What size (how long, how heavy) travel trailer can I tow?

This is a long one, please bear with me to the end and do the homework.

What can I tow?” seems like a simple question but honestly the answer gets complex pretty quick. It’s basically adhering to a the least of the maximums when looking at all of the ratings on the tow vehicle.

It starts with some homework. You need to load the truck up like you’re camping and take it to a truck stop to weigh it. It costs about $12 and is more intimidating than it is hard. You’ll want to make sure your truck window lines up with the call box. It can be a stretch to reach the call button OR you can use an app called “Weigh My Truck”.

Once you weigh, you can start to do some calculations:

1, take your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) minus the loaded truck weight

2, take your truck’s rear gross axles weight rating (GAWR/RAWR) minus the rear axle weight

3, take the weight carrying capacity of the rear tires and add them together

4, subtract the sum of #3 minus the rear axle weight

These numbers are basically what you can start to see how much capacity your truck has for carrying tongue weight from the trailer.

Once you figure out how much your truck can carry, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re within the truck’s actual tow rating. This isn’t the advertised number as that is defined with a 150 pound driver, 150 pound passenger, and 100 lbs for “towing equipment” but nothing else in the vehicle. You need to check the owner’s manual for the gross combined weight rating (GCWR). You’ll take the GCWR minus the loaded truck weight from your trip to the scales. This tells you the maximum loaded trailer weight that you can pull.

Next thing is going to be on the hitch itself or in your owner’s manual. This is going to describe the maximum tongue weight rating with and without a weight distributing hitch.

Now, you shouldn’t use the dry advertised weights. Your trailer literally is never that weight from the moment it leaves the factory. The dry weight is calculated with no battery and often without propane in the tanks.

So, what do you do? You need to use a tool to estimate the loaded tongue weight by extrapolating from the dry weights and I have it at: