How much does a small camper weigh? This is a question that many people may be curious about, especially if they have a smaller tow vehicle. A small camper can refer to various sizes and types of campers, so it isn’t easy to give an accurate answer without more information. Some camper trailers may only weigh a few hundred pounds, while larger campers can weigh several thousand pounds. The weight of a small camper also depends on how it is equipped and how many people will be using it.
If you are planning to buy or rent a small camper, it is essential to find out how much it weighs so that you can determine if your vehicle can safely tow it.
To get you started, these are some of the most common and popular campers and their weights. We’ll discuss the importance of knowing the weight and how to calculate the weight later.
|Lantern LT 17R
|Passport SL 189RB
|Sea Breeze 16RB
|Autumn Ridge 172FB
Why do you need to know the weight of a camper?
Understanding the weight of your camper is vital for a few reasons.
The first reason is to know how much your vehicle can tow. This is called your vehicle’s towing capacity—how much your car, truck, or SUV can pull. You need to make sure that your vehicle can handle the camper’s weight, and you also need to be aware of how much weight you’re adding to your vehicle.
Another reason your camper’s weight is significant is fuel efficiency. The heavier your trailer, the more fuel it will use. Obviously, with gas and diesel prices as they are, you want to be as fuel efficient as possible.
The last reason knowing the weight of your camper is essential is for safety. The heavier your trailer, the harder it will be to stop. This is especially important if you have to make a sudden stop or if you’re driving in bad weather conditions. Some trailers have braking systems installed and those make it easier to stop. Regardless, you still don’t want a camper that is too much for your vehicle to handle.
Gross weight vs. dry weight.
You may have heard these terms before, but what do they mean? They are different ways of measuring the weight of a camper.
Gross weight, often referred to as the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW), is the camper’s weight when fully loaded with all of its gear. When you add in all of the kitchenware, camping chairs, food, clothes, and anything else you plan on bringing with you on your trip – plus the weight of the camper itself – that’s the gross weight.
Dry weight, or tare weight as it is sometimes called, is the camper’s weight without any of its gear or belongings. This is how much the trailer weighs when it leaves the factory, like what we listed above. If you modify anything in the camper, that will also affect the dry weight. So if you add a larger water tank, for example, the dry weight will increase.
The gross weight will always be more than the dry weight because of the gear and belongings you’ll be adding to the camper.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating for a Tow Vehicle
The gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum weight a vehicle can safely tow. This includes the weight of the vehicle itself, the travel trailer or camper weight, and any gear and belongings you’ll bring with you. Think of it as the maximum towing capacity of the towing vehicle.
This is a significant number to know because the tow vehicle is designed to handle a certain amount of weight safely. If you exceed the GVWR by adding in extra weight, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.
You can usually find the gross vehicle weight rating in the owner’s manual for your tow vehicle. If you don’t have the manual, you can also find it on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.
It’s essential to know your tow vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating because if you exceed it, you could damage your car or have an accident.
Unloaded Vehicle Weight
The unloaded vehicle weight (UVW) is how much the travel trailer weighs without any gear or belongings inside of it. This is how much the camper weighs when it leaves the factory. Sometimes this is referred to as the “dry weight” or the “tare weight” as we discussed previously. It’s essentially the camper construction weight.
If you modify anything in the camper, that will also affect the UVW. So if you add a larger water tank, for example, the UVW will increase.
The UVW is important to know because weight of the trailer without any camping gear or belongings inside. Think of it as a baseline for your camper weight. If you happen to know the UVW and you add in your camping gear, be sure to keep maximum weight of the trailer.
Which, let’s dive into the capacity of the travel trailer.
Cargo Carrying Capacity of the Travel Trailer
The cargo carrying capacity of the travel trailer is different from the dry weight and the gross vehicle weight rating. Cargo carrying capacity is how much weight the trailer can safely carry – including the weight of the camper itself, plus any camping gear and other belongings you’ll be bringing with you.
This number is significant because it tells you how much weight your trailer can handle. You might damage your RV or travel trailer if you exceed the cargo-carrying capacity. The axles are designed to support a certain amount of weight; if you exceed that by adding extra weight, you could have an accident.
Additionally, you want to ensure you have adequate weight distribution or the cargo weight throughout your travel trailer to ensure you can control the towing vehicle comfortably and safely. Also be sure you stay within the speed limit if you have a heavier travel trailer.
Most small campers such as a teardrop camper can’t hold nearly as much cargo as say a toy hauler. So the cargo weight of the fully loaded trailer wouldn’t be much either way but you may still exceed the gross vehicle weight rating.
How to determine the weight of your trailer or camper.
There are a few ways to determine how much your camper weighs.
If you want an estimate, you’ll need to start with the dry weight. As we discussed, this is how much the camper or RV weighs empty. You can usually find this information on the data plate on the camper. Sometimes it’s on the outside of the camper, and other times it may be on the inside near the door.
If you can’t find the dry weight information, you can always contact the camper manufacturer and request the actual weight of the travel trailer. They will be able to tell you how much it weighs when it leaves the factory floor.
Once you have the dry weight, you must determine the weight of all your gear and belongings that you’ll be bringing with you on your trip. This may seem daunting, but it’s not too difficult.
To start, make a list of everything that you plan on bringing with you. Once you have your list, you can begin to weigh each item, but that may take a while. You can roughly estimate how much everything weighs. For example, your clothes may weigh about 10 pounds, and your dishes may weigh about 5 pounds.
After you estimate how much everything weighs, you can start to add it all up. Once that’s added up, add it to the dry weight. This will give you a good idea of how much your camper will weigh when it’s fully loaded for your trip.
Of course, the best way to get an accurate weight is to take your camper to a truck stop or a weigh station and have it weighed. It’s not too expensive, typically $5-$10 for a certified weight slip. I find that the most challenging part is finding a truck scale in your area; however, they are all over the place.
Examples of small campers and their weights.
There are so many different types and sizes of campers and travel trailers that it’s hard to give one definitive answer to how much a small camper weighs or even the average weight.
You’ll see that they weigh anywhere between 1,500lbs to around 5,000lbs dry weight. Keep in mind that the weight of the trailer may vary based on model and upgrades.
Pop Up Campers
Pop-up campers are one of a few types of lightweight travel trailers or RVs.
A pop up camper is generally the smallest and lightest type of camper. They are easy to tow and don’t require a large vehicle. They usually weigh between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds dry.
Pop-up campers are great for quick camping trips with the family. Of course, they don’t sleep many people, but they’re light and extremely portable. A decent pop up camper will keep a small family dry and cozy their entire trip.
These campers are a bit larger than pop-ups, but they are still relatively small and lightweight. An A-frame camper trailer is easy to tow and can be towed by most SUVs and minivans. They usually weigh between 1,500 and 2,500 pounds. Our friends have an A-Frame by Aliner (the Expedition model), which weighs 1,925 pounds. It’s the cutest little camper trailer.
Tear Drop Campers
These campers are a bit larger and heavier than A-Frames, but they are still small enough to be towed by most SUVs and minivans. They usually have a total weight between 1,500 and 3,000 pounds dry.
A teardrop camper is a step above a pop up camper trailer, but generally in the same class as a small travel trailer.
Small Travel Trailers
There is a lot of variation in size and weight for small travel trailers. They can range from around 3,000 pounds to 5,000 pounds or more.
You’ll probably need a truck or SUV to tow one of these. Our travel trailer is a 30′ Dutchmen Kodiak 291 RESL, and it weighs 6,500lbs dry.
Typically once we load it out for a long trip, it weighs around 7,200lbs. This is more of a mid-sized travel trailer, but it should give you an idea of how much weight you’re looking at.
Go and calculate the weight of your camper.
Hopefully, you have a good understanding of how much a small camper weighs.
One of the critical things to know is how much your tow vehicle can handle. With the average small camper weighing between 1,500 and 5,000 pounds (680 to 2,267 kilograms), most small SUVs, minivans, and trucks can take this weight.
However, just to be sure, we always recommend campers to weight their rigs to make sure they’re not exceeding the capacity of their vehicles.