When people think of towing vehicles, motorhomes rarely come to mind. A motorhome is a home on wheels which often eliminates the need for towing a camper.
This being said, motorhomes are often used for towing and they can often pull a whole lot of weight.
How much can a motorhome tow? Motorhomes can generally tow between 0 and 15,000 pounds. The range varies dramatically by the size of the engine, the existing weight of the motorhome, and the type of motorhome you buy. Class A and class C motorhomes will usually tow more than a class B motorhome.
Let’s start by looking at each motorhome type.
If you are not familiar with the categories you can read more here about the difference between Class A, B, and C Motorhomes.
Class A Motorhome Towing Capabilities
Class A motorhomes usually have the highest tow ratings and an average class A motorhome will tow up to 10,000 pounds.
This being said, some of the heavier class As with smaller engines do not have the ability to tow much at all. Some of these rigs should not be used to tow anything when fully loaded.
For people looking to tow a large amount of weight, the right class A can potentially tow all the way up to 15,000 pounds.
The most popular item that a class A motorhome tends to tow is a tow-behind car. These cars are generally towed using a tow bar but can be towed on a tow dolly or on a trailer.
You can read more about tow cars on our Complete Guide to Tow Cars For RVers.
Class C Motorhome Towing Capabilities
A class C motorhome can often tow just as much as a class A motorhome. These vehicles often come on heavy-duty truck chassis that can pull upwards of 10,000 pounds.
Again, this will vary wildly depending on the particular RV.
People with class C motorhomes also tow vehicles behind them as well as other items like boats and trailers.
Because a class C is usually shorter than a class A motorhome, it can pull longer items without going over the legal length restrictions that a class A might run into.
Class B Motorhome Towing Capabilities
A class B motorhome usually won’t tow more than 5,000 pounds.
These motorhomes are smaller than their class C and class A counterparts and people don’t generally need to tow a vehicle behind them.
Popular items pulled behind class B motorhomes are boats, motorcycles, ATV’s and snowmobiles. These items are small enough that they are easily towed by the class B camper but large enough that they will not fit within the class B.
People with large class C and class A motorhomes may not even have to worry about towing these items as they can put them right inside of their motorhomes.
In some rare cases, a person may pull a camper behind their class B motorhome.
They use their class B for touring and they combine it with their camper for longer and more stationary trips.
For example, a person might use their class B to go on a year-long trip where they visit every state for a week. When they decide to just visit one state for an entire month, they go ahead and pull their camper behind the motorhome. This gives them more space and allows them to sleep more people.
What Motorhomes Are Best For Towing?
The two biggest factors that need to be considered when towing are the weight of the unladen motorhome and the size of its engine.
If you plan to do a lot of heavy towing, you’ll want to buy a lightweight motorhome with a large engine.
In my experience, lightweight motorhomes tend to lack slideouts. A slideout is great for adding additional space but the slide itself is often extremely heavy in relation to how much extra space it actually gives you. This is because the slideout has to reliably move back and forth and support itself while in the extended position.
To lessen the weight of your motorhome, you’ll also want to consider traveling with empty water tanks.
This includes the freshwater tank as well as the gray and black water tanks.
What Do Motorhomes Tow?
- Horse Trailers
- Cargo and Utility Trailers
As we talked about earlier, motorhomes can pull many different items. You’ll see motorhomes pulling boats, campers, cars, cargo trailers, utility trailers, and even horse trailers.
Towing a Boat Behind a Motorhome
Towing small boats like kayaks, canoes, and sunfish sailboats are easy for any motorhome to do. The trouble arises when motorhomes attempt to pull long and heavy boats. This is because large class A motorhomes can pull heavy boats but they risk going over their length restrictions.
Small class B motorhomes can pull longer boats but they do have to be mindful of their weight restrictions.
The most versatile motorhome to pull a boat with is the class C motorhome. This type of motorhome can pull a lot of weight and is usually much shorter than a class A style motorhome.
For heavy trailer-able houseboats, you’ll probably want to consider a class C motorhome.
Fortunately, most boats are made out of aluminum or fiberglass and are quite light. In fact, a 16-foot boat usually weighs less than 1,500 pounds. Because of this, many people use their class B motorhomes to pull their boats.
Towing a Camper Behind a Motorhome
I wouldn’t suggest pulling a large camper behind a motorhome but it is possible to easily pull popup trailers and small lightweight trailers behind any type of motorhome.
When pulling a camper behind a motorhome it is a good idea to empty all of the water tanks and try to limit the amount of gear you put into it.
Campers get heavy quickly and you’ll want to make sure you don’t go over your tow rating weight capacities.
Another thought to keep in mind is that some campgrounds will not let you put two campers in one camping spot. You may end up having to get one camping spot for your motorhome and one camping spot for your camper. Also, some campgrounds restrict the number of people that can stay at one spot and will charge more for additional people.
In this case, you may end up spending just as much to have 8 people in one spot as you would have to spend to have two different campsites.
You can read more here about how pulling a camper behind your vehicle affects mileage.
Towing a Car Behind a Motorhome
Towing a car behind a motorhome requires special equipment.
When flat towing, you’ll need a tow bar as well as light and brake connections. Otherwise, you’ll need either a tow dolly or a trailer to tow your car on. You can read more about the equipment you’ll need on our Guide to Tow Vehicles post.
Towing a Horse Trailer
Motorhomes lend themselves perfectly to out-of-town horse races and horse shows. For this reason, many people tow their horse trailers behind their motorhomes.
The key thought to keep in mind is that you won’t be able to tow a large horse trailer with a lot of horses in it.
Horses and horse trailers are heavy and even a small horse trailer with a couple of horses may be too much for some motorhomes to handle. When looking for a motorhome to pull a horse trailer, make sure you choose one with a high tow rating.
Cargo Trailers and Utility Trailers
Towing a cargo trailer or utility trailer gives you the ultimate flexibility. These trailers can be used to haul cars, ATVs, dirtbikes, motorcycles, extra camping gear, and anything else you might think of.
In fact, some people will tow toy-hauler campers which can double as campers as well as cargo trailers for transporting small vehicles, small boats, and extra camping gear.
Understanding Tow Weight Capacities
There are a couple of different ratings you’ll need to consider before towing anything with your motorhome.
The first rating you’ll need to consider is the gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR.
(GVWR is the amount of weight your motorhome can hold.)
When calculating how close you are to your GVWR, you’ll need to consider the vehicle’s weight, the weight of the people inside of the vehicle, the weight of all items inside of the vehicle, and the hitch weight of the trailer you’re towing.
Even if your vehicle has a tow rating that is high enough to pull the trailer you intend to tow, it will not be safe to do so unless you stay under your total GVWR weight.
The next rating to consider is your motorhome’s tow rating. This number is self-explanatory. It is the maximum weight you can tow. This includes the weight of the trailer and anything in it.
This means that if you have a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds and your trailer weighs only 3,500 pounds you’ll have no problem towing it. However, if you place 1,800 pounds of gear in it, you’ll be over your tow rating and towing will then become unsafe.
A motorhome can be used for towing a multitude of items.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to consider tow ratings, GVWR ratings, and even length restrictions before towing anything behind your motorhome.
Christopher Schopf is an avid camper, hiker, and an advocate for a better environment. He likes to write about alternative lifestyles and small spaces.