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If you’re purchasing a large truck, there’s a good chance you’re doing so because you need something that can haul more than the standard passenger vehicle. While smaller cars are generally more eco and budget-friendly, they simply don’t have the space of larger trucks. 

While some drivers analyze the specifications of their vehicle in great detail before signing on the dotted line, this is not the case for all owners, or arguably the majority. So, if you’ve purchased a mid-size truck, it’s natural to question whether you can use it to tow a camper.

How much can the average mid-size truck haul?

When it comes to determining whether or not you can tow a camper, it’s important to understand how much your truck can tow. Just because a camper will fit on your truck, that doesn’t mean that you can tow it without damaging the camper or your truck.

One of the most important factors to look at is your truck’s towing capacity. According to Consumer Reports, the cab size, bed length, engine, and transmission all have an impact on your vehicle’s towing capacity. That’s not even factoring in whether you have a four-wheel drive and the type of towing package your truck has. The average mid-size truck can tow between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds.

Which trucks have the highest tow capacity?

Let’s first look at what falls into the category of a mid-size truck. The Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Chevy Colorado, and Toyota Tacoma are all examples of midsize trucks. The Tacoma has a maximum tow capacity of 6,800 pounds.

On the opposite side of the scale, the Jeep Gladiator and Chevy Colorado have the highest towing rating, coming in around 7,700 pounds. On the low end, the Honda Ridgeline only has a tow rating of 5,000 pounds, making it a poor choice if you’re planning to tow. 

The average camper weighs approximately 5,200 pounds. The good news is, this means several mid-size trucks can easily tow a rear camper. The bad news is, many cannot. Don’t ever make an assumption. Always check your truck’s tow capacity and the weight of your camper before you go on a trip or go to purchase a truck or camper.

How do you figure out whether your truck can handle a camper?

The first thing you need to determine is your truck’s towing capacity. Then you need to figure out the weight of the camper you are trying to haul. Remember, the weight listed on your owner’s manual is the weight of an empty camper. It does not include any additional furniture, food, gas, or recreational items. 

You will also need to consider your truck’s age, condition, and the route you plan to take. If you are planning on traveling steep mountain roads, you obviously don’t want to attempt to haul a fully loaded camper that comes in just below your truck’s tow capacity.

Similarly, if your truck is older, it may not be a good idea to haul at all. Before you get on the road, make sure your truck is up-to-date on maintenance and your camper is in good condition. Check your towing package and make sure there are no issues. 

Can I just “make do”?

It may be tempting to push the limits and try to haul more than your tow rating. This is a bad idea. Not only can you destroy your vehicle (and camper), the vehicle you are towing may come loose. When this happens you are in danger of causing an accident. An investigation can prove that you knowingly pushed your truck beyond its safe towing capacity. This is definitely a situation where it’s better to be safe than sorry.