Okay, I have a confession to make. I'm using the old “bait and switch” tactic. Completely illegal and extremely annoying, I know. Why did I pull a fast one? Because I don’t really want to talk about my weight; I want to talk about how much my travel trailer weighs. But, for those of you who are only interested (for whatever reason) in what I weigh, it’s 115 lbs. That’s on a 5’ 1’ frame and it’s all muscle. (Wink, wink.) If that’s all you really wanted to know, you can safely stop reading. I promise there will be no further divulgence of personal information today. Unless you count a list of items we pack in our travel trailer as personal information and you have a burning desire to know what’s on the list. What’s even more interesting than what's on the list, though, is how much the items weigh. You will be amazed!
Regular readers may remember that Alan and I bought a new travel trailer last year. Yes, quite the adventure that was and, if you missed it, feel free refer to my earlier post entitled Today is Our 1st Anniversary! for the full story. (Just remember to come back here when you’re finished.) Our Jayco Jay Flight 27BH had served our family of four extremely well for just over 10 years. But the kids had very stealthily become young adults while our backs were turned, and we realized that we no longer needed the bunks since they wouldn’t be traveling with us on a regular basis. We decided on a travel trailer with a rear living floor plan and our Creek Side 26RLS made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing joined the family. There is still plenty of room for the kids to stay with us – no matter what our daughter Kyra may tell you.
For the return trip home from the dealer with the Creek Side last year, we had brought along only the bare necessities, so we were pretty much starting from scratch when it came to packing our new “retirement home” for our first camping trip last fall. Over the past ten years, as our interests changed and the kids grew older, the list of items we needed to pack changed, as well. I’m sure this happens to many people who travel by RV. You leave out the kiddie toys but add more family games and puzzles or you don’t need four or five camp chairs any more, but you have more fishing tackle. In our case, one example is our bedding requirements. Instead of making up multiple beds, we now only carry extra sets of sheets when we know there’s a chance that the kids will join us.
Since Alan and I were now outfitting our retirement home instead of the family camper, we emptied everything out of the new trailer and started fresh. My penchant for details always comes in handy on a project like this and it took only minutes to update my current spreadsheet with a list of what we intended to pack in the Creek Side. Although the weighing of items was a bit tedious, we felt that this was a totally worthwhile endeavor for safety’s sake alone. We wanted to be sure we weren’t loading the trailer beyond its Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC) or Net Cargo Capacity (NCC) because the last thing we wanted was trouble on the road.
If you think that a little of this and a little of that doesn’t add up to a whole lot of weight, I’m here today to tell you that you’re wrong. Absolutely, positively wrong. Before we talk about the total weight of the “stuff” we “stuffed” in trailer, let’s talk about what kind of items we pack. I won’t bore you to tears with an itemized list of what we bring with us but, as I’m sure you can imagine, we cover a number of general categories that would apply to almost anyone who travels in or with a recreational vehicle of some type. We travel with our clothing; food in the fridge, freezer and pantry; household items like pots and pans, kitchen utensils and paper goods; personal care items; bedding; indoor and outdoor items that will keep us entertained like games and gear; and various auto and household tools. Keep in mind that we’re often on the road for at least two weeks at a time, but generally not more than four or five weeks at most. If you’re an RVer, you’re probably agreeing with our basic list – yup, sounds reasonable. Okay, now let’s look at the specifics.
We generally pack one laundry basket of clothing for me (26.6 lbs.) and one for Alan (18.8 lbs.). Don’t even think about making a comment! The food in our fridge is another 76.1 lbs. Don’t forget the freezer food (23.0 lbs.) and the pantry items (71.1 lbs.). Let’s move on to the pots and pans (17.8 lbs.), the kitchen utensils and silverware (8.0 lbs.), and the paper goods (21.0). To be fair, you should know that we usually stock the trailer with enough paper goods for the entire camping season because I buy those items in bulk so we don’t risk running out on the road. Wait, don’t forget a few laundry and cleaning supplies and the foil, plastic wrap and baggies. There’s another 11.4 lbs. We don’t want to forget the bug spray either and I’m pretty sure you don’t want us to leave the deodorant at home, so add another 12.4 lbs. for our personal care and bathroom items. Are you remembering that this is all stuff I have actually weighed? I’m not making these numbers up, people! Bedding is next. I will admit that after we bought the Creek Side, I found the most wonderful quilt. It was a splurge, but Alan and I agreed that it would “make” the bedroom. (Now, if it would only "make the bed," too, I’d be really happy!) Not only did the quilt cost a lot, but it weighs a lot. So, in addition to a set of sheets, pillows and the quilt for our bed (16.2 lbs.), we also, at times, carry two other sets of sheets and pillows (9.0 lbs.) and we always have two spare quilts whether or not the kids might join us (another 9.0 lbs.). We love camping in the shoulder seasons when curling up with a good book under a warm quilt is a perfectly acceptable activity on those cool and glorious spring and fall days. Let’s not forget the towels. A set of bath towels, hand towels and washcloths for Alan and me is 3.8 lbs.; throwing in the kitchen towels will add another 2.6 lbs. (Get it? Throwing in the towels?) Yes, well, let’s move on. Including a few extra bath towels for the kids will set us back another 3.8 lbs. Entertainment items that travel inside the trailer include a couple of decks of cards, one or two small boxed games, a jigsaw puzzle and a supply of books and magazines. All that totals 13.3 lbs., 9.8 lbs. of which covers my books and magazines. We always carry at least two bikes and two kayaks, sometimes three of each depending on where we’re going and who’s coming with us. But that stuff goes in and on the truck and those numbers do not impact the trailer’s CCC/NCC. (That’s Cargo Carrying Capacity and Net Cargo Capacity for those of you whose memory is as bad as mine.) If anyone is curious, though, our bikes weigh about 37 lbs. each; the kayaks weigh roughly 40 lbs. each. The tools Alan carries that do go in the trailer weigh 101.4 lbs. He’d better never complain about my books or I’ll have to point out how much his tools weigh. But, to be fair, almost 25% of that weight is the bottle jack alone. (It’s h-e-a-v-y!) So, is anybody adding up these numbers? The total I came up with was 445.3 lbs.
Now keep in mind that the list of weights I just ran through does not include everything we packed. Don’t forget, there are miscellaneous items like the beach bag, my camera and gear, a cooler, our electronics, the grill, our life jackets and things like wheel chocks and water and sewer hoses. Heck, the 6 gallons of drinking water and case of bottled water we carry totals almost 100 lbs. alone. When all was said and done, the weight of all the stuff we stuffed in the trailer came to 779.2 lbs. Isn’t that amazing?! Who would have thought that those normal, everyday items would add up to that much weight?!
Please note that, when we’re finished loading all this stuff in, there is still NO water in the fresh, grey or black tanks. A gallon of water weighs about 8.34 lbs., and our fresh water tank holds 82 gallons. (Thank you, Outdoors RV – we love this trailer!!!) So, a full tank would add an additional 683 lbs. Generally, we’ll start out with only 20 gallons of fresh water and empty black and gray tanks if we’re going someplace fairly close and we know we’ll be able to find potable water there. That would be just 167 lbs. worth of water. But, if we’re on a road trip and came from a place that didn’t have a dump station, it’s quite conceivable that we’d be hauling more in fresh water (let’s say 40 gallons worth), and have black and gray tanks that were half full and nearly full, respectively. Since the black and gray tanks each hold 40 gallons, we could easily be hauling a combined 100 gallons total. Let’s see, 100 gallons x 8.34 lbs. = an additional 834 lbs. YIKES!
In case you’re wondering why I’m getting worried, it’s because I know my trailer’s numbers. And you’ll need to know them also in order to understand why we should all be getting a bit worried here. In the case of our Creek Side, its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 8,800 lbs. That’s the maximum amount the vehicle is allowed to weigh. It arrived from the factory weighing 7,097 lbs. unloaded, so that left us with a Net Cargo Capacity of 1,703 lbs. and a Cargo Carrying Capacity of 960 lbs. The CCC is equal to the NCC less allowances for a full load of fresh water (683 lbs. in our case) and the weight of the two propane tanks that come standard (60 lbs., again, in our case).
So, if we were actually towing the trailer with 834 gallons of water spread throughout the fresh, black and gray tanks, and we had 779.2 lbs. of “stuff” packed inside, we’d be at 1,613.2 lbs. That’s dangerously close to our NCC of 1,703 lbs. Actually, it’s 95% of our NCC. That's why we travel with empty black and gray water tanks and only a small amount of fresh water whenever possible. Increasing our margin of safety by leaving a larger buffer is not a bad idea in my book.
Do you see why you can’t just turn a blind eye toward the weight of everything you’re putting in your RV? I can tell you that we love the layout of our Creek Side and the storage options are phenomenal. But, if I filled every cabinet and drawer just because I could, we’d be well over our weight limit in no time. The bottom line? The weight capacity numbers are assigned by the manufacturer for a reason. So, your manufacturer did it its job by posting the correct numbers on your RV. Now it’s up to you to learn what those numbers are and to understand what they mean so that you can follow safe and appropriate traveling practices.
Yes, I admit that this post was written with my tongue tucked firmly in my cheek, but that’s because it’s about a very serious subject and I was trying to get you to hang in there long enough to get the message: Monitor your weight for the sake of your safety and that of others. Because, honestly, I found out that it’s just as easy for me to overstuff my RV as it is to overstuff myself after driving past my favorite Italian bakery. After all, who could possibly drive PAST his or her favorite bakery without stopping?!
Please note that I am not a technical person and this is not a technical blog so I am not offering anyone specific advice on weight ratings. I used my experience with our travel trailer simply to prove to you that it’s easier than you think to get yourself in trouble. There is plenty of information regarding weight ratings available online from manufacturers, dealers and other resources so, if you have any questions at all, please be sure to do the research necessary to ensure your safety. Before I sign off, I’d like to send out a warm word of thanks to Kevin at Outdoors RV Manufacturing, who took the time today to clarify a couple of technical points for me. You’re the best, Kevin!