What Does Dry Weight Mean? Dry Weight And GVWR Difference

This is one thing you will notice when you buy an RV. You will find that there are GVWR, curb weight, dry weight, and other weight scales you need to know about. Sometimes it is very hard to keep them all straight. Especially when one does not matter.

Dry weight simply means the original weight the RV or trailer weighed when it left the factory. There is nothing added to the RV, etc., no propane, water, supplies, and so on. This weight scale means nothing after you start adding things to your new RV or trailer.

To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can use the right weight scale when you start loading your RV, etc., for your first trip.

Is Towing Capacity Dry Weight?

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No. Towing capacity is how much you can tow behind your RV. It has nothing to do with dry weight. It is a strength indicator and that is about it. Dry weight is how much the RV or trailer weighs when there is absolutely nothing inside of it, on top of it, or on the tongue.

When you exceed the towing capacity, you are putting your RV at risk of damage. It could be something minor that gets damaged or it could be something major like your engine, transmission, or other expensive to repair parts.

You cannot exceed the dry weight. It is what it is and nothing changes that number unless you remove walls, flooring, or needed features like air conditioning.

What Does Dry Weight Mean On a Camper?

This is the same as it is for RVs and travel trailers. It is the original factory weight of the camper once it is shipped to a dealer. The factory basically sends an empty camper to the dealer.

By empty, we do not mean it is sans features, beds, and furniture. Those items are included in the dry weight. What is missing at this point will be propane, water, your equipment, supplies, and you.

All those items are included in a more important weight scale which we will get to shortly. This more important weight scale is what you are going to have to stick to if you do not want to put your camper or RV at risk.

Difference Between Dry Weight And GVWR


You know what dry weight is already so we will focus on the GVWR. Those letters stand for gross vehicle weight rating and that rating is very important and one you need to pay close attention to.

What this weight scale tells you that is how much weight you can put inside your trailer, including the dry weight. The GVWR is listed in your manual and should be on a sticker on the side of the driver’s door or on the driver’s side of the trailer near the front.

To figure out how much weight you can place inside the RV or trailer you use this equation-- GVWR- dry weight = payload weight. Payload weight is for your supplies, equipment, and passengers.

What Does Dry Hitch Weight Mean?

The concept is the same with this vital trailer part. When you look at the different RV manufacturers' websites, you will find that their dry hitch weight is a lot lighter than when you weigh your tongue or hitch connection.

That is because when the manufacturer, Jayco, Forest River, etc., weighs the tongue it does not have propane tanks, tool boxes, and other pieces of equipment on it. Unless factory installed.

When you weigh your tongue or hitch, it usually has those items on it. The added weight will be your gross hitch weight and you need to look for that rating before adding tanks, battery boxes, and so on.

In this case, the term ‘dry’ simply means ‘empty’ or nothing added.

Does Dry Weight Include Propane And Battery?


If the factory installed the battery or batteries, then those items would be included in the dry weight. This weight scale tells you how heavy the trailer or RV was when it left the factory. Anything the factory built and installed is included in the dry weight.

The propane is NOT installed by the factory so it will be included in the dry weight. If the factory included propane tanks in your purchase, then those would be included. You are on the hook for buying your own propane.

The only reason you need to know the dry weight is for you to figure out how much equipment and supplies you can add.

Does Dry Weight Include Furniture?

This may seem redundant but yes it will. Anything factory installed will be included in the dry weight. The reason for that is that those items add weight to the trailer and are installed at the factory.

The dry weight is not indicating just the frame, chassis, walls, or roof. It includes everything that was installed by Jayco or Thor and so on. Anything added by the dealer or yourselves would not be included in the dry weight.

Think of it this way, the dry weight gives you your starting point so you know how much weight you can add.

Does Dry Weight Include Hitch?


When it is a travel trailer it will. The hitch or tongue is factory installed so its weight will be added to the dry weight. Of course, the word hitch is used to refer to other parts as well.

If you are talking about the part that connects to your tow vehicle, then no. That part is not included in your dry weight. It is included in the GVWR of your tow vehicle, not your travel trailer.

The hitch on the trailer is the tongue and anything you add to it will apply to the GVWR of the travel trailer.

Does Dry Weight Include Water?

No, it won’t This is something you add yourself once you get the trailer home and start loading it up for your next big trip. This is something many people do to realize when they own a trailer or an RV.

The weight of the holding tanks when full count towards your GVWR. Full holding tanks reduce the amount of food or equipment and other supplies you can bring along on your trip.

What that tells you is that you need to know the weight per gallon of water to be able to pack your RV or trailer correctly.

What is Included in RV Dry Weight?


Again, we may sound redundant but some people may have skipped the above sections and only saw this one. The dry weight includes anything that is factory installed. What is factory installed is everything you or the dealer did not add to the RV or trailer.

Chassis, frame, walls, roof, appliances, seats, flooring and fixtures, etc., are all included in the dry weight. The tongue is part of the frame or chassis so it is included as well.

If it is factory installed, it is included n the dry weight. That is your guide to knowing what the dry weight is all about.

How Dry Weight is Calculated

This is very simple. Once the RV or trailer has been completed, it is put on a scale and weighed. Or they just weigh the parts and then add those amounts together and get the total weight of the RV and trailer.

Those are our guesses because no one is talking about this topic. To get the exact information you will have to call the company or dealer and ask. One thing that should trouble you is that the dry weight may not be accurate.

It may be the weight of the basic model in the trailer series which is then used for all models in that series.

Why The Dry Weight is More Accurate


It is only more accurate when it is used as a starting weight. It is the exact weight of the RV or trailer without anything added to it. Almost all other weight scales provide total combined weights and will not give you an accurate measurement of the weight of the trailer, etc.

However, as we just mentioned, the dry weight may not be accurate. If our research is correct, different brands of RVs, etc., use the lightest model in a serves as their base dry weight and the larger more luxurious models in that series may be heavier than stated.

Some Final Words

Some people will say that the dry weight is meaningless. They would be wrong as it provides you with the key part of the equation. Without it, you would not know how much equipment and supplies you can load onto your RV or trailer.

Watch your packing well for when you go over your weight limits, you are putting your investment at risk. That is never a smart thing to do.

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