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If you are wondering if you can pull a boat behind your travel trailer using only one vehicle, you are not alone.
This may seem like an excellent idea. Who would not want to bring their boat or toys with them for their camping?
If you are going for a camping trip where you will be using your boat, double towing can save you an entire trip or the hassle of bringing another car with you to tow the boat.
Here is an exclusive look at double towing, how to tow a boat behind a travel trailer, whether it is legal in the US, and safety precautions to ensure you get a smooth double towing camping experience.
What Is Double Towing
Double towing refers to towing two trailers with a single tow vehicle. This often involves pushing your tow vehicle and your driving skills to the limit.
In some regions of the US, double towing can also be referred to as triple towing, but it is the same thing regardless of how many accessories can be pulled behind the truck. However, when it comes to towing, a boat trailer towed by a motorhome features a double-tow.
On the other hand, a truck towing a travel trailer that is adjoined to a boat trailer is known as a triple-tow. In this case, the setup will include the towing vehicle, a travel trailer connected to the truck, and a boat towed behind the travel trailer.
Lets get into more details on how to pull a boat behind travel trailer. I am sure you have lot of questions and doubts specially on legality, weight limits.
Can You Double Tow Behind Travel Trailer
Absolutely yes! You can tow a boat behind a travel trailer as long as your vehicle can handle your boat’s weight. However, this is not often recommended. You will need to ensure your travel trailer frame is rated to tow a second trailer.
Factors such as length, weight, and safety while double towing travel trailers affects where you can and cannot go.
It is also essential to conduct comprehensive research on the models of all vehicles, travel trailers, and accessories for double towing before you decide to do this.
In most situations, double towing is possible, but it’s always essential to research and test before you hit the road.
States laws and regulations on double towing also vary, so you want to ensure you understand the rules.
Can You Tow a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer?
Is It Legal in US to tow a boat behind a travel trailer?
The legality of double towing varies in different States and sometimes even in regions.
You can only tow one trailer at a time in some States, so if you want to attach a boat behind you, your motorhome should be self-propelled.
In the US, double towing is legal in only 28 States. These include;
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
As you have noted, most States that have legalized double towing are on the west, while the east coast US is known for being unfriendly to even regular towing because of the older road systems and infrastructure. The west has wide-open spaces that offer much more room for double towing handling and maneuvering.
If you require to double tow, experienced towers recommend that you carefully plan out the route you want to take to your water or where your final destination is.
This way, you will be able to do your research ahead of time and ensure it is legal in all the regions you will be going through, and if you are needed to have any documents, you can get them in time to avoid inconveniences for your trip.
Do You Require A Special Licensing To Double Tow?
You will not require anything other than the standard class C driver’s license to double tow for most of the States. However, some States need you to go into the DMV and undertake a written test to get a special towing card.
In a State like Michigan, you will need to have a special license to double tow. There is no driving test needed to make it legal for you to tow a boat behind a RV.
How to Tow a Boat behind Travel Trailer
If double towing is legal where you are, and you want to set out on a trip with both your travel trailer and your boat, there are various ways of preparing yourself for the trip to have a successful and safe trip.
A good point to keep in mind is that just because something is legal on paper doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best idea for real life or it’s safe. It is important to use your common sense to make the perfect judgment through the double towing process.
If you decide to double tow, ensure you understand your complete setup’s length and how to drive the whole setup to your final destination safely.
You can take a few precautions to help you in navigating more smoothly on your trip if you decide to double tow. Here are some tips to help you get a smooth and safe trip.
Do your math
Before you double tow your boat, you should do all the math on the travel trailer’s gross vehicle weight and the boat you want to tow behind your truck and ensure your truck can handle it.
You don’t want a situation where you will get stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a dead truck. Your tow rating should be equal to or greater than the weight you are towing.
More so, your boat trailer should weigh less than the empty travel trailer and the towing vehicle.
Install a camera to the back of your boat or camper
Adding a camera to your travel trailer or boat will enable you to see the tricky angels, including anything that the trailer or boat may block out.
This will also remove all blind spots. There are lots of portable options available if you don’t want to mount one permanently.
You can also consider installing temperature and pressure sensors on the trailer tires to quickly notice when the trailer is dragging down the road on the rim rather than an inflated tire.
Do a test drive
Before hitting on the road for your camping adventure, drive about your vehicle with the boat towed behind a travel trailer. Backing up is the most challenging thing when it comes to double towing.
Do a test drive to ensure you can reverse smoothly without your boat trailer moving in the opposite direction.
Double-check your route
Keep in mind that every State has different laws when it comes to double towing.
You should hence carefully plan out the route you are planning to take and ensure if you will be crossing State borders, double towing will still be legal in the state you are driving through or going camping.
You can refer to the Department of Motor Vehicles website to check the state’s double towing guidelines.
Check your measurements
The size double towing regulations vary from one State to the other. You hence need to ensure you understand the regulations in terms of size before heading off on your trip. Measure your travel trailer and boat and ensure everything is attached securely.
Leave sufficient room for braking
One of the essential things in ensuring safe double towing is to leave room for braking. This is particularly true for the double tow situation as panic stopping with tow trailers in tow does not work well.
If you follow the car in front of you very closely and have to press the brakes to prevent hitting something in front, there is a higher probability that your trailers are not going to stay in a straight line.
Drive safely and carefully
Even if you are experienced in double towing, it is essential to prioritize safety above other things.
Ensure there are no blind spots, navigate easily, brake quickly if required, and are familiar with how your vehicle moves when on the road. Double towing is different from normal driving. Your vehicle may be more stiff and difficult on the road.
With all the extra weight, you should turn slowly and gradually stop instead of the abrupt stop you are accustomed to. More so, driving over 55 miles per hour is not a perfect idea. You should take your time and drive slower if you are double towing. This is not a race, and the turns will be wider than normal when you have two things towed behind your car.
Make wide turns
Another safety precaution is ensuring that there is sufficient clearance between your boat and your RV when making a tight turn. When making tight turns, the corners of the boat might rub against the corners of your RV, which is something you don’t want. Be patient and wait for all vehicles to go by before making a turn. Turn slowly and surely, and even the unsuspected oncoming cars will stop.
Make regular inspections
You should always make a complete walk-around inspection of your tow vehicle, travel trailer, and boat before hitting the road for camping.
More so, ensure to stop at the next rest area and do another comprehensive inspection to find and fix the issues, especially with hitches, tires, and boat covers.
Maintain a regular inspections throughout the camping tour, and you will prevent any serious problems before they begin.
Do You Require Special Brakes?
While the law does not need you to have special brakes for double towing, it all depends on where you want to double tow and if there are any steep grades or hills.
If you plan to do pretty double towing, you might want to consider installing trailer brakes. This extra trailer braking kit will make sure you don’t put all the braking force on the truck and will prevent your rotors and brakes from becoming red hot when driving down a hill.
If you are not an automotive enthusiast, you should consider taking your truck to the repair shop and get the braking kit installed for you.
Trailer Towing Laws by State in the United States
While most States allow double towing, every State has varying regulations depending on various factors such as; the type of camper or boat you are towing, the length of your vehicles, town, and region.
The fact that a State legalizes double and triple towing doesn’t mean you can double tow any way you like.
You require to follow some regulations, and every State has its own. This can be a challenge if you are planning to pass through different States with your double tow.
Some States have limitations on how long your full load should be, where some might measure by every individual tow. There are also speed limits of adhering to when double towing.
You will be required to drive slower, ensure you are following the posted speed limits. Some States prohibit pulling a boat behind a travel trailer. On the other hand, some States only allow towing watercraft behind a fifth wheel. If you exceed specific lengths and weights in some States, you must first acquire a special permit to pull such long and heavy loads.
Most States do not allow double towing if the boat is longer than 18 feet. Also, it is not recommended to double tow something much longer than 16 ft. even if you have double towed before and you are a great driver.
So if you think your boat is too large or too long for you to manage and control appropriately on the road, or if you feel like your travel trailer or camper can attach securely enough to your vehicle, it is better to be safe than regret it afterward.
Double towing usually is okay if you will be going for short distances and want to bring a boat with you to your campsite. However, it is not advisable to do it all the time as it heavily weighs on your vehicle and might wear it out quicker compared to normal towing.
Be smart, and if it is once in a while, it is okay. Just ensure to be always safe. If there is any doubt in your double towing abilities, the best thing to do is to abandon the idea. Your safety and that of those around you should be the priority above everything else.