What to Consider Before Towing Your Tiny House RV

In this article we'll focus on the following items to consider before towing your Tiny House RV: Weight, Low Clearances, & Road Conditions. 

WEIGHT

Before hitting the road with your Tiny House RV, you'll need to purchase or rent a truck that can handle the weight of your trailer. You can figure out the weight your Tiny House RV by taking it to a truck scale. If you built using Tumbleweed plans, and used the same materials specified in the materials list, you can estimate your weight using the graph below.

Typical Tumbleweed Weight Specifications:

It's also important to know the tongue weight of your Tiny House RV, as this can affect the tow vehicle you need to purchase. You can calculate your tongue weight by purchasing a tongue scale (or try this virtually free version). As a rule, your tongue weight should be 10-15% of your total weight of your trailer.

To improve your overall control, and to reduce stress on your tow vehicle, you might want to consider purchasing a weight distribution system

The below graph is helpful when deciding which tow vehicle to purchase based on the weight and tongue weight of your Tiny House RV.

Minimum Tow Vehicle Requirements:


LOW CLEARANCES

In the United States, every state has a specific height restriction for vehicles. In order to stay within the legal limits, you should research the state (or states) which you plan to travel with your Tiny House RV. Most legal limits are between 13' 6" and 14.' All Tumbleweed plans call for construction height of no more than 13'4."

Guillaume & Jenna's self-built Tumbleweed Cypress clears a low overpass

Federal requirements state: "on Interstate routes, the clearance height shall not be less than 14 feet." Therefore, Tiny House RVs should have no problem with low clearances on major interstates. That being said, there are many rural bridges lower than 13'6" all over the country. It is important to plan ahead when traveling. Read signage carefully, stay on major roads and avoid historic districts.

It is a good idea to purchase a RV GPS which will navigate you around low clearances. Watch for low hanging wires and tree branches when traveling through neighborhoods, especially at night.

Ella's self-built Tumbleweed Cypress on the road

Urban neighborhoods tend to have narrow streets and tight turns, which can be difficult to navigate with a tow vehicle. When in doubt, it's best to avoid any routes that would not be accessible to a semi-truck. Having a passenger that can get out an spot for you is also helpful.

The OR Tiny House, inspired by the Tumbleweed Elm, travels all winter long

ROAD CONDITIONS

As with any vehicle, rough roads can damage your Tiny House RV. Plan ahead and avoid gravel or loose dirt roads when possible. It's a good idea to protect the windows on the tongue side of your Tiny House RV. Rocks can crack or damage your windows, so attached plywood or shutters for protection during travel. 

Guillaume & Jenna's self-built Tumbleweed Cypress taking a beating on a dirt highway in Alaska

Stay within your comfort level. If you are not comfortable towing your Tiny House RV in snow, rain or ice, don't do it. Watch the weather reports for your current and upcoming destinations and plan ahead. If you find yourself caught in bad weather, drive slow or pull over until it passes. It's always better to be extra cautious with your tow load, not only for yourself, but also for the other vehicles on the road.  

Check back soon for a follow up article with more towing considerations.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

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