Dry weight vs tow capacity question

niclindstrom

New Member
May 31, 2022
2
Hi all - we're looking to trade in our older popup for something better, I'd especially like a slide out. We can tow 6000 pounds, we're a family of 4 (2 adult sized teens). What's the max dry weight I should be looking for in a new (to us) popup? Thanks!
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,749
Jackson Wyoming
Hi all - we're looking to trade in our older popup for something better, I'd especially like a slide out. We can tow 6000 pounds, we're a family of 4 (2 adult sized teens). What's the max dry weight I should be looking for in a new (to us) popup? Thanks!
You’ll max out payload before tow capacity. Need the max payload of the TV minus all the people and gear and the trailer tongue weight
 

bupkis

Howdy!
Mar 3, 2006
7,902
N. TX
Your tow rating is 6000 lbs? Is that with any weight in the unknown vehicle?
is that with WDH? Care to deal with WDH? What tongue weight is WDH 'required'?
Many bigger PUs max out at 3500 lbs which seems very doable
their dry weight could be as low as 2200 to 3000 or so.
 

niclindstrom

New Member
May 31, 2022
2
Thanks everyone. Our tow vehicle is a 2017 BMW x5 xdrive40e, gross vehicle weight 6570, load 1171, tongue weight 500. We don't take a ton of heavy gear, just regular camping stuff. My guess is any popup would likely tow fine but I want to be extra sure, especially with a trip to the mountains coming up. If you're shopping for a popup, what number do you use to make sure it's OK to tow if you don't use the weight of the popup?
 

bondebond

Super Active Member
Aug 14, 2008
2,325
According to the short interwebs searching I did, with tow package added on by the dealer, it can tow 6,000 pounds. See this thread for what I found. Apparently the owner is quite enamored with the performance towing his boat of 5,000 pounds, fully loaded out.

You need to look at cargo capacity of the tow vehicle to ensure that the amount of tongue weight plus the people and interior cargo don't exceed the cargo capacity. You need to see what the GVWR of the PUP or whatever is being towed does not exceed the tow capacity of the tow vehicle. As long as GVWR of the PUP does NOT exceed 6,000 pounds, you are technically, on paper, fine. Your actual driving experience may leave you white knuckled or crying for more power the closer your PUP approaches that tow capacity number, and any hills/mountains will exacerbate that feeling. Handling and stopping can be affected by the nuances of your TV, PUP and literally how and where you distribute weight inside the PUP. I had a PUP that was well within the engineering limits but didn't behave well on the road until I put upwards of 20% of the weight on the tongue by loading more gear forward of the PUP's axle. YMMV.
 

Coreym95

Member
Jun 6, 2020
97
Thanks everyone. Our tow vehicle is a 2017 BMW x5 xdrive40e, gross vehicle weight 6570, load 1171, tongue weight 500. We don't take a ton of heavy gear, just regular camping stuff. My guess is any popup would likely tow fine but I want to be extra sure, especially with a trip to the mountains coming up. If you're shopping for a popup, what number do you use to make sure it's OK to tow if you don't use the weight of the popup?
Based on this, I would stick with a smaller pop-up. Let's assume the 4 people have a total weight of about 600 lbs. That leaves you with 571 lbs of load. If you get a modest pop-up with a loaded weight of around 2500 lbs, that makes the tongue weight roughly 350-400 lbs. Now you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 lbs left for any gear you might pack into your TV.

And I like to keep my TV load somewhere around the 75-80% max load weight. Better climbing power, brakes easier, accelerates better, etc.
 

bondebond

Super Active Member
Aug 14, 2008
2,325
It's all in how you load it for that tongue weight. At the industry standard of 10% total weight of the trailer on the tongue, that would leave 321 pounds of cargo after passengers, using your numbers.

But more often than not, people have a vehicle that can tow an impressively large number, but get caught on the cargo capacity number. You can easily get a heavy trailer because the towing numbers are high, but the TV suspension isn't set up for the resulting heavy tongue. And a weight distribution hitch does not solve this issue.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,063
Random maybe related question for towing gurus: does TV axle capacity ever become a factor with trailering? Just with big trailers? Never?
 

Dnodoz

Active Member
Apr 15, 2020
108
If you plan towing in mountains, gas engines lose about 2% power per thousand feet. That’s one reason to give yourself some cushion. Everybody will have a different comfort level but mine is trailer weight loaded at less than 70% of rated capacity.
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,156
Ontario
Random maybe related question for towing gurus: does TV axle capacity ever become a factor with trailering? Just with big trailers? Never?
Yes.. axle rating generally comes into play when you get to 5th wheels, where the pin weight sits basically over top of the axle.
 
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Steveo4090

Super Active Member
Jun 26, 2020
834
Lancaster PA
If you plan towing in mountains, gas engines lose about 2% power per thousand feet. That’s one reason to give yourself some cushion. Everybody will have a different comfort level but mine is trailer weight loaded at less than 70% of rated capacity.
70% is a pretty decent max capacity for me as well. You can go higher but like said above, things can get sketchy and scary quickly, even within the technical tow/load limits.

When we go for extended trips (like our 2 week beach trip) we take 2 vehicles. My wife, 3 kids, and the dog...and their bikes...all travel in the minivan. I tow the camper with the truck and we're all safer and less stressed when we get there. Granted this year, it'll be a bit more expensive to do that, but it's still worth it not to have transmission issues or roast my brakes.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,063
(I see. I can ignore weights with my tent trailer but with my slide-in truck camper I get to pay attention to axle ratings, tire ratings, wheel ratings...think payload is in there somewhere too...:p)
 

raising4daughters

Active Member
Aug 24, 2019
128
The advice above about payload is spot on. It's very easy for the tongue weight, gear in the TV, and passengers in the TV to quickly hit 1,000 lbs. We were shocked at our axle weights when towing our 10' box, no slide, 2,200 lb. loaded Jayco with our minivan. Thought we had plenty of room with 3,500 lb. towing capacity. We did a lot better when we upgraded to Chevy Trailblazer with a body-on-frame construction and it's 1,200 lb. payload. We are small people, too.

When the Trailblazer was ready to be replaced, we upgraded our TV to a Chevy Colorado with 1,600 payload. Even enabled us to upgrade to a used highwall PUP that's 3,800 lb. loaded. We come much closer to maxing out on payload than on towing weight since the Colorado is around 7,000 lbs. tow capacity.
 

popup-flyer

Active Member
May 11, 2021
341
Central Texas
Thanks everyone. Our tow vehicle is a 2017 BMW x5 xdrive40e, gross vehicle weight 6570, load 1171, tongue weight 500. We don't take a ton of heavy gear, just regular camping stuff. My guess is any popup would likely tow fine but I want to be extra sure, especially with a trip to the mountains coming up. If you're shopping for a popup, what number do you use to make sure it's OK to tow if you don't use the weight of the popup?
You need to be sure of a few details. Did you look at tow/max tongue weight WITH factory installed TOW ? You don't say how you determined that. My vehicle WITH factory tow 5000 lbs tow capacity. Without 2000.

What is factory tow (for me)? Factory installed tow hitch, tow mode button on dash that changes shift patterns and it won't go in to O.D. Stouter drive shafts, heavier duty brakes and an oil cooler. Sure I can drop a receiver hitch on it and that says 600 LB tongue weight but what does that have to do with anything if you are beyond the engineering capacity of your vehicle in its current state?

Once you understand that then consider payload which is weight of ALL passengers, gear and loaded trailer tongue weight. Those are the numbers you need to know to understand if your vehicle is capable of towing your chosen trailer. Some folks think 70-90% us the max. I am willing to to go closer to the max because I understand engineering tolerances.

At any rate figure that out and decide what you are comfortable with. The other factor as has been mentioned is a weight distributing hitch. The heavier the trailer the more tongue weight you should endure to mitigate trailer sway. Short of that a weight distributing hitch is necessary to mitigate sway.

My last trailer was under 3K lbs and I could run it no problem at 70 + MPH. My new to me HW 276 at ~3500lbs 70 is the max with WDH and I have to be careful.
 

no Fries

Member
Mar 25, 2013
41
Fort Mill
If you plan towing in mountains, gas engines lose about 2% power per thousand feet. That’s one reason to give yourself some cushion. Everybody will have a different comfort level but mine is trailer weight loaded at less than 70% of rated capacity.
^^^^^^This,
Wow I was surprised when we towed to Moab and went over the Rockies through CO. I had a diesel 2500 truck pulling about 8,000 lbs at 10,000 Feet. It was like the turbo was gone, we lost 50% capacity it seemed. Usually in NC going from 600 feet to 3,000 above sea level I don't notice it. bet I sure did in the Rockies.
 




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