If you just toss a bunch of random items into your recreational vehicle with no organization and then head down the road, you are bound to have problems during your trip.
It is vital to know how to properly load your RV safely based on its weight ratings. You need a strategy that will reduce swaying, bouncing, tire blowouts, and a host of other problems.
RV weight distribution is something not a lot of RV owners think about. This is unfortunate because ensuring that the weight in your RV is evenly distributed is incredibly important for safety reasons.
Trailers with cargo that haven’t been distributed across the rig evenly are more likely to sway. Additionally, all RVs that are loaded unevenly (or overloaded) can suffer from suspension issues, problems with tires, and in some cases, issues with steering.
Clearly, these are not things you want to have trouble with while driving down the road. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be easy to avoid. The solution lies in the way you load RV.
Here are my tips for packing your motorhome or trailer with RV weight distribution in mind.
Why can’t you just throw everything in?
It is extremely important to learn how to load and pack your recreational vehicle both from comfort and safety standpoints.
People often forget that an RV is basically just a vehicle and as such it needs to be well balanced if it is to move safely along roads and highways. Lopsided coaches don’t hold up well to slippery roads nor do they do well in areas where there is road construction. Furthermore, a poorly packed coach makes finding things difficult and leaves travelers doing without items they couldn’t readily locate.
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This is why you must pack and load your camper, travel trailer, or motorhome carefully. Comfort and safety are everything when you are on the road and only you can take steps to make sure things are set up and done right.
Why proper loading and packing matters
When coaches are not balanced, they are dangerous and difficult to drive safely.
When they are not properly packed, they also can make travelers miserable.
You do not want to find yourself standing on the side of the road beside your overturned coach and you certainly do not want to use your commode only to find you have forgotten your toilet paper!
If you learn the correct method to prepare your motorhome or camper for travel, these types of situations become non issues. With careful organization and planning, you should never have to worry.
How to balance your RV load
The keys to good loading are to keep your unit bottom-heavy and make sure that the items you pack are distributed over your coach’s axles. Here are the most important basics:
- Check your manuals to find out the maximum weight each axle can carry
- Weigh the empty coach on a certified scale at a truck stop
- Pack it, making sure that the heavier items are low and are spread out evenly along its entire length
- Weigh it again
- Make adjustments as needed
The heaviest weight in a travel unit is in the appliances, slide rooms, engine, generator, and fuel and water tanks so weighing lets you know which axles are carrying the most weight.
Once you have this information you can pack light where the weight is heaviest and pack heavy where the weight is lightest. You should also pack light items high and heavy items low.
When you do this, your unit will be less likely to sway out of control or to flip over since you will be able to maintain better control.
Know your limits
First and foremost, you need to know the limits of your rig. This includes the cargo-carrying capacity of your RV and the towing capacity of your truck (if applicable) as well as the gross axle weight rating (the amount that can be put on any given axle).
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Knowing these numbers and ensuring you stay within the given boundaries is the first step in properly loading your RV and staying safe on the road.
Pick and choose
Once you know the limits of your RV you can decide what you will take and what you’ll have to leave behind in order to stay within those limits. Packing light is the name of the game! Versatile items that can serve multiple purposes and small lightweight options are ideal.
Obviously, you will only want to take the essentials. Leave unnecessary items at home. But taking some toys or outdoor gear is probably fine. Just do so in moderation and keep those weight limits in mind.
Keep things balanced
Once you know the basic parameters you are working with and what you can pack, the next thing to do is actually move the items into your RV. Remember to keep things as balanced as possible—both side-to-side and front-to-back.
Take note of where appliances and slides are. They are heavy and should be taken into consideration as you decide where items should be stored. Use all storage bays and spread things out evenly between them. If most of your cabinets are on one side of the RV, try to put heavy items on the opposite side to balance out what you store in the cabinets.
Heavy items low and centered
Have some especially heavy items you need to pack? Those should be kept on the floor and on top of an axle. This will help prevent the heavy item from putting too much weight on the front or back. Storing on the floor also ensures the item doesn’t fall, break things, and/or hurt people while the RV is in transit.
When possible, pack an item of similar weight on the opposite side. Or pack the heavy item opposite your main kitchen appliances in order to even things out from side to side.
How to load drawers and cabinets
Another thing to keep in mind as you’re loading up the RV is how to load the drawers and cabinets.
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You want to make sure only lightweight things are in the overhead cabinets in order to help keep things balanced and keep your passengers safe if you’re in a motorhome. Meanwhile, the drawers should not be overloaded as this can break them—and if all of your drawers are on one side of the RV (as is often the case) you’ll be putting a lot of weight in one area and throwing off the balance of the rig.
Keep tank locations in mind
Water is heavy. It weighs in at 8.34 pounds per gallon meaning a 40-gallon tank weighs over 333 pounds when full. That’s a lot of weight and it can easily put you over your cargo-carrying capacity and out of balance.
If you plan to drive with a full fresh or waste water tank make sure you know where that particular tank is located and try to pack everything in such a way that the extra weight is balanced out and you aren’t over your RV’s weight limit.
Observe before you drive
Once everything is loaded into the RV, it’s time for a visual inspection. Head outside and look at the rig. Make sure it isn’t obviously leaning to one side or the other. If you pull a trailer, make sure the trailer isn’t weighing down the truck and make sure the bottom of the trailer is parallel with the ground.
Essentially, you are looking for any signs that you’ve overloaded the RV or that the weight inside isn’t balanced. You will want to add this visual inspection to your pre-trip walk-around every time you drive.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know whether you’re overloaded and almost impossible to know whether one axle is taking the brunt of the work without getting properly weighed. Even if everything looks good from the outside you could still be totally out of balance. For this reason, it’s best to head to a nearby truck scale to be weighed after you’ve loaded the RV.
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RV weight distribution is incredibly important. With this knowledge you can take the needed steps to avoid dangerous situations caused by uneven weight distribution from becoming an issue dring your RV travels.
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.