How to pack and load your Caravan or Trailer safely
It seems so simple. You bought a camper trailer - now you just pack, hitch up and go right?
An overloaded caravan or camper trailer is a dangerous thing. You risk instability, increased fuel consumption, voiding your insurance, unnecessary strain on your tow vehicle and breaking the law.
Spending a little of time on preparation when you first pack to go away can save a lot of headaches down the road.
We’ve summarized some of the key points for you below so you can quickly get going on the road.
Before you start know your ATM… or Aggregated Trailer Mass
This is the maximum weight your caravan or trailer is allowed to weigh. You can find the ATM on the compliance plate of your van.
This can be located in a range of places – just inside the van near the step, in the front boot of the van or in a cupboard.
The ATM varies depending on the trailer type. If the trailer is not fitted with brakes, the ATM cannot exceed 750 kilograms or the mass of the towing vehicle (whichever is the lower value). Trailers with an ATM of max 2500kg must have a safety chain attached; more than this and up to 3500kg ATM, two safety chains are required.
Weigh your camper or caravan again after you have packed it.
Before you head off you should check your van comes in fully packed under the ATM.
You can go to a weigh bridge to weigh your van. You can also purchase a tow ball scale. As a general rule the tow ball weight should be no more than 10% weight of your trailer. So a 1000kg Trailers tow ball should weigh no more than 100kgs.
Not only is it essential to make sure you are legally within the specified limits set by the tow bar and tow vehicle manufacturers, but too light or too heavy tow ball mass can adversely affect handling, and lead to caravan sway, loss of traction or loss of steering control.
Don’t forget Water
When you are considering your gross towing weight GTW and ATM remember to consider if you are travelling with full water tanks this will increase your trailers weight.
Arrange your packing to create stability
Make sure you pack aiming to create a stable towing environment.
Pack heavy items over the axel and distribute gear equally across both the left and right sides of the van. As a general rule aim for 60% of your gear towards the front of the van and 40% towards the back.
An uneven load will make towing much more dangerous so spend some time and get this right.
Good luck and enjoy your next trip away!