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Towing a pop-up camper around should be a relatively easy task if you have the correct vehicle, but will your SUV pull a pop-up camper safely?

Going on a camping trip always includes taking too much stuff for the trip. The camper is full of the essentials, and the back seats are overflowing with bedding, the joys of camping! But will the SUV manage to pull all the weight?

An SUV should easily manage to pull a pop-up camper. Most SUVs on the market have a tow rating of between 1500lb and 3000lb, and there are larger SUVs capable of towing over 7500lb. A pop-up camper can weigh as little as 1000lb to 2500lb making them lightweight and easy to tow.

Ensuring that the SUV can pull a pop-up camper is vital to arriving safely at your destination. There are a few easy ways to establish how much the camper weighs and if the SUV will manage the added weight. When towing a pop-up camper to your destination, there are a few things to consider to improve the journey.

I purchased my pop-up camper more than ten years ago, and I remember the struggles to find out if my vehicle would manage to pull it. Since then, I have traveled coast to coast, towing my little pop-up camper with various cars, from small compacts to a mighty V8.



Can A Pop-Up Camper Be Towed By An SUV?

Most SUVs on the market have a large enough towing capacity to pull a trailer from 2000lb to 3500lb. Most pop-up trailers only weigh between 1100lb and 3000lb. So the answer is yes, most SUVs will be able to tow a pop-up camper.

But, to be on the safe side, always check the vehicle’s towing capacity versus the pop-up camper’s weight.

How To Determine If A SUV Can Pull A Pop-Up Camper?

Pop-up campers are usually very light and easy to tow, but ensuring your SUV is up to the task of pulling it is always a good idea. To calculate the towing capacity of the SUV will require some additional information. Such as:

  1. The SUV curb weight - can be found on the vehicle’s VIN sticker
  2. Total weight of passengers in the SUV
  3. Total weight of fuel
  4. Total weight of the cargo in the SUV
  5. The vehicle’s gross combined weight rating – can be found on the VIN or driver-side inner door panel.

To calculate the towing capacity, add the curb weight, passengers, fuel, and cargo together. Then subtract this from the vehicle’s gross combined weight; the answer is the maximum towing capacity of the SUV. E.g. 1+2+3+4-5= max tow weight. There are websites that will do the calculations for you and assit in finding the correct information for a specific camper.

The SUV can pull the camper if the pop-up camper weighs less than the max towing weight.

How To Determine The Weight Of A Pop-Up Camper?

The pop-up camper should have a VIN plate situated near the front of the camper. If it is not visible, try to locate it on the fenders, tongue, or front wall. The VIN will give the weight of the pop-up camper and other important information related to the camper.

If the VIN plate is unavailable, contact the manufacturer or company where the camper was purchased. This information should be on file at the dealership.

The third method of getting the weight of the pop-up camper will be to physically have it weighed. This can be done at most DMV testing stations, such as DEKRA.US. The testing station will be able to issue the camper with a new VIN plate.

Common Towing Terminology

The weight information on the VIN and the common weight terminology used at the campsite can be confusing. Here are a few weight abbreviations and explanations:

Does A SUV Need Tow Mirrors When Pulling A Pop-Up Camper

Most SUVs are wide enough or have adjustable mirrors for towing. If the pop-up camper is more than 5” wider than the SUV, it will be necessary to install tow mirrors or extend the vehicle’s mirrors if it has the extending function.

Detecting what is happening behind the SUV is vital while towing a trailer. The added citation will dampen any holiday spirits if the vehicle is pulled over.

Does A Pop-Up Camper Need To Have Trailer Brakes?

Trailer brakes are not compulsory on a trailer weighing less than 1500lb, and trailers that weigh more than 3000lb must have brakes on all the wheels and an included service brake. Trailer brakes can still be installed if the pop-up camper weighs less than the required 1500lb.

Trailer brakes assist the vehicle in stopping quicker and at a shorter distance. They also help with the stability of the camper or trailer during hard braking.

Pop-Up Camper Safe Towing Practices

Towing a pop-up camper to the holiday destination should be a fun and stress-free trip. Here are a few good and safe practices to ensure you arrive safely.

  • Never exceed 55mph while towing a pop-up camper, even if the SUV can go faster. Trailer or camper tires are only rated to a maximum speed of 65mph unloaded. Exceeding the recommended speed may result in a tire blowout.
  • Inspect the camper’s tires before any long journey. Ensure the tire pressure is correctly inflated. Worn and underinflated tires have an increased chance of having a blowout.
  • Signal your intent to turn long in advance. This will allow fast-moving traffic behind the vehicle to move out of the way.
  • When towing a pop-up camper, stay committed to the right-hand lane on the highways. This will allow the faster-moving traffic to pass the vehicle with no fuss.
  • Use a GPS to identify any heavy traffic area on the route. Changing lanes while towing in heavy congestion may dampen the trip. Be patient and vigilant if you are caught in the traffic while towing.