Five Tips on Loading your Caravan
Updated: Jan 2
It's important to load your caravan so you are not overweight or unbalanced.
An overweight or unbalanced caravan can contribute to an accident.
Here's just a few simple tips on how to load your caravan so you remain under the maximum weight limit (ATM), remain legal and enjoy your holiday.
Start by making a list so you only take what’s needed.
Here’s the #1 tip from caravan owners on reducing weight.
This might sound pretty basic… but here’s the reality:
You can need less stuff than you think.
If there’s only two of you, then you don’t need a dinner setting for six. Just pack maybe for four – so you have a few spares.
Don’t pack for guests – they can bring their own chair/mug/plate/beer.
After you pack your clothes – go through the bag and take one of everything out – you won’t need it!
Travelling with friends? Then you don't all need to take a fire pit - talk to each other and only take one of everything!
Just because the caravan has a lot of cupboards doesn’t mean you have to fill them. Try being minimalist – it’s easier than you think! Use the red dot system – put a red dot on everything – when you use it take the dot off – after two trips remove everything that still has a red dot on it.
And on that list - write down what each items weighs.
That way you can keep track.
Pack heavier items in the bottom cupboards
Place tinned foods in the lower cupboards (and don't take too many) – same goes for the frypan & saucepan (yes you only need one – my wife uses the one pot vegetable system - one saucepan - just put all your veges in the one pot and cook.)
If you take books put them in low cabinets and don’t carry books you have already finished. Swap them for another. When something has a lower centre of gravity it’s more stable. So by putting your weight low – it offsets the weight on the top of the van like solar panels and air conditioners.
Put heavy items above the caravans axles and load your caravan evenly on both sides
By putting the heaviest items above the axles, it will be easier to balance the van. Make sure you don’t put too much on the front of the van which will increase the tow ball weight – but be more aware of putting weight on the rear of the van as this can make the tow ball weight too light.
A light tow ball can cause towing instability which can lead to accidents.
Bikes and generators a big no no on the backs of Caravans. Yes we all know people who have them on - but are they overweight or is their caravan stable ?
Every caravan we have weighed with too much on
the rear, has had a light tow ball.
(Note after weighing this 2nd hand caravan the owner removed all the boxes on the back.)
If you have camp chairs and tables put them on the floor – over the axle – that’s a double win! Hopefully your caravan comes balanced from the factory with the weight fairly evenly distributed from one side to the other.
However some vans will have the fridge and oven on the same side. So check your weight distribution and load accordingly.
Also know how much weight put in separate place effects your tow ball. Where is the sweet spot that 90% of weight goes on the wheels?
Know how much weight goes on the wheels and the tow ball if you put items under the bed or in the tunnel boot. (At Check Weight when we weigh a van we give you this information !)
And work out how much weight comes OFF the tow ball when you put weight at the back.
You'll be surprised - it can be scary.
Pack everything away and secure it before towing
Make sure everything is secure and doesn’t slide around. Weight moving front to back – or side to side - may upset your balance. You may not notice it much unless you have an emergency situation – then it could be too late.
If you brake heavily you don’t want things moving forward – as they could break or damage part of your caravan as well. Use velcro for smaller items (ie TV Remotes) occy straps etc and make sure all cupboards are shut correctly. Take the TV off its stand and lay it flat and secure it properly.
Weigh your caravan with the water tanks full
I know this goes against a lot of advice elsewhere but I reckon we should weigh our van with the water tanks full.
Because that gives you a proper benchmark of your total weight.
If you have to travel with tanks empty because your overweight- then you need to shed weight elsewhere.
Know where your water tanks are placed and how that weight distributes.
And find out if it’s recommended that you travel with water tanks full or empty.
The water (as the tank is low and in the centre) could actually help balance your van.
Water is a precious commodity and especially during times of drought you can’t expect to rock up to a town and fill your water tanks for free.
In some vans too, travelling with water tanks half full can create sloshing and lead to swaying if the tanks don’t have baffles. So have a read of your manual.
Remember 1 litre of water equals approximately 1 kilogram.
And if you think your saving fuel by travelling with water tanks empty as it's less weight - then do some math - If you think your saving big $ by travelling with 190kg (two tanks @ 95 ltrs) less think again - It doesn't make that much difference in a 5-6 tonne Gross Combination Mass! (can't wait for the comments on this one !)