In short, an average camper trailer weighs around 5,200 pounds (2,350 kilos) dry weight, which means the importance of the trailer when its tanks are not filled, and it has no gear in it. You can expect to add 1,500 pounds (680 kilos) of equipment and water to that number to get a “real world” example.
This depends dramatically on the length of your camper trailer and the construction type of your camper, so I’ll include a bunch of examples later in this article. As a general rule, you can expect your trailer, filled with water and gear, to weigh about 250 pounds per foot of trailer (the box length, not the total length, including the hitch).
I’m assuming you googled average camper weights because you’re trying to figure out how big of a trailer you can buy and successfully tow with your truck. In general, a car or other vehicle that advertises it can tow 7,200 pounds (3,250 kilos) is adequate for towing most trailers under 24 feet.
These are a few examples of popular camper models and how much they weigh:
- 3,715 pounds without gear and water – 2015 Jayco Jayflight 19RD (19 feet box length)
- 3,786 pounds without gear and water – 2017 R-Pod RP-176 (17 feet long)
- 3,974 pounds without gear and water – 2017 Coleman CTS192RDWE (23 feet box length)
- 4,800 pounds without gear and water – 2017 Rockwood Mini-Light 2504s (25-foot long box length, 29-foot total length)
- 5,118 pounds without gear and water – 2017 Salem Hemisphere 24BH (24-foot long box length)
- 5,605 pounds without gear and water – 2015 Jayco Jay Flight 26RKS (26-foot long box length)
- 6,030 pounds without gear and water – 2015 Jayco Jay Flight 27RLS (27-foot long box length)
- 7,690 pounds without gear and water – 2016 Jayco Jay Flight 38BHDS (38-foot long box)
- 7,705 pounds without gear and water – 2017 Cherokee West 274DBH (32-foot long box)
Water and Gear Weight
Water weighs eight pounds per gallon, and an average trailer has a 48-gallon freshwater tank. Your freshwater tank will add nearly 400 pounds to the weight of your trailer.
Then, we add in gear to the camper. A generator capable of powering a travel trailer air conditioner weighs about 90 pounds. You’re also likely to add another 400 pounds of camping gear, food, and kitchen supplies–even if you aren’t going crazy.
Slides and the Weight of Your Camper
Remember that if your camper has slide-outs, it will dramatically increase the weight of the trailer. A single slide-out often adds 800 pounds to the importance of the trailer.
If your camper has “pop-outs” instead, which are the canvas tent material that pops out, it won’t add any significant amount of weight. These are only the motorized slide outs that I’m discussing here.
How Construction Type Affects Weight
There are two ways to build a camper trailer. The first way is with fiberglass construction. This is the type where your camper has smooth exterior sidewalls. This type of camper has aluminum metal structuring, which is significantly lighter than traditional “stick-built” trailers with wooden 2×4’s.
Stick built trailers are the type with aluminum corrugated siding on the outside. They have bumps along the entire exterior of the trailer. Since you’re adding the weight of a large load of lumber, these trailers are usually about 900 pounds heavier if all else is equal.
Airstream trailers are a whole other animal.
Understanding the Listed Numbers
It cannot be obvious to see all of the different numbers listed for the campers. When I was out on the lot, I was confused when some salespeople would give me the gross weight, and others would give me the dry weight. I learned that the best policy was to take the unloaded vehicle weight and add 1,500 pounds to it for gear and water.
Unloaded vehicle weight – This is the camper’s weight with no water or gear—just the trailer.
Gross vehicle weight – The total weight of the trailer, full tanks, and an average gear load. This is the maximum amount that the trailer could weigh. But there’s a lot more to Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR).
Dry hitch weight – The dry hitch weight is the amount of weight put on your towing vehicle’s trailer ball when the trailer is unloaded of water and gear. This number is usually relatively low–about 10% of the total weight of the trailer. For my 25′ trailer, the dry hitch weight is under 500 pounds.
Cargo carrying capacity – The maximum amount of gear and stuff that the trailer should be filled with.
Don’t Max Out Your Towing Vehicle.
It may surprise you that the “maximum towing capacity” for your vehicle could be more than the weight of your camper, but you still shouldn’t tow it.
My recommendation is to take the dry weight of the camper you want to buy and add 1,500 pounds. Take that number and make sure that it isn’t more than 80% of the total weight your towing vehicle says it can tow.
There are lots of good reasons not to buy as much trailer as your vehicle can tow. First of all, it means you’re likely to burn out your transmission over the long term. Secondly, it means you likely won’t be able to drive anywhere near the speed limit when going up hills–if you can make it up hills at all. Last, you want to leave a little margin of error if either the trailer company or your towing vehicle are giving “overly hopeful” numbers to you in the advertising materials.
One last suggestion is to go open the door to your tow vehicle and look at the sticker inside the driver’s door. It will tell you the amount it can tow, and it’s essential that you go by that number and NOT the number you see when you google your vehicle and the tow weight. The amount the car can tow will depend dramatically on what options and packages were purchased with the car when it was new, and the only way to know for sure what your specific model can use is to check the sticker.
My tow vehicle is a 2012 Dodge Durango with the tow package. It tows 7,100 pounds. My trailer weighs 4,800 pounds dry weight (6,300 pounds of the total weight when full of gear and water). Even though that’s nearly 1,000 pounds under what my tow vehicle can tow safely, I still can only go about 55 miles per hour when going up a steep hill.
Do You Need a Truck?
Be wary as you shop for campers to ensure that you don’t get taken by the marketing. Almost every camper today, no matter how bloated and heavy, is marketed as “lightweight, superlight, Featherlite, etc.” Check the numbers.
There is a camper for almost every type of vehicle. Even a car can tow a little one-person teardrop camper. However, if you want a massive 26′ trailer, don’t stress your mini-SUV by pushing the limits of your tow capacity.
That said, if you want something light enough to tow with a smaller vehicle.
Sometimes, if you want the big fat RV, you have to get a big overweight truck to match. I towed my trailer with a V8 Dodge Durango for a while but eventually gave in and bought an F-150.
-our editorial board has reviewed this article and has been approved for publication according to our editorial policy.