Tow Guide

How to get started towing an RV

There are a few fundamental differences between how you handle your vehicle every day and what it’s like with a trailer hitched up. We’re here to tell you not to worry about getting comfortable behind the wheel. You’ll be a pro in no time.

What can your vehicle tow?

Dating back to 1999, Trailer Life magazine has produced a towing guide with helpful tips and detailed information on towing capacity and ratings for tow vehicles.  

What it's like to tow a travel trailer

A travel trailer attaches to your tow vehicle a few feet behind the rear axle with a ball hitch. This provides you with towing options from a variety of vehicle styles like an SUV or a van – possibly a vehicle you already own, as long as it has sufficient towing capacity (see link to towing guide below). These tow vehicles let you take more passengers on your road trips; if you choose to use a pickup truck, its bed will let you pack more gear.

Because the pivot point of a travel trailer is behind the tow vehicle, the trailer’s wheels typically follow its turning path more closely than a fifth wheel. This means you generally won’t need to swing wider around corners as you would a fifth wheel with the same wheelbase.

What it’s like to tow a fifth wheel

A fifth wheel trailer connects to the bed of a pickup truck using what’s called a jaw hitch. This puts the pivot point right on top of the rear axle, which some drivers find to be generally more stable than a travel trailer and easier to maneuver, especially when backing into a campsite. Obviously, a fifth wheel also limits your towing options to a truck with a jaw hitch.


Important terms to know


The first step to finding your dream trailer is to determine the towing capacity of your tow vehicle. Once you’ve determined your tow rating, compare that figure to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the trailer in which you are interested. It is important for your safety and enjoyment that your tow vehicle be adequately sized and equipped to tow and handle the GVWR of the RV you select.

 

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

GVWR is the maximum permissible weight of the RV, including the UVW plus all passengers, personal items, cargo, fluids, options and dealer-installed accessories. The GVWR is equal to or greater than the sum of the UVW and the GCCC.

Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) 

Sometimes referred to as “Dry Weight,” UVW means the weight of an RV as built at the factory. The UVW, as used in Starcraft product literature and other promotional materials, does not include cargo, fresh water, propane gas, occupants, options or dealer-installed accessories. It does include so-called “forced options," like the Customer Convenience Package.

Gross Cargo Carrying Capacity (GCCC) 

GCCC is the maximum cargo carrying capacity. GCCC is equal to the GVWR minus the UVW. The GCCC will be reduced by the weight of fresh water, wastewater, propane gas, occupants, personal items or dealer-installed accessories.

Dry Hitch Weight (DHW) 

Also known as tongue weight, DHW is the portion of the weight of the trailer that is carried on the hitch. This information is important in matching the hitch on your tow vehicle with the trailer or vehicle to be towed. Hitches are rated by both their towing capacity and their tongue weight, also known as tongue load or vertical load rating.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) 

GAWR is the maximum allowable weight each axle assembly is designed to carry. This is important to know because it’s possible to be under the GVWR and still exceed an axle rating, depending on how you load the RV with your personal cargo.

Starcraft recommends you do not exceed the GVWR of the trailer. Additionally, once you have loaded your trailer for camping, we suggest you weigh the trailer to ensure it does not exceed the GVWR of the trailer.

 

Your saved floorplans

Click the star on a floorplan page to save and compare.