Campervan Storage: Loading your motorhome, it’s more than just a giant game of Tetris

A How To Guide For Campervan Storage | Indie Campers

Knowing how to properly load your RV will allow you to have a fun and safe trip. So why is it so important to know how to load your RV properly, and why is campervan storage so important? For starters, an overloaded or improperly loaded RV can not only be illegal, but is also a danger to you and others on the road. Improperly loaded RVs can invalidate your insurance and are susceptible to traffic fines. A RV rental that is too heavy or one that does not have its weight properly distributed can handle poorly, meaning your brakes and steering might be affected. In addition, an RV that wasn’t loaded properly can cause tires to blow out. 

So how do I load my RV properly?

First things first, you must know how much you are allowed to weigh. Most RVs have a weight limit of 3.5 tonnes. This includes everything, the RV, the appliances, the passengers, and your belongings. It’s a good idea to know how much your items weigh before starting a road trip. 

Campervan Storage

The space you have available in a motorhome rental is a lot less than at home, think about what you need to bring versus what you can live without. Heavy items should always be stored on the floor of your RV and as close to the middle space between the axles as possible. These could be items such as water bottles or outdoor equipment. This will ensure that there is not too much pressure being placed on either axle. 

Remember to spread them along the middle, on the floor, as much as possible to avoid staking and things falling over. Also, think about where the appliances are, those sections of the campervan are already heavier than others. Items that are not too heavy can be placed in the middle cabinets or on counter tops. Such as heavier clothing items, extra sheets and towels or dinnerware are perfect for storing all around the middle section of your campervan. Only the lightest items should be placed in the overhead storage as even when those cabinets are secured, putting heavy items in them can cause the latch to break causing serious injury. Lighter items such as summer clothing can be stored anywhere, but it’s best practice to put them in places where you can only store light items, so you can have room for heavier items in their proper place. 

Campervan storage, loading a campervan
External Storage

Adding external storage is a great way to get more space, but it poses a new challenge when loading your campervan rental. Anything mounted on the rear of the RV, such as a mounted storage box or a bike rack, will cause excess weight to be put on the rear axle. This will cause issues with braking and handling, making the RV more likely to sway and potentially lead it to roll over. This is commonly referred to as an overhang issue when weight is added behind the axle, causing instability to the RV. Adding anything to the rooftop of your campervan also comes with its own set of problems as it will cause air resistance when driving which will cause you to use more fuel to combat the extra drag on your campervan. 

Things to keep in mind:

When planning your trip make sure to think about how much space you will need. Take a look at our RVs for rent to see which ones would best fit your needs.

  • Most vehicles are not designed to travel with full water tanks, so this may cause instability and excess weight you had not budgeted for. Full tanks and unbalanced loading can cause instability and difficulty in steering. 
  • To help keep weight reduced, empty the holding tanks whenever you can. Consider only carrying as much water as you will need until you get to the next fill station. 1 gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds.
  • When weighing your RV, it’s a good idea to weigh both right and left-hand sides separately. This will show you if you have overloaded one side more than the other.
  • Your goal should be to load everything as evenly as possible, with the possibility of having a little more weight to the front of the axles. This will help prevent you from being lopsided, which could lead to swaying and tire blowouts.
  • Your lopsided RV won’t do well on slippery roads, nor do will it do well in areas where there is construction going on.
  • When loading, make sure that all items will be secured and won’t move around when driving to prevent damage to the items or injury to the passengers. 
  • Once everything is loaded into the campervan, you should walk around the vehicle, checking the tires to make sure one isn’t overloaded compared to the others. This is also a great way to make sure you didn’t accidentally forget to pack something. 
How not to load your RV

Do not overload your RV period. You should never be driving in excess vehicle weight as doing so causes tires to wear out quickly and makes it significantly harder to stop the motorhome. In addition, if you are involved in an accident you might not be covered by your insurance. You can also be pulled over at any time by law enforcement to be weighed if they think you might be over your weight limit. If you are over, you could receive hefty fines and be forced to unload and leave some stuff behind. 

There are a few things you should absolutely not do when organizing your campervan storage. 

  • This first is to store your gas canister anywhere else besides its allotted space, as well as do not store anything in the gas canister space. 
  • When driving, please make sure that the canister is properly secured before setting off.
  • Once again, do not place anything heavy in the overhead storage cabinets or bins, doing so could result in serious injury. 
  • When loading your RV do not overload one side over the other, this will cause issues will steering and stability. 
  • If your RV has a rear under storage compartment, do not overload it, as overloading can cause excess weight on the rear axle.

Pro-tip: Leave room to grow. Don’t go traveling with a campervan that is already at or close to its maximum weight limit. Leave as much room as possible in case you need or want to add anything to your campervan. 

One way to avoid going over your weight limit while on a road trip is to adopt a one in, one out policy. Since there is only so much space available in your home on 4 wheels, the best way to make sure it doesn’t get cluttered is that every time you bring in something new, it replaces something that was already in the campervan. For example, with a new jacket. If you buy a new one consider donating the old one. 

Now that your RV is safely loaded with everything you will need, it’s time to start your adventure!

About the Author

Anna and Cora
Anna Bujas

Anna has traveled to over 35 countries and is always looking for the next adventure for her and her dog.