Trailer Camping 101
It’s the long weekend and many campgrounds are now open or planning to open soon for the summer months. We thought this would be a great time to re-share this information on trailer camping!
The call of the wild, getting out of town on a camping trip, and enjoying nature is such a great way to enjoy the weekend. If you are camping with your new trailer or boat, it will be just that more enjoyable!
Here are some tips to help ensure a great time:
Whether it is a personal watercraft on a small trailer or a large double axle camper trailer, loading is one of the most important aspects. Where you place your load affects how the trailer will handle. If it is tail-heavy, the trailer will tend to sway unpredictably. When you put your cargo onto the trailer, try placing about 60% of the load in front of the axle and aim for a 10 – 12% tongue weight. You can use a bathroom scale to determine this.
Try and keep your load even from side to side and with a low centre of gravity. This will also improve the handling of your trailer. Once you have your cargo distributed properly, secure it all. There is no guarantee that things will stay where they are once you start moving. After 10-15 km of towing, it’s a good idea to go back and check it all again, as things are probably going to shift.
Check your connections including the lighting cable, tongue, equalizer bars, chains and breakaway cable. The chains should be attached in an “x” pattern to catch the tongue of the trailer should it disconnect somehow. The breakaway cable triggers the trailer’s brakes to hopefully slow it to a stop if it becomes disconnected.
Check the trailer lights by flipping on the hazard and headlights on the tow vehicle. This runs all lighting circuits on the trailer and you can check them all at once.
This new package of vehicle and trailer are now much longer and heavier than a regular car. Stopping distances are also going to be larger. Look further down the road and try and predict what is going to happen. Put more distance between you and the next vehicle in front of you, turn wider to accommodate the length of your trailer, and take things slower. Be extra careful when changing lanes and plan your route ahead of time.
Trailer sway can occur when towing, and it can be a little scary when it does. Try using your brake controller to apply some braking power. Otherwise use your vehicle brakes to slow things down to a more manageable speed. This should almost always correct the sway even if the sway was started with a strong crosswind or by the wind from an 18-wheeler.
No one really likes this part, especially if there is a crowd. Most people know that shorter trailers are much harder to back up than longer trailers, but if you go slow, thinking about your actions and taking your time will make it easier to handle. If you are new to maneuvering a trailer, things can get confusing and sideways very quickly. Try this: when you are ready to reverse your trailer, grip one hand at the bottom of your steering wheel and use this for your reference point. If you want your trailer to turn left or to the drivers side, twist the steering wheel up and to the left, or clockwise. If you want the trailer to go to the right, move your hand to the right. This might seem confusing, but try it out, it could work for you.
It’s also a good idea to jump out of your vehicle and do a walk around of the area where you will be parking your trailer. Pay close attention to low overhangs that you could hit with the top of the trailer, or sloped grades which could cause the rig to slip or sink. Visualizing the final parking spot is helpful, as well as ensuring the trailer length will fit properly and the view out the front door is appropriate. It’s always great have a spotter behind the trailer with a walkie talkie or a loud voice to guide things.
Now that your trailer is ready to go, check out this great Camping Checklist:
And who could forget these great camping recipes?
We hope you have found this post helpful and we wish you a great camping season! As a friendly reminder, we are able to assist you with all of your recreational insurance needs. If you are interested in a quote or in need of some advice on coverage, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
The Costen Insurance Team
*Thank you to our valued client and camping enthusiast, Dan Penton, for providing the content for this post.