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How Do You Tow a Camper, Trailer, or Toy Hauler?

So, you’re looking to buy the camper, trailer, or toy hauler of your dreams. But before you make the big purchase, you need to know the best way to tow it. Are you willing to buy a heavy-duty truck to accommodate a larger camper, or do you want to be able to use a smaller hauler you already own?

Terms to Know:

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) = total weight of vehicle with passengers, luggage, and fuel onboard

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) = weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer/camper combined

Also, don’t forget to store it properly after making such a big investment. You need to take into account the full length with the towing vehicle included when choosing a space to rent.

As always, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s owner’s manual for both the trailer and the tow vehicle for the specifics of your setup. Here are some of our suggestions for various types of campers, trailers, and toy haulers – oh my!    

Fifth Wheel Camper 

This category is the largest size vehicle you can tow before springing for an RV instead. But first, why is it called a fifth wheel? Well, the term originally comes from its similar coupling that was used on four-wheel horse-drawn carriages. On the rear section of a truck, a wheel was added to facilitate turning, essentially making it the “fifth wheel.” After major advances, it is still affectionately referred to as a fifth wheel today with its U-shaped coupling component on the back of the towing vehicle.

While a half-ton truck is sufficient enough to pull a fifth wheel, the better recommendation would be to invest in at least a three-quarter-ton truck to warrant a bed-mounted hitch. 

To prevent the camper from overpowering the truck, ensure its GVWR exceeds the weight of both the truck and trailer tongue by at least 10 percent. Long-bed pickup trucks are preferred over short-bed, but it would still be feasible with the use of a slider hitch.    

Storage Recommendation: 12×35’ or 12×40’

Keep in mind that your towing vehicle and trailer need to have enough room for comfortable pick-up and drop off on the drive aisle. Look for a facility that has extra-wide aisles or driveway access.

Lightweight Camper

If your main goal is to be able to use a vehicle you already own to tow, a lighter camper would be an ideal option. You just need to ensure you are hauling it with a rear-wheel drive vehicle where the majority of the weight will need to be supported. Since technology has improved towing capacity immensely, most cars, vans and small SUVs will have an adequate transmission, horsepower and torque to accommodate campers as much as 3,500 pounds. So, you’d be covered if you already own one of these vehicles.

Teardrop, pop up, and shorter travel trailers can all fall under this lighter camper category if they weigh between 500-3,500 pounds or have a GVWR of about 2,000-4,000 pounds.  

Storage Recommendation: 12×35’

Travel Trailer

Similar to a lightweight camper, these types of trailers can require just a small SUV, depending on the GVWR of course. A small travel trailer’s GVWR can typically range from 1,900-4,500 pounds, while a large one can be as much as 10,000 pounds.  

Trailers that are about 290-450 pounds can actually be towed by a motorcycle with 1,000-1300ccs! Though, we wouldn’t recommend it as your first choice. The travel trailer’s “signature” characteristic is its ability to be towed with a traditional hitch.

A Class I hitch is sufficient for trailers up to 2,000 pounds. If you upgrade to a larger trailer, you should opt for the Class II hitch (up to 3,500 pounds) or Class III (up to 10,000 pounds) to be on the safe side. 

Also, don’t forget to account for the weight of the cargo you will be bringing with you. It is recommended to push about 60 percent of the cargo weight to the front to avoid causing the tail end to sway as it is in motion. 

Storage Recommendation: 12×35’ 

Go up to a 12×40’ and conveniently park your tow vehicle and trailer in the same space!

Toy Hauler

In the same vein as a fifth-wheel, these heavy-weight vehicles can pack on even more pounds when you take into account the weight of the “toys,” too. Since its job is to transport ATVs, UTVs, dirtbikes, and other motorsport vehicles, its GVWR to tow can easily get up to 14,000-22,000 pounds.

It is important to note, in the event of a panic brake, an exhaust brake and trailer brakes are highly recommended for safety. The truck should have at least 300 horsepower to get you up to a desirable speed on the highway.     

Storage Recommendation: 12×35’ or 12×40’ (premium space depending on length)

Keep in mind that your towing vehicle and trailer need to have enough room for comfortable pick-up and drop off on the drive aisle. Look for a facility that has extra-wide aisles or driveway access. 

When it comes to towing a camper, trailer or toy hauler, be sure to use the suggestions above for what will work best for the safety of your investment. 

Have any other questions about what size space you will need? Call us at (520) 833-8016, or click to reserve your spot now! 

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for recommendations or services provided by a licensed professional. 

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