Road Ready Checklist for Towing Your Travel Trailer Safely
Road Ready Checklist for Towing Your Travel Trailer Safely
See how one RVing couple gets ready to roll out in their HIKE 100 FLX.
By: Austin & Kirsten Lawrence (@Adv4two)
With an extended camping season in our home of North Carolina, we have to be road ready for all seasons. Before heading out for an adventure in our HIKE 100 FLX, we have a strict checklist that we follow to make sure we are doing our part for road and towing safety.
On many of our adventures we come across road hazards that were caused by towing issues, so we want to help others avoid these. In this article, we will discuss our safety checklist that we have found to be useful for our adventures.
(Note: These are the top items on our checklist; however, there may be additional safety measures you should take or other RV-specific considerations to keep in mind. )
1. Check Tire Pressure
North Carolina seasons can fluctuate from one day to the next and can affect the way a tow vehicle and towable RV both perform. When the temperatures go up or down, so can your tire pressure. Our first item on our checklist is to check the tire pressure on both towable and our tow vehicle.
We prefer to use a digital pressure gauge that has a comfortable design and allows a nice firm grip for higher accuracy. With this design, there’s no more sticking of the white slide reader or that very slim, hard-to-hold design. The digital design is also great because it has a bright LED screen readout, to make it easier to see if you’re in low light.
Always remember to check your tire pressure before heading out. Learn more about RV tire care in this article.
2. Check Lug Nuts
We all know that the roadways are getting bumpier every day. So, for this reason, our next item is to check all lug nuts on both the towable and our truck. Just everyday driving, potholes, and unexpected bumps can affect our vehicles.
Since we tow our HIKE 100 FLX off-grid, this is definitely a high priority. This item is usually overlooked, but just a few-minute walkaround will make your trip a lot safer and give you peace of mind. This can be accomplished just by using a lug wrench to make sure the lug nuts are tight, but we prefer to use a torque wrench.
Here is the recommended lug nut torque we reference:
- 1/2” lugs – 90-120 FT/LBS Torque
- 9/16” lugs – 120-140 FT/LBS Torque
- 5/8” lugs – 140-160 FT/LBS Torque
3. Hook Up Trailer Correctly to Hitch
Hooking up the HIKE 100 FLX to our truck is our next item that is very important to follow. All steps are to ensure our safety as well as the safety of others on the road around us.
We always check our trailer ball for rust/corrosion that may cause a poor seat of the hitch. Wiping down the ball and placing a cleaner such as WD-40 can help the trailer in turning as it provides a smoother surface for it to rotate.
Once the camper is seated, we always make sure that the spring-loaded lock has locked on tightly to the ball and place the pin through the lock to ensure no room for error. We have come across too many accidents that could have been avoided if the RV was properly secured to the tow vehicle.
4. (Optional) Adjust Towing Airbags in Tow Vehicle
Many RVers have made modifications to tow vehicles for added safety measures. We added towing airbags to our RAM 1500 for added comfort and stability while towing the HIKE 100 FLX. These inflatable cushions help absorb the impact and we have been amazed at how much these have helped on-road and off-road.
That being said, our next item on our checklist is to adjust the air pressure in the air bags to accommodate for the added weight of the towable. Our setup allows us to utilize our digital pressure gauge that we use for our tires.
Temperatures rising and dropping can affect these just as it does with tire pressure. As we mentioned, North Carolina temperatures change overnight. We keep a tape measure onboard to monitor rising or falling pressure within the bags due to the measurement from the bottom of our rear bumper to the ground. Having two ways to monitor the air bags gives us peace of mind while out adventuring.
5. Connect Safety Chains & Brakes
Connecting the safety chains and break-away brakes are next. We carefully inspect the hitch throughout the year to check for rust and weak spots in the metal framing. Since we live on the coast with a lot of salt in the air, this is high on our checklist.
Keeping all moving parts on our truck and HIKE 100 FLX lubricated throughout the year and through different seasons is a must. Rust and corrosion can cause major headaches on the road, so we make sure to keep it minimal.
One example is the leveling feet for the HIKE 100 FLX. When it is not in use, we keep the leveling feet down to help keep the camper secure and evenly distribute the weight. Rain, dirt, and other elements can cause them to become stiff and noisy. We keep them clean and coated with WD-40 or other lubricants that we have on hand year-round to help prevent any surprises while on the road.
We utilize a RedArc braking system with our HIKE 100 FLX for ease of use while traveling as we can adjust the braking pressure right from the dashboard of our truck. Traveling in different parts of our state can go from flat roads below sea-level to mountainous winding roads. The need of heavy braking comes with those mountainous adventures.
Make sure to hook up your seven-pin trailer wire to your tow vehicle. This will give the needed connection between the tow vehicle and the towable which provides power to the towable lights and activates its brakes.
For a detailed guide on towable setup and takedown, read this article.
6. Do a Final Walk Around
Before hitting the road, do a final walk around. Four eyes are always better than two when preparing to head out on an adventure. Inspection of the HIKE 100 FLX and our truck is the last item.
Starting from the front and making a complete 360-degree circle around the entire setup is very important. Turn on all lights to make sure headlights, brake lights, and camper lights work. These are very important on the road at all times for visibility during the day and night-time use.
We check all latches and lids to make sure they are closed and locked securely. Checking to make sure the back doors on our HIKE 100 FLX 1316SB are firmly closed and locked is very important as we don’t want to lose our contents on an adventure. We also perform a thorough inspection inside the camper to make sure all contents are secure.
Turn off all switches, especially check your water pump switch. A small bump in the road could turn on your sink if an item was to bump the knob. We utilize rubber coated bend ties to secure our closet area by placing them though the handles and just a few twists. This has been a huge help keeping our items secure on those bumpy off-road trips. Also make sure your fridge door is secured in the closed position.
Lastly, we check to make sure the awning is securely retracted and the steps have been stowed properly. We close the handle across the camper door and we are set for an adventure.
We hope our camper checklist helps you get setup safely before hitting the road on your next adventure. Maybe it brought to light a few additional things to write down on your checklist. Please share any additional steps from your process in the comments!
Safe travels and happy camping!
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