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RV Hitch and Towing 101: How to Hitch a Boat to Your Newmar RV

There’s only one thing better than the freedom and exhilaration of hitting the open road in your RV. And that’s bringing along a boat so that you can take full advantage of America’s incredible rivers, lakes, and other waterways.

Fortunately, you can have the best of both worlds because of the inherent versatility of recreational vehicles. They provide the perfect means for traveling by day and eating and sleeping by night. With your Class A motorhome, you can also tow fun toys like your boat.

Of course, you’ll need an RV hitch to get started as well as some necessary know-how. You’ll also need experience behind the wheel. After all, driving a Class A RV can be a handful in and of itself. Adding a boat represents an additional challenge.

Nonetheless, it’s one well worth it. Here’s our step-by-step guide to towing a boat with your motorhome. Some of these tips come from our experts at the Newmar Service Center. As always, you can find more information and links to even more helpful advice at Newgle, our knowledgebase for all things Newmar.

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Which Coach Are You?

1. Know Your Towing Capacity

Towing capacity refers to the weight your motorhome is rated to tow. For some RVs, this may be upwards of 5,000 pounds. For others, it may prove much less or much more. That’s why you need to know your specific RV’s limitations.

The hitch capacities listed below are provided by the hitch manufacturing industry and are labeled directly on the hitch to communicate its capacity. Keep in mind that your RV may have a different towing capacity than the hitch rating based upon the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) and the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). Your Newmar Owner’s Guide is a valuable resource and should be consulted prior to towing any vehicles or trailers.

There are five classes of towing hitches available. These include:

  • A class I hitch with a 200-pound maximum tongue weight, capable of towing up to 2,000 pounds
  • A class II hitch with a 300-pound maximum tongue weight, capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds
  • A class III hitch with a 600-pound maximum tongue weight, capable to hitch up to 6,000 pounds
  • A class IV hitch with a 1,000-pound max tongue weight, capable of towing up to 10,000
  • A class V hitch with a 1,200-pound maximum tongue weight, capable of towing up to 12,000 pounds

The bottom line is this. If your boat’s weight comes in under that of your motorhome’s towing capacity and you have the right hitch, you can tow it with relative ease.

That said, the total weight of your motorhome and towed vehicle must not exceed the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating). And when planning to tow, approaching the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) may reduce the motorhome’s towing capacity.


2. Make a List and Check It Twice

There are many steps involved in properly hooking up and towing a boat trailer. You don’t want to miss any of them.

That’s why we recommend making a list that you double-check before getting on the road. What should the list include? Some items you should check off include:

  • Is the trailer correctly connected?
  • Do all the vehicle and trailer lights work?
  • Is the boat securely on the trailer?
  • Is there anything in the boat that can blow away?
  • Is the boat tied down?

For the last point, have a few ratchet strap tie-downs handy. These tiedowns will ensure that the boat stays securely on the trailer.

As for towing a boat without a cover, you risk losing life jackets and other essential items along the way. Make sure that you have all boating supplies safely stowed away to avoid this possibility.

Besides making sure everything’s squared away with your boat, evaluate your motorhome, too. For example, are your RV tires in good condition? Did you remember to top off the fluids?

When it’s all said and done, focusing on your tow vehicle is just as critical as focusing on the item you’re towing.


3. Keep the Line of Visibility with Your Trailer Open

When you’re towing, it’s important to maintain some line of visibility with your trailer. Not all motorhomes have rear windows, and on larger coaches that are towing smaller or shorter trailers, it may be difficult to see using the side mirrors as well. For this reason, most coaches—and all Newmar models—include backup cameras to make reversing easier. Some of these systems let you maintain a rear view even when driving forward. Other coaches, including some Newmar models, offer a 360-degree camera system which allows you to see all around the coach, which is particularly handy when both trailering or backing up with a boat.

If you’re considering purchasing a new RV, keep safety precautions such as backup cameras in mind. Find out more about the four things RV shoppers must know before buying a new vehicle.


4. Bring Along a Reliable Spotter

Once you arrive at the boat launch, ask a friend or family member to help out. Sure, you might assume you’ve got it covered, especially if you’re used to towing your boat with a pickup. Towing a boat with an RV comes with unique challenges, though.

For starters, rear visibility is much more limited than with a pickup.

So, don’t forget to bring along an individual who can act as your spotter. From disconnecting to hitching up, putting the boat in and taking it out of the water, the spotter should help you every step of the way. So, don’t skimp on this much-needed help.

Remember, too, that when you stop the boat trailer and motorhome on the ramp, your spotter should chock the motorhome and trailer wheels with large wheel chocks. Always be sure to set the parking brake and double-check the gear selector before letting your foot off the pedal.


5. Practice Makes Perfect

The steps above will help you stay safe. Nonetheless, you still need to take it easy when towing your boat with your motorhome. Avoid situations where you feel stressed or rushed.

Some owners report getting so excited about bringing along their boat that they make a critical mistake. Don’t let this happen to you.

Instead, rely on the checklist you created earlier to guarantee that everything’s as it should be. You’ll also want to spend some time practicing with your trailer, boat, and motorhome. Plan short local trips to get accustomed to how your rig works. That way, you’ll feel comfortable and experienced when it comes to traveling with your boat.


From an RV Hitch to a Braking System

Now you’ve got a step-by-step RV towing guide. We’ve covered everything from the right RV hitch to safety precautions such as backup cameras.

But what about your brakes? Upgrading to hydraulic surge brakes is an excellent option, especially if you plan on towing your boat regularly.

They also come with many advantages. For one, they don’t require much in the way of maintenance. Just make sure the fluid level in the master cylinder is full (DOT-3 fluid). Draining and replacing the fluids regularly will also help you avoid brake component wear and leaks.

Are you interested in learning more about how to maximize your time on the road? Contact us to discuss ways to make your RV life safer and more rewarding.

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