Despite the fact a lot of this blog is devoted to fitness, this isn’t about shedding my own pounds but rather those pounds weighing down the trailer.
We knew going in that while our tow vehicle, a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, had the tow capacity needed to haul our Ever-Lite 31RBK, we also knew we wouldn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room when it came to staying within our range of acceptable (read: safe) weight. But we knew it would be a very rare occasion when we would be traveling with a full tank of fresh water, or leaving a campground without having emptied the black and grey tanks, leaving more than 1,000 pounds available for “stuff.”
On the way home from last weekend’s camping trip we decided to find a scale and see what we were dealing with. Boy, were we a bit surprised. And even more surprising was our gross underestimation of what things, such as food, beverages and cooking supplies, weigh.
Since we were a little unsure of how to go about getting the trailer weighed and had little luck getting very detailed instructions online, I’ll detail the process here for anyone who may stumble upon this writing looking for similar information.
The first step is to find a scale. The easiest place to start is Catscale’s website which has a scale finder that gives you the closest locations based on the nearest city or ZIP code. It’ll likely be a truck stop like Travel America or Flying J.
The scales, generally marked clearly with a big yellow and black sign, were designed with truckers in mind so when you drive onto them, there’s a call box that will likely be much taller than your vehicle. This is why it’ll be a lot easier with two people.
I ran inside to the cashier with my cell phone in hand and told her we needed to weigh a travel trailer. They were actually already expecting me as they have a video camera on the scale. The lady asked me if Brian had a cell phone since we would have to communicate with him. I told her yes and that I did, too. Once she registered the total weight of both vehicle and trailer and printed out the certified sheet, I told her we wanted to weigh the trailer on it’s own. She asked me to call Brian and tell him to drive off, then back on the scale to reset it. Once it was reset, she gave the ok to unhitch, which I relayed to Brian. Once the trailer weight was calculated, she gave the ok to re-hitch, and we were done! It was $9 for the first weigh; $1.50 for the second, for a total of $10.50.
The scale is actually three scales in one, so if you line it up correctly, you can get the vehicle, hitch and trailer axle weight at the same time. The cashier can help you line things up correctly if you want the weights broken down. We just wanted the total trailer weight so it wasn’t an issue.
The scales showed a total trailer weight of 6,600 pounds. It’s dry weight, according to the manufacturer, is about 5,700 pounds. With a max towing capacity of 7,200 on the Jeep we weren’t comfortable with how close we were to capacity, especially since this was also on the way home which means we had at least 2/3 less food than we started with, about 90% less liquid than we started with in terms of water, juice, beer, rum, ect.. Weighing what was left of those things once we got home, I realized how significant that was. (Hello, 11 pounds for a half bottle of Absolut and two bottles of soda water!!)
The rest of the way home we brainstormed ways to shed some pounds. Some were completely viable and not hard decisions to make (we don’t need 6 camping chairs for 2 people, for example, since we generally camp with people who bring their own) Other options would mean a little sacrifice such as buying food after we arrive somewhere as opposed to beforehand. We even talked about all of the little things that weigh next to nothing on their own, but added up, those things can be quite significant. We also discussed lighter-weight alternatives to the stuff we considered essential, such as tools, the grill and accessories, the ladder, ect.. Everything was on the table.
We made a list of all of it, with an estimate of each item’s weight. Once we got home, we compared our estimates to the actual weights using the bathroom scale. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. While those four extra dinner plates on their own don’t amount to a whole heck of a lot, those plates combined with the extra bottles of toilet sanitizers, the extra blankets, the extra towels, the extra firestarters, the extra shampoo, the extra lantern and batteries and so on … we’ve suddenly found ourselves with about 50-75 pounds that we could easily shed without any remorse or regrets.
We decided to start a plastic storage tote for all the extra items we could restock as needed. On that rare occasion we have a large group and need those four extra place settings, we’ll take them from storage. But there’s no need to store them in the camper all the time.
As I alluded to earlier, the biggest shocker was the weight of the food and drinks. Based on the weight of what was left after this trip, I would not be surprised in the least if the food and drink weight at the beginning of the trip topped 100 pounds or more. We could cut that weight in an instant by shopping after we arrive, which is a big pain in the arse, but will make a difference. Or, at the very least, we could plan the food a little better so that we carry exactly what we need with little extras. For example, I stocked almost an entire case of water this time and we drank maybe 8 bottles, opting for tap water most of the time since we have a fancy filter for the fresh water hook-up! Planning more carefully what we need is a good exercise for when we go to a campground that isn’t located close to a grocery store, and are forced to carry it all with us.
With all of these little things, I’m estimating we can shed at least 200 pounds, if not more. We’ll probably weigh again on the next trip just to see where we are to decide if we need to shed more. The other option is to trade the Jeep in for something with a higher tow capacity, which would be an absolute last resort. I love my Jeep and think someone would have to pry the keys from my tightly-clenched fist for me to give it up. And then I might consider chaining myself to the car 🙂
I’m curious if any other RVers have gone through a similar exercise? What items did you decide you could live without all in the sake of shedding pounds? Do you carry your food and drinks with you? I’d love to hear from you.