Weights and measures

Cactus Cafe, Springer, New Mexico

Towards the end of our full-timing adventure I became more interested in weights and measures and based on the Google searches directing people here, it seems I am not alone.

This may be because we acquired more heavy things (like a generator, heavy collapsible ladders, etc.) and dumping everything in the bed of the truck was certain to cause overload.

The only way to understand this problem was to start measuring. The results are attached at the bottom in three formats. I’m including the Microsoft Excel and Apple Pages files in case you might be interested in using this template for your own purposes.

Before you can use this yourself you must know your own front (steer) and rear (drive) GAWR, as well as GVWR and GCWR. These should be found on the driver’s side door of your tow vehicle. You can read a bit more about this in my previous posts here and here. In order to take the readings you need to go over a CAT scale, which are ubiquitous along interstates at truck stops.


In 3 of 5 readings we exceeded our rear (drive) GAWR. In the worst instance by 190 lbs. or 105%. In the same instance we exceeded the GVWR by 30 lbs. Both are fairly trivial but not desirable. I will note that in this instance performance and handling were not noticeably affected.

Simple redistribution of load brought us back under. Remember, due to leverage, load in the trailer places less weight on the tongue of your tow vehicle. Careful load distribution goes a long way.

An interesting conclusion from this data is that I cannot see how you could ever cross this Ford F150’s GCWR of 17,100 lbs. towing a camper. You will certainly cross the rear and front GAWR and GVWR well before.

These readings also led to my conclusion that I would probably opt for a 250/2500 for towing this particular trailer, doing it all over again. Although it can be towed safely and the truck delivers exceptional towing performance, it does require some attention to load distribution. There are some that argue this actually makes it a safer option, since people with bigger trucks often don’t bother distributing load optimally.

Data files:

PDF format

Apple Numbers format

Microsoft Excel format

– Anthony, Waukee, Iowa


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