Towing a camper trailer can be daunting at first. However, with some good tips and practice, you will get the hang of it in no time.
In this article, we’ll go over our top camper trailer towing tips to help you speed up the learning process.
To illustrate our guidance for towing a trailer, we’ll use the OBi Camper Dweller 15 as an example camper. It’s one of our favorite expedition trailers because it offers a smooth trailering experience – even for newbies.
Table of Contents
- Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Know Your Vehicle
- Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Keep Up With Maintenance
- Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Be Aware of the Trailer’s Dimensions
- Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Use the Correct Driving Speeds
- Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Final Thoughts
- Recommended Camping Gear
Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Know Your Vehicle
Not all vehicles have the same towing abilities, so before buying a trailer, you need to make sure that your truck has the tow rating needed to handle it.
For example, the dry weight of the Dweller 15 is 5,070 pounds and the GVWR is 6,405 pounds. To safely tow this trailer, you need a truck that can comfortably accommodate that weight.
If your truck has a tow rating lower than 7,500 pounds, it may be better to opt for something lighter.
The closer you get to your max tow rating, the harder it is to cruise comfortably on the road. In particular, driving up hills can become a chore, and the longer it will take for you to stop.
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Also, if your truck is lifted with big tires, your max tow rating is now lower as such modifications put more strain on the engine and brakes.
Keep in mind that when going on trips, the truck will also be loaded up with gas, gear, and perhaps a whole family. Again, this reduces its towing capacity.
So, the more leeway you give yourself when it comes to tow ratings, the safer and more comfortable your trip is going to be.
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If you are planning on towing often, it may be worth getting a very mild engine tune and a slight brake upgrade like better pads and discs. If you can find full brake upgrades that replace calipers for your specific vehicle, then that may be worth considering.
A transmission cooler can also help prolong the life of your transmission by reducing operating temperatures, thus reducing the heat-cold cycle, which can be problematic for transmissions.
Finally, if you are lifting your vehicle, make sure you let the shop know your usage intentions. A truck that will be loaded and towing will most likely require heavy-duty coils or leaf springs to cope with the weight. If you opt for lighter-duty parts, the truck might sag, the truck’s suspension will bottom out more easily, and you will lose ground clearance.
Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Keep Up With Maintenance
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As you would expect, towing requires a vehicle that is well maintained. You will need to make sure that all your cooling hoses are in good shape. The cooling system will be working hard – especially in the heat of summer.
Furthermore, change your transmission fluid a bit more often and make sure that your brakes are in good condition.
Towing puts the most strain on these three parts of a truck, so it’s crucial to keep them in top shape.
If you’re working your truck hard while towing, or if on a certain trip you drove through a lot of mountain passes that put a lot of strain on the engine, it may be worth changing the oil a bit sooner.
Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Be Aware of the Trailer’s Dimensions
The Dweller 15 comes in at 20 feet long and 6.91 feet wide. Chances are this (and many other trailers) will be wider than your towing vehicle. So, when taking turns or passing through narrow roads, you always need to be aware of the trailer size you have behind you.
To get better at doing this, you can practice towing in an empty parking lot. Navigating around a few light poles can give you a base idea of how a trailer behaves and how you need to approach turns.
You will also probably realize that the arc of your trailer’s rear bumper is smaller than that of your vehicle’s front bumper.
While practicing, pay close attention to how your trailer follows your tow vehicle and observe how wide you need to swing when turning around obstacles. Go slow as you’re practicing and be aware of the lean of your trailer when you turn.
Also, make sure to practice parking and backing up as these are perhaps the hardest tasks to get used to. Always remember that the rear of your trailer will turn in the opposite direction when reversing.
Finally, be aware of the height of the trailer (pop-up campers like the Dweller are usually very low) and ensure you are using a trailer-specific GPS system that will take you on roads that will be no issue for the height of your trailer. This will help avoid detours and save you time on the road, thus giving you more time to enjoy your trailer at camp.
Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Use the Correct Driving Speeds
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When towing a trailer, you need to go a bit slower. At the end of the day, you are on a holiday, so there is no need to rush!
Stick to 60-65mph. This provides better fuel economy, more control over your tow vehicle and trailer, and a shorter braking distance.
When traveling on windy days, you should reduce your speed even further. A trailer is harder to control in the wind, especially if it’s a crosswind you’re dealing with.
Going a bit slower and being a bit smoother will also minimize how much your camping gear shifts around. This not only improves your towing experience, but it will make finding everything easier when arriving at camp.
Tips for Towing a Camper Trailer – Final Thoughts
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With the correct vehicle and by practicing often, towing a camper trailer will become far easier. Once you get used to it, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits it offers without worrying as much about the driving experience.
Along with lots of practice and having a tow-capable vehicle, your camping adventures can be made far better by having a quality trailer to call home.
As I noted earlier, the Dweller 15 is one of our favorite expedition trailers. It offers excellent off-road prowess, a luxurious cabin (that includes a bathroom, air conditioning, and tons of storage), and since it’s a pop-up trailer, you get the advantage of a smaller profile when towing to reduce drag and improve fuel economy.
In other words, this trailer has it all! Check it out in more detail in our recent OBi Dweller 15 First Impressions article.
If you have any further towing questions or for anything else offroad or overland related head over to the forum section of our page.
Recommended Camping Gear