Managing Your Weight – Caravan That Is

10 weight mistakes we all make – especially novices

Marketing is the villain when it comes to many RVs being overweight.

We are all tempted to all those “must have” upgrades that are apparently essential and at bargain prices. No wonder we all fall foul and buy things we don’t actually need, which so easily put our mobile home overweight.

Where you locate heavy items is also paramount, as it will have a big impact on the balance and handling of your towed van. For example, any weight you put on the back of your van will take about 50 per cent of the weight of that object off the tow ball. Extra weight on the rear is responsible for more accidents from swaying than anything else.

Here are five heavy items you think you need, but probably don’t.


They weigh about 25kg and some go up to 35kg. With the rise in popularity for free camping and our reliance on all things electronic, it makes sense that we “need” a generator. But do we?

Solar panels are so efficient and with 95 per cent of our electrical requirements running off 12v, there is little need for 240v power even when off grid for weeks at a time.

Many National Parks don’t permit them. They are heavy and cumbersome and, if installed on the rear of your RV, can be dangerous by causing your van to sway. Let’s not forget the additional weight of a metal box to house it and the fuel in a separate container. The best place is to install on the A frame.

Storage Boxes

Some manufacturers offer storage boxes as an upgrade; others are included. They are usually big, made of metal and installed at the front, but many DIY versions are seen on the rear (dangerous). Zone RV includes its boxes in the tare weight of its vans; not all manufacturers do.

Like at home, an empty cupboard is impossible to ignore; it should be filled at all costs with little thought given to the weight of the items going in it. If it wasn’t there, would you take all those extras with you or be forced to reconsider if those items were necessary for your trip? Unless it has been included in the tare weight by the manufacturer, then I would recommend you don’t add a box front or rear

Bike Racks

These come in all shapes and sizes and weight; some being 20kg. Add to this the weight of the bikes — up to five if a family, then you have a challenge where to install it. Don’t forget ball weight also has a limit, so adding it to the A frame (best place in theory) could cause sway at low speeds.

On the rear requires mounting bolts (the next owner may not want holes in their van or a bike rack). Like a rear-mounted generator sway at high speeds is the result. Adding to your car is an option, but difficult to get to if on the roof. Realistically. How often will you use them? Batteries

What many owners don’t realise is just how much weight there is in a regular lead-acid battery — 100-120ah capacity will weigh between 30-40kg. Two batteries are the norm these days and they are likely to be located under the caravan, in external boxes attached to the chassis, usually just in front of the axles.

Some are found in the boot or inside under the bed. Avoid this — having battery boxes located behind the axles. If you’re upgrading the existing batteries, especially in an older van, consider where you place them and its effect on the balance of your van. Lithium batteries, although expensive, are much lighter and offer more usable power than the equivalent AGM batteries, so worth considering. But remember to upgrade the electrics as well.

Fuel & Water Jerry Cans

The holders for jerry cans placed on the rear are upgrades that manufacturers offer, but usually with very little thought to the effect they might have on the overall balance and weight distribution of your van. Jerry cans hold 20kg of water/fuel each. They are best placed on the A frame, if possible, and keep empty until close to your camping location. That way you lessen the driving distance with the extra weight as well able to lower your speed to avoid the effects of the imbalance they may cause.

Stay safe, pack sensibly, lose weight and have a great trip.