Knowing your RV weight is important when it comes to driving over bridges and ensuring your vehicle will still drive safely in all conditions.
Determining the weight of your RV can be difficult when you see how many numbers are involved in the listing.
The manufacturer will list the dry vehicle weight, but that will change when you load up for a trip.
The dry weight is, on average, about 10,000 pounds before they’re loaded with all of your belongings.
While the amount of gear you bring will vary, you can estimate that weight at about 1,500 pounds.
This additional weight includes water, gas, waste, and all of the items you need to travel.
RV weight depends on what type of RV you have.
Large RVs and motorhomes will weigh significantly more than a pop-up camper or travel trailer.
The weight also varies from class to class of RV.
Classes of RV
When you wonder how much do RVs weigh, you have to consider the class of RV you’re driving.
Some classes of RVs aren’t allowed on certain bridges or in specific campgrounds, so you’ll want to research your destinations before you hit the road.
Class A RVs
Class A RVs are the biggest motorhome with built-in engines on the market.
Their dry weights can range from 13,000 to 30,000 pounds as a starting point, but some are even heavier.
Depending on the floor plan, a Class A RV could weigh as much as 40,000 pounds.
Since Class A RVs can be large and luxurious, they have higher cargo carrying capacities.
This is a benefit because you can bring more stuff with you, but it also increases the overall GVWR you’ll be controlling.
These RVs are 30 to 40 feet long and resemble a bus in terms of looks and driving style.
Because of their size, they can be difficult to navigate.
They are restricted in some national parks considering the road sizes and turning radiuses required, so you’ll want to check parks before you visit.
In addition to the weight you’d be driving with the motorhome itself, you’ll also want to consider the amount of weight the vehicle can tow.
If you plan to bring a smaller vehicle on your trip, you’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable driving so much weight.
Class B RVs
Class B RVs vary in size just as Class As do, but they usually stick to more standardized lengths and heights.
This means the variation in their weights is less than the Class As.
The dry weight for a Class B RV will range from 6,000 to 11,000 pounds.
They also have a smaller cargo carrying capacity, usually in the range of 1,500 pounds.
While you won’t be able to pack as many belongings, there isn’t as much space available in the vehicle anyway, so you’ll still be able to travel comfortably.
These RVs are about the size of a work van, so you most likely won’t encounter any restrictions in terms of your travel destinations.
Class C RVs
Though they come last in the alphabetically listing, Class C RVs are the mid-size RVs that are most popular with casual travelers.
They aren’t as massive as a Class A RV, but they are larger than Class B RVs.
Because of that, these RVs weigh anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 pounds in terms of dry weight.
Their cargo carrying capacities are limited from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds.
These RVs are popular because they’re easy to drive.
The camper portion is built onto a truck body, so you’ll feel comfortable navigating the roads in this vehicle.
It’s easy to stop and go because of its size and weight distribution.
Trailer weight varies because there are so many different types of trailers, like pop-up campers, teardrop campers, and fifth-wheel trailers.
These RVs don’t have a built-in motor, so their dry weight is much lower than the previous classes.
Since these RVs were designed to be towed, you have to make sure your vehicle can safely pull the GVWR of your trailer.
Pop-up campers and teardrop campers can range from 1,300 to 2,300 pounds dry weight.
Their cargo carrying capacity is below 1,000 pounds.
While the previous two camper options are small, a fifth-wheel is typically one of the largest trailers you can buy.
Even the smallest option weighs 2,400 pounds, which is more than a pop-up camper.
But a larger fifth-wheel trailer can weigh as much as 19,000 pounds.
The cargo carrying capacity of fifth wheels trailers varies according to their dry weight, but they can carry about 4,000 pounds.
Types of RV Weight
There are different things to consider with RV weight.
You want to make sure your measurements are always as accurate as possible for safety reasons.
Consider the following before you drive your RV any long distance.
Your vehicle’s dry weight is how heavy it is as it left the factory, with no people or cargo on board.
Each RV will have a unique dry weight, even if you’re looking at the same model of RV on a lot.
This is because there are slight differences within the build, so you want to be sure you know your exact dry weight.
Cargo Carrying Capacity
The cargo carrying capacity is how much weight you can store in your RV.
This number includes gas, water, waste, your supplies, and the travelers themselves.
It’s easy to forget that items like groceries and waste factor into this weight, so you might want to weigh each item as you load up for a trip.
Gross Vehicle Weight
The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) is the total weight your trailer will be when you travel.
This means the RV itself, plus all of your belongings, gas, water, and waste.
You can figure out this number by adding the dry weight plus the cargo carrying capacity.
You should never pack your RV beyond the GVWR because it can negatively impact your safety on the road.
Carrying too much weight will change your vehicle’s stopping distance, which can cause accidents.
Many insurance companies won’t pay out if your vehicle was over GVWR during an accident, so make sure you stick to the advised weight limit.
Dry Hitch Weight
The dry hitch weight, or tongue weight, mostly applies to travel trailers and pop-up campers that hitch to a truck.
This number relates to how much weight your vehicle can tow.
When considering this weight, remember that the RV you’re towing will be heavier once you load in all of your items.
If you’re driving a motorhome, the dry hitch weight can restrict the size of the vehicle you pull behind.
You’ll have to know the weight of that truck or car to ensure you’re safely able to tow it.
Factors that Affect Weight
Since you have so many different aspects to consider in terms of your RV weight, you want to make sure you’re doing the best you can to lighten the load.
Being conscientious of what you pack and where can help you distribute weight for a safer drive.
If you know the weight of items you’re bringing, you can keep a running tally of how much you’ve loaded into the RV.
You can group items so you know how much you’ll be storing in the kitchen cabinets, under the bench seat, and so on.
This method of packing will help you evenly distribute the weight as well.
A simpler solution would be to stop at a truck weigh station and see what your GVWR is when you’re completely loaded.
Some city dumps have scales for garbage trucks and might let you drive your RV onto it so you have the exact weight.
Since the dry weight of your RV means how much it weighed straight from the factory, fill up the gas tank first.
You can’t go anywhere without gas, so you need to make sure you have a full tank before adding more weight to the RV.
Gasoline weighs about six pounds per gallon, and diesel fuel weighs seven pounds per gallon.
You can do the math to figure out how much a full tank of gas will weigh for your RV.
In addition to a tank of gas, you’ll also want to fill up the propane tanks.
A full propane tank can weigh 20 to 40 pounds depending on the size you have and how long you want to go between refills.
Focus on packing your essentials.
Make sure you have the food and clothes you need for your trip but stop short of being prepared for every possible scenario.
You would fare better to wash clothes at a stop along the way than bring enough clean clothes to last your entire journey.
If you add items to your RV that aren’t essentials, make sure you’re keeping them to a minimum.
Pack them in places where the weight will be evenly distributed so you’ll be able to stop safely, without jackknifing or straining your engine.
You might need to pack more than your RV can handle.
In that case, consider taking a second vehicle.
Instead of towing a car to drive around your destination, you can have another person drive that vehicle so you have more packing space.
This method will greatly decrease your cargo carrying weight because you won’t be towing a vehicle, you’ll be carrying at least one less person, and you’ll be able to put more items in the car.
Water is the last necessity you’ll need on your RV trip.
Water is incredibly heavy, so it’s best to wait until you reach your destination to fill your freshwater tanks.
Be sure to dump your wastewater tanks before you leave a campsite.
If you’re not staying at a campground, you can find locations to be sanitary while dumping your wastewater.
Driving with empty tanks will not only lighten your load but will also be safer in the long run.
If you’re traveling with full tanks, you might strain your engine because there will be a lot of concentrated weight in one section of your RV.
You’ll also have to deal with the weight distributing strangely as the water sloshes from side to side during the drive.
If you’re not sure what type of RV you need, consider renting different styles and taking them for short test trips.
You’ll get an idea of how much room you have inside each class size, and be able to envision how much you can safely carry.
No matter what class of RV you end up buying, you’ll be able to carry all of the necessities—and then some—with you on a trip.
As long as you’re conscious of how much you’re loading into your RV and how much it can carry, you’ll have a safe and enjoyable journey.