Don’t Assume Your Ford F-150 Can Tow Your Camper

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The Ford F-150 is the most popular full-size truck ever and one of the most popular vehicles in America. And, as campers have become more popular than ever before, many people will use their trucks to tow a camper trailer for the first time. Before you take off for the great outdoors in your Ford F-150 and camper in tow, don’t assume it can haul whatever camper you have. 

2021 Ford F-150 | Ford

What is the Ford F-150 towing capacity? 

This can be a tricky question to answer if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Thankfully, new trucks like the 2021 Ford F-150 are getting scales to tell you how much your truck can take. However, older model F-150s weren’t graced with such luxuries. 

According to RVknowhow, the simple and general answer is that the average Ford F-150 towing capacity will fall between 5,000-8,000 lbs. Of course, that range is highly dependent on engine size, rear-axle ratio, and the addition of available options. Understand, there are exceptions to this generalized range, both above and below those numbers. 

Don’t get overwhelmed by the jargon

Part of learning how to tow a camper trailer safely is understanding what some of the common truck and towing terms are referencing. For instance, the term “half-ton” regarding a Ford F-150 or any other pickup truck isn’t referencing the truck’s weight. Most of these types of trucks can weigh anywhere from 5,000-7,000 pounds. 

Generally speaking, the half-ton term means that the suspension and bed can handle around a half-ton payload. This is important to know because the payload can directly affect the Ford F-150 towing capacity. 

New technologies will now be available for the 2021 Ford F-150 including class-exclusive Onboard Scales and Smart Hitch as well as continuously controlled damping, each engineered to help customers who tow and haul load their trucks up for the work they’re designed to do while also adding on-road confidence.
Infotainment screen for 2021 Ford F-150 showing payload scale | Ford

RELATED: GVWR vs. Towing Capacity: What’s the Difference for My Truck?

Typically, the towing limit is set, assuming that there is no payload in the bed. So, if carrying gear and towing a camper trailer, be mindful of how much gear and passengers are in the truck. 

Speaking of payload, that technically refers to the weight capacity of the box and springs. However, this directly correlates to tongue weight which RVknowhow defines as “the amount of pressure or weight that the hitch places on the F-150 or any other towing vehicle.”

Tongue weight essentially means the pressure applied to the hitch itself. The overall weight of the camper trailer and how the weight is distributed all affect the pressure on the hitch. The higher the total weight is, and how much of that weight is being placed on the hitch, the higher the tongue weight is.

Lastly, your truck GCWR is essentially the entire weight rating of a truck and a trailer in tow. This figure should be found on a sticker inside the driver’s door. 

Can an F-150 tow a camper trailer safely?

The F-150 receives “best in class towing” year after year. But, what does that really mean? The hard towing numbers come down to the exact model and configuration of the F-150. From the base-model Ford F-150 XL to the top-of-the-line Raptor, Ford currently offers seven different trim levels for the F-150. 

A Black 2021 Ford Raptor parked in the dust
2021 Ford F-150 Raptor | Ford

RELATED: What Is Included in the Ford F-150 Max Trailer Tow Package?

The main things to keep in mind are the engine strength, axle ratio, and the overall length and weight of the truck. In addition, some models will offer an optional towing package that will add towing ability and safety features to your truck. Once you assess these main factors, you then need to find out how much your camper trailer weighs and proceed accordingly. 

Time to calculate your truck’s towing capacity

Now that we understand some of the terms, you can figure out your specific towing and payload capabilities. First, find the curb weight of your truck on the VIN. Then calculate the weight of fuel, passengers, and gear. After that, subtract that number by the GCWR from the inside of the door, and there you’ll have your towing capacity. 

A 2021 F-150 driving down a field lined road
2021 Ford F-150 | Ford

The Ford F-150 covers a wide variety of truck types and configurations. The towing capacity range is enormous, and exceeding towing capacities can get very dangerous very fast.

Please don’t assume your F-150 can tow your camper. Do the research and figure out the proper towing capacity for your specific model and configuration. 

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