What to tow and how to properly load the caravan?

What to tow and how to properly load the caravan? – main image

When choosing a trailer, we often focus on the permissible total weight. On the one hand, we have safety in mind, on the other hand, financial penalties during inspections are a deterrent.

The DMC of a caravan within the same model may vary - the larger the reserves, the more luggage and additional equipment can fit. Remember that additional air conditioning, awning, vestibule, grill, personal luggage or even water supply is an additional minimum. 200 kg.

Apart from the DMC, however, there are several parameters that we should have at the back of our heads if we want to safely load our vehicles. In this material, we will focus on the basics that, as a beginner caravanning apprentice, you may not have realized so far.

How to pull a trailer, i.e. choose the optimal tug


Safe and stress-free driving starts with the right tug selection. Although in the documentation of each passenger car we find the maximum weight of a trailer equipped with a brake, these values should be treated with reserve.

As a proven rule (also in many European countries), the tug-to-trailer weight ratio should be 1.33 . The optimal weight of a trailer equipped with an overrun brake can be calculated by dividing the DMC of the tug by the above value.

It is also worth emphasizing that most manufacturers, according to the latest standard specifies the maximum permissible weight of the trailer at a slope of up to 12%. This should be borne in mind when going on holiday trips to mountainous areas.

The drive of the tug is also of great importance in terms of traction - the front-wheel drive, due to the weight distribution, is not optimal and may lead to surprises and wheel spinning. The rear drive will certainly work well in the summer, but in winter conditions, the front may run away. If you are serious about long journeys, it is definitely worth investing in all-wheel drive.

The engine power is also of great importance. Even larger vans and muscular-looking boulevard SUVs can hide under the hood ultra-efficient power units that comply with stringent emissions standards. Often these are even 3-cylinder engines, definitely too weak to act as a tug.

Another rule can be of some help: the maximum allowable weight of the harness in relation to the power of the tug is determined by adding the GVM of the vehicle and trailer and then dividing this value by the power expressed in horsepower. The value obtained should not exceed 37 kg per KM. In addition to power, of course, torque is also important.

We pack the trailer


We already have a properly fitted tug. What's next? Remember that the actual weight of the trailer is the weight being the sum of the axle / axle loads and the drawbar (hitch). In the vast majority of trailers, the maximum allowable load on the hitch is specified on the data plate. Usually it is about 100 kg.

Remember to get as close to this value as possible when loading. There are many products available on the market to help you check this parameter - it may be a scale integrated with the maneuvering wheel or a separate scale .

Useful tips when loading

Our tips:

  • the heaviest things (e.g. a vestibule frame) should find a place in the tug,
  • remember to secure heavy objects well and place them on the bottom as close as possible to the axis.
    Unsecured heavy elements can easily damage furniture and the floor, and while moving, they can also change the center of gravity and lead to loss of control of the harness!
  • Place light items in the upper cabinets, remembering to properly secure them against falling out.
  • avoid weighting the rear of the trailer to prevent yawing at the rear. It is much better, for example, to place a bicycle rack on an additional ball hitch on the drawbar than on the rear wall of the trailer.
  • try to maintain an equal weight ratio not only in the front-rear relationship, but also in the left-right relationship (if there is a water tank and a battery on the left side, try to place heavier items on the right side of the axle),
  • if the axle load is too high, remember about the contents of the locker in the front - it is worth considering whether we need 2 gas cylinders in the summer (getting rid of one classic steel cylinder means weight savings of up to 20 kg).

Remember that wise cargo placement will help us avoid unpleasant surprises!

What to tow and how to properly load the caravan? – image 1
What to tow and how to properly load the caravan? – image 2
Maciej Kinal
Maciej Kinal

I feel best in the form of trade fairs and meetings with enthusiasts. Technical freak. In my life I have dismantled many motorhomes for the first time. Fan of large vehicles, mountain biking and traveling without weight and financial restrictions. At CampRest, I am responsible for all publications on automotive topics.

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