Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Travel Trailers: Newbie Tow Capacity Question
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 > Newbie Tow Capacity Question

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Davenport, IA

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Posted: 08/08/22 12:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello All,

Looking into getting a travel trailer but not completely understanding the weight ratings and how they compare to the tow vehicle's capacity.

I've got a 2015 Silverado 1500 double cab 4x4 with the V6... everything I read seems to point to 7200 lbs tow capacity.

So where I get confused is when it comes to looking at the travel trailer ratings. I'm trying to find the balance between looking at the UVW and the GVWR of the trailer.

I've had dealerships say that for the type of camping we plan on doing (established sites/resorts with water/sewer available) that by the time I take cargo weight off I should be looking around 6000 - 6200 lbs.

Where the variances come in is when I look at one trailer that has (for example only) a UVW are around 6000 lbs and a GVWR around 7100 lbs. But then another trailer will have a UVW around 5500 lbs and a GVWR at 7500.

I'm just not sure if I should be strictly going by the GVWR of the trailer, or if it's feasible to use the UVW even if the GVWR is over 7200 with the knowledge that I would still be limited in cargo to the difference between the UVW and 7200 lbs.

thanks in advance


Southern California :(

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Posted: 08/08/22 12:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Pull ratings are only one of the at least two tow vehicle capacities with which you should become familiar. Payload is the other biggie.

IMO your tow vehicle should be able to "pull" the trailer's maximum allowed weight. No pointing needed. Look at the sticker on the driver's door jam for maximum trailer weight and maximum payload for your specific truck.

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Posted: 08/08/22 12:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

With a half ton truck, your going to want to pay close attention to that GVWR. Big Truck Big RV on youtube says best to stay under 6000 lbs. Payload is going to be a big issue to watch out for.

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Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 08/08/22 01:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

And you will get all kinds of responses to your question, and even people who are giving you advice while quoting Youtube videos.

Short trips, local, low altitude, can see your dog run away for 2 days if the corn is harvested, a 7k-8klb trailer is no problem for your truck, you just won't have bragging rights about your big engine at the campground. But noone will know unless you tell them...and don't have too many beers and bet anyone you'll race them and win.

Cross country, long trips, altitude, any weather, higher duty cycle than your avg weekend warrior, chassis will handle it, but power will be more anemic in less than optimal conditions unless you're ok with that. I'd stick to around 5klbs but in reality, it's not the weight as much as the wind resistance.
Truck will be safe, but keep low expectations about how well it will perform on grades and headwinds.

Example, new Chevy 10 speed 5.3 (more power and more gears), towing 6klbs med profile (boat with tower/speakers) trailer, low altitude, can only maintain about 60-65mph top speed, right foot mashed into the carpet up a 5-6% grade. Take away 70hp, 80 ft-lbs and 4 gears to compare directly to your powertrain.

I'd tow with it all day long, just giving you comparison of power.

Don't get balled up in the people who will incessantly preach payload and ratings. Unless you wanna be that guy who sit's up nights fretting whether the wife has packed 2 cans of corn beef hash or 4 and whether you'll make it to camp.

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Posted: 08/08/22 01:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

UVW is the unladen weight or the empty weight (AKA "Curb weight") as it comes from factory.

GVWR is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating which is the max allowable weight of the trailer.

UVW is always less than the GVWR.

The difference between GVWR and UVW is your available cargo weight of the trailer.

It usually is a safer bet to use the GVWR weight when selecting a trailer knowing you most likely will not exceed the GVWR when loaded (absolutely no one takes a RV camping unloaded).

There are some trailers which may have a very high available cargo rating and using GVWR may exclude you from buying and using those trailers.. But, be very aware, brochure published UVW can be misleading and often those weights may not reflect Propane and battery weight or anything installed at the dealer.

If you use the UVW you will have to account for any added options and your personal gear that you put into the trailer and that stuff adds up very quickly.. Water, food, pots, pans, bedding, clothing, electronics are all things you will need to figure out to stay withing your tow ratings..

However some vehicle tow rating are bogus and often you will hit the tow vehicles available cargo ratings before hitting the max tow rating..

Best to find out what your vehicle has for available cargo weight before committing to any trailer. Your trailer tongue weight actually counts as "cargo" of your tow vehicle..


Graham, WA

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Posted: 08/08/22 01:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What is your trucks payload capacity - tow capacity means nothing. Payload (how much you can carry) is the only thing that matters. This is written on a label in your trucks door jamb. Then, look at pin weight of the trailer - this is 10-15% of the trailers total weight. Don't look at empty weight, look at full weight. Include water, sewer, etc. you don't want to get caught with full tanks and not able or uncomfortable to tow it. I tow mine all the time with full water, then back home with full sewer, trying to find a place to dump on the way home, sometimes its right near home. If you limit yourself to places with full hookups, you will be staying home because its difficult to get reservations.

Your trailer weight should be camp ready, full of gear, lawn chairs, dishes, clothes, etc. The GVWR is the weight of the trailer full, per the manufacturer. Reading this site, most are over that weight once they put stuff in it. Don't forget, your payload includes anything in the truck or bed of the truck like bikes, camp fire wood, etc. Easy to fill it up, so start low then you don't have to worry about what you add later.



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Posted: 08/08/22 02:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You should read up and complete, fact based, unbiased information; without all the sideshow chatter.


Orange, California

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Posted: 08/08/22 02:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

nickthehunter wrote:

You should read up and complete, fact based, unbiased information; without all the sideshow chatter.

Exactly. Some on here would approve of this:



Garrison , Mt

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Posted: 08/08/22 02:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Unloaded weight is absolutely empty, no propane tanks, no batteries, and nothing in the water/sewage tanks. Even without loading for a trip, you will go up by 200-300 pounds just mounting batteries, and propane.
Fully loaded, or gvwr is the max the springs, axles, tires, etc can safely handle according to the factory.
Some manufacturers will go with the lightest frames, springs, etc to build the unit cheaper, hence lower GVWR. on some trailers compared to other similar sized units.
Tank sizes also have a major influence on weights, water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, if the trailer has larger tanks, then it has to have heavier duty components to carry that weight.
Keep the gvwr under your trucks maximum towing capacity, preferably by 10% or so. Also with a half ton truck, as stated above, watch the tongue weight, you want 10-15% of the trailer total weight to be on the tongue for proper control and handling, ensure the trucks cargo capacity can handle that weight plus the people, toys, or whatever else you will be putting in the truck.
From a quick check, it looks like your cargo cap is right around 1950 lbs, so for a 6000 lb trailer you should have 720-900 lbs on the tongue, leaving about 1000 for people and stuff.
Happy motorin


No paticular place.

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Posted: 08/08/22 03:23pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thermoguy wrote:

What is your trucks payload capacity - tow capacity means nothing. Payload (how much you can carry) is the only thing that matters.

No!!! Both are important.

They measure different things.
- Tow rating is mostly about pulling and braking ability.
- Payload factors into how much hitch weight you can handle. If you load up the truck and there is only 400lb of payload are limited to a 400lb hitch weight...which means around 3000-3500lb trailer.

As others have suggested, best to assume the trailers GVWR until proven otherwise. Then assume 15% hitch weight. This will be a bit conservative but you are unlikely to find out after the purchase, that you messed up.

So if you have a 7200lb tow rating, figure around 1000lb hitch weight. A family of 4 can easily weigh in at 600lb. Add in bikes, firewood, cooler, etc in the truck bed and you can easily be looking at 2000lb loaded in the truck (don't forget brush guards, running boards and other bolt on accessories which count against payload)...1/2 ton truck payloads range from around 950lb up to 2500lb. At the upper end, your payload may be fine with a 7200lb trailer. At the lower end, expect a white knuckle ride as you will be grossly overloaded.

There is a yellow sticker on the door jam that lists the payload. If you have the truck already, swing by a truck stop and weigh the truck with the family and gear in the truck and you can determine how much of the payload is already used up and what's left available to cover hitch weight.

PS: there are also individual axle weight limits that you should also stay within.

Tammy & Mike
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