tractor pulling a trailer

Tips & Tricks for Towing a Travel Trailer Behind Your Pickup Truck

Campgrounds in the Lake George, NY area welcome trailer and RV enthusiasts every season, including us here at Lake George Campsites. As one of the top Lake George private campgrounds for RV camping, we know a thing or two about towing a trailer.

If you’re thinking about hitching a trailer to your pickup truck for the first time, or maybe if you haven’t done so in awhile, review our top suggestions and things to know below.

tractor with trailer at campsite

The Truck ✓ The Trailer ✓ The Hitch ✓

There are three components to towing a trailer behind your pickup truck: the truck, the trailer, and the hitch. These three elements and their respective weights and capacities all need to mesh together to ensure a safe trip; just because your pickup truck has a hitch, doesn’t mean it can tow any sized trailer behind it.

Also keep in mind that pickup trucks have different makes, models, years, cab configurations, and more elements that can affect their capacity to tow.

These Are the Important Numbers to Know

The numbers to know for safe towing of vehicles are the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR), the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and the Tongue Weight (TW).

-The GCWR is the maximum allowable weight of the loaded truck (or whatever your tow vehicle is), and the loaded trailer.

-The GVWR is the maximum allowable weight of any given vehicle, which encompasses the vehicle itself plus the passengers, cargo, fuel, and if applicable, the TW.

-The TW refers to the hitch weight, or how much weight the towed load puts on the truck’s tongue.

camping supplies laid out

Where to Find the Weights & How to Calculate Payload

You’ll find the GCWR for your vehicle in the owner’s manual. The GVWR will be on the inside of the driver’s door. The TW should fall between 10 to 15% of the total trailer weight when empty.

A good rule of thumb when matching the right truck to trailer is to subtract the GVWR from the GCWR. An example CarMax gives on their site is: Let’s say the truck has a GVWR of 7,300 pounds and a GCWR of 17,500. Therefore, the ideal trailer weight is 10,200 pounds or under. It follows that the tongue weight should be between 730 and 1,095 pounds.

If you need more guidance with the math part of towing a trailer behind a pickup truck – and exactly how much weight you can tow – there are different payload calculators online that can help. Reading Truck has a good one on their site.

Going beyond the maximum towing capacity can result in poor brake performance, damage to the suspension, and more – not to mention, swirling around the road.

hitch ball closeup

More Tips to Ensure a Smooth Ride

When you have your truck, your trailer, the hitch, and the weight limit for passengers and cargo you’re carrying, you’re ready to go! Almost. Here are a few more suggestions for safe travels:

Distribute the weight of your load so that about 60% is in the front half of the trailer, and 40% in the second half. Weight should also be allocated evenly on the left and right sides of the trailer. Once this is achieved, tie your cargo down; shifting or falling backpacks and sleeping bags will cause the trailer to sway.

Double check tires, tire pressure, lights, brakes, mirrors, and ensure maintenance is up to date on both the truck and the trailer. Your truck may require a higher tire pressure for towing – if so, this should be specified in the owner’s manual.

See helpful charts and info from Weight-Safe for how to choose an appropriately sized hitch ball.

Keep in mind that towing might have an impact on your truck’s warranty or extended service plan, so check these documents along with your owner’s manual when you’re preparing to tow.

truck with trailer at campsite

It’s Time to Choose Your Campground

Lake George Campsites is one of the best RV parks near Lake George, NY, because we’re under 10 minutes from: Lake George Village, Million Dollar Beach, the Warren County Bikeway, and many popular attractions and activities.

In fact, when you look up directions to our Lake George campground you’ll see we’re within walking distance of Northway Brewing, and just down the road from Six Flags Great Escape. From craft beer enthusiasts to lovers of roller coasters, there’s something for every camper!

Check out our Lake George campground map that comprises 250 RV and camping sites, many of which are full hookups. We have a dump station on site that’s free for our campers to use, and other amenities provide additional conveniences like laundry facilities and a camp store. Plus, we have a pool and we’re pet-friendly!

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