How to pack your caravan for safe towing and storage

You’ve bought the best caravan for your needs, now you need to pack it, and that’s not a straightforward task. The fun bit where you drive off into the sunset can only come once you have done all the necessary safety checks and loaded the caravan correctly. You can then safely embark on the travels that you have been joyfully planning since the day you got the keys.
At BCH Camping we want everyone to be safe on the road so we’ve put together some guidance and hot tips on packing your caravan to ensure safe towing.
How much weight is it safe for you to tow?
To ensure that your caravan and towing vehicle are both stable, the total weight of all the items you load into the caravan must meet certain requirements. The consequences of not doing so, thereby compromising the safety of your family and other road users, don’t bear thinking about.
Over-packing can cause your caravan to snake (wobble) whilst towing. Your caravan will have a Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM). This is the maximum weight of the caravan when fully loaded to allow safe towing. The caravan's MTPLM must not be greater than the towing vehicle's Maximum Permissible Towing Mass (MPTW).
You must also not exceed the noseweight limit of your towing vehicle, which is the maximum force that can be exerted on the towbar, as stated in your manufacturer handbook.
Whilst it may seem a little excessive, it’s advisable that you weigh all the items you put into the caravan to ensure that you are keeping within the safety parameters, perhaps taking it to a weighbridge if possible just to be sure. Key items to weigh are:
  • Awnings – including all components
  • Bikes
  • Portable electrical items such as TVs and radios
  • BBQ
  • Gas bottles
  • Pots and pans
  • Bedding
  • Clothing
  • Stored food such as tins, rice, pasta, drinks
Top tips for packing your caravan
Now that you know your limits – and may we congratulate you on that illusive milestone – we can give you some top tips for the best way to pack your caravan so that you and the caravan reach your destination in pretty much the state in which you left.

  • How to distribute the weight of items in your caravan
Never load too much into the back of the caravan and don’t fill up the fridge with heavy products. The more weight you have at the back, the higher the possibility that the caravan will sway.
Heavy, medium and light items all have their place:
  • Heaviest items should be packed first, and stored on the floor of the caravan, preferably above the axle with an equal distribution over both wheels. Such items might be awnings, mains electric cables and furniture. Heavy equipment should never be stored in the gap beneath a fixed rear bed.
  • Medium weight items should be loaded after the heavy items. They can be spread out more liberally, but they should still be loaded as close to the axle as possible to maintain balance.
  • Very light items such as light clothing, can be stored in the roof lockers while towing, but anything heavier could have an affect on the caravan’s centre of gravity.
Always consider the weight of everything you store in the caravan:
  • Limit the amount of water in the fresh water tank, you should only need up to ten litres for a day’s drive.
  • A litre of water weighs 1kg so water and toilet containers should be transported empty.
  • Where possible, buy provisions at your destination, only take the basics with you
  • Use the lightest version of all equipment, such as plastic dishes instead of crockery
  • Use lightweight gas bottles where possible
  • Storing items in the upper cabinets of your caravan
As mentioned above, keep heavy items out of the upper cabinets because a top-heavy caravan is likely to tilt in heavy gusts of wind. In addition, the cabinets should be packed in such a way that the contents can’t move around freely, and securely shut to avoid those items falling out during towing.

  • Storing items in the front storage locker of your caravan
The front storage locker is the intended space for storage – yes, it does what it says on the tin. If it contains the spare tyre, this could be moved to the car to reduce pressure on the drawbar and leave more space in the locker for other items.

  • Storing bikes on your caravan or car
Whilst it’s possible to load the bikes onto the drawbar of the caravan, you need to keep in mind that this might mean you’re unable to open the drawbar box, and you should also avoid overloading the drawbar. If possible, store bikes on top of your towing vehicle, but if they need to go on the caravan, ensure you use a sturdy bike rack to secure them.

  • How to store other items
  • Use food packets instead of tins to save room and weight
  • Put food in sealed freezer packets rather than boxes
  • Only liquids in tightly sealed containers should go in the fridge
  • Bed linen should go in the bed lockers under the bunk seats
  • Shoes should be stored in the bottom of the wardrobes
  • Towels and teacloths can go in the overhead lockers or on the wardrobe shelves
Can we help?
We hope you’ve found this guide useful. There is a lot more to caravanning than it may appear, but once you’re on your way, it’s worth all the conscientious attention to detail you have put into your preparations. Safe towing and storage lead to peace of mind and fabulous holidays and days out.
BCH Camping stock a wide range of caravan accessories, including items for the kitchen and bathroom that could give you plenty of storage options. If you would like any further information, or you have any comments about any of our blogs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d be delighted to hear from you.