When planning an RV trip, it’s natural to focus on the destination. But many RV enthusiasts often find the journey to be far more exciting. The trick is making the journey exciting for the RIGHT reasons instead of due to unexpected issues.
Whether you’re a full-time RVer, a weekend warrior, or just bought a new travel trailer, your journey will be smoother once you master hitching and towing. Fortunately, Camping World has everything you need to hitch and tow your RV so you can soak in each mile as you travel toward your dream destination.
A must-have for anyone towing an RV behind their vehicle, a quality hitch receiver is the connection point between your tow vehicle and your towable RV. Hitch receivers are typically bolted or welded to your tow vehicle and they provide a way to attach the ball mount or other hitch accessories needed to tow.
Choosing the right hitch receiver requires an understanding of RV weight ratings. Hitch receivers are separated into five main categories depending on how much they are rated to tow safely. There are also several types of hitch receivers, but two of the most common are bumper-mounted hitches and gooseneck hitches (common for 5th wheel towing).
You might also find our Towing Calculator useful when selecting the right hitch receiver.
Ball Mounts & Hitch Balls
To complete the connection between your vehicle and the RV you’re towing, you need a ball mount (also known as a hitch ball). Made up of a shank and a trailer ball, the shank of the ball mount is inserted into the hitch receiver. The trailer ball is a solid mounting point that the tongue of your trailer lowers onto and secured around. Once connected, it allows your RV to follow your tow vehicle smoothly.
Don’t forget pins and clips! While some ball mounts are comprised of a single piece, others are adjustable and have the option to use a hitch pin or clip. They’re easy to use, but also easy to lose – stock up on a few just in case.
Weight Distribution Hitches
An important factor to consider when towing is proper weight distribution. To keep your RV from bouncing up and down or swaying side to side, equal weight distribution is a necessity. A weight distribution hitch reduces the chance of losing control by keeping the weight of the RV balanced and evenly distributed while in transit.
Weight distribution hitches also help you tow more efficiently by leveling your RV and tow vehicle. These hitch components are a bit technical, so be sure to learn how to hook up a weight distribution hitch and how to adjust a weight distribution hitch before towing.
Another necessity for all towable RVs is a tongue jack. Created to aid in lifting and lowering the tongue of your trailer for coupling, a tongue jack is your best friend for hitching up your RV to tow. Tongue jacks are also essential for setting up and leveling your RV when you get to camp.
There are two main types of tongue jacks out there: manual and electric. Electric jacks make things a lot easier, but they do have more components that can require repair over the life of your RV. Manual jacks are less likely to malfunction, but they require a lot more work to raise and lower.
Whether you choose an electric or manual tongue jack, this is an RV towing accessory you should never go without.
Hitch & Trailer Locks
When you’ve invested in quality items to successfully hitch and tow your RV, the last thing you want is for them to go missing. That’s not to mention the possibility of your entire trailer being hooked up and hauled away if you leave it parked without the right security measures in place.
It’s not a secret that trailers are an occasional target for tampering and theft, but with a trustworthy hitch lock or trailer lock, it becomes much less of an issue. Prevent hitch uncoupling and protect your RV with a high-quality lock that stands guard when you step away.
Backup Systems & Accessories
While mastering the art of towing your RV forward may come easy, it’s crucial that you set yourself up to back up safely as well. A little more of a challenge, putting your vehicle in reverse while towing is a task that takes practice to perfect.
Luckily, there are backup systems and accessories to help! From backup cameras to rear view safety wireless hitch systems to side cameras with LED marker lights and more, there is plenty of assistance to get your rear in gear.
Speaking of accessories, check out this guide for accessories designed to make RVing easier.
We’re flying through this list of hitch and tow essentials, so let’s slow down for a moment and talk about brake controls. The heavier the load you’re towing, the longer it takes to brake and come to a complete stop. The extra weight behind you makes safe braking more difficult, especially when traveling at higher speeds.
With a brake controller, you’re able to activate and apply pressure to the braking system in your towable RV. Electrical signals sync your trailer’s brakes with your vehicle’s brakes, so your RV slows in sync with your towing vehicle. It’s one of those items you’ll wonder how you ever lived without once implemented.
While they’re essential for maneuvering your trailer into position to hitch up, your RV’s wheels must be locked in place when hitching to your tow vehicle. RV wheel chocks are the best way to prevent accidental movement when loading, unloading, and especially while hitching. Chocks not only keep the wheels from rolling but they also help protect everyone – and everything – around.
Navigating in your RV can be a struggle if you’re reliant on a paper atlas. One trip using a GPS unit and you’ll be itching to make another and another. Created to make traveling easier, a GPS will help you find the most RV-friendly roads and avoid obstacles so you can enjoy a more stress-free journey.
Take the Garmin RV 780, for example, which is an advanced GPS navigator designed specifically with the RV enthusiast in mind. You’ll get custom routes that account for the size and weight of your RV, road warnings to alert you of steep grades and sharp curves, a directory of RV parks, and more. It’s the best co-pilot you could ask for!
Hitch & Tow Essentials
With this list of hitching and towing essentials, you’ll have everything you need to tow your RV properly and safely. Whether you’re towing a travel trailer, a fifth wheel, or another class of RV, have peace of mind knowing you’re prepared.
For more information regarding all things towing, check out the articles below:
- Surefire Safety Tips for Navigating Grades While Towing
- Ask an Expert: Essential RV Hitch and Tow Basics for Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels
- Essential Tips for Towing in the Snow
Are you experienced when it comes to towing an RV? Give your best tips and advice in the comments below!