Can You Tow a Camper and a Boat at the Same Time?

Are you an excited RV owner planning a road trip to either a popular campsite, seaside resort, or famous national park? Unsure about whether your RV can double or triple tow in your state? Are you questioning whether your fishing boat can be double towed with a trailer connected to a boat trailer?

You've come to the right place! We will give you a comprehensive view of the guidelines surrounding a truck pulling a camper and a boat together.

List of States That Allow Double Towing

First things first, you should check if it's legal to double tow in your state, and any you might be traveling to.

Twenty-eight states in the United States allow motorists to tow two trailers with a single tow vehicle.

The states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Most states have different laws set for combined vehicles and trailers, and other states require special permits for double towing. You’ll want to verify the legality and requirements of double towing in any state you plan to double tow motor vehicles.

The east coast of America prohibits double towing due to their outdated road infrastructure; however, people in the west of the country enjoy the freedom of wide-open spaces.

Double Tow Guidelines

Once you have completed your research on all the trailer towing laws, you are now able to prepare your vehicles to be towed.

One of the most important things to remember is Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). It factors in not only the weight of the vehicle and passengers, but also the travel trailer and its load.

Motorists also need to take into account the drivetrain, wheelbase, engine, two hitch, gear ratios of the vehicles, and trailer tire pressure sensors when they plan to double tow their first trailer.

Determine whether your tow vehicle can handle the weight of being double towed. Double-checking weight limits is essential.

You also need to make certain that hitches are rated for the towing capacity and set up properly.

Why Double Tow?

This type of hauling is predominantly used among the RV community to transport all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), kayaks, boats, and motor vehicles.

Double towing is no easy feat and requires an incredible amount of know-how and skill. It is possible to double or triple tow a boat behind a fifth wheel. To double tow, you need to ensure that the maximum vehicle length does not exceed 65 feet and the maximum speed limit stays below 55mph.

Drivers should remember that four-wheel-drive trucks and SUVs have a heftier gross vehicle weight than other vehicles which can pose a hindrance when double towing.

Can You Pull A Boat Behind A Travel Trailer?

Yes, it is possible to pull a boat behind a travel trailer. To do this, you will need a towing trailer behind a fifth wheel. A fifth-wheel coupling is a link between a semi-trailer and the towing truck, tractor unit, leading trailer, or dolly.

The length of the vehicle being towed should not be more than 65 feet, and the maximum speed limit during transit should not exceed 55 mph.

Wondering what the difference is between a fifth wheel and a travel trailer?

A fifth wheel makes use of a jaw hitch to connect the body of a truck while a travel trailer makes use of a "ball and coupler" hitch to fasten onto the vehicle that will be towing it.

In California, drivers need a special commercial driver's license (CDL) to pull two trailers behind a car, SUV, truck, or RV. In other states like Michigan, motorists are required to take a test before they are allowed to double tow their vehicles.

This relates to any trailer weighing more than 10.000 lbs. or a single RV over 40 feet in length. The vehicle that is doing the towing needs to be able to handle the total load of both trailers' GVWR with at least 20% of power left over.

Step-by-Step Guide for Double Towing

  • Double towing is no easy feat, and RV owners wanting to attempt this need to adhere to strict safety precautions.
  • Fifth-wheel double and triple towing is a great option for RV owners who want to take an accessory trailer with them on their trip. To work out if your ttruckcan tow the fifth wheel and the accessory trailer, you need to combine the total gross vehicle weight ratings together. This also applies to safety chains and braking systems.
  • The first step in setting up the fifth wheel hook-up is to make certain that your vehicle is situated on level ground. This will help in setting up a solid king pin connection, which will make it easier to reverse your truck closer to your trailer. It is important to make certain that your hitch is set at the correct height.
  • The minimum height between your truck bed walls and the travel trailer is 5-1/2. Next, you are required to position your hitch in the ready-to-couple position by opening the jaws or retracting the locking bar. You can also install a lube plate to protect the hitch and ensure a smooth connection. Remember, applying high-pressure grease to the tow hitch will achieve the same result.
  • The next step is to lower your truck tailgate and slowly edge your truck nearer to the king pin box of the travel trailer. Invite a friend to help you with this and when the wheel hitch head is at 4” from the kingpin stop the vehicle and put it in park.
  • Now, toggle the trailer jacks up and down so the fifth wheel hitch plate sits higher than the king pin box. Also, make certain that the king pin box or lube plate is 1/2” below the top of the fifth wheel head.
  • Now, reverse until the kingpin is fully seated within the 5th wheel head. After that, place the vehicle in park and engage the emergency brake. Once that is completed, walk around the vehicle to determine whether the fifth wheel jaws are fully locked and engaged.
  • Once the jaws are fully engaged, put the safety pin into the handle to make certain that the jaws stay secure. The next step is to put your foot on the brake pedal and put the truck in drive. At this stage, you should activate your trailer brake controller.
  • Now carefully remove your foot off the brake pedal and see if you can feel any resistance from the hitch connection. If resistance is found, you can pat yourself on the back for successfully hooking up your vehicles to be double towed.
  • An important safety precaution is taking your vehicle with the boat behind a travel trailer for a test drive before you hit the open road.

Safety Precautions When Double Towing

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in America reports that close to 50,000 road accidents occur as a result of motor vehicles being doubled towed. Statistics reveal that over the last 25 years, more than half a million people have been hurt in the US as a result of towing-related collisions. Close to 700,000 tow vehicles, campers, boats, and other types of trailers have been written off during traffic-related towing crashes.

Here's a list of safety tips to ensure you enjoy an accident-free trip in your recreational vehicle:

  • Weighty issue: Before setting off on your holiday, it's important to browse through your owner’s manual to determine the types of trailers and the amount of weight your vehicle can pull. Make sure that your tow hitch is properly connected and that the hitch rating is correct.
  • Weight distribution: The weight must be distributed evenly from side to side. If it is not done correctly, the vehicle may fishtail. RV owners should always keep a keen eye on weight limits, safety chains, and trailer tires.
  • Trailer lights: Double-check that your brake and signal lights are securely connected. Don't forget to synchronize your trailer’s brakes, turn signals, and tail lights with the towing vehicle.
  • Pump up: The NHTSA reports that 33,000 accidents occur due to bad tires in the US each year and 2000 of those are blowout-related.
    Make sure that your trailer tires are in good condition and correctly inflated. Conduct the proper wheel bearing maintenance to ensure that it does not overheat and sideline your tow rig.
  • Driver behaviour: Double towing is not easy. Enlist the help of a trusted friend to direct you while driving and reversing to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Remember to be vigilant at all times and not take sudden or unexpected turns.
    Most RV owners report that driving their fifth wheel at 58 mph is the safest speed to avoid any unwanted accidents and drive safely.
  • Buckle up: Seatbelts save lives. The NHTSA reports that 90.4% of Americans wore their seatbelts in 2021. Good seatbelt etiquette saved 14,955 lives in the USA in 2017.
  • More stopping distance: Towing hikes up your RV's momentum and inertia. You must maintain a safe following distance.
    Remember stopping your vehicle will take longer due to the weight combination you are pulling. Avoid braking on slippery surfaces at all times and maintain a speed limit that does not result in stops and slow-downs. Always keep an eye out for road hazards in the distance.
  • Double-check everything: It's important to ensure that the chain and tow hitch are fastened and that payload is securely tied down. While on the road, sporadically check your mirrors to make certain that everything is in tip-top shape.
  • Transmission maintenance: Towing damages your car's transmission. Purchase both a transmission-oil cooler and a high-end synthetic lubricant to help reduce friction and to protect your RV transmission from high temperatures.

FAQs

What special rule should you remember when pulling a trailer?

It is important to drive slowly when pulling your trailer. Always drive under the speed limit, because it will take you longer to come to a standstill after braking.

How do I protect my transmission while towing?

You will have to get a towing package to protect your transmission. Another option is to install a transmission fluid temperature warning to let you know if your coolant gets too hot.

Final Thoughts

Double towing is no easy feat, but it is possible if you follow the tips outlined above. Just remember to make sure it's legal to do so in your state, and any others you might be passing through.

RV owners must complete all their checks and balances before they take to the open road. Complete all your preparation for your trip the night before you leave.

Double-check the weather reports before you leave to avoid inclement weather, which can become a safety hazard.

Rise at the crack of dawn and head out before the roads become too congested with stressed-out holidaymakers. Don't leave anything to the last minute. Plan your route to the tee by using Google Maps, or by visiting an informative motor vehicle website. And you are set!

Sources:

https://www.discoverboating.com/resources/boat-trailer-laws-rules-regulations

https://www.triumphboats.com/can-you-pull-a-boat-behind-a-travel-trailer/

https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/409b0553-419a-48a0-ba8e-1d238fb95274/resource/0d3b62d6-6ddb-4e46-8ed5-28bcac83a660/download/recreational-vehicle-towing-guide.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8a2XEpSb5Y

Link To or Reference This Page

We spend a lot of time collecting, cleaning, merging, and formatting the data that is shown on the site to be as useful to you as possible.

If you found the data or information on this page useful in your research, please use the tool below to properly cite or reference Tow Ratings as the source. We appreciate your support!

  • " Can You Tow a Camper and a Boat at the Same Time?". Tow Ratings. Accessed on December 4, 2022. http://towratings.net/blog/can-you-tow-a-camper-and-a-boat-at-the-same-time/.

  • " Can You Tow a Camper and a Boat at the Same Time?". Tow Ratings, http://towratings.net/blog/can-you-tow-a-camper-and-a-boat-at-the-same-time/. Accessed 4 December, 2022

  • Can You Tow a Camper and a Boat at the Same Time?. Tow Ratings. Retrieved from http://towratings.net/blog/can-you-tow-a-camper-and-a-boat-at-the-same-time/.