The Best Weight Distribution Hitches For 2023
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
By Marshall Wendler
Last Updated: February 5, 2023
Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch
Equal-i-zer Weight Distribution Hitch
Fastway e2 Weight Distribution Hitch
Hey, you just found the ultimate guide to understanding weight distribution hitches.
We will show you what is the best weight distribution hitch, in our opinion (and why).
Then you will learn what a load distribution hitch is, how they work, and why you likely need one for your trailer - everything you need to know about these products.
Undoubtedly, load-leveling trailer hitches are typically not well understood by consumers.
The one thing to understand is that a correctly set up weight distributing system will ensure your tow vehicle and trailer work together to ensure safe towing while minimizing the stress and strain on your vehicles.
The best load leveling hitches help the vehicle used to tow your camper maintain proper steering and brake control by transferring part of the trailer's weight to the front axle of your tow vehicle and back to the trailer's axle(s).
All of our recommendations are anti-sway weight distribution hitches, which help prevent what is shown in this video:
Let's learn about RV tow hitches and what to look for when purchasing one.
Do I Need A Weight Distribution Hitch?
Great question. Short answer: Almost certainly.
But let's find out for sure if you need a weight distribution hitch (WDH):
Weight Distribution Hitch Reviews
We've narrowed down the field to the best weight distribution hitch with sway control.
All of the below-reviewed load equalizing hitches have sway control built-in. We feel strongly that any trailer that needs a WDH for towing also needs sway control.
Any hitch that didn't include sway control as a design feature was eliminated from our review. And those add-on sway control bars?
Um, yeah, not exactly the best choice, so we don't even consider any hitch that uses these as their sway control mechanism.
Through personal experience, we feel that the Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch is the most worthy of serious consideration.
As a bonus, it eliminates the hassle of conventional spring arms. (Kelly has used an Andersen and e2 weight distribution hitch kit and overwhelmingly prefers the Andersen.)
Read on to learn more about why we picked the below three as our top-rated weight distribution hitches.
Which Weight Distribution Hitch Is Best?
The best weight distribution hitch for most people is the Andersen hitch. We like this trailer stabilizer hitch style as it is a lot easier to deal with because it doesn't use heavy steel spring bars.
Read on to learn why we feel it is the best sway control weight distribution hitch for most recreational vehicle owners.
- No deal breakers
The Andersen 'No-Sway' Weight Distribution Hitch revolutionizes how a load equalizing hitch works.
They did away with the traditional spring bar style weight distribution bars and replaced them with a much simpler chain mechanism.
This results in a much lighter, silent, and easier-to-use setup that deserves a hard look.
The above 'Pros' highlight some of the reasons why we feel Andersen hitches make the best weight distribution sway control hitch.
Best Traditional Style Weight Distribution Hitch
Equal-i-zer Weight Distribution Hitch
- Requires periodic greasing
- Initial setup can be a bit tricky
The Equal-i-zer hitch is a pioneer in weight distribution hitches with sway control.
Progress Manufacturing, the maker of this weight distribution system, has been in business for over 70 years, and they have been making the Equal-i-zer hitch for a long time.
In other words, they have a proven system for spring bar style weight distribution hitches.
If you are looking for a proven system that thousands of trailer owners have used over countless towing miles, the Equal-i-zer WDH is the right choice.
Our top choice, the Andersen WDH, offers some advantages to this spring bar system but controls sway and distributes loads using different methods.
If you like systems that have been around for decades and are a bit leary of newer technologies, the Equal-i-zer hitch is the way to go.
Best Budget Weight Distribution Hitch
Fastway e2 Weight Distribution Hitch
The Fastway e2 weight distribution hitch is manufactured by Progress Manufacturing, which also makes the Equal-i-zer WDH.
The e2 line of hitches offers similar weight distribution properties as the Equal-i-zer hitches (but not as good anti-sway capability) for less money.
The Fastway e2 RV hitch is a MUCH better option than having a simple ball mount (weight carrying hitch) and is a definite step-up from a less effective spring-bar weight stabilizing hitch that doesn't come with any sway control ability.
Hensley And ProPride Hitches
The above-reviewed weight equalizing hitches use friction to control trailer sway.
Friction can only do so much. It helps control sway. It doesn't prevent sway. (Yes, there is a difference)
If you want to truly prevent trailer sway, you need to pay the big bucks and go with a different kind of anti-sway weight distribution hitch.
True Sway Prevention
There is only one type of hitch on the market that claims to truly prevent trailer sway - the Hensley Hitch.
Sounds great? Well, there's a catch: It's EXPENSIIIIIIVE!
Worth The Cost?
A Hensley Hitch will set you back anywhere from 5 to 10 times the cost of one of the top weight distribution hitches reviewed above.
These babies cost in the neighborhood of $2,500+. Yikes!
Are they worth the extra cost? Some think so. Camp Addict Marshall has a Hensley Cub (the lighter weight version for trailers up to 6,000 pounds gross weight).
It's worked great for him for over seven years, but as of late, he has been yearning for something a little easier to hitch up with.
Tongue Weight Consideration
Besides the extra cost, a Hensley Hitch is heavier than a traditional anti-sway hitch, which adds weight to the trailer tongue.
Many recreational vehicles cannot afford to have this extra weight at the front of the rig.
Two manufacturers make a Hensley-style weight distributing trailer hitch. Hensley Manufacturing and Pro Pride Incorporated.
Hensley is the original manufacturer, while Pro Pride claims to have an updated version of the Hensley design.
Which is better? That's up to you to decide if you wish to go the Hensley route.
Guide To Weight Distribution Hitches
Weight distribution hitches (also known as a WDH) are made for trailers of all types... horse trailers, RV camping trailers, boat trailers, etc.
What Is A Weight Distribution Hitch?
A weight distribution hitch distributes the tongue weight of a towed camper from the tow vehicle's rear axle to its front axle and a lesser extent, the trailer's axle(s).
This keeps the vehicle and the trailer level when in a towing configuration. Why is this important?
Because you need to keep the weight on all of the axles of your tow vehicle distributed evenly. Same as if there were no camper attached.
So, if you DON'T use a camper weight distribution hitch, you risk negatively altering the performance of your tow vehicle's steering and braking.
How so? Check out the photos below.
Notice how the first photo shows the tow vehicle squatting down, unloading the front axle of the Jeep?
As you can see, weighing down the back of your tow vehicle will cause the front end to rise. Your steering is controlled from your front end.
Also, the most effective portion of your brakes is in your front end. Therefore, things can go wrong quickly if your vehicle's front end doesn't have its usual contact with the pavement due to being too heavy in the rear.
Your braking distance will be longer, and you may not be able to steer as effectively.
None of these bode well for you on the road with thousands of pounds dragging behind you.
Here's an excellent visual video to further help you understand why a weight distribution hitch is helpful with control and braking.
How Weight Distribution Affects Braking And Handling
How Does A Weight Distribution Hitch Work?
We aren't going to get into the nerdy, technical details of how a weight distribution hitch works. Instead, we will give you a high-level overview of the wizardry behind these hitches.
First, a weight distribution hitch does just that - it distributes weight.
Haha, you feel enlightened now? Not so much? Fine, we'll dig deeper.
When you hook a trailer up to a tow vehicle, the forward weight of the trailer (known as the trailer tongue weight) rests on the hitch ball attached to the said tow vehicle.
As a result, all of the tongue weight bears down on the rear axle of the tow vehicle, often causing squat.
Weight Distribution Hitches Explained
As explained in the above section, this squat takes the weight off the front end of the tow vehicle.
The result is diminished braking and steering control.
Thus, a weight distribution hitch, through the use of spring bars (or chains in the case of an Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch), 'magically' lifts the rear of the vehicle and 'puts back' weight onto the front axle.
How Is The Weight Distribution Accomplished?
The tongue weight applies downward pressure on the hitch, and the spring arms counteract this force via an upward pressure.
The net result is that with a properly adjusted trailer weight distribution hitch, the front axle will have pretty darn near the same weight on it with the trailer hooked up as it does without a trailer being towed.
As a result, the front axle can do its job (steer and brake) even with a trailer in tow. No squatting, and properly distributed weight, make for a safer towing environment. It greatly reduces your chance of having an accident when towing a trailer.
Another Explanation Of Weight Distributing Hitches
Weight Distribution Hitch Ratings
RV weight distribution hitches have two ratings: tongue weight and maximum trailer weight.
Generally, you can use the trailer's gross weight rating (the maximum weight it can be loaded to) to determine the needed camper hitch weight rating.
For example, my travel trailer is rated for a maximum weight (GVWR) of 5,700 pounds. So I am using a travel trailer hitch rated for up to 6,000 pounds.
Therefore, you should try to match the load equalizer hitch rating as close to your trailer's weight as possible and not go over by too wide of a margin. DON'T choose a hitch rated for less than what your rig could be loaded to.
The tongue weight rating is based upon a certain percentage of the maximum trailer load allowed, so it should be fine if you choose the proper weight rating for the travel trailer towing hitch.
Can A Weight Distribution Hitch Be Too Big?
Yes, a weight distributing hitch can be too big (rated to handle more weight than you need).
Why not use the largest weight-rated hitch you can get your hands on? Because the heavier the hitch weight rating, the stiffer the setup will be.
A stiff setup is great if you have a heavy trailer, but a super-stiff set up on a light camper is not necessarily a good thing.
Why? Because it can lead to a stiffer ride, which may lead to premature wear of components. Furthermore, it will result in an uncomfortable bouncing ride for the tow vehicle occupants.
Here is something many people don't consider - using a camper towing hitch rated for a considerably heavier trailer than what you have means the steel spring bars will be rated to provide a lot more force than your trailer's frame is designed to handle. This can (and has) caused the frame to collapse/break near the front of the rig. Yikes!
Choose a trailer weight distribution system with a weight capacity equal to, or not much over, the maximum gross weight of your trailer.
With the Andersen hitch, weight rating is based on the hitch ball and receiver hitch size, and one kit (of a specific ball and receiver size combination) fits a wide range of trailer weights.
This makes it MUCH easier to figure out what kit is suitable for you if you go with an Andersen camper tow hitch.
Types Of Weight Distribution Hitches
Weight distribution hitches typically use steel spring bars (arms) to distribute the trailer tongue weight from the rear axle of the tow vehicle to the front axle.
There is an exception- the Andersen RV trailer hitch uses chains for the 'arm.'
Many camper trailer hitch types use vertical metal brackets to connect the arms to the trailer. Others make their 'brackets' out of vertical chains. (Seen in the second photo below)
This guide focuses on travel trailer tow hitches that use vertical brackets because they also offer sway control.
Sway control is certainly important when you are towing an RV requiring a trailer load leveling hitch.
Weight distribution hitches are available with two styles of spring arms:
- Round bar
Trunnion: Trunnion arms come straight back from the hitch head, giving them better ground clearance than a round bar setup.
The arms are square in shape, and a trunnion weight distribution hitch will typically cost more than an equivalent round bar hitch.
Round Bar: These arms connect underneath the hitch head and curve back until they are parallel to the ground.
The bent style puts them closer to the ground, sometimes causing ground clearance issues in lower trailers.
Indeed, Camp Addict Kelly used to have a round bar weight distribution hitch and struggled with ground clearance issues with her hitch from day one. So, keep this in mind if you have a low-riding rig.
Sway Control: Built-In VS Add-On
A weight distribution hitch can either:
There's a big difference between these two options. Let's explain.
All the best travel trailer hitches reviewed above have sway control as part of their design.
Having an all-in-one system is the best option. Why? Because it won't have the limitations that an add-on sway control device has.
Also, a trailer hitch with sway bars built-in is typically much more effective at controlling trailer sway than using an add-on device.
How Built-In Sway Control Works
A camper hitch with sway bars built-in commonly uses friction between the spring arms and the spring arm mounting brackets (that attach to the trailer frame) to control the sway.
Others incorporate friction points where the spring arms meet the hitch head.
The best sway control hitch will utilize multiple friction points (at the hitch head and the spring arm mounts) to reduce the possibility of trailer sway.
The spring arms are under a great deal of tension, forcing them down onto the brackets as they do their job distributing the weight of the trailer tongue to the front axle of the tow vehicle.
Any side-to-side movement of the trailer due to sway causes a great deal of friction between the spring arms and the brackets, which helps limit sway.
Add-On Sway Control
An add-on sway control device is a friction arm added as an afterthought.
It attaches to one side of your weight distribution hitch, between the trailer frame and the hitch head mounted on your tow vehicle.
You can make a friction adjustment by turning a handle. Turn it one way to add friction sway control and the other way to reduce friction.
Add-On Sway Bar Drawbacks
There are several drawbacks to this type of system.
Progress Manufacturing claims that the built-in anti-sway capabilities of their Equal-i-zer hitch are equal to 8 add-on sway bars (you can usually only install up to two, so you can see the difference).
Now that you have the best weight distribution hitch for your RV, it's time to consider a few accessories that may make your life a little easier.
These are optional, but there might be something here that you find helpful.
Hitch Receiver Lock
Your weight distribution tow hitch has a pin that holds the hitch in the receiver.
If you have a non-locking pin, there is nothing to prevent someone from easily stealing your hitch from your tow vehicle.
Many hitch receiver locks on the market provide a locking pin, and below is just one example of this type of pin.
While this will not prevent someone who is VERY determined to have your hitch, it will slow them down and make them work for it.
It's worth the low price of a hitch receiver lock to give yourself more protection.
Hitch Ball Lubrication
Most trailer hitches need to be greased where the hitch ball meets the trailer coupler.
There is movement at this 'joint' whenever the tow vehicle and trailer are turning or whenever there is an uneven road surface.
If you do not use a quality grease at this connection, you will have metal-on-metal contact and subsequent wear.
The two traditional style weight distribution hitches reviewed above require this lubrication.
The Andersen weight distribution hitch does not, which is another advantage it has over the others (no greasy hitch ball to collect dirt and get grease on you and your clothes).
Trailer Hitch Stabilizer / Anti-Rattle Device
The shank of your weight distribution most likely doesn't fit nicely and snugly into the receiver of your tow vehicle, which causes slight movement between the two as you tow your recreational vehicle down the road.
Over time, this slight movement will cause wear on both your travel trailer stabilizer hitch shank and your tow vehicle's receiver (wear shown below). It can also cause a rattling sound that can be very annoying.
However, you can use a hitch stabilizer (hitch tightener) to eliminate this movement and save this wear on your hitch parts.
Additionally, it eliminates the rattling/ clanking sound that this play makes. Talk about a win-win!
The StowAway Hitch Tightener (below) is for 2-inch receivers. This is what I've successfully used to eliminate hitch noise.
StowAway Hitch Tightener Demonstration
Safety Chain Hanger
Do your safety chains hang low? Sure, they probably occasionally drag on the ground.
If so, the safety chain hanger by GR Innovations (made in the USA) is the perfect solution.
Camp Addict co-founder Kelly considers it one of the best RV accessories you can get! For whatever reason, keeping the chains from dragging is very satisfying.
It's available in two sizes (for either a Class 3 or a Class 5 hitch - the difference being how wide of a hitch the hanger can straddle).
The safety chain hanger is a simple piece of plastic that allows you to lift up the center of a sagging safety chain.
It doesn't interfere with the operation of the safety chains should a disconnect happen.
The hanger would break free if the safety chains got stretched out.
GR Innovations supplied Camp Addict with both sizes of safety chain hangers so that we could try them out.
Camp Addict co-founders Marshall and Kelly have been using them for quite a few years now, and they work very well to keep the chains up off the ground.
For Class 3 Hitches (orange)
For Class 5 Hitches (yellow)
Trailer Coupler Lock
When your camper is not connected to your tow vehicle, it is a potential target for theft.
The entire RV, that is. Think about it. Your rig is sitting somewhere with a nice, inviting coupler waiting for a hitch ball to connect to it.
Anyone can hitch up to your trailer and drive away.
There are many coupler lock solutions on the market, and most can be easily defeated by anyone with a crowbar or a reciprocating saw.
If you are serious about locking your coupler, consider a locking solution like the Coupler Vault Pro.
This lock is almost impossible to break into, and most thieves will give up before they can tow your camper away.
Yes, it's pricey, but your trailer is way more expensive than this 'insurance.'
Coupler Vault Pro by MegaHitch Lock
Your Dealer Is Probably Clueless
Many rely on their dealer to help them choose and install a tow stabilizer hitch.
This seems reasonable since they should know what they are doing, right? Ha. (Don't make us laugh.)
This is a big reason why Camp Addict exists.
Because of lack of knowledge on the internet and MAJOR lack of expertise by salesmen at RV dealerships.
Here is Camp Addict Co-Founder Kelly's experience with her 'knowledgeable' dealer and how they screwed up many things with her weight distribution hitch.
Yes, there are SOME very top-notch RV dealers out there who can sell you the right equipment, install it correctly, and show you how to use it.
But many more dealerships employ sales associates AND installers who know very little about what they are doing. RV hitches can be confusing, yes.
You would hope a dealer that is in the business of selling travel trailers would have a clue about weight distribution hitches.
Or at least care enough to learn or have people on staff that have a clue. This wasn't the case with Kelly's dealer.
Kelly's Hitch Purchase Experience
"The dealer I (Kelly) purchased my travel trailer from did the installation of a Fastway e2 stabilizer tow hitch.
I relied on them to tell me what I needed, what weight capacity was required, and to install it. I knew nothing about it, so I let them do the picking for me, and they did.
(I didn't even know they came in different weight capacities). They managed to mess up ALL of it.
Here are some things they screwed up:
All the issues mentioned above were eliminated when I installed an Andersen weight distribution hitch.
It works much better for the ground clearance challenged trailer I have."
Here is a video of Kelly explaining the issues she's had with her Fastway e2 travel trailer anti-sway hitch:
Kelly's Hitch Issues (Thank You, Dealer!)
The e2 Install Fix
Kelly's e2 weight distribution hitch issues caused by the installing dealer doing a hack job have been rectified.
We spent a fair amount of time installing and adjusting it per the manufacturer's instructions after replacing the brackets with undamaged ones.
This resulted in better clearance between the spring bar brackets and the ground and a trailer that rides level (it slightly nosed down before).
Kelly still wasn't in love with the e2 anti-sway trailer hitch, but she was not as annoyed as she was when there were ground clearance issues.
Her beef with it was how much of a pain in the rear it is to attach and detach, and bottoming out caused the L brackets to come off, hence causing the bar to come off the bracket.
The frame brackets also bent, rendering them useless.
Also, the bolts holding the hitch to the shank often loosened, causing the ball to be too low. All these constant problems, All. The. Time.
It is an inherent problem with the style of the hitch, which is why we recommend the Andersen weight distribution hitch, which Kelly now uses.
Kelly is VERY happy with my Andersen hitch. It took a little getting used to, but now she is SO much happier.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Is The Difference Between Weight Distribution And Sway Control?
Weight distribution is where a hitch distributes some of the tongue weight applied at the truck's rear to the truck's front axle and to the trailer's axle(s).
In other words, weight distribution creates a level towing configuration and safe weight balancing to ensure tow vehicle control isn't compromised.
Sway control limits or prevents the towed trailer from moving (swaying) left and right due to external forces (such as wind or a large passing truck) or improper cargo loading.
A trailer hitch with sway control will use friction to counter swaying. It cannot overcome severe cargo loading problems or incredibly high winds. Still, it works very well if your RV is loaded correctly and you aren't driving excessively fast or aggressively.
Does A 3000-Pound Trailer Need A Weight Distribution Hitch?
A 3000-pound trailer may need a weight distribution hitch if the tow vehicle requires one for a trailer this size (most full-size trucks require a load leveling hitch for trailers above 5,000 pounds) or if you are experiencing one of the following conditions:
Can I Tow More With A Weight Distribution Hitch?
No, a weight distribution hitch does not increase towing capacity. You can not magically tow a heavier trailer than what your truck is rated to handle just because you are using a leveling hitch.
Does A Weight Distribution Hitch Reduce Sway?
A weight distribution hitch isn't intended to reduce sway. Instead, it distributes some of the truck's rear axle weight to the front axle and the trailer's axle(s).
However, the best hitches for travel trailers will have a friction sway control component that helps reduce trailer sway.
So while the best RV hitch doesn't have the primary duty of sway reduction, it will have this capability designed into it.
Can You Back Up With A Weight Distribution Hitch?
You can back up with a weight distribution hitch with built-in sway control. There is an issue backing up with a hitch with an add-on sway control bar, which is one of the reasons why we do not recommend this type of setup.
All of the best weight distribution hitches we recommend allow you to back up without having to undo anything.
You are now armed with the knowledge to answer the question, "When do you need a weight distribution hitch?"
We also let you know what is the best hitch for a travel trailer.
You can read the individual reviews to learn how to select the right weight distribution hitch size for your particular RV.
Now you better understand why using the right equipment to tow your camper is essential and the things to consider when choosing the best hitch.
After all, it's an essential piece of equipment to keep yourself and others safe on the road as you tow your home away from home to the next great camping spot.
We hope you have many safe miles of towing ahead of you!
Author: Marshall Wendler
As the co-founder of Camp Addict, Marshall Wendler is a seasoned expert in the world of RVing, with years of hands-on experience living the full-time RV life in his travel trailer. From 2014 to 2020, Marshall learned the ins and outs of the lifestyle and has enjoyed sharing his knowledge and expertise with others. After a brief hiatus as a part-time RVer in 2021 and 2022, Marshall is back on the road full-time, embracing the vanlife and all the exciting possibilities it brings. He particularly enjoys the freedom and flexibility of boondocking and is excited to share his technical insights with the Camp Addict community. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the RV world, Marshall has valuable insights and information to share, and is here to help you navigate the exciting world of RVing with confidence and ease.
Hi Marshall, I am new to the towing game. We recently purchased a Ford Maverick 2022 (with 4k Tow package). We also own a Wildwood FSX 177bh trailer (22 ft) dry weigh 3100lb (tongue weight 400lbs). Loaded the trailer will be around 3600lbs. Given that the Ford Maverick is only 3700lbs itself can you recommend what a good WD hitch with sway bar combo would be for this setup. I recently had a friend offer me his Husky WD Centre line with sway bar setup, but noticed, after reading the instructions, that it indicated not to be used on trailers < 4000lbs. It seems hard to find the information online for a "minimum" weight spec to finding a good WD hitch with sway bar control item.
Welcome to the world of towing travel trailers! And thanks for checking out Camp Addict.
I pulled up the Husky weight distribution hitch manual and took a look at it. Granted, I just skimmed it, but I don’t see where it says to not be used on trailers under 4,000 pounds. I do see that the minimum ‘size’ they have is for trailers up to 6,000 pounds. Is this the weight rating of the hitch your friend offered, or was it one of the higher weight rating Husky hitches?
I also took a look at the hitches that we review on this page and I don’t see any note of minimum trailer weights. Keep in mind you would want the lowest weight rating hitch that the manufacturers offer. For the Equal-i-zer it would be their 4k hitch and for the Fastway e2 it would be the trunnion bar 4.5k hitch. You could go with an Andersen hitch, but since they have just two weight ratings (10k and 14k) it might be a bit overkill for you. Or not. Up to you!
You can always call the manufacturer you are interested in to see if they have any lower weight restrictions, but I couldn’t find any so I believe if you go with the right weight rating hitch (the lowest one offered) then you should be fine.
Best of luck and I hope you have many years of happy towing experience!
Excellent read all campers need to know. I have the equalizer hitch and how it works and handles with my truck. But have to admit it is heavy. Thanks for some great info again. Happy New Year to all. Enjoy the road but be careful out there.
Yeah, hitches are heavvvvvy! And so dirty. I’m lazy though so I rarely get my gloves on to move mine and I just end up with dirty hands, lol.
Thanks for the kudos and yes, be safe!
Marshall and Kelley,
This was an excellent read, I really appreciate the time you put into this.
We bought a Winnebago Micro Minnie 2100BH this spring. We have an Equal-i-zer WDH right now that works well. However, our current tow vehicle is a little under powered. I’ve been looking at (just went for a test drive today) a land rover discovery. It is more than capable of towing our trailer but there a few things I don’t understand at the moment. LR says “Do not use weight distribution hitches as vehicle damage may occur.” In search the ole’ interwebs the answers range from this is a European thing because of there hitches, to they have trailer stability control by means of air that are design to distribute the weight.
Do you know much about LR towing and have any clarity on this?
They also have something called trailer sway control specified on all the discoverys. So do the newer Jeep Cherokees. Does this mean sway control for the trailer is redundant? Is it overkill to use a WDH with built-in sway control or do most SUVs and Trucks come with trailer sway control and the external sway control is still recommended in addition to it?
Glad you liked this article!
I am not at all familiar with Land Rover (or other European vehicles) and towing. So I looked up the owner’s manual, and sure enough, there is that warning that you mentioned. Um, OK. Not sure how it’s safe/smart to tow a (up to) 8,200 pound trailer with a Land Rover Discovery and not use a weight distribution hitch.
Keep in mind that the tongue weight limits on the LR Discovery is 330 pounds (certified) or 770 pounds (design). No clue what the difference between certified and design is, but if one is to take things literally, then it sounds like the vehicle is ‘certified’ (why who, I don’t have a clue) to only have a 330 pound tongue weight. Which is nothing.
Even if you go up to 770 pounds per the ‘design’, that still isn’t enough to reach the 8,200 pound trailer weight. Considering you want the tongue weight to be between 10 and 15% of the overall trailer weight. Or 820 to 1230 pounds. Way more than the Discovery is designed for. So that 8,200 pound trailer limit isn’t obtainable. Unless I’m missing something.
I’d steer clear of this particular vehicle. Yes, it’s flashy. Yes, it’s nice. And yes it’s a Land Rover, which isn’t exactly going through a time of awesome quality and reliability (Consumer Reports rates the reliability of all LR’s poorly, and the Discovery gets a 1 out of 5).
Regarding sway control on the hitch itself when the tow vehicle has electronic sway control. Unless the owner’s manually specifically states to not use some sort of mechanical sway control (via the weight distribution hitch), I’d opt for it.
Because I used to have the current generation Jeep Grand Cherokee as a tow vehicle (loved that vehicle and it has stellar reliability when you compare it to a Discovery, but still not as good as say a Toyota), I looked up the current owner’s manual. Jeep still recommends a weight distribution hitch with trailers above 5,000 pounds (though you are going to get a lot of rear end squat if you don’t use one on lower weight trailers as well).
Jeep also says the following: “Other equipment, such as trailer sway controls and braking equipment…. may also be required or strongly recommended.” This indicates they are recommending supplemental trailer sway equipment even though the vehicle has electronic trailer sway control.
Keep in mind that all of our recommended hitches have sway control. That’s how strongly we feel about it.
I hope that helps! Best of luck with your search for a new tow vehicle, and thanks for checking out Camp Addict!
Thanks for the reply. Glad you found what I found in that the LR towing information is quite confusing at best. The LR dealer was just about useless other than 1 person who kinda knew a couple things. I think with regard to the 770 to 8200, I think what’s going on is they aren’t clarifying the difference between gas and diesel very well. The gas is 8200/820 according to car and driver and the diesel is 7716/770 for the diesel. I think they are just generalizing the rating to the lowest number in a lot of their literature. Here’s the car and driver spec if you’re interested:
I went down the path of looking at LRs because the car market is really weird right now and I’m having trouble finding a max tow capable Grand Cherokee at a fair price locally, but I can find LRs, but it seems there is a reason for that with their reliability.
Anyways, thanks for the input on sway control, really appreciate it! I hadn’t got to the Jeep Manual last night, but wow what a difference in clarity on towing with the Cherokee. Thanks again!
What are your thoughts on how the weight in the back of the truck loaded up affects things? Ie, we load dirt bikes in the back of our 2019 F150, then pull our trailer loaded. We wouldn’t be maxing out weight tow capabilities, but it seems our current hitch isn’t distributing weight like it should. We sway all over the place. Any thoughts?
Thanks for the comment and for checking out Camp Addict!
Any cargo in the back of the truck (or SUV, or whatever the tow vehicle one might have) will go against the overall maximum weight of the vehicle. And loading up the rear of your F-150 will mean that the front will ride higher. Not a good thing. Especially when you throw in tongue weight from a trailer in the mix (which further loads the rear of the truck).
Keep in mind that the maximum weight of the truck (GVWR) is completely different than how much it can tow (the tow rating). It is very easy and conceivable to overload the truck (exceed GVWR) and still have plenty of tow rating left over.
This is why it’s very important to weigh your tow vehicle and trailer combination at a commercial scale (per the instructions on this page) with everything setup like you normally tow (including stuff in the back of the truck).
The sway could be caused by an overloaded truck (too much weight in the back, causing the front axles to be unloaded), a poor weight distribution hitch that doesn’t handle sway properly (if at all), an improperly loaded trailer that is causing the tongue weight to be too high or too low, etc. (Many of these scenarios are discussed above.)
Weigh your setup at a commercial scale using the steps outlined above to make sure you’ve got everything dialed in correctly. With a properly setup trailer, tow vehicle, and weight distribution hitch (that offers proper sway control), you shouldn’t be experiencing a ton of trailer sway.
Best of luck getting things dialed in!
I strongly believe that your comments re keeping the front axle weights nearly identical when towing vs not, are wrong. I set up my truck and trailer as a “unit”. The front and back of the truck lower by the same amount when the trailer is connected, this was accomplished by adjusting the WDH ball height and torsion bars. The effective tongue weight of the trailer is distributed onto the front suspension as well as the rear suspension. Distribution of the weight is the key – the rear is not carrying the lion’s share of the load, which is what you promote. Handling and braking is very good, plus undue rear tire wear due to loads is minimized. Weighing the truck and trailer has borne out this method. Remember, the term is “Weight Distributing Hitch” – this is truly what I’ve accomplished by careful adjustment.
I totally agree, a WDH is required to safely tow a trailer.
Thank you for the comment and for checking out Camp Addict!
As you know, when you connect a bumper pull trailer to a tow vehicle, the trailer’s tongue weight is going to applied to the rear of the vehicle. This causes the tow vehicle’s rear axle to have to deal with all this extra weight. Without any ‘help’, the rear of the tow vehicle will squat down while the front will lift up, unloading the front axle. This unloading of the front axle can compromise braking and steering control, potentially resulting in unsafe vehicle handling characteristics.
It is the job of a weight distribution hitch (WDH) to distribute this tongue weight forward to the front axle, to not only remove weight from the rear axle, but to load back the front axle to ensure safe vehicle handling. In other words, level the stance (eliminate the nose high position) so that the tow vehicle handles like it is designed to.
I think this much we can agree on. It’s how much the front axle is loaded by the WDH that we tend to have differing thoughts.
I am unable to find a weight distribution hitch manufacturer that discusses using a commercial scale to help setup (or check setup) of a WDH. Most will discuss the importance of measuring the front wheel well height with the vehicle towing and not towing to ensure that height is very close to the same without it being lower when towing. It’s not surprising I cannot easily find this ‘use a commercial scale’ information as most people won’t ever do this, and it is just easier to setup the WDH using the measurement method.
(Side note: I added a #3 to the Front Axle Weight box above to talk about front wheel well height.)
It has been my experience that bringing the front wheel well height back to where it started (not towing ‘position’) will result in the front axle being loaded the same as it is when not towing. Makes sense to me – the front wheel well height is representative of the load on the front suspension/axle. More load up front, the more the front suspension is loaded up and the more the front will squat (resulting in a shorter front wheel well measurement). By adjusting the WDH so that the front wheel well height is brought to pretty close to (but not lower than) what the not towing height is, the front suspension is loaded up the same. Using this thought process, essentially what the WDH manufacturers are telling you to do is make the load/weight on the front axle the same (without the WDH increasing the weight) when towing as when not towing.
Looking at the last commercial scale measurements I took on my current tow vehicle and trailer setup, there is 340 pounds being transferred to the front axle via the weight distribution hitch, out of a total 760 pound hitch weight. So that is pretty decent distribution of the load, with the front axle weight being nearly identical in the tow and not tow scenarios.
I’m curious what truck and trailer combo you have where you can get the front and rear squat to be the same. Unless you have a really light trailer, this isn’t going to happen with a tow vehicle that has a softer rear suspension, as there will always be some rear squat, even when you have a properly adjusted WDH. Though, if you have a heavy duty truck (with a nice, stiff rear suspension) and a low enough trailer tongue weight, you may be able to get things dialed in so that the rear squat is minimized.
Also, when you were achieving equal front/rear weight distribution, did you take measurements of your front wheel well heights with the truck towing and not towing? If so, did the height decrease after you setup your WDH to have equal front/rear squat amounts?
Bottom line is that one needs to setup their particular WDH per the manufacturer’s instructions, while ensure no axle limits (or other weight limits) are exceeded. And to make sure the front axle isn’t taking more than its fair share of the distributed weight.
Thanks again for the comment!
We tow a Bigfoot 25RQ travel trailer with a Nissan Titan. With my method of equalization, neither the front suspension nor rear suspension is overloaded. The trailer gross weight is 7500 lb, dry weight is approximately 5000 lb. Unloaded trailer tongue weight is >600 lb, I cannot remember what the loaded trailer tongue weight is, but it is in the 12-15% range of the loaded trailer weight. The torsion bars are rated at 1000 lb, which allows for application of sufficient torsion without unduly bending the bars as happened with my previous 600 lb bars.
An added benefit of equalization with my method is that my headlights do not blind oncoming traffic. Nor, are they shining low.
It surprised me that the adjustment of one torsion bar chain link means the difference between overloading the truck rear axle or distributing the weight between front and rear suspensions, resulting in being legal on the weigh scales.
I believe that the truck should be lowered evenly (front and rear) , otherwise the rear suspension is doing more work than it should. Setting the WDH up according to your method would require me to upgrade to a 3/4 ton truck in order to be legal.
That’s a very nice trailer you have! I wouldn’t mind having a Bigfoot.
I recently upgraded my Toyota Sequoia to have better brakes and suspension. I’ve also done some mods to my Lance trailer since the last time I weighed the setup. So while coming back from a quick trip a couple of days ago, I swung by a Cat Scale to see how the weights are.
Tongue weight, rear axle weight, and front axle weight are all within the limits of the vehicle and the hitch. Granted, my trailer is not loaded as heavily as it once was, nor is the Sequoia.
I agree that one chain link makes a difference in the weight distribution. On my Hensley Hitch, one chain link equals 120 pounds of pressure/weight on the front axle. I was able to get the front axle weight to be the same towing as not towing. And I definitely notice that there is a difference in how the Sequoia handles between having the hitch bars at 4 links (the correct setup) versus 3 links from the end.
Because the new suspension (springs) are much beefier than the stock springs they replaced, there is very little squat at the rear of the Sequoia now. As in about 1/4 of an inch only. Before there was considerable squat. The front remains level when the hitch is ‘engaged’. So now with the new suspension, the ride ‘attitude’ is the same whether I’m towing or not. Yes, this does definitely help with the headlights not shining high (though I rarely tow when it’s dark out – not my cup of tea).
Anyhow, all of this to say that I’m very happy with my new suspension (and brakes) on the Sequoia. Should make towing in Colorado this summer a lot more enjoyable (or at least reduce some of the stress).
My Sequoia has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7300 pounds. With my rig and Sequoia setup as it was a couple of days ago (very little extra stuff in the back of the Sequoia), I only have 180 pounds of cargo capacity left over while towing. That’s with just me in the vehicle. So add one more adult and you are either just under, at, or over (depending on the size of the person) GVWR for the tow vehicle. Yikes! Good thing I only tow with just me.
Rear axle is 360 pounds under max weight, setup as I have it (front axle remaining at same weight towing as it is not towing). So you can see that there is no way I can overload the Sequoia’s rear axle without first going over the GVWR with the way my trailer is currently setup (since I only have 180 pounds ‘left’ before exceeding the Sequoia’s GVWR).
Yes, the Sequoia isn’t the world’s best tow vehicle (it’s a great person mover, but with the independent rear suspension, it has a lower rear axle weight than a true truck). But this just goes to show you that every tow vehicle is going to behave differently, and have a different set of weights to work around. And not everyone uses a truck to tow travel trailers, so not everyone has a higher rear axle weight to ‘play’ with.
My trailer has a GVWR of 5700. Not a huge number, but as you can see, with a current tongue weight of 600 pounds, it is near the limit of what the Sequoia can tow (and not go over the GVWR of the tow vehicle with some cargo in the vehicle). The Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR – or the tow vehicle and the trailer weights combined) isn’t anywhere close to being exceeded. In fact, it has close to two tons to ‘play’ with. No way I’d tow a 9000+ pound trailer with the Sequoia though!
This is now the 3rd tow vehicle I’ve had with the exact same trailer. One vehicle was a 3/4 ton diesel truck, and boy did that tow like a dream. And no, it didn’t come close to overloading the truck. But ugh, the truck was a royal pain as a daily driver. No thanks!
We’ll have to agree to disagree on the front axle weights. Until I see some concrete evidence that it’s OK to put more weight on the front axle when towing (versus the weight when not towing), I’m going to stand by with what is on this page. I’m open to changing my mind if someone can point out something from a hitch manufacturer that says it’s OK to have a lower front wheel well height when hitched up (thus indicating a heavier front axle load versus not towing). But until then, I’ll continue setting up my hitch the way that is explained on this page.
Thanks for the very thoughtful and intelligent comments. It’s always great to have a conversation with someone that understands the importance of setting a hitch up correctly.
I just had the Fastway E2 hitch installed on my new 33 foot East to West Alta camper at the dealer for $ 450 and the drive home, about 100 miles, was flawless. My 2020 Ford F250 with the Godzilla engine handled it well.
Good morning, I have been reading your article on weight distributing hitches. Thanks for the in depth information. One of the more informative articles I have seen. My wife and I have just purchased a 2016 Rockwood 2304DS. Gvwr for trailer is 6600 lbs. I have not purchased a weight distributing hitch yet. Unit has been winterized and dealer is storing for the winter. So I have a lot of time to decide on hitch. Have been looking at a Blue Ox model that is sold by dealer for us to use. I also have been reading your information on the Anderson hitch but am still not sure sure which would be best for us to purchase. Our tow vehicle is a 2019 Ford F150 3.5 l ecoboost,max trailer tow package and payload of 1940lbs. My hesitation with Anderson set up is how it actually works. Physics was never my strong subject. Could you provide some sites that would help with this. Thanks Tom Van Nus
I glad you like the Weight Distribution Hitch page! There is definitely a lot to learn about the subject.
The manufacturer’s page has some videos that may, or may not, answer your question.
Another great source of information on how the hitch works is Andersen themselves. I’ve found them to be very helpful on the phone with questions. You can give them a call at 208-523-6460.
Hope that helps! The Andersen is a great hitch and Kelly loves how easy it is to use.
I’m not a fan of the Anderson design for one simple reason. The force it exerts is not opposite the force it is trying to equalize. A spring bar opposes the force directly, up or down, which is what is going on with the tow vehicle/trailer combo. The Anderson hitch uses a horizontal force, which puts far more stress on the trailer frame, since it pushes or pulls forward and back (horizontal) in order to equalize a force that is moving up and down (vertical). As far as the “difficulty” of spring bars, they are very simple to deal with. Setup is a bit of a chore, but once done, connecting the bars is a simple 5 minute exercise. You connect the tow vehicle to the trailer, then use the trailer jack to raise the system up beyond flat horizontal, connect the bars, and away you go. The only real difference is the weight of the bars which I will admit can be a bit onerous, but in my mind it is superior in design from a physics perspective. I have an e2 round bar hithc. I love it.
Thanks for the info and your writing style!
Question… what are your thoughts on the ReCurve R3 and R6… I am a newby and looking into this TWD stuff for the first time.
Glad you like both the information and our writing style! We try and make otherwise boring topics a bit more fun. Though, I must admit, Kelly is MUCH better at this than I am.
So the ReCurve R3 and R6… They sure do look intriguing until you dig a little deeper. Take a look at the instruction/installation manuals and you’ll see that they share some of the ‘gotchas’ as add-on sway control systems have, as we explain above in the Built-In vs Add-On Sway Control section.
The instruction manual for both say the following: “With the ReCurve you also have the option to disengage the sway control function to prevent any unsafe maneuvering situations in adverse weather conditions which may produce slippery road surfaces.” Oh, joy. When the weather turns to crap, let me stop and disengage my sway control. Um, no thanks!
In addition to the ‘gotta disconnect when the roads are slick’ good times, they further say this about how to store the ReCurve: “The ReCurve R3/R6 should also be stored with the preload removed from the (adaptive) sway system. To remove the preload repeat the disengagement steps.”
So you have to disengage the sway control every time you disconnect the trailer from the tow vehicle. Hitching and unhitching is already enough of a pain, having to remember to do another step is just adding to the workload. Especially when the weight distribution hitches reviewed on this page don’t have such a requirement.
For these reasons alone, we don’t recommend the ReCurve line of weight distribution hitches.
Thanks for the information. Very helpful. We’re in the process of purchasing our first travel trailer. NoBo 19.8 and plan to tow with a Toyota 4Runner. The dealer is trying to sell us a Husky Centerline Weight distribution hitch that they say includes a no-sway system. My brother has been towing trailers for years and recommends the EAZ Lift 48058, which definitely has a sway system. Can’t seem to find reviews on either. Do you have any thoughts on either?
Congratulations on your first travel trailer. It should bring you many years of great camping memories!
Those two weight distribution hitches that you mention appear to have the ‘add-on’ style anti-sway system as opposed to the built-in style (which are included with the hitches reviewed on this page).
We discuss why you should go with a built-in system versus an add on system in the text above, which you can find here.
Best of luck with your new rig!
Thanks, Marshall. I see what you mean about add-on Sway control for the EAZ Lift. However, I was under the impression that the Huskey Centerline has anti-sway incorporated with the weight distribution hitch and it was not an add on. Every one I see has the trunion bars included. Is that not the same thing? I apologize for my lack of understanding.
Sorry about the delay in responding. Just noticed your reply now.
Ah, yes, you are correct! The Husky website is, how shall I put this delicately, kinda confusing and hard to use. When I first looked I only saw their original weight distribution hitch that requires the add-on sway control.
They do have the Centre Line (or is it Centerline as stated in the manual? Let’s hear it for consistency!) TS product that uses the same friction control system as the Equal-i-zer and Fastway e2 hitches we review here. Along with all the ‘joys’ that come with having to deal with spring bars.
If this is the style of hitch you want to go with, then the Centre Line/Centerline TS appears to be a viable option.
Hi Kelly and Marshall,
I just found your website tonight and I’ll say that I really like it.
I came across it while trying to find something discussing safety chain length with a Weight distribution hitch.
I was replacing the chains on my camper because they are old and worn out but more importantly, they were too short.
I have a 2003 Jayco Kiwi 21C (dry weight 3270) that I pull with a Kia Sorento (5,000 lbs towing capacity for my model) with an aftermarket Uhaul hitch (also rated 5,000 lbs).
The Jayco Kiwi bolts the chains under the hitch about 4 inches apart (they actually use just one long chain bolted in the middle).
So, in the process of figuring out everything, I came across this whitepaper: https://www.linklock.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Trailer-Safety-Chain-White-Paper.pdf that talked all about hitch failures and how your chains should be set.
Now, after I got my new chains on, I needed to set length, so I decided to use their calculator ( https://www.linklock.net/application/) to determine what my chain length should be.
Well, they come up with a length of 13 inches, which doesn’t come close to what I need to attach to my receiver.
I got thinking about it and if, for some reason, my TT tongue did manage to life up off of the ball or hitch, there is no way that chains attached to the receiver on the truck could ever catch the tongue and keep it off the ground.
That scarred me until I realized that almost all the common failures are much harder to happen while you are using a WDH. How can the TT tongue lift off of the ball when the torsion bars are pulling the TT tongue down (or more accurately pushing the hitch and the back of the truck up)?
So, what kind of failures due we expect to happen while we have a WDH in play and how should we set up our chains to try to prevent it from being a catastrophic problem?
I hope my question makes sense. I’m looking forward to hearing your response.
Glad you found, and like, Camp Addict!
Unfortunately I cannot view those links as their security certificate has expired so my browser is having a fit and doesn’t want me to open what is now an unsecure website.
There really isn’t much you can do about WHERE the safety chains attach as it’s pretty much set by the trailer manufacturer and the hitch manufacturer. What you can control is the length of the chain (as you are trying to do) and where the breakaway cable is attached. See this blog post that discusses breakaway cable attach points (and what can happen if the hitch fails).
I have had 3 trailers setup by Andy Thompson at Can Am RV using his recommended Elite WDH and one setup elsewhere using an Anderson WDH. On my Grand Caravan I towed a 22’ Airstream with the Elite WDH and a Livin Lite DBS 14 with the Anderson Setup. The dealer used the Anderson as they were concerned about damaging the hitch A frame with a conventional WDH as it is all aluminum. Although the Anderson was pretty good at sway control, it was not capable of the weight transfer required to tow with a front wheel drive mini van. Andy Thompson and Can Am RV specialize hitch setup and are the only dealer I have ever dealt with that take you out for a test drive after doing the trailer setup. They have done tests and do not recommend the Anderson WDH. Andy has published a series of articles called “Hitch Hints” that I recommend anyone interested in towing read. He is considered very controversial by many for some of his combinations but they have been doing this for over 50 years.
Thanks for the information, Larrry. It’s definitely a case of there is no one right setup for every tow vehicle and trailer combination. And yes, there are as many opinions about what the correct setup is as there are people towing. Best bet is to arm yourself with as much (good, useful) information and knowledge on the topic and then go get some experience yourself.
You towed a 22′ Airstream with a Dodge Grand Caravan minivan??? Even the smallest Airstream currently available (16′ Bambi) has a GVWR that is touching the maximum a Grand Caravan can tow. The current 22′ Airstream is way over the weight limit that a Dodge minivan is rated to tow.
Unless the 22′ Airstream in question was substantially lighter than the current production models, this is/was not a good tow setup. A Dodge Caravan isn’t an ideal tow vehicle for any travel trailer so it’s no surprise that the weight distribution hitch setup took some tweaking to be acceptable.
Thanks to the authors for this really great information on WD hitches.
I read through all of it and was ready to shop for an Andersen hitch.
But thank you commenter Scott (below) for the notice regarding Mr. Andersen’s ignorant anti-social behavior, which I did a search of to verify. A $1000 fine and an apology after public exposure? Please. If I had found out about this after buying an Andersen hitch, I would have regretted doing so every time I hooked up. It’s the Equalizer for me and I’ll never buy an Andersen product.
I was all set to buy an Anderson hitch, so many pros as you listed, but when I started reading about the owner defacing Corona Arch in Moab, I couldn’t give the guy my money. If he gave the company to his employees or something similar, I’d be all in.
Yes, we totally understand where you are coming from. We were so disappointed when we heard the story.
Still, our job is to educate and help consumers choose the best of ‘X’ in any given category, politics or personal failures aside.
Though the owner acted like an ass, he still has what we believe to be the best products in more than one category.
But we 100% respect your decision not to buy his products. We wish there were more people in the world who had morals like yours.
I bought a 30ft trailer, 7800 lbs loaded, towing with a 2008 Silverado 5.3L V8, ext cab, 6ft box with towing package. What’s your recommendation for weight/sway hitch?
I’d suggest you take a look at our top rated weight distribution hitch, the Andersen Hitch. On that page you will be able to pick the right part number for your particular setup. We explain how to do so.
Your articles are very informative and I love reading them. I bought a 16′ Travel Trailer that I will be pulling with an Expedition. The weight is 2584. Looking at the chart it appears that’s a Class 2. I am still confused as to if I need a weight distribution hitch or not. I would like to definite get sway bars. Am I missing something? Do I need to get a combination weight distribution and sway bars or can I get only sway bars? Thank you for your help.
You might not need a weight distribution hitch. It depends on what your Expedition owner’s manual says as far as what trailer weight do they say you need a weight distribution hitch (WDH).
As we mentioned at the start of this article, many manufacturers say anything above 5,000 pounds needs a WDH. Not sure what Ford says for the Expedition, but your trailer sounds like it’s well under 5,000 pounds.
However, if your Expedition’s rear squats when you tow this light of a trailer, then that’s a sign you need a WDH. So that’s going to be something you will learn as you gain experience towing.
You can buy just an anti-sway device by itself. For example, the Curt 17200 is one that can be used with, or without, a weight distribution hitch. I don’t have any experience with the Curt 17200. It was just the first example that came up when I did a quick Google search. You can talk to Curt directly to learn more about if this is a good solution for you.
But if you end up needing a weight distribution hitch, you can get one with the built-in anti-sway and something like the Curt 17200 won’t be necessary.
Have you tried towing this trailer yet? Just curious if you notice the Expedition squatting or if you notice the trailer wanting to sway.
Hello, great article and very, very informative. What do you know about the Husky Center-Line 32218? It is a WDH with sway control.
That hitch is very similar in style and operation to the spring bar hitches that we review. I personally think ALL spring bar weight distribution hitches are a royal PITA since you have to deal with the spring bars both when connecting the rig and when not using the hitch (storage, etc).
It is my opinion, and from use of both styles of hitches, that the Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch is a superior system all the way around.
I’ve been looking for different hitches but I don’t see your thoughts on the Trunnion Style Weight Distribution Kit that uses cam locks and duel cams.
Both the Fastway e2 and the Equal-i-zer have trunnion bar options.
They are just another version of spring bars, which I’m not a huge fan of but some people love. I like the Andersen much better for ease of use and storage (no damn spring bars to deal with).
Have Hensley Swift Arrow hitch. Love no sway, hitching up is a challenge sometimes. Question is how to secure hitch for theft prevention as I cannot find any product that would fit?
I have a Hensley as well and I don’t do anything for theft prevention. If someone is going to drive off with a trailer equipped with a Hensley Hitch, they will need the ‘stinger’ portion that attaches to the tow vehicle and ‘inserts’ into the hitch itself.
Nobody, but a Hensley owner, has one of these. So the likelihood of someone ‘borrowing’ your trailer is really, really low.
If you want some sort of theft prevention device you might consider something that goes around one or more tires. Like a ‘boot’. I don’t have any experience with something like this, so I cannot recommend a product.
What do you think of the blue ox
Blue Ox weight distribution hitch wasn’t chosen as a top pick. 😉
They are pretty pricey and we would much rather have the Andersen WDH for less money and not have to deal with the spring bars.
Thanks for a great article and spreadsheet. I benefitted from both. It took a lot of trial and error but here is the final result of my hookup of a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee to a 2016 Airstream Bambi with a Fastway e2 WDH. How does it look? https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1zHQhs_YUOCf2fjgMsXs0jrH8ZoYOoitjLJpmWp5JRVg/edit?usp=sharing
Thanks for sharing your final calculations. They look fine to me with the exception of the GVWR on the loaded trailer is a bit higher than specs, but the axle weight is well under. The rest of the weight difference is what is being supported by the Jeep’s trailer hitch. Depending on what state you live in (I really should do a blog post about this), the tongue weight either is, or isn’t, part of the overall trailer weight calculation. Or something along those lines. Again, I really should do a blog post on this so it’s ultra-clear in my head. Bottom line is that you are OK as far as the Bambi’s axle rating.
The Jeep weights are fine too. So all is good there. I like how balanced you have the front axle weights comparing Jeep only and with WDH hooked up. Perfect!
I found your calculations to be of particular interest because my previous tow vehicle was a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. But I had the smaller engine and only had a tow rating of 6,200 pounds. I was really close to the limit with my trailer, and it showed while I towed. Not fun!
Where did you find the GCWR of the Jeep to be 10,300 pounds? I could never find that number. I even contacted Jeep years ago and they were of zero help. Maybe it’s now published somewhere?
If the 10,300 GCWR rating is correct, I was over by 600 pounds. Yikes! No wonder it was no fun towing with my Jeep.
Also, your ‘Jeep only’ front and rear axle weights run about 400 pounds (each) higher than mine. Do you have your Jeep really loaded down? Still within limits. Just an interesting comparison between your weights and mine. Granted yours will be slightly higher because of the engine, but that doesn’t account for all the weight difference.
Thanks for sharing this and happy towing!
Depends on how you calculate the trailer weight to compare with the trailer GVWR. See my scratchings at the bottom of the original spreadsheet for 3 different ways. For the hooked up case, the 320 lbs might be considered an “equivalent” tongue weight. What say you?
Addressing the GCWR. I also could not find an official number for the Jeep so I used this reference. http://tinyurl.com/y5m7rctv “According to Ford Motor Company, the GCWR is calculated by adding the following weights together: The vehicle’s listed curb weight, allowable payload, driver and passenger weight and trailer weight [source: Ford Motor Company].”
Yes, if you are looking for an equivalent tongue weight when the WDH is hooked up, that number would be 320. Though I’m not sure that number means anything because the traditional tongue weight is with WDH not engaged. That’s the one to use when figuring out percentage of tongue weight, etc. So that would be the one to use if you were in a state that allows you to take tongue weight out of the weight of the trailer for GVWR purposes. I think.
My mind tends to want to explode thinking about this kind of stuff. So if you have a better argument, I’m all ears!
Also a bit confused on the GCWR calculations that Ford uses. What do they mean by ‘trailer weight’? I assume that means the weight of a particular trailer. Which makes sense. You need to add the actual weight of the trailer you are pulling to the actual weight of the two vehicle. These two numbers combined let you know where you stand as far as being over or under GCWR. But GCWR has to be a fixed number determined by the manufacturer. All the trailer weight tells you is if your particular configuration (tow vehicle weight + trailer weight) is above or below GCWR.
I still think one needs to hear straight from the manufacturer what the GCWR is. Without the manufacturer’s information, we the consumer are clueless.
Again, I may be confused on this aspect as well. I’m willing to admit when I’m confused or don’t get something 100%, but I’m pretty confident that the GCWR has to come from the manufacturer. Just knowing the GVWR of the tow vehicle (or simply the weight in your current configuration) and the weight of the trailer does not get you to GCWR.
Good conversation! Thank you for it!
Have a Hensley Arrow hitch. Store hitch bar in trailer compartment. How can I cover/protect open hitch with chains from trailer theft? Hensley rep laughed when I asked.
I assume you are concerned about someone getting the hitch ‘stinger’ from your trailer, put it on their truck, and steal your RV?
I don’t worry about someone stealing my trailer since I have the Hensley installed. They would have to have a ‘stinger’ in order to steal it. And those that have these are few and far between. (Plus they would have to be able to get inside my rig and close the slide, etc, etc, etc.)
You can always keep the Hensley hitch ‘stinger’ stored apart from your rig so that any thief would have to supply their own Hensley stinger in order to drive off with your trailer. And this is highly unlikely.
There is no other way to secure the Hensley Hitch that I’m aware of.
Fabulous article! I’m looking at getting my first travel trailer and this fills in large gaps in my knowledge!
I found one typo on the page: “Bathroom Scale Method” You note that “This means that the scale will only support 1/2 of the tongue weight.” No. The scale supports only 1/3 of the tongue weight. 1/2 the tongue weight happens when the tongue is smack-dab in the middle between the two sides. But the math you present is correct since you state to multiply it by 3.
I have a question about the Hensley and ProPride hitches. It seems like a “stiffer” connection to the towing vehicle would attract higher forces. A gust of wind blows and the lateral force goes into the hitch immediately (no movement of the trailer allowed). In contrast, with a traditional anti-sway mechanism, the trailer “gives” a little bit (like a tree bending in the wind) and the force is absorbed over a short period of time (through the noisy friction devices). Are hitches and hitch receivers built for this greater peak force that the “rigid” hinges cause?
Thanks for pointing out that error! I got thrown off by the 2:1 right before it. And obviously a lack of coffee.
That’s an interesting observation/question. I don’t know, but I’d assume that this is taken into account by the hitch manufacturers, but I’m no structural engineer, but make a damn good armchair one!
The hitch manufacturers would be the ones to ask about this. But I can pipe in and say that I’ve been using my Hensley for over 5 years of full-time RV living. I have the Hensley Cub which is rated for trailers up to 6,000 pounds. Mines 5,700 pounds, so close to the max. My Hensley is ticking right along and it has experienced all sorts of conditions from cross winds to really rough Forest Service Roads. For what that’s worth…
Best of luck with your first ever travel trailer! Buy wisely. Research the heck out of them. Buy a good brand. And most of all, enjoy the great outdoors!
Great article. Years ago I had a Hensley hitch and then I sold my trailer and got out of it for a few years. A few months ago I purchased the ProPride hitch and it really is an improvement over the Hensley hitch I had. That’s not really surprising considering it is the latest iteration from the same inventor, Jim Hensley. It’s so much easier to hitch up it isn’t even funny. There is no sway from passing trucks or wind. The adjustable stinger is a huge improvement as I use some tilt in the hitch head to get more weight transferred.
Glad you liked the page, Bill.
Thanks for the first hand report on the ProPride. It definitely has some nice improvements over the Hensley.
As mentioned on this page, I have a Hensley and have been using it the entire time I’ve had my Lance travel trailer (5+ years now). It’s worked great for me, but I could definitely benefit from of the product improvements found on the ProPride hitch.
The biggest pain point for me with the Hensley hitch is the hookup procedure. Having to line up the ‘stinger’ just right in order for it to go in far enough. It looks like the same problem exists with the ProPride – sort of a nature of the beast issue. But, the fixed yoke does look like stability of the hitch head when not hitched up has been greatly simplified.
Thanks again for the testimonial and Camp On!
The hitch opening on the ProPride is quite a bit larger than I remember the Hensley hitch being. I once spent over an hour hitching up my Hensley and I’ve never spent even 5 minutes getting the ProPride hitched up. You should contact them and get one for a review.
The images on the ProPride website appear that it uses the same basic ‘stinger’ setup as the Hensley, but other better design features that make it easier to hookup. As long as I get the stinger into the hitch quickly, it doesn’t take long to hook up my Hensley. But when I first started using it, I sure had some struggles until I figured out the tricks.
If ProPride wanted to send us a hitch we might consider it for review, but we have a policy with Camp Addict to not reach out for free review items (as so many other do). We either purchase the products we review, or we are contacted first by manufacturers. As I already have a Hensley, we won’t be purchasing a ProPride for review (no trailer to install it on that’s in need of a quality hitch, and it works the same basic way as the Hensley, so really no need to validate its performance).
Glad that your ProPride is working out well for you! I do love how my Hensley performs.
Hensley Arrow solved a real problem for us. The combination of our particular vehicle and trailer was so bad that if wind speed was over 10 mph we didn’t dare go on the road. And on the expressway I had to constantly watch for big trucks and hold on tight and move as far right as possible to avoid sway as they passed me. The Arrow totally solved these problems. Was it expensive – yes but cheaper than buying a different car or trailer. And now I never even look to see if a big rig is coming. It’s really an unbelievable difference – couldn’t be happier.
I love my Hensley and it was something I purchased before I hit the road over 5 years ago. With my then tow vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, I felt it was a vital piece of equipment in order to be able to tow my 24 foot travel trailer.
Now that I’m using a Ram 2500 heavy duty pickup, I don’t ‘need’ the Hensley, but I still use it and it certainly adds to the safety factor I enjoy.
What is your trailer and tow vehicle combination that you are using in which the Hensley made that kind of a difference?
Would you care to say what was the combination? I might be in that situation
Good article, thank you.
When I first started towing I soon learned there is a lot you need to understand. In my opinion, one of the most important and one of the first things someone should learn about is pay load distribution and weight distribution hitches. If you don’t know about or understand “trailer sway” I would encourage you to become familiar with it as trailer sway can be very dangerous putting you and others in harms way.
I knew nothing about payload distribution or trailer sway when I first started towing my camper (toy hauler). I just wanted to load it up, head to the camp ground and have fun!! A neighbor, who was experienced with towing, saw me loading up my motorcycle and came over to chat. My motorcycle is a full sized touring bike weighing approximately 900 pounds. Due to the design of my camper I have to load most of motorcycle’s weight behind the camper’s axle and off to one side. I had no clue what this would mean when pulling it down the road at 50 plus MPH.
I asked my neighbor if he would take a ride with me and give me some pointers, he said yes so off we went. Breaking, turning, and other basis were going well. He then directed me to the highway. Highway traffic here is 70 plus MPH. I accelerated up the entrance ramp and attempted to merge into traffic; I was going approximately 55 MPH. I soon discovered some drivers did not want me in front of them and would not let me over. You know how that can go in a car, trying to merge over when you realize someone is going faster then anticipated (perhaps accelerating); the next thing you know you have to swerve to avoid being hit and you’re coming to the end of the entrance ramp. Well, experiencing that pulling a camper with an uneven payload adds a whole new dimension to the experience. The experience I’m referring to is “trailer sway”. Oh yeah…now that will make ya’ grab the steering wheel tight and pucker!!
After that experience, I did my research and purchased the Hensley Hitch (Cub). Yes, it was way more money than I wanted to spend. I found it does what they say and for me it eliminated my trailer sway.
Example: I pulled my camper through Hurricane Irma with wind guts well over 50 mph; although I felt the wind pushing me, the camper held steady. It was not a white-knuckle experience.
Another time I had a tire blow out on the camper while I was traveling approximately 60 MPH and I didn’t even know it. It was approximately 20 miles down the road before I realized I had an issue (distance is what the tire store manager estimated I drove based on the condition of what was left of the tire and the condition of the rim).
Hensley is a great system, expensive, but good. Is it worth it? When I add up the cost of the tow vehicle, the camper, the motorcycle, all the other gear the could be destroyed in the event of a trailer sway and subsequent crash, in addition to the risk to me, my family, and others, the potential hospital bills, loss of work, potential law suit…for me, it was worth the money I paid. You have to decide if it’s worth it for you.
Safe travels my fellow campers!!
Glad you like the article, EZ! And thanks for the very thoughtful comment.
I too have the Hensley Cub. It was the only way I was going to tow my 24 foot Lance Travel Trailer with my original tow vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Not that I have a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty truck, it’s not as necessary, but I still love having it!
We couldn’t agree more that cargo distribution is a HUGELY IMPORTANT factor! And why figuring out trailer tongue weight is vital – but only when your trailer is loaded as you would normally travel.
It’s really scary to see how some of the trailers being towed down the road are improperly setup. Tow vehicles nose high, unlevel trailers, and even trailer sway. All this stuff makes you wonder why you don’t see more accidents involving improperly setup trailers.
Seems like a lot of people are getting extremely lucky towing RVs that are either oversized for their tow vehicle, overweight in general, and with incorrect trailer hitches (or improperly setup hitches). Scary stuff!
Thanks again for the great comment and Camp On!
My rig is a 26-foot enclosed ProLine trailer (all aluminum) that I use to carry up to four GoldWing-sized motorcycles, towed behind my ’12 F-150 Ecoboost with max towing package (max tow 11,300 lbs). I hadn’t read about using a WDH, but since the trailer weight can vary from 2500 lbs. (empty) to 6500 (with four bikes and some tools) I’ve decided to get a WDH. My thanks to you both for all the information you’ve provided and the comparison of the various types of hitch. That Andersen unit does look nice.
Sounds like you’re a big motorcycle fan! I have an e-bike. Does that count? ????
Great that you found our page, and we really appreciate the great feedback! The Andersen is great. I love it SO much more than my super maddening old e2 hitch, which you probably already read about.
I don’t see how you can go wrong with it if you do get one. And it will keep your whole setup safer on the road.
Thank you for the comment, and let us know how it goes!
When you describe the weighing of the TV and TT to get tongue weight, you do not mention when you keep the WDH on or off. When you measure the TV alone, do you have the WDH removed? This would increase the weight calculation of the tongue weight (The A-B value). If WDH is not installed on TV weigh (B) would be a lower value. Thanks
Leave the shank portion of the hitch attached to your tow vehicle. This will give you the weight of the actual trailer tongue (otherwise you are counting the shank as part of the tongue weight, and for this calculation we can consider it as part of the tow vehicle).
I guess you could make an argument that the shank is part of the trailer in that if you didn’t have the trailer, you wouldn’t need the shank. But this is overthinking (and over complicating IMHO) things.
If we are looking for JUST the amount that the trailer applies to the back of the tow vehicle (in other words, the weight from the part that is connected at the hitch ball), then we have to leave the shank connected to the tow vehicle during the entire process).
Short answer – leave the shank in during both weights. Hope my explanation explains why (at least in my mind) why this is so,
Thanks for the question and Camp On!
As an engineer, I can’t agree with this logic. No manufacturer I have consulted does either. Tongue weight is a measure of the percentage of total trailer weight that is directed to the tongue of the trailer. Tongue weight should always be kept within the recommended range of 10-15% of the trailer weight. The tow vehicle will also have a max tongue weight allowance (generally considered part of the allowable payload), so you need to add the hitch weight to the tongue weight in order to ensure you stay within the limits. Using a WDH, you always adjust for suspension sag, etc. by leveling the vehicle. You need to measure the free height of your vehicle with nothing in it or on it, including the hitch. Only then can you load it up and adjust the hitch tension to level the vehicle. This will compensate for both the tongue weight and the payload. It’s physics.
Can you please point me to where manufacturers say to start adjusting the WDH with nothing in the tow vehicle? As that is contrary to what the manuals for the WDH’s we discuss on this page say.
This is what the Andersen manual says: “If you are planning on hauling ATVs or other heavy equipment, you should load the trailer and tow vehicle with those items beforehand. Follow proper weight distribution guidelines as laid out in the manufacturer’s recommendations for the tow vehicle and trailer. Make sure to stay within the limitations of each manufacturer’s maximum weight recommendations.”
Both Fastway and E-2 say this (not surprising as they are from the same manufacturer): “Ideally, when installing or adjusting the hitch, the tow vehicle and trailer should be loaded just as they will be while traveling. This includes full propane and fresh water tanks, and any other cargo (passengers & gear) the tow vehicle or trailer will carry, including ATVs for toy haulers. If fully-loaded is not possible, set the hitch up for the trailer as-is, and make adjustments later if needed.”
Great article! How has the Anderson WD hitch worked out so far? How many trips have you guys used it on, what loads/setups, etc? I haven’t been able to get the company to answer me on whether it will distribute a 900 lbs tongue weight effectively to a Ford Raptor.
Thanks, Mathew! Kelly has been using the Andersen WDH since last August and likes it a heck of a lot more than her previous setup. Her trailer is in the 4,000 pound range with a tongue weight in the 400’s.
She actually tows with a 2014 Ford Raptor, so funny you should ask about a 900 pound tongue weight on the same truck. Do you actually have a Raptor already, or you just thinking about getting one? It sounds like you either have, or are planning on getting, a pretty heavy trailer.
I’m sure you’re aware of this already, but the Ford Raptor isn’t made to tow. It has a much reduced tow rating compared to other F-150’s. In fact, it can tow just 6,000 pounds with the SuperCab, or 8,000 pounds with the SuperCrew. Tongue weight limits are going to be around 10% of the tow weight, so 900 pounds is going to exceed the tongue weight limits.
Also, 900 pounds is going to ‘eat up’ all available (or at least most) payload (depending again on the cab the Raptor has).
Our recommendation would be to not use a Raptor to tow a trailer with a 900 pound tongue weight. You need a ‘normal’ F-150 (probably with a max tow package) or even a 3/4 tongue truck (depending on what the weight of the trailer is, how long it is, etc, etc, etc).
You can try contacting Andersen at the following email address (though, they are most likely going to tell you what I just told you):
Best of luck and Camp On!
Wondering what you use for a locking hitch pin .. read a lot of reviews on them and it seems that a lot of them freeze up after time and are hard to get on/off. Assume you want some sort of protective cover and keep the lock lubed ? Chris
The one I’ve used is show in the hitch accessories section of the Camp Addict weight distribution hitch page.
We remove our hitches when we setup camp so the pin is constantly being removed. Therefore it doesn’t have a chance to ‘freeze’ up. But I can totally see how that would happen if you never ‘use’ the locking mechanism. I’d use some sort of spray lube. Or just take it off when you aren’t using it.
Thanks for the question and Camp On, Chris!
I have a 2017 Ford F150 with trailer sway control and use an Equalizer square bar hitch. The problem is this hitch set off several alarms on the truck (advanced track, hill decent, steering assist as a few). I spent 2 days at my Ford dealer accessing the problem and changing a number of parts under warranty before we discovered attaching the sway bars was causing the truck systems to issue fault warnings. Has your organization seen this problem?
Sorry to hear that you experienced this! We haven’t heard of this, and Kelly’s truck doesn’t have these bells and whistles (I use an Hensley hitch, which is an entirely different sort of weight distribution hitch).
Have you reached out to the manufacturer of the Equal-i-zer WDH, Progress Manufacturing, to get their expert opinion?
I have and I’m waiting their reply.