Weight Distribution & Loading Your Caravan
When towing a caravan (or anything for that matter) behind your vehicle it is essential that it is loaded correctly. The loading of your caravan will have a big impact on it’s towing characteristics when you’re on the road. So today we are going to look at the best ways to make sure you caravan is evenly loaded, at a safe weight to be on the road, and some handy accessories which help make laoding easy and ensure you always remain within your caravan and vehicle limitations.
From the outside it is difficult to tell the difference between a caravan which is loaded well, and one that is not – take it out on the road however, and it is a completely different story. If the load in a caravan is unevenly distributed (we’re talking top to bottom, front to back, and left to right) it can easily begin to sway or swerve from side to side when on the road. Taking some time to ensure an even load is vital, here’s a few helpful things to consider when you’re loading up for your next caravan adventure!
- Don’t Be Top Heavy! – Just like a boat (…stay with me) a caravan is happiest when the heaviest things are at the bottom. Keeping a low centre of gravity improves the stability of your caravan and will reduced its tendency to ‘roll’ when you are cornering. Make sure you store things like water, fuel, and heavy luggage in compartments as close to the floor as possible. High cupboards should be reserved for food, cutlery, and lightweight items where possible.
- Don’t Be One Sided – Imagine there is a line running down the centre of your caravan, a centre line if you will. We want to try and ensure there is the same amount of weight on the left of that centre line, as there is on the right. This will help keep your caravan as level as possible behind your vehicle. It also means there will be no preference in turning direction. If a caravan has a higher loading on the right side, you will find it is inclined to pull toward the right – making it a pain to tow (and dangerous).
- Watch That Nose Weight – So when we talk about nose weight we are ultimately talking about the weight distribution along the length of your caravan. A high nose weight means there is a greater load in the front of the caravan, and a low nose weight…well you get the picture. Though a simple concept, the nose weight of your caravan will have a big impact on the way your caravan responds to towing. Taking your caravan to the extremes (high or low nose weight) can have catastrophic results when towing. Though the nose weight limits are dependant on the type of vehicle towing the caravan (and obviously your coupling limitations), exceeding the nose weight bounds will cause your towing vehicle to be ‘light’ on the front wheels, reducing their capacity to steer and manoeuvre. When the nose weight is too light it will cause a ‘light’ rear end, causing the vehicle to be less grounded which may result in swerving at higher speeds…not to mention the risk of a broken nose when you go to uncouple the caravan!
Staying Within Weight Limits
Even caravans have a weight limit, there is only a certain amount of load your caravan will be rated to, so make sure this is never exceeded. You will also find your towing vehicle will have a maximum braked and unbraked towing capacity, which, you guessed it – shouldn’t be exceeded.
The lighter your caravan, the better it will perform when in tow, so try and cut down as much as possible when taking things away with you. Obviously it is difficult to gauge exactly how heavy your caravan is, so just keep an eye on the number of heavy items and air on the side of caution when loading.
Secure Your Loads
This goes without saying, securing and loads within your caravan is highly recommended before any towing trip. I’m sure we have all been there when we’ve had to brake just that little bit harder in the car and all those long-lost items from under the passenger seat suddenly make an appearance in the footwell. Well now let’s imagine those long-lost items are the cooker, fridge, and tonight’s dinner, and the footwell is the front birth of your caravan…not pretty. Always take a second to make sure everything is correctly stowed before you set off, and all cupboards, draws, and doors are closed properly.
There is a lot that goes into loading a caravan but that doesn’t mean it has to be a stressful experience. There are plenty of accessories which can make gauging the loading of your caravan easy!
The Reich TLC Single Noseweight Gauge is a great way to quickly assess the nose weight of you caravan – one of the most important considerations. This gauge fits to the towball of your tow vehicle and gives you a live digital readout of the nose weight load. Great for anything you might be towing, not just caravans!
If you’re looking for something to make loading your caravan with fresh water a little easier look no further than our range of caravan water carriers. These handy things take weight of the water so you don’t have to. Most of our water carriers can be fitted directly to the water systems onboard your caravan to get you loaded ever faster!