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Can You Pull Your Boat With an RV?

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Can You Pull a Boat with your RV?

There are countless beautiful aspects of the outdoors. One happens to be the fact that there is an incredible opportunity for crossover between the different recreational fields. For folks who like to hike, camping is often a seamless pastime. For campers, fishing and boating often aren’t far behind.

If you’re hoping to take your boat along with you on your next camping outing, then, you might be wondering, “can I tow a boat with my RV?”

The answer is yes, so long as you do your safety homework and make sure you aren’t breaking any laws along the way.

Note: The following article is for informational purposes only. Please exercise due dilligence before attempting to haul any watercrafts with your recreational (or any other) vehicle.

Types of RV Towing

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Photo via Alex Guillaume/Unsplash

You may hear the term “double-tow” or “triple-tow” as you start researching how to haul your boat.

Double-tow simply refers to an RV that is pulling a boat or any other accessory, but it’s just pulling one thing behind the RV.

Triple-tow, then, means the RV could be pulling a car and a boat. It could also refer to, say, a truck pulling a fifth wheel/trailer that is pulling a boat. In other words, the term refers to three crafts hitched together , hence “triple-tow.”

Of the two types, double towing occurs far more frequently. While it offers some challenges, it isn’t nearly as complicated as triple towing. As you may expect, triple towing requires experienced hands-and-eyes and extensive knowledge of towing setup and safety.

Triple-towing is also illegal in many states. Make sure you look up towing laws for your state (and any other state you are planning to travel through) before hitting the road. Do not attempt to triple-tow unless you are willing to take the process seriously.

Towing Capacity

The first thing you need to know before pulling your boat behind your rig is your RV’s tow capacity. If you are triple-towing, you’ll need to know the capacity of your truck and fifth wheel/trailer. There will be some math involved, so consider consulting a friend or experienced RV camper before delving too far into the process.

Determining you RV’s tow capacity involves knowing the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which can usually be found on the door jam or in the owner’s manual. You’ll also need to know the tongue weight of the hitch you’re planning to use, as well as the weight of your boat and the trailer it is sitting on.

If you are relatively new to towing with you RV, the process can be complicated. Fortunately, Camping World offers this handy towing capacity calculator to help simplify things.

Safety: How to Safely Haul Your Boat with an RV

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Photo via Farzn Dehbashi/Unsplash

As with any road trip, make sure you have safety measures in place. Proper wiring and lights for your boat are essential for the safety of yourself and others on the road. Also, this is necessary for staying legal as you travel. Additionally, you will want to utilize your rear-facing camera to keep an eye on your setup. If you don’t have one, you can pick one up on Amazon for $50-100, depending on your needs.

A camera will help you keep an eye on things while you’re moving, but you should still plan to check on your setup multiple times throughout your journey. “More is better” when towing, so before you head off, double (or triple) check every connection and hitch and consider incorporating ratchet straps for extra support.

Once you’ve been on the road for an hour or so, pull off at a rest stop to see how the connections are holding up. Secure anything that may have come loose, and check again periodically throughout your trip.

“Better safe than sorry” may sound cliche, but there’s a reason folks have been saying this for generations.

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Plan to Accommodate Your Size

Hauling a boat means you will be long and heavy. Long-and-heavy will make backing up, tight turns, and fast braking tremendously difficult.

Plan accordingly by mapping out your route to avoid tight turns, and low clearances. Also, be mindful of truck stops that will accommodate rigs of your size. Practice defensive driving by watching for slowdowns on your GPS and give yourself plenty of time to break for slowdowns while travelling. 

Calling ahead to the campground is also a great idea. They are often familiar with routes into their location and can give you detailed information on which roads to follow, which to avoid, etc. If you inform them that you will be hauling a boat with your RV, they can generally accommodate you in a pull-through site or give you information as to their policies for boats in the campground.

Practice

“Practice makes perfect,” and that is especially true when it comes to launching your boat. This is even more true when you are launching the boat with an RV!

This is where the aforementioned triple-towing might be helpful because you can launch your boat with the pickup truck that was also being hauled.

If you’re double towing, however, you’ll have two options: find a friendly truck-owner who is willing to help your launch your boat or, more likely, become comfortable with the process on your own.

If you do launch with your RV, a spotter is absolutely necessary as visibility with your side mirrors and rear-view camera will be limited.

Practice hooking up your tow setup and get some driving practice by heading to a nearby boat ramp. Once you’re there, have your spotter jump out and practice getting your boat in the water. Thenm work on getting it back out again.

Be patient and take your time. This part can be extremely frustrating. If your spotter happens to be your spouse or partner… well don’t take the ensuing fight personally.

Conclusion

Working out the logistics of double-and-triple-towing can be a pain, but with a little patience and perseverance, it is possible!

At the end of the day, if you have an RV and a boat and are planning a camping trip, there is much to celebrate. Be sure to prepare adequately and, once you are ready, enjoy all the outdoors has to offer!

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