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When it comes to hitching or unhitching your RV, the number one priority should be safety. You really can’t achieve the levels of safety you need to achieve if you don’t have the right “hitch RV gear.” This calls for finding the right tow vehicle, RV bumper hitch, and RV trailer combination.
As you can see, it takes quite a bit of research – something most people aren’t as willing to do or simply don’t know how to.
If you are thinking or hitching your RV to your truck, here are some of the most crucial pieces of information you need to ensure that you get the right “hitch RV gear” as well as all the necessary steps.
Ensure that The Vehicle Can Tow a Trailer to Properly Hitch RV
Whether you are planning to hitch a trailer to your RV, or you are thinking of hitching a camper to your truck, the process remains the same: ensure that the RV or the truck can tow a trailer. This calls for knowing the trailer’s actual weight.
While this might seem simple enough (look at the brochure), the problem is that most trailer brochures list something called the UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight) or GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight).
While that is useful information, it only represents the trailer’s weight with nothing else but the standard equipment coming from the manufacturer. But you are not going camping with just the standard equipment, are you? No one does!
You will most likely park your camper with your clothes, gadgets, food, toys, and other gear that you may purchase to upgrade the camper, so it gives you the most comfortable ride.
It would help if you also remembered that the water, as well as fuel tanks, will be full from time to time. The only way to know this weight is to drive this fully loaded camper on a scale.
Consider Weight Distribution and Sway Control
You need proper weight distribution and sway control for safe towing. The best kind of weight distribution hitches works to balance the trailer’s weight between it and the tow vehicle.
In turn, this ensures that the camper doesn’t sag at the hitch tongue. This further helps to ensure that you have the right kind of stability, braking, and control of your trailer when driving.
The same goes to sway control. The right sway control device for your trailer is necessary to keep it from…well, swaying side to side when driving in high winds, bad weather, or passing trucks. The right sway control device keeps your trailer from swinging so much that it makes it impossible for you to control it when on the road safely.
Make a List of the Necessary Add-ons
Every experienced RV driver will tell you that they have a “hitch RV gear list” that contains the most essential add-ons they need to safely and conveniently drive their trailer around the country.
Now, granted, this list is often very subjective, and every driver will have their own fancy and elaborate inclusions that others might consider excessive. However, just because you don’t think you will need a high-tech rear observation camera doesn’t mean that every other RV driver worth their salt should be content with the same rearview mirror you use.
With that being said, your list will also be as subjective as you want it to be. However, here is a small portion of the most basic add-ons that you can have on your RV to make the drive safer once you have hitched it on:
- Towing mirrors: You need to see the back corner of your camper when driving. For that, you might have to buy extra towing mirrors if the ones you have don’t give you that vantage point.
- Brake controller: An RV brake controller is an electronic device designed to trigger your trailer’s brakes as soon as you apply the brakes on the towing vehicle. This gives you better control of the whole ensemble.
- Rear observation camera: These rear observation cameras are quickly becoming a standard issue with most RVs. Plus, if you buy the right kind of truck, you will find that it comes with trailer parking assist. However, if you have a trailer that doesn’t have the camera or a truck that doesn’t have the parking assist, then buying a rear observation camera is the next best thing.
Now that you have everything you need, how do you actually hitch your RV to your towing vehicle?
Step by Step Guide on How to Hitch RV
Start by chocking the trailer wheels, so nothing rolls away unceremoniously while you are trying to hitch the RV.
- Using a jack, raise the hitch tongue until the coupler clears the tow vehicle, then back your tow vehicle up so that the hitch ball is under the coupler and lower the tongue jack slowly to secure the tongue latch onto the hitch ball mount. Then put the coupler safety pin into the locking lever.
- Using the tongue jack, lift the trailer to ensure that there is a strong connection between the hitch and the trailer. If the connection is strong enough, the tow vehicle should come up as well).
- Closely following the manufacturer’s instructions, attach both the weight distribution and sway control devices appropriately.
- Raise and then secure the tongue jack and make sure that it’s ready for towing.
- Finally, hook up the safety chains (be sure to cross them), then hook up the electrical cord for the lights and attach your breakaway cable.
- Check to make sure that the brake controller has a good connection and is working; your rearview mirrors are working just fine and that you have all you need for the road.
Once you have done all this, give the RV a bit of a test drive to ensure that everything is working just fine and that you have a handle on how it will feel to drive that rig on the open road.
And there you have it – your very own hitched RV. While it is true that most people have their own “hitch RV system,” it is also true that those systems are all fundamentally designed to make your trip as safe as possible.
With the above tips and gear, you have all you will need to achieve that and enjoy your first RV trip.
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