Last Updated on November 10, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
If you’re like I was when I was starting, you’re likely wondering, “What is dry weight on a camper?”
It confused me for the longest time and frustrated me that I couldn’t get a straight answer—even from the supposed experts who really wanted to sell me an RV.
Continue reading this article, and you’ll learn what dry weight is and why it’s important that you know this number for your RV.
What Is Dry Weight on a Camper? – Understanding RV Weights
Dry weight is how much your camper weighs with its standard equipment. It does not include fuel, passengers, cargo, fluids, or other equipment you might want to put in it later.
Keep in mind that there may be some things that are a little different. It may include fluid in on onboard generator, and it may or may not include RV batteries. If you look at the chart on the camper you’re considering; it should give any special differences about the dry weight.
You probably don’t want to become an RV scholar when you’re just trying to hit the road camping, but understanding RV weights is essential.
Now you know what dry weight is, but there are some other weights you need to understand.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is how much your camper can be safe weighing, including the dry weight and the rest of what you want to carry in it. That includes people, pets, luggage—anything.
If you’re going to put it in your RV and you’re worried that you’re going to get close to that weight, you should leave it out.
Gross Combined Weight Rating
Gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is how much your camper and your loaded tow vehicle can weigh.
What Happens If You Go Over GVWR or GCWR?
If you’re a limit pusher, you might be wondering how serious it is to go over your GVWR or GCWR.
RVs that go over their GVWR experience more wear and tear and are likely to start breaking down much faster. Even if you’re talking about a pull-behind camper, you must keep the weight down, so you don’t start experiencing severe problems.
It will be more difficult to handle the RV, and besides that, your legal and financial liability can skyrocket. Why? If you’re involved in an accident, and they can prove that you were operating over your camper’s weight limit, you could be in big problem.
Being over these limits also puts you at greater risk of tire blowouts which no one wants to deal with.
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How to Know If Your Camper is Overweight
Now that you understand that this is a serious problem, you might be ready to start making some moves to fix it.
The first thing you need to do is to figure out if you do have a problem. You might think you’re over your GVWR, and you might be perfectly fine.
To figure out if your RV is overweight or not, you need to first find out what your camper’s dry weight is. You can usually find that somewhere in your RV. You’ve likely even seen the chart full of confusing numbers and just decided not to bother with it, or you can check your owner’s manual.
Once you know your numbers, it’s time to figure out how much stuff you have in your camper.
It’s best to overestimate how heavy all of your things are than to underestimate. If you really want to know exactly how much everything weighs so you can get an accurate number, then you can weigh each thing and add it to the dry weight—or you can do things the easy way.
Go to the Weigh Station
Going to a weigh station to get an accurate weight on your camper is the easiest way to figure out of your RV is overweight.
Each of your wheels has a maximum weight it is designed to carry, and the weight station can let you know how much each of your axles is carrying.
If you’re going to get a wheel positioning weighing, you’re looking at at least the cost of $65. A normal weighing is much less, so just figure out which one you need.
If you do get a wheel positioning weighing, you’ll be able to reposition anything in your RV if you have too much weight on one of the axles.
How Heavy of a Camper Should You Buy?
Now that you know more about dry weight and how to figure out if your camper is the right weight, you might be wondering how heavy of a camper you should buy.
Make sure you check how much weight your vehicle can tow and know that the important weight is the GVWR.
If your tow vehicle can handle 6,000 pounds then make sure you don’t go over that. If you tow more than you’re supposed to, it can hurt your tow vehicle. If you need to upgrade your tow vehicle—do it. But don’t try to pull too much and end up messing something up.