle can tow it? There are so many different kinds and models of travel trailers that it can be hard to choose just one.
However, if you put your particular needs into consideration, then you might be able to cut down the list of possible candidates to a manageable number. You will be learning about the different kinds of travel trailers in this article, so you can most likely gauge which ones are best for your particular needs.
You do not want to spend thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money on a travel trailer only to find out later that it has too many amenities, is too big, or is too heavy for your car to tow.
What are the Different Kinds of Travel Trailers?
Travel trailers come in a wide range of sizes and designs. Some are small and compact, perfect for those traveling alone or with a mate. Others are huge and can be used as permanent homes. To give you an idea on just how diverse travel trailers are, here are some of the more popular designs:
Toy Haulers – This term is used to describe travel trailers that are designed for carrying “toys”, particularly “big boy toys” like motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles. Some are even big enough to carry a dune buggy.
You can tell a toy hauler apart from other trailers by the large bay door at the back that opens down to create a ramp so that the vehicles can roll down. The door can also turn into a dedicated garage area. This trailer also has fold-away furniture that stows away to make room for vehicles.
Pop-up or Expandable Trailers – Expandable, also known as “pop-up” trailers, are designed to collapse and expand either horizontally or vertically. The vertically-expanding trailers have slightly larger top halves that slide down to the bottom portion, making it easier to transport.
When the trailer reaches the campground, the trailer expands to its full height to make moving around inside much easier. The horizontally-expanding trailers, also called fold-out trailers, have tent-like side compartments that pull out from the main body to create additional living spaces, like bedrooms, dining areas, shower areas, and others.
Teardrop Trailer – This type of trailer got its name from the teardrop shape of its profile – wide and rounded at the front and pointed at the back. This is a classic design that is making a comeback. Generally, teardrop trailers are small and lightweight. You can tow them using a large car or an SUV
You can even find some of them that are small enough that you can tow them using a large motorcycle. Teardrop trailers are usually just large enough to provide the basic amenities, like a bed, a bit of storage space, and external cooking equipment.
Park Trailers – Park travel trailers are those that need park facilities to function. These trailers lack holding tanks and they do not have generators. You need to plug them into the water, electrical, and sewage facilities of park facilities.
Because of their huge size, park trailers are ideal for long-term living or as a vacation home. Once you park this, you can add aluminum sidings and even build a concrete deck by the entrance.
Understanding Travel Trailer Weights
For the safety of your family and the other vehicles surrounding you, your travel trailer and towing vehicle need to stay within the recommended weight ratings of the manufacturer. The towing vehicle and trailer weight numbers fall into two categories, namely:
Actual Weights – This is the measured weight of the towing vehicle and its additional components. The factory quoted weights are usually ballpark averages or estimates of the trailer’s actual weight.
Ratings – Weight ratings are the weight limits placed on the towing vehicle and/or its additional components. It is important to remember that the ratings should never be exceeded.
Gross Vehicle Weight
This is the total weight of the trailer when fully loaded. These include the cargo, passengers, all the fluids in the plumbing and storage tanks, fuel, and other optional equipment. This weight can only be measured using a scale.
The GVW is important because it helps determine if you have loaded the travel trailer within the safe limits as set forth by the trailer manufacturer and according to the set laws and regulations.
You can estimate this using the information provided by the manufacturer, but the only sure way to get an accurate weight is by driving the towing vehicle and the trailer on top of a truck weighing station.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum weight that the GVW or GTW (Gross Trailer Weight) should never go over. The GVWR applies to trailers and vehicles. It is also referred to as the Maximum Loaded Trailer Weight.
Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)
The Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) is the same as the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) when it is used to describe the trailer. When the trailer is not connected to the towing vehicle, the weight of the trailer needs to rest on its tires and the stabilizing jacks. When weighing without a trailer, be sure to include all of the stabilizing jacks on the weighing scale.
Gross Combination Weight
This is the total weight of the fully-loaded towing vehicle plus the weight of the trailer. This includes all of the cargo, passengers, fluids, and other equipment. If you will be using a towing vehicle and travel trailer, the GCW will be the total weight of the vehicles and all of their contents.
You can also get the GCW by adding the GVWs of the individual components.
Gross Combination Weight Rating
The Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is the maximum amount that the combined weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer (and their contents) must never go over.
Gross Axle Weight
The Gross Axle Weight (GAW) is the amount of weight placed on a single axle of the vehicle. Assuming that you have distributed the weight evenly throughout the vehicle, the GAW is the total weight divided by the number of axles the vehicle has.
Along with the axle weight rating, the GAW must also be within the weight ratings of the tires. To find out how much weight is placed on each tire, take the GAW and divide it by the number of tires on the axle.
The Tongue Weight, also known as the Tongue Load or Kingpin Weight, is the maximum weight placed on the hitch ball of the trailer. It is recommended that the Tongue is between 10-15% of the Gross Trailer Weight.
King Pin Weight
The King Pin weight, also known as just Pin weight, is the amount of force placed by the trailer on the fifth wheel hitch. It is recommended that the King Pin weight falls within 15-25% of the GTW.
The trailer’s curb weight is its actual weight, including the standard contents, like a full fuel tank, full fresh water and holding tanks, and all other required fluids. The curb weight does not include the weight of the passengers and their cargo.
However, there are some variations to the definition of curb weight. Some include the weight of the driver while others include the weight of optional equipment. You need to pay close attention as to how your trailer’s manufacturer defines curb weight because this value will be used to calculate other weights, like the payload and the cargo carrying capacity.
The trailer’s dry weight is the weight of the trailer without any fluids, passengers, cargo, or optional equipment. In other words, it is the weight of the trailer as it rolled out of the production line.
There are several variations of the definition of dry weight. Some include the weight of the most common optional equipment while others include the weight of the batteries. You can also find some that include the weight of the generator fluids and that of other onboard equipment such as oil, coolant, and fuel.
Just as with the curb weight, you need to be mindful as to how your trailer’s manufacturer defines dry weight as this value is also used for computing other weights.
The cargo weight is the actual weight of all the items that are added to the curb weight of the trailer, which includes personal cargo, optional equipment, and also the tongue and/or the kingpin weight.
This value is important as it will determine how many items you can safely carry in your trailer. The weight of all the things you plan to take along with you in the trailer should not exceed the value set by the cargo weight.
Although it is not called a rating, the payload is a weight rating. The payload is the maximum load that the trailer can carry, and it should not be exceeded. You can calculate the payload by subtracting the curb weight and the GVWR. In other words, it is the difference in weight between a trailer with standard equipment and a fully loaded one.
It might seem trivial at first glance but it is important to learn how much does a travel trailer weigh because you will need it to calculate just how much optional equipment and the size of cargo that you can safely place in it.
This is important because overloading your travel trailer is not just against traffic laws. You will also be placing your own and your passengers’ safety into jeopardy.