It's a bit long and detailed, but you may want to give this thread a read:
Towing Definitions-Understanding Towing weight terms
Knowing what a trailer will actually weigh when you load it is tricky. In theory, you start with the dry weight
. That should
include everything that is standard on the base model, but no options and no fluids (e.g., water, propane). But published dry weights can be deceptive. On a Scamp
, for example, the refrigerator
, bathroom, AC, furnace
, HW heater, and battery
are all optional. Add those things and fill the propane
tanks, and you've probably already added a few hundred pounds even before you start to add your own stuff. So, as Bob suggests, adding 500-750 pounds to the dry weight gives you a rough guess and place to start.
The GVWR is simply the extreme upper limit of the trailer and everything in it. It is determined by the maximum weight the frame, axle
, and tires
can carry. Some manufacturers list a payload (or load capacity) as GVWR minus the dry weight. That number, though, has to include options and fluids, as well as your stuff.
Another source of information is the thread Trailer Weights in the Real World
These are actual weights of specific makes and models as loaded for travel (by real people, so the same trailer may have several different weights listed). There are three numbers: axle
weight, tongue weight, and total (axle+tongue). The second two are both important in relation to the towing capacity of your vehicle.
Once you buy a trailer, it would be a good idea to take it to a public scale (loaded for travel) and see what it really weighs.
Another consideration is the type of travel you will be doing. If I were planning shorter trips on fairly level terrain at low altitudes, I would be comfortable pulling a trailer that is fairly close to my vehicle's weight limit (I read 80% somewhere recently). But if I were planning a cross country expedition and exploring the Rockies, I personally would want more reserve capacity. Otherwise you may find yourself creeping up a long mountain grade at 15 mph. Something else to consider…
I wish you the best in getting all this sorted out. I appreciate that you are thinking everything through carefully.