One of the simplest ways to affect ease of towing is to ensure weight is distributed correctly throughout your caravan. The best way to pack your van is to start from scratch, figure out what space is available and how best to use it. It may take a bit of work, but it’s well worth it in the end.
For starters, we’ll assume you’re all clear on your towing weights (if not, check out our rundown of towing weights here) and aren’t about to load more into the caravan than you should. Next you’ll need to consider where predetermined masses such as water and gas will sit so that you can factor these into your packing plans, remembering that they may grow lighter and heavier as they’re drained and refilled, so you may need to leave some provision for shifting items around as you’re travelling to compensate.
Ball Weight & Balance
Once you start hauling your necessities on board, there are two major considerations: first is ball weight and second is balance. Your van’s ball weight is not a finite number. The way you arrange the items within the van can either increase or decrease ball weight.
The logic here is fairly simple, the more weight in the front of the van, the more it will add to the ball weight; move the weight to the back of the van and it will decrease the ball weight. It’s generally best to keep heavy items centralised, over the axles, or balanced out with some up front and some down the back.
The main concern for most caravan owners when it comes to packing is balance. How your load is distributed within the caravan is a huge factor to how it handles and is a key contributor to on-road safety.
In theory, achieving balance is fairly straightforward. The goal is to have equal distribution of weight from left to right and front to back, while keeping the bulk of the weight as low down as possible, so as to keep a low centre of gravity.
Too much weight in the back can lift the rear of your tow vehicle, causing poor traction, and can result in hard to manage movement from the rear; too much up front can impact the tow vehicle’s suspension. If there’s more weight on one side than the other, it can cause poor handling and sway.
How to Load
Loading your van for safe towing is relatively straightforward. Heavy things should be kept in the centre (above the axles), distributed evenly from side to side and kept as low as possible — an added advantage of keeping heavy items low is that they won’t tumble from high places, doing damage or causing injury. Medium items can be loaded a little further out from the centre and up to the bottom of the windows, and must also be distributed evenly. Finally, light items can be stored towards the front and back, as well as in the overhead lockers.
If you load your caravan correctly, it’ll be far easier to handle and will reduce stress on components such as brakes, tyres and suspension.