Erling holding an etrailer tongue weight scale

Measuring Tongue Weight

Measuring your travel trailer with a tongue weight scale is an important step to ensure a safe and fun drive to the campground. Measuring tongue weight will help you to load your camper and tow vehicle effectively.

Measuring Tongue Weight Video

We share some tips for ensuring a smooth trip in our measuring tongue weight YouTube video.

measuring tongue weight person standing in front of camper and holding tongue weight scale

Four Steps to Getting Your Trailer Weight Correct

People new to RV camping often ask questions like ‘can I tow it?’. And while that is a good question, it is just the start of understanding what it takes to be able to tow a camper safely and enjoy the drive to your camping destination.

In our experience, there are four basic steps to getting trailer weight correct.

  • Plan your adventure
  • Weigh your gear
  • Balance your load
  • Measure your tongue weight

Before you go too far into determining if you can tow a camper, you’ll need to know what you plan to bring. And to do that, you’ll need to envision what your outdoor adventure looks like. You’ll likely want to bring some gear like bicycles, kayaks, or camp cooking equipment. It’s important to consider how much gear you can bring and how to load it for a comfortable ride.

While we hope this information is helpful, it isn’t a comprehensive towing guide. We are just trying to get you started thinking about how to safely and comfortably tow a camper. We highly recommend you do additional research and consider the specifics of your tow vehicle, camper and the gear you plan to bring. For a more comprehensive guide to towing, check out How Much Trailer Can I Tow by

Weigh Your Gear

Everything you bring weights something. And all of those things add up fast. Some of the gear we like to bring includes:

  • Two 30 pound propane tanks. Each weighs about 55 pounds.
  • Two bicycles that each weigh about 30 pounds.
  • Our Arvika bike rack weighs about 45 pounds
  • We bring several hoses including two Camco Evoflex drinking water hoses that weigh about 7 pounds each.
  • Four camp chairs that weigh about 7 pounds each.
  • We typically bring four gallons of drinking water that weigh about 8 pounds each.
  • A case of 24 water bottles is about 26 pounds.
  • A case of soda is about 10 pounds.
  • Plus our clothes, towels, food, cookware, and much more.

And we often load the following in the truck:

  • We use a Husky Centerline hitch that weighs about 100 pounds.
  • A Weber Q grill that weights about 45 pounds
  • A Blackstone griddle that weighs about 35 pounds.
  • Cast iron skillet is about 5 pounds
  • Cast iron Dutch oven is about 15 pounds
  • Little Giant ladder is about 25 pounds
  • And two kayaks that weigh about 35 pounds each

Balance Your Load

Your tow vehicle (often a pickup) and travel trailer each have an amount of weight they can carry. You’ll want to stick within the limits for each. To ensure a safe and comfortable ride, you’ll also want to balance the load.

graphic indicating weight on travel trailer and tow vehicle

If you put too much weight on the hitch of the tow vehicle, it may cause the front of the two vehicle to be light and may impact steering. If you put too little weight on the hitch, it may cause trailer sway issues. Think back to a time when you used a teeter-totter on the playground. It works best when the weight is about even. Too much weight on either end can make it less fun. It’s the same with towing.

Measure Tongue Weight

Tongue weight, or hitch weight, is how much downward pressure the camper puts on the hitch of the tow vehicle. The general rule of thumb is to keep tongue weight between 10% to 15% of the fully loaded trailer weight.

One easy way to get an idea of your tongue weight is to use a tongue weight scale. By measuring tongue weight with a tongue weight scale, you’ll get an idea of how much load you are placing on the hitch of your tow vehicle.

etrailer tongue weight scale measuring weight of a travel trailer

There are several brands and styles of hitch weight scale. We tried the tongue weight scale from etrailer and found that it worked well.

An alternative to consider is the Sherline Trailer Tongue Weight Scale which is available on Amazon. Note: this is an affiliate links. If you choose to purchase by using the link there is no additional cost to you, but we earn a commission that helps enable us to continue sharing helpful information.

Bike Rack Options & Transporting Kayaks

If you found this information helpful, you might also like our posts on RV Bike Rack Options and Transporting Kayaks.

Measuring Tongue Weight Summary

We hope this article was interesting and helpful. What tips can you share about loading a travel trailer? Have you tried a tongue weight scale? We’d love to hear your tips for measuring tongue weight. Please leave a comment to share what works for you. Thanks.

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