CAT Scale Shocker for New F250-Grandby Truck Camper Rig

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.

Hellwig LP-35 Helper Springs on our 2003 Ford F250.
About Mello Mike 907 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.


  1. Good luck with all that extra weight above the GVWR. Adding helper/leaf springs and/or air bags may make it “handle” better or more stable, but does nothing for increasing factory GVWR/payload capacities for your truck camper. It’s your truck, do what you want. Me? I’ll move up to a 3500HD if I ever need more 9500# GVWR and/or 2625# payload than my factory 3/4 ton is rated for.

  2. Because he’s confidently incorrect and blissfully ignorant. A 250 cannot hand any camper he wants it to but you, Mello Mike, already know that. The true answer is because ” it’s my right” to be ignorant!

  3. Our 94 GMC K2500 turbo diesel with 97 Shadow Cruiser pop up ~¾ on all tanks, 4days provisions and spring clothing weighed 8480# on local scrap yard scale. Door tag is 8800#. Added 2 leafs to rear springs since. She has used this info to justify bringing more “stuff”!

  4. I am glad to see you weighed your truck and Grandby camper and were upfront about the weights. Nonetheless, being 600lb overweight is still overweight and this is before the camper is loaded with food, water, gear people and beer. Most people figure 500lb per person for those assundries. An F-250 diesel from the early aughts just is not a good truck for a truck camper due to its limited payload.

    You put yourself, your passengers, and other motorists at risk by taking this set-up on the highway. You are also opening yourself up to serious liability in the event of an accident in that your insurance company can easily and probably will deny any claim based on the fact that your truck was overloaded.

  5. I believe the engineers at GM Ford Chrysler. When looking for the right truck I went through the same process and settled on a lower trim level vehicle – without power two-piece sun roof (with a Camper this is a waste of $), no power step-sides, fewer power seats (my wife says she doesn’t care) not so many power mirrors, and I gained a payload 250 lbs greater than the top tier trim.
    Same powertrain; carry more. In the 18 States that ask, I’ll be safe and my wife wont have to walk out of the Scale house 🙂

  6. I was just at a CAT scale on Saturday weighing my Tacoma with an AT Overland Atlas and all our gear. The GVWR is 5500# and we weighed in at 5640#-140# over. The back axle was within limits but the front axle was 35# over. Is this extra weight dangerous or is there a little wiggle room? I’m signed up for the rally in February. See you there!

  7. Nope, and I won’t either. Non-commercial vehicles aren’t required to meet any weight restrictions. Only weight I’m concerned with is my own when standing on the bathroom scale. My F250 SDPS can handle any truck camper I want it to.

      • Because it’s set up fine, handles great, gets just under 12 MPG with the 6.0, 6″ lift and 35’s, and, as a commercial driver for 34 years, I know how to drive. I’ve hauled toyhaulers that were sketchier than my 811. I don’t fix what isn’t broke.

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