Weight Problems

So we hit our first semi-major snag in the plan, we want to carry more than this RV can carry. So let’s start with what the plan was.

We wanted to be able to drive around more efficiently than the 10MPG that the motorhome gets and we didn’t want to need to pack up the motor home completely every time we needed to get groceries or I wanted to go kayaking, so we were planing on towing our Pontiac Vibe behind the motor home with some kayaks on top of it. This would allow us to drive everything to where we wanted to camp and then we could leave the motorhome alone while we still could get around with the car. Its a similar plan to lots of other RVers whose blogs we follow. RV LoveTechnomadia, and Gone with the Wynns all have towed cars behind their rigs (otherwise know as Toads). One thing you’ll notice about all of those rigs though, is that they are giant Class A bus-style rigs. Our’s is a much smaller Class C van-style rig.

This brings us to our problem. I was digging through all the owners manuals that came with our rig (I think it has every single manual for every single piece of equipment in the rig, it has made researching how to use and fix it MUCH easier). And I found the actual model number and weight ratings. While I thought it was a 28 footer, it is actually a 26 footer. So a little smaller than expected but not bad yet. But lets talk weight ratings for this 26 foot RV.

The important numbers you need to know are Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). There are other ratings for individual axles and the tow hitch and other things but lets just stick with these two. The GVWR is the maximum allowed weight of the motorhome itself fully loaded with gas, water, people, dogs, clothes, dishes, etc. The GCWR is the maximum weight of the motorhome fully loaded, plus the weight of any trailers with cargo plus hitches. On most vehicles, the GCWR is a couple thousand pounds higher than the GVWR. Apparently that isn’t the case with our rig. Both the GVWR and the GCWR on this vehicle are 11,000 pounds (-2% per 1000 feet of elevation, oh boy).

So the total weight of the motorhome, all of our stuff, ourselves AND the Vibe and kayaks needs to be under 11,000 pounds (or 10,000 here in Denver and less higher up but we can get creative about filling up water tanks near our destination and driving the Vibe over mountain passes separately if need be). I need to get it weighed at a weigh station but the previous owner mentioned that it was around 7000 pounds last time he weighed it. So, we need the motor home (7000), the Vibe (2700), the kayaks, rack and towing equipment (300), another 3 batteries and mounting hardware and interconnection cables (180), solar panels and mounting hardware (100), us and cheat (~420), and water (35+6 gallons * 8 pounds/gallon = 328)

7000+2700+300+180+100+420+328 = 11,028 pounds > 11,000 pounds = illegal to drive.

And that is assuming it was exactly 7000 pounds with a full tank of gas, and we don’t have any clothes, computers, kitchenware or food accounted for yet.

I’m pretty sure I can pull 500 pounds out of it. TV antenna, microwave, furnace, speakers, twin beds in the back, ladder, and the luggage rack on the roof and maybe even a chair can all go. I’m probably over-estimating a couple other places and we won’t need to take on water until we are at or really close to our destination.

But even with that best case scenario we’re really close (a lot closer than I want to be in the mountains). First step though is I need to weigh the thing and start from there. If it comes back at 8,000 pounds or more, we may need to make serious changes to the plan, but we’ll see. Let me get back to you.

Follow-up: Weight Problems- Solved! 

4 thoughts on “Weight Problems

  1. Do you have ” SMART CARS ” over there , super dinky small cars made by mercedes ?
    They weigh half of what a compact american car would !
    I have seen other small euro cars being towed here in the U.K by smaller rigs and our rules seem similar to yours .


    1. Thanks for the idea! We do actually have them here and getting one was a possibility. They weigh about 1800 pounds versus the 2700 of the Vibe but we weren’t crazy about using a smart car for carrying kayaks to and from the river. Doable, but it would be nowhere near as good of a river car. They also are kinda small for 2 people plus an 80 pound dog for just driving around. Fortunately we found some other options to deal with the weight problems https://therecklesschoice.com/2015/11/12/weight-problems-solved/


  2. Just wondering, why do you have a picture of a Class A towing the Pontiac with kayaks when you talk about owning a Class C? Just curious. We are making plans to hit the road soon, and we are not sure which RV to settle on.


    1. Hi Annette. When we wrote this post we didn’t have our rig ready to go yet so we just used a stock photo of an RV towing a car with kayaks on top. It’s not our setup. Sorry for the confusion. You can see our setup here: https://therecklesschoice.com/2016/05/20/packing-up-and-moving-out/.

      As for which to settle on, it’s a tough call. We liked the class C because it was cheap and the bed over the cab gave us more effective floor space for the size of the vehicle, but at the same time, it doesn’t have as much storage space as a Class A and the components are all bottom of the barrel and full time living puts a lot of pressure on that. For us, being cheap was one of the big motivators though. For every ~$1000 you don’t spend on the rig, that’s a month of resort living you get for free if you pay monthly. That’s 2 months if you stay in forest service campgrounds. I’m willing to put up with a lot of lost amenities you get with a Class A for 2 months of free camping.


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