Things to consider about weight in relation to caravans and motorhomes

Miniature campervan with extra luggage loaded on top

There are many things to consider when purchasing a caravan or motorhome, or even just driving one for the first time, and weight is something that is often overlooked. We caught up with Dan Cartright, longtime contributor to CaravanTimes and judge of the 2021 Caravan Design Awards Buyers’ Guide to weigh in on the issue.

He said: “There are some issues to consider about weight and everyone needs to pay attention to this, especially if you’re new to the market.”

The total gross weight of your rig

The total weight of your rig includes all the passengers, luggage and water tank, in relation to the licence you have. If you obtained your licence before 1997, you can carry up to five tonnes or 500 kilos. Licences granted after 1997 are usually restricted to 3.5 tonnes.

This becomes particularly important if you’re planning on using your motorhome as a family, because there’s all sorts of extra weight to consider. This varies from additional passengers to a supermarket shop and whether or not to travel with your water tank full.

Chassis and chassis rating

Even if you’re not restricted by your licence, the capacity your chassis can hold will also have an impact on the weight you can tow. It’s illegal to carry a rig with a weight totalling above the chassis rating and police are known to stop and check for this, as it’s not safe.

Dan said: “Most manufacturers do offer a chassis upgrade for a small fee, or even sometimes for free, so if you do have a larger licence and are able to drive up to five tonnes, maybe consider upgrading your chassis.”

Being in the know

When buying a caravan or motorhome it’s up to you to work out the practicalities in terms of weight and how this will impact the kit you can take on a trip with you. Understanding this in advance will help to cut down on unexpected surprises further down the line.

Dan said: “All the information is published within the manufacturers’ guidelines, but the thing is that you’ve got to actually delve into it and consider the maths.”

Items to consider that will significantly increase your weight and shouldn’t be overlooked:

  • Additional passengers
  • Bikes
  • Luggage
  • Full water tank
  • Full waste tank
  • Full gas bottle

Dan recommends getting everyone to weigh their luggage and additional items if you’re close to the weight limit. Otherwise, you could get stopped on your way to your holiday and be told you can’t take some of your kit with you.

The final word from Dan is that “before you commit to buying, you need to understand weights and measures”.



Photo credit: Pexels/Nubia Navarro