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Camper towing Help...

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Newer user to this forum, though I have been on others in the past...


I am getting different opinions from different family and friends- many seem to contradict each other. So I thought I would ask this community for thoughts.


The wife and I have recently purchased, used from friends, a new camper. The camper is a 30 foot Coachman Catalina (1997). The book weight of this trailer says 5,100lbs and includes trailer brakes.


I am planning to haul with my 2012 GMC Sierra 1500. Specs on the truck include; 4x4, crew cab, max trailer package (5.3 KDL HD Cooling Package, trailer brake harness, 3.42 ratio). I have installed the Tekonsha P3 brake controller and am planning to use a weight distributing hitch with sway control. I am currently leaning toward the Camco Recurve R6 hitch to meet both these needs (receiver hitch is rated to 1,100lbs with WD hitch). The truck manual max trailer weight states 9,500lbs with a GCWR of 15,000lbs (truck GVWR 7,000lbs). I do understand the balancing required between truck and trailer for GCWR; if truck fully loaded is 5,500lbs and tongue weight is 1,000 pounds the max trailer becomes 8,500 pounds not the book stated 9,500.


So, with this info I have some friends stating that this will fall well within the limits of the truck. And others stating that I need at minimum a 3/4 ton truck to haul this camper. Based on the info I have been able to collect I feel like I should be just fine with this trailer and truck combination... Yes it will be heavy, but not reaching the max weights- or even coming close (I am estimating 7,000lbs trailer fully loaded). And with trailer brakes and a quality proportional brake control I feel confident in stopping power.


*I guess my analogy/thought is this; if I am mowing a 1/4 acre lawn, sure a riding mower would be great, but a push mower will get the job done just fine and without any difficulty.

Am I right in thinking that while a 3/4 ton truck would be easier, my 1/2 ton will get the job done just fine?

Edited by centralmepistol
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Based on the info I have been able to collect I feel like I should be just fine with this trailer and truck combination... Yes it will be heavy


You are spot on. You can definitely pull that trailer. And a 3/4 ton will definitely handle it better than your truck.


If you only take 1 or 2 trips a year, I would just drive cautiously and keep on enjoying it.


But if you are living out of the camper all summer and driving across the county, a HD truck should be highly considered.


Tip, if you really are on the fence, find a truck scale and get the actual weight of it + your truck.

your "book weight" may not include everything in that trailer and it could weight more than you think.

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Your truck will do it.

A 3/4 would be an improvement for weight capacity and brakes.

A 3/4 with a bigger motor would be nice.

A diesel 3/4 would be the best for towing.


Your amount (miles) of towing and terrain will affect performance and truck wear.

The answer is what you think after towing the trailer. :happysad:

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As others have said, you should be just fine for weekend camping trips. If you start traveling more and on longer trips you would probably want to advance to a HD. I would also figure out a way to scale both the truck and trailer at a CAT scale that way you will know exactly what you are weight wise. I also agree with the 80% max for all ratings.

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Mine weighs similar to yours. Sticker on mine says dry weight is 5050 and I took it to the CAT scales loaded up for a camping weekend. My total camping weight was 6300lbs and that also included ice chests and firewood. Like other's have said your truck will be just fine but if you start travelling for the long haul consider the HD.

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Welcome and congrats no the new to you tt!!!


You are on the right track as to figuring out hat all is involved regarding towing a tt beyond just the "tow rating". Chances are you will be ok with that combo, BUT there is some info you didn't post that does help.


The biggest obstacle of towing a larger tt with a 1500/150 is the payload of the truck, not the tow rating. Not sure what exact model you truck is, but look in the drivers door jamb for a yellow payload sticker, that states: "All occupants and cargo not to exceed XXXXlbs". This is the rated payload for your truck as it rolled off the assembly line.


Now, as the stickers states, the rated payload includes: All occupants, cargo (coolers, bikes, firewood, etc), any accessories added (truck topper/ tonneau cover, step bars, etc), the wdh, and the tt tw (travel trailer tongue weight). While difficult, try to estimate what you may carry in the truck bed weight wise, add in the family weight, ~100lbs for the wdh, and figure roughly 12% of the tt gvwr for the loaded tt tw. Compare the estimated total weight vs the rated payload weight. One place to be light weight wise is to have an empty (or almost empty) truck bed.


Good luck and keep us posted!!!

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If your camper only weighs 5000# plus, it probably has two 3500# axles with a max of 7000#. That would put you way below your trucks tow capacity of over 9000#. I have a 2016 Sierra 1500 with the 5.3 and 3.42 rear end. I just bought a Minnie Plus that tops out at over 8000#, 6250# dry. I towed it home yesterday and it towed like a dream. No issues what so ever. I have an Equal-I-zer hitch and had zero sway. Plenty of power in the hills. Interesting to have the truck automatically down shift going down some hills. I too, had serious considerations and thoughts about being up there in weight, but if the combination is set up right, there should be no problems. I figure that my trailer will probably never weigh in over 7500# and that is close to 2000# below my tow max. I have a factory brake controller and had it only set at 2.5 with excellent braking on the trailer. I see that you are in central Maine. I am in Leeds.

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I go back n forth between a newer 1500 or 2500 daily. How much better will a newer 1500 tow over my 09?? Maybe I don't need that 2500. But then again, deep down, I feel to do it right, I should have a 2500, just to be safe, have that overkill. sigh

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Thanks all for your comments and suggestions...

I will be picking up the camper in the next week or so. I will most likely haul it home (across town) without a WD- dry weight should put it right about max hitch tongue weight, but I figure a few slow miles across town should be ok. Heck, I've done a ton of wood pellets in a little ol' F-ranger across town once or twice!

I suppose I could borrow my brother-in-law's 3/4 to get it home... but who likes to bother the in-laws!


I have done a great deal of research on hitches and after tons of reviews, forums, videos, and more... I think the Camco R6 is the right one for me.


Interestingly I found a very interesting tool/technology for sway control that I may add at a later date, particularly if I plan any long distance hauls. It is the Tuson Electronic Sway Control (though I think Dexter makes it now). Very interesting device that applies the trailer breaks left and right separately to control sway. Would love to hear about it if anyone has ever tried it!


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You'll be just fine. I've got an 05 1500 with 148k miles that pulls a 6300lb dry, over 7000lb loaded 28ft trailer every other weekend. I've got the equalizer 10k hitch that works it's magic. And the P3 brake controller which is worlds better than the older brake controllers.


I only pull it a couple hundred miles max, just cause I don't want to be tugging it long distances. I only go 65-70mph max. Going up hills is a real struggle. Definitely need more power, but a diesel 3/4 ton just isn't in the budget right now.

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As others have said, the payload capacity of the truck is the limiting factor, not the towing capacity. I tow a 26' 73-7500lb (loaded) travel trailer with an '04 1/2 ton Silverado. Since my tongue weight is almost 1000 lbs I can't load the truck bed or the truck axles are overweight. Everything goes in the TT. I have no problems locally, but wouldn't want to take it over mountain passes very often.

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