15 Things To Do Before You
Hit the Trail with Your Camper

by Yvonne Johnson

Here is a list of 15 things you should do or check before taking off on a camping trip. Following this list will help you start your trip safely.


  1. Hitch the camper to the tow vehicle before loading and set the emergency brake on the tow vehicle. 
  2. Make sure the hitch is locked in place and the safety pin is inserted. (It also helps to maintain the hitch if you lubricate it with some WD-40 every few months.) 
  3. Secure safety chains to the towing vehicle and make sure there is enough slack for making turns. But don't leave so much slack that the chains could hang on something on the road. Twist the chains together to remove excess slack. 
  4. Check the rear lights on the camper for proper operation. 
  5. If you load your camper before hooking it to the tow vehicle, then make certain you have the tires chocked to stop the camper from rolling. 
  6. Check the wheel lug nuts on the two camper wheels to be sure they are snug. 
  7. Check the camper tires for proper inflation. As a rule of thumb, most people seem to have the best results with about 24-26 pounds air in the tires on a camper that weighs-in at 900 to 1,300 pounds. 
  8. Visually inspect tires for signs of too little tread, or uneven tire wear which could indicate a problem. Tread wearing off either on the outside or inside of the tread can be an indication of overloading. Tread wear mostly in the center can mean way too much air, and cupping can be the possibility of too little air for the load you’ve been carrying. 
  9. Do not load the camper with more weight than your tow vehicle can handle. (Remember to count the weight of passengers in your total weight.) Also, remember NOT to overload the camper with excess weight behind the rear axle. This will cause the trailer to bounce raising the front a lot, and it will cause the trailer to sway. If you experience swaying, and you know your tire pressures are correct, then readjust your load to balance the weight more evenly over the top of, and forward of the axle, as well as distributing the weight left to right. 
  10. If your camper has a battery, be sure to charge it fully before you go. 
  11. If you have a roof vent or roof fan, make sure that the lid is tightened down. If your lid tends to raise up while towing, you might want to secure the lid with a little duct tape “just” when you are towing. (In a few cases, these roof vent lids can slowly inch open when towing due to wind streaming off the top of the tow vehicles. The same camper hooked to a different tow vehicle might go for years and this would never happen.) 
  12. If you have a porta-potty, make sure it is cleaned and the batteries are working (if applicable).
  13. Make sure all camper windows and doors are securely closed and locked. (Remember that our campers are very sturdy. So give the doors a good slam!) 
  14. Make sure you have the keys to the doors (a couple of sets) to take with you!
  15. Ensure the rolling jack is raised before moving the trailer. Even the most experienced campers get in a hurry sometimes and start to pull away with the tongue jack still on the ground. The instant noise will make you stop immediately. Then just get out and raise the jack as you should have done the second you dropped the trailer onto the ball and latched the hitch.