It’s amazing what a few changes can make. After mounting our new Four Wheel Camper Grandby and upgrading the front bumper to a Buckstop TrailReady bumper, it was time to take the rig the local CAT scale. Getting your rig weighed tells you a lot. The three figures, consisting of the two axle weights plus the total weight of the rig, not only will tell you how much your camper weighs, but also your truck. The figures will also tell you how much gear and other stuff you are hauling. Most people are shocked the first time they get their rig weighed because of half-truths perpetuated by salesmen and official sales literature. Many are overweight. This time, however, we were shocked in a pleasant way.
We prefer using a Certified Automated Truck (CAT) Scale when weighing our rig, but any certified truck scale will do. CAT Scales can be found in over 1,900 locations throughout the United States and Canada, primarily at Interstate truck stops. Getting your rig weighed is easy. All you have to do is pull up to the scale, push the button to talk to the operator, get weighed, pay, then receive your official weight slip at the counter. The entire process takes just a few minutes and costs only $13. Owners should take their truck to the scale first then have their truck and camper weighed together later to determine the actual weight of the camper. Be mindful to duplicate important fluid levels like fresh water and diesel/gas when obtaining these numbers.
We’ve gone through this process numerous times with other rigs, but we were still a little surprised at the initial weigh-in numbers. The 2003 Ford F250 with the 7.3L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel with a full tank of fuel (36 gallons), a complete set of Nitto Ridge Grappler 35×12.5R18 Load Range F tires (70 pounds each) and a set of Hellwig LP-35 Helper Springs (40 pounds), weighed a whopping 8,020 pounds. The 2003 Ford F250 actually weighs more than my 2013 Ram 3500.
The shock came when we weighed the truck with the new camper and the new TrailReady bumper. The combo weighed a shockingly low 9,480 pounds. Even though we are slightly over the 8,800-pound GVWR of the truck, we’ve never owned a truck camper rig that was this light. Truth be told, this total is the dry weight only and doesn’t include water, propane and gear, but it does include a complete set of lift jacks—about 100 pounds total—which will rarely be left on the camper.
Of course, owning a 1,400-pound low-profile, aluminum pop-up made these low-weight figures possible, but still the overall weight brought a smile to our faces and illustrates the numerous advantages to owning a low-profile pop-up. Less weight and a lower profile also means better fuel mileage. An important consideration in these high-inflationary times.
The CAT Scale revealed an additional surprise. With 5,060 pounds on the front axle and 4,420 pounds on the rear, this is the first rig we’ve ever owned that has less weight on the rear axle. These figures are comfortably below the Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWRs) of the front and rear axles. The 2003 Ford F250 is equipped with a front Dana 60 axle with a GAWR of 6,500 pounds and a rear Sterling 10.5 axle with a GAWR of 9,750 pounds, to say nothing of the 4,000-pound Load Range F weight ratings of the tires and wheels. For more on how the axle ratings factor into the GVWR for each truck, click here.
This brings up another point when it comes to weight. Be mindful of all weights when building-out your truck. Most of us focus on just the truck and truck camper options, but aftermarket truck options can add up just as quick when it comes to the total weight of your rig. Things like winch bumpers, spring packs, and towing assemblies can put a serious dent in the payload rating of your truck. For example, here are the weights of the aftermarket upgrades made to our truck:
- Wheel and Tire Upgrade: 80 pounds (increase from size 16/31 to size 18/35)
- TrailReady Front Bumper: 210 pounds
- Hellwig Big Wig Rear Sway Bar: 40 pounds
- Hellwig LP-35 Helper Springs: 40 pounds
- Timbren SES Bump Stops: 30 pounds
- Easy Step Hitch: 28 pounds
That’s a total of 428 pounds of additional weight! Subtracting this weight from the 9,480-pound CAT Scale total still puts us 252 pounds over the 8,800-pound GVWR of our truck. This provides yet another example of how important it is to buy the right truck from the start. Putting some of these options on a half-ton would hammer the already wanting payload ratings of these trucks. Of course, traveling with less gear and less potable water also helps reduce the total weight. A full, 20-gallon water tank alone weighs a whopping 160 pounds when full.
When shopping for a truck, we recommend taking a hard look at options. Yes, having a shiny, new diesel engine underneath that hood is great for climbing mountains and raising your testosterone, but consider how much more weight that engine will place on your truck’s frame and how much having it will reduce your truck’s payload. For instance, the Navistar 7.3L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel in our 2003 Ford F250 weighs 920 pounds compared to Ford’s 6.2L V8 gas engine, which weighs only 600 pounds. The same applies to 4WD. That feature, while great for driving in deep sand and snow, will add another 400 pounds to the weight to your truck, reducing your payload even more. Oh, and don’t forget to subtract 55 pounds for the weight of your tailgate if you remove it. That’s a plus you won’t want to forget when calculating the overall weight of your rig.
Have you had your truck camper rig weighed at a certified scale yet? If you have, let us know if your weights met or exceeded your expectations. We’d love to hear from you.