Can You Pull a Boat Behind a Pop up Camper? All Facts You Need


If you are wondering if you can pull a boat behind your pop-up camper or trailer, you are not alone. It might seem like a great idea. If you are going on a trip where you wish to use your boat, it can save you a whole other trip, or the hassle of bringing another vehicle with you to tow your boat.

This question has crossed many people’s minds because, in theory, it seems like a really convenient idea.

Can you pull a boat behind a pop up camper? Yes, You can, in some states. However, pulling a boat behind a pop up trailer, or “double towing” as it has been labeled, is not only illegal in some states, but psychically it also poses a huge inconvenience as well.

If you are in a state where double towing is legal, then it is not recommended that you double-tow anything longer than an 18-foot boat.

In this article, we will go over where you can double tow, how to plan for any situation, what to look out for when you are on the road, and also some tips and tricks for the most safe and efficient experience double towing.

Double Towing is Illegal?

While double towing or triple towing as it is called in some states, is legal or not is a tricky question to tackle as the state laws regarding it differ from state to state, sometimes even region by region.

Double towing regulations vary from state to state, but one thing that always holds true about double towing your boat behind your pop up camper is safety should be your number one priority.

Only 28 states allow double towing. The states that allow double towing are listed below:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Idaho
  7. Illinois
  8. Indiana
  9. Iowa
  10. Kansas
  11. Kentucky
  12. Louisiana
  13. Maryland
  14. Michigan
  15. Minnesota
  16. Mississippi
  17. Missouri
  18. Montana
  19. Nebraska
  20. Nevada
  21. New Mexico
  22. North Dakota
  23. Ohio
  24. Oklahoma
  25. South Dakota
  26. Tennessee
  27. Texas
  28. Utah

As if all of this wasn’t confusing enough, each state has different laws within them according to a number of factors like town, region, what type of camper or boat you are towing, and even the length of your vehicles.

In Michigan, you even have to have a special license to be able to double or “triple” tow.

 If you are going to double-tow, it is highly recommended by experienced towers that you carefully plan out the route you want to take to the water, or whatever your final destination is.

This way you can research ahead of time and make sure that it is legal in all the sections you will be passing through, and also make sure that if it’s required for you to have any special papers or licenses to double-tow that you also have those in order for your trip as well.

When asking yourself questions related to this topic, you just have to use your common sense.

If you think your boat is too big or too long for you to properly be able to manage and control while you are on the road, or if you feel like your boat or camper won’t be able to attach securely enough to your car then it is better to be safe than sorry.

 Most states don’t allow double towing if the boat is bigger than 18 ft, and it isn’t recommended that you double tow something much bigger than 16 ft, even if you have double towed before, and are an excellent driver.

How to Safely Double Tow

If it is legal to double-tow where you are, and you want to set out on a trip with both your pop up camper and your boat, what is the safest way to do it?

There are several ways you can prepare yourself for the trip to make it easier for you and the people around you on the road to have a safe and successful trip.

A good point to come back to when considering as well is just because something is legal on paper doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best idea for real life, or even safe at all. Use your common sense to make judgments throughout this entire process.

If you decide to double-tow, make sure you understand how long your whole setup is, and also how to drive that whole setup to your final destination.

How to Double Tow Two Trailers – Towing a boat behind our fifth wheel 70 Feet Long! >> Check out the video below:

Imagine yourself stuck in traffic or having to hit the brakes quickly. Can you envision this going smoothly without any hitches?

If so, you should be alright to go, but if there is any doubt in your abilities, then it is better for you to abandon the idea of double towing completely. The safety of yourself and others around you should be held above all else.

There are a few precautions you can take that will help you navigate more smoothly on your trip if you choose to double-tow. Here is a list of tips to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible:

  1. Add A Camera to The Back of Your Camper or Boat

This will allow for you to see all those tricky angels and anything that the camper or boat might block out. This also eliminates all blind spots.

2. Double-Check Your Route

Remember that each state has different laws when it comes to double towing. Carefully plan out the route you want to take, and make sure if you are crossing state borders that double towing is still legal in the state you are entering or driving through.

To check your state’s guidelines on double towing, go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website.

3. Check Your Measurements

The size regulations for the camper or boat you are planning to double tow can vary from state to state, so make sure you know the regulations regarding size t before you head off on your trip. Measure your boat and camper, and make sure everything is securely attached.

4. Drive Carefully

Even if you are an experienced double tower, it is important to prioritize safety above all things. Make sure that you don’t have any blindspots, are able to navigate easily, can brake quickly if needed, and are familiar with the way your vehicle moves when on the road.

Double towing is not the same as driving, or even towing one item. Your car might be stiff and difficult on the road with all the extra weight, turn slowly, and come to a gradual stop versus the abrupt one you might be accustomed to. Going past 55 miles per hour is not a good idea.

Can You Pull a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer in Iowa? 

Can you pull a boat behind a travel trailer in Iowa? Yes. Though many states have restrictions about things that can be towed due to potential safety hazards, the state of Iowa allows ‘double towing’, provided that the state stipulated rules and regulations are followed.

‘Double towing’ refers to pulling a travel trailer as well as a boat behind your car, after all, when going on an extended boating trip it is obvious that one needs more stuff. 

In Iowa every trailer weighing above the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) needs to have appropriate brakes that can manage the weight as well as the sway of the vehicle.

A trailer can’t be more than 53 feet long, and the combined lengths of a car, trailer, and the boat shouldn’t exceed 70 feet (including bumpers). Additionally, it is vital to note that the total speed should not exceed 70mph. 

Since the rules in Iowa are subject to change, in order to stay updated it is a good idea to call the Transportation Department or the Highway Patrol before planning a trip. 

Can You Pull a Boat Behind a Travel Trailer In Saskatchewan? 

Can you pull a boat behind a travel trailer in Saskatchewan? Yes, you can definitely pull a boat behind a travel trailer in the Canadian state of Saskatchewan, as long as several requirements of the state are fulfilled in order to ensure your safety (as well as those around you) while you make the trip. 

While planning the trip, make sure that your vehicle can bear the weight that you plan for it to tow. As per the laws of the state of Saskatchewan, the total length of the vehicle, trailer, and boat should not exceed 75 feet, and 5 inches.

Moreover, it is important to ensure that the width of any unit doesn’t exceed the 8 feet and 6 inches mark. 

To ensure that you follow the latest rules and the provincial regulations, it is best to double check with the department dealing with transport or the Highway Patrol. 

Can You Tow a Pop-up Camper With a Subaru Forester?

 Can you tow a pop-up camper with a Subaru Forester? Yes, a Subaru Forester can easily tow up to 1,500 pounds especially if it is connected to a trailer hitch. There are many types of pop-up campers, but the ones that fall within the towing capacity of a Subaru Forester are the smaller sized hard-sized or tent styled pop-up campers.

For those who want to tow larger campers, opting for a trailer brake will allow their Subaru Forester to carry weight up to 2,400 pounds

If you force your vehicle to tow more than its stated capacity, you can heat up and damage its transmission, which can end up costing you a lot.

Before making a decision to tow a camper, make sure that you get a trailer hitch or even a trailer brake (depending on the size of your camper) so that your car doesn’t have to be stressed out unnecessarily during your trip.  

How Do I keep My Transmission Cool While Towing? 

Towing heavily strains your transmission, so if you want your vehicle to tow heavy weights, you should take steps to cool your transmission and prevent it from overheating. 

Many people opt for transmission coolers which increase the cooling efficiency of your vehicle’s transmission fluid.

It should be noted that this works only to cool the transmission, and does not increase the towing load capacity of your vehicle. 

Other ways to keep your transmission cool is to turn off the car’s Air Conditioner, along with any electrical accessories (phone chargers, etc.).

In order to circulate additional coolant, it helps to crank up the heat temperature. While driving, take care to go slow while moving up an incline, and keep your RPM at a normal rate. 

Can You Put a Boat In The Water With an RV?

Though the task is difficult, it is not impossible. 

Launching a boat using a motorhome has to be done with great care and impeccable precision, (especially considering how an RV is not a flotation vehicle). 

In order to ensure a smooth launch follow these steps:

  1.  make sure your RV is secure on a ramp that can withstand its weight
  2. Ensure that your boat is hitched well to the trailer
  3. Place a sharp spotter (a companion) to guide you as you maneuver the RV
  4. Launch the boat slowly
  5. Make sure your transmission is in ‘park’ or ‘neutral’ mode, then apply the parking brakes. Put stoppages adjacent the RV tires to prevent sliding/slipping
  6. Make slow, wide turns to launch the boat in the water. Make sure that your RV doesn’t come in contact with water to avoid damage. 

Call in Backup

If you are having trouble setting up for a safe double towing experience, or if it is simply illegal in your state, but you still don’t want the inconvenience of making two trips to get your boat where you need it, call a friend.

It can be useful to have a second pair of eyes and hands when it comes to double towing, which can be a difficult endeavor if approached incorrectly.

They can help you set up for your trip and make sure everything is tightly secured before you get on the road, and also sit in the back of the camper to provide an extra pair of eyes for potential blind spots while driving.

Not only will you have a safer trip, but you will have some company for your boat ride or fishing excursion, a win-win!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few common questions people often have about towing pop-up camper:

Can a Subaru Outback Tow a Pop-up Camper?

Can a Subaru Outback tow a pop-up camper? Yes, the Subaru Outback can tow up to 2,700 pounds, with the diesel engine capable of tugging an incredible 3,700 pounds.

Considering the fact that the average hard-sided pop-up camper weighs between 1,180 to 2,700 pounds, and a tent style pop-up ranges from 1,300 to 3,700 pounds, a Sabaru outback can easily tow it.

Can a CRV Pull a Pop-up Camper?

Can a CRV pull a pop-up camper? Yes, a Honda CRV has the capacity to pull 1,500 pounds, which makes it able to pull lightweight pop-up campers. Lightweight pop-up campers can be either hard-sided or be styled to resemble tents, as long as they weigh under 1,500 pounds.

Though larger pop-up campers can weigh up to 2,700 pounds, usually small pop-up campers fall under 1,500 pounds, making them easy to be towed by a Honda CRV.

Can You Put a Hitch On The Back Of a Travel Trailer?

Can you put a hitch on the back of a travel trailer? Yes. there are indeed some hitches that are meant to be attached to the back of a travel trailer, depending on the model and make of the vehicle.

The most convenient choice of hitch for a travel trailer is a class 3, class 4, or class 5 hitches which have the sturdy strength to pull a range of larger trailers. 

A standard hitch receiver allows a ball mount for towing a trailer behind it. It is interesting to note that usually receiver hitches are well suited for a weight distribution hitch, which is a part crucially required while pulling along travel trailers. 

Related reading: I recently wrote an In-depth article about Hitch Installation, read that here: “How Much Does It Cost to Install a Trailer Hitch? (with 9 examples)

Recommended reading

Can a Minivan Pull a Travel Trailer? [Must-Read]

Can A 4 Cylinder Car Pull A Camper? Facts and Numbers

Can a Toyota 4Runner Pull a Camper? – All You Need To Know


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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