Tips to help make towing your pop-top caravan easier
One of the most attractive advantages of a pop-top caravan over a solid-wall caravan is that they are less difficult to tow. Generally lighter than their conventional equivalents, pop-top caravans put less strain on a tow vehicle, so the task of transporting them is easier and more fuel efficient. With less weight up top and a lower centre of gravity, pop-tops also offer better handling.
Nevertheless, towing a pop-top caravan can still be tricky – you’ll need lots of practice and preparation before you attempt to tackle traffic.
First, you’ll need to get your hands on a vehicle that can handle towing your pop-top caravan. Modern vehicles are given a towing capacity rating; some large 4WDs will handle up to 3500kg, while a smaller car might only be able to manage 1300kg.
Towing capacity refers to the entire weight of your pop-top caravan and its contents; if your pop-top caravan doesn’t have a weight rating, borrow a robust tow vehicle and take your caravan to a public weighbridge.
Once you’ve sorted out an appropriate tow vehicle, fill the vehicle with oil and fuel, and check your tyre pressure. Complete these tasks before connecting your caravan – it’s much easier to negotiate the twists and turns of a petrol station when you’re not carrying a huge load.
Preparing and connecting your pop-top caravan
Make sure the weight inside your pop-top caravan is as evenly distributed as possible. Ensure that all cupboards, windows and doors inside your caravan are closed, and place heavy items on the floor, near the centre.
Ensure the caravan is correctly coupled to the tow vehicle, and connect your safety chains. Ideally, you should use two cross chains between the ‘A’ frame and your vehicle’s tow bar.
Towing your pop-top caravan
The most difficult towing skill to master will be reversing – take your caravan to an empty parking lot and get in as much practice as you can. Reversing with a caravan can feel a little counterintuitive at first – grip your steering wheel at the very bottom and turn it in the direction you want the caravan to go. Use your mirrors and, if possible, have someone outside the vehicle who can help guide you.
For general driving, allow extra distance for stopping, and be more gentle when braking and accelerating. You’ll also need to make wider turns and downshift when going up or down hills for more control.