Going RV camping is a joyful and liberating experience that everyone can have. Indeed, there are numerous things we should be aware of in order to camp safely and comfortably. Towing instruction is one of them.
A common question I get asked by new RVers is, “Do I need a sway bar for my camper?”
Actually, towing a camper without sway bars might be possible with some vehicles. However, using a sway bar for a travel trailer is recommended for stable, secure, and comfortable towing.
Also, we should know more about sway bars.
What is a Sway Bar?
A sway bar is a stabilizer bar for RV, preventing it from swaying with a weight distribution hitch.
The trailer sway bar is an essential piece of equipment between the towing vehicle and the camper to prevent any risk that could arise on the highway due to the camper’s unequal weight distribution.
Sway control for the travel trailer works by leveling everything in the camper. It resists the twisting forces of the wheels when turning to reduce swaying. It benefits when drivers experience more challenging turns, allowing a safe ride on the highway.
The sway bar also prevents the vehicle from tilting on the road and having problems while driving.
The following are different types of stabilizing bar for camper:
- Friction Sway Bars
The most common and best RV anti-sway bars for small camper are the friction sway bars.
Once a sway occurs, this device will cause tension and add friction to the trailer to slowly bring it back to its alignment. Instead of preventing swaying, this bar will minimize it, thus making it suitable for small vehicles.
The downside is its vulnerability to wear and strain because you must take it off before backing up the trailer.
- Dual Cam Sway Bars
Dual cam sway bars are preventative, unlike a friction sway control system. It only means that this sway bar prevents the swaying from the start instead of resisting the sway when it occurs.
It has a spring bar that bounces back to its position when movement occurs, keeping the trailer in its position. It is durable, feasible, and capable of withstanding extreme swaying that may otherwise cause damage to your RV.
This gives drivers the best driving experience.
The only problem is it’s expensive. However, its benefits are worth the money when your priority is safety.
- Suspension Sway Bars
If your camper is large, a suspension sway bar is best for you. It is suitable for all weights within the recommended bar capacity.
This sway bar for camper evens out the weight when turning by putting it in the inner tires of the vehicle.
However, you must always check on your tires to prevent wearing out and being flat.
Do You Need a Sway Bar for Your Camper?
Sway bar hitches for campers are optional pieces to add to your vehicle. However, it will make driving considerably more comfortable.
There are travel trailers nowadays that have sway control bars installed and hitches attached. Depending on your preference, you can add a sway bar to your trailer.
Also, there is a big difference between a necessity and an additional piece. But take note that your trailer will benefit from this, especially when you are living camping.
For your convenience, here are the factors you might want to consider:
1. Your Route
The route you are taking can significantly affect the travel and cause swaying. Hence, you should check on the following:
Predicting the weather can be troublesome. The wind is your enemy on an open road. Because there are places you might want to visit yet, the wind is strong, travel trailer hitches sway bars are a big help.
- Tight Turns
Travel trailers are hard to control and heavier than other types of vehicles. Because of this, turning might lead to flipping and can cause only danger on the road.
Hence, extreme caution is required to prevent risks. Here is when you need to use a sway bar. This bar will prevent you from swaying while turning. Turning might become harder but will be safer.
Also, take your time on turning, do not rush to prevent tension on the trailer and tow vehicle.
- Rough Roads
You cannot prevent driving on a rough road when you are going in the mountains. There are bumpy roads and bends everywhere.
This can twist and move the weights of the vehicle. Instead of just staying in one place, it will move side by side or throw itself on the tow vehicle. A sway bar will help bring back weight and balance for an easy driving experience. The device will help minimize the movement.
2. Your Load
The vehicle load is another factor why you might need a sway bar for your tow vehicle.
An uneven weight distribution can only cause imbalance because of the weight it is carrying behind it. The front will be light, but the back can be overwhelmed by the weight resulting in danger on the road.
A sway bar can help you even out the weight and give you a safer ride.
What Size Trailer Do You Need Sway Bars?
All sizes of travel trailers can have a sway bar. Since it is not required, you can choose to have it whether the camper is small or large.
- For a trailer <6,000 lbs, you can use a single friction-style bar. More sway bars are not necessary for the little trailer.
- You may want to use a double bar sway control for a travel trailer to hold more than 6,000 pounds or longer than 26 ft.
Ways to Stop Sway With Your Camper
The following are simple steps a trailer driver can incorporate to prevent swaying:
1. Ensure proper and balanced weight distribution
An uneven weight distribution can also cause the camper to sway and imbalance while driving. It will be harder to take turns as well.
What you can do is shift the weight from front to rear evenly. You can also place heavier items in front or 60% of the weights and place the rest on the back end.
2. Follow the maximum weight limit
All trailers have a maximum weight limit which you should follow for safety purposes. This recommended weight will prevent your tow vehicle from swaying while driving.
3. Prevent slamming the breaks and sudden movement
Sudden movements can cause tension between the trailer and the tow vehicle. There is a possibility that the driver will lose stability and control over the camper. In turn, danger may arise to other cars on the road.
4. Slow down
Plan plenty of time scheduled for your trip. With this, you will not need to rush on the road, even for my pop-up vehicles. When there is an open road, the tendency is that you drive fast unless you experience swaying or it’s getting harder to control and balance the trailer.
RVs travel practically anywhere and may meet factors that induce swaying. Swaying can be frightening. Fortunately, that’s when a sway bar comes in handy. It will assist in reducing the risk of swaying and tight turns, giving you a smoother and more enjoyable ride.
Now, do I need a sway bar for my camper? Well, you know the answer. Keep safe!
My career journey has been marked by a variety of roles. I served as a Personal Trainer for Children, Fitness Instructor, and Home-Based Consultant in Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network.
More than ten years of traveling in my caravan have lent me a deep appreciation of freedom. Without the shackles of being tied down to one place, I get to explore many parts of the world and relish the exhilaration that comes with discovering new things. Throughout my journey, I have been a member of FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) since 2020. Thus, living on the road has never become boring for me.
As someone with a burning passion for traveling, I want to inspire others to adopt a nomad lifestyle to appreciate the beauty of the world. This, of course, requires a functioning vehicle that can always make you feel at home, even when you’re far away from modern life.
Therefore, I seek to put my experience to good use—helping you with your adventure on the road. As a result, I launched and managed the Outdoorbits website, where I likely share my enthusiasm for outdoor activities and health-related insights.