Skip to Content

Can You Pull a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer

A travel trailer, recreational vehicle, or mobile home is the ultimate adventure setup.

Ideally, you should pack all your basic necessities and travel equipment and then hit the road!

However, towing power and load capacity can become limiting factors.

If you are fond of sailing, you may be wondering, “can you pull a boat behind a travel trailer?”

Yes, but it will depend on a variety of factors.

Before buying a kayak or rethinking your travel route, you will need to look at the legal and practical aspects of joining your travel trailer and boat.

You may also need special equipment, and you will definitely need to plan in advance.

travel trailer pulling boat

Is it Legal to Pull a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer

Pulling objects behind a truck, such as a boat behind your travel trailer, is known as “double towing.”

It is legal in about half of the country, especially in the Western States.

In addition, there are some places where you will be subject to additional restrictions, such as speed limits or road types.

You might also want to check out: Do RVs Have to Stop at Weigh Stations

Steer clear from pulling two consecutive objects in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

If your trip won’t take you through any of these states, then “double towing” is legal.

Still, check the Department of Motor Vehicles for any local laws that limit the maximum permitted length of your convoy (which may be as short as 65 feet) or the types of vehicles allowed to pull such a trailer. 

Another common restriction for double towing is stricter speed limits, which may be as slow as 55 miles per hour in Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, or Pennsylvania.

Most states set this limit at 65 miles per hour.

How Do You Pull a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer

If you are planning to “double tow” a boat and travel trailer, the first thing you will need to measure is the total length of the setup and make sure it’s legal in your state.

You should also calculate the gross vehicle weight for your trailer and ensure that your truck’s tow rating will be able to handle it.

You will also need the following equipment:

  • A rear camera
  • Temperature and pressure sensors for the trailer tires
  • Two sets of tow packages (one behind the truck and one behind the travel trailer)
  • Two sets of safety chains
  • Safety reflective strips on the sides of both trailer and boat
  • Flares

It would be best if you also considered installing special trailer brakes or an additional braking kit.

Alongside the new brakes, you should also recruit a professional to install the tow packages and sensors.

After installing everything and getting all three parts tied together, you should still follow a few safety precautions during the trip.

Plan your routes to ensure you only go through min roads or highways.

Small side roads may not be able to handle double-towing, or they may have too many turns.

You should also schedule period safety stops.

On each one of these, you should check your towing arrangements are intact and take a look at the temperature and power sensors.

How Big of a Boat Can You Tow Behind an RV

boat on trailer

The size of the boat you can tow behind an RV will be limited by two factors: your RV’s total towing capacity and your hitch rating.

A big but not exceptional RV can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The total combined weight of your boat, trailer, and all the contents of the trailer will need to be below 5,000 pounds.

Your hitch should also be able to handle the total combined load of your boat and trailer.

There are five classes of hitch, each one with its own weight limit:

  • A Class I hitch can tow up to 2,000 pounds
  • A Class II hitch can tow up to 3,500 pounds
  • A Class III hitch can tow up to 6,000 pounds
  • A Class IV hitch can tow up to 10,000 pounds
  • A Class V hitch can tow up to 12,000 pounds

Can You Tow a Boat Behind a Fifth Wheel Too

States that permit double towing will also allow you to replace the trailer with a fifth wheel.

However, you will need to make sure you place the fifth wheel first.

This is because a 5th wheel is specially designed for safe towing, so it rests the weight of its contents on its own bed.

By altering the center of gravity, a fifth wheel will create a more stable convoy when placed in the middle.

If you leave it for last, it will be significantly harder to handle.

Do You Need a Special License for Double Towing

Most states that allow double towing also require special licenses for commercial double or triple convoys, or at least an extra endorsement on your existing license.

For the most part, this requirement is not applicable for recreational drivers, except in Michigan.

In this state, you will need a special license regardless.

Make sure that you are not giving any leeway to be confused with a commercial driver.

If your boat or RV is registered under a company name, carries a company logo, or if you make money from your adventuring (attention influencers!), then you will fall under “commercial” regulations.

Reading recommendation: Do Travel Trailers Need Insurance

Conclusion

In most of the Central and Western states, you can pull a boat behind a trailer or “double tow.”

However, this is still a very dangerous practice, which requires expert driving skills and additional safety equipment.

You will also need to calculate your total weight very carefully.

Make sure to plan your route ahead of time and steer clear from uneven roads or from any states with additional weight requirements.