Why Pack a Tow Strap for Your RV?
In our first year of full-timing with a travel trailer and a 2500 Dodge Ram truck, we were asked to help pull people out of sticky situations multiple times.
The first time we helped a fellow camper it was a small truck that had gotten stuck in the mud.
I had a basic tow strap packed in the truck, and we could help out with no issues.
Related Product: Use Traction Mats (click to view on Amazon) to drive yourself out of a slippery situation. (22,000 lbs load capacity)
A few months later we got a knock on our trailer door. This time it was an older couple with a large Class C motorhome that was stuck in the sand.
They had pulled in late at night and didn’t see that the campsite they had chosen was actually a wash.
The loose sand sunk their motorhome instantly and they were stuck.
My flimsy little tow strap was no match for the situation. The motorhome was too heavy and too stuck in the sand.The strap broke right away.
We were out in the middle of nowhere and there was no tow company nearby that was going to be able to show up until the next day.
We decided to resort to digging. I highly recommend always having a standard size shovel on hand, not one of the flimsy portable kind.
We ended up spending 4 hours digging the tires out and making tracks with branches and sagebrush.
It took a lot of time and effort but we were able to dig out enough sand that the motorhome was able to drive itself out of the wash.
This was a lucky case since it was stuck in dry sand. It’s not nearly as easy to dig RVs out of the mud.
I think if the owner of the motorhome had a strap that was rated for its weight we would have been able to pull it out using the truck.
Later, when we switched from a travel trailer to a small Class C motorhome the first thing I put in the storage compartment was a heavy duty recovery strap that was going to be able to handle the weight of our motorhome.
If we ever get stuck it won’t be hard to find someone with a truck to help us out, but the odds of that person having an extra large recovery tow strap are pretty low.
That’s why you should always pack a tow strap that can handle the weight of your RV, just in case you get stuck.
RV Tow Straps vs Recovery Straps
I’m using the term RV tow strap in this article because it’s the term many use for straps that are used to pull out stuck vehicles.
A tow strap isn’t actually what you want to unstick vehicles and RVs. You want what’s called a recovery strap.
This might be common knowledge to most, but in the beginning of our RVing days I didn’t know the difference, so I’m going to put a quick explanation here.
Tow straps are thick straps that have hooks connected to each end. These are used for towing only and not for getting a vehicle unstuck.
Tow straps are dangerous to use for vehicle recovery. They break easily and the hooks can become projectiles that whip around and take out anything in their path.
A recovery strap doesn’t have any metal attached to them. They only have loops sewn into each end.
These straps are made to stretch. This stretch not only stops the strap from breaking, but it also helps transfer the pulling energy to the stuck vehicle.
When compared to chains, nylon recovery straps are easier to use, lighter, and safer.
How to Choose the Right Strap Strength for RV Recovery
A recovery strap should have a higher weight capacity than the weight of your motorhome. The break strength should be at least 2 times the total weight of your RV.
Pay close attention to the maximum vehicle weight rating. Many companies advertise super high breaking strengths but the vehicle weight rating is only 10,000 lbs.
Maybe those recovery tow straps can handle more than what the rating says, but you don’t want to take any chances, especially if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere.
You need to make sure you get a strap that’s heavy duty enough to depend on.
Quality also matters. Some companies aren’t 100% honest about their products’ weight capacity or break strength.
Make sure you get a recovery strap for your RV from a highly rated and trusted company.
As for length, I recommend getting 30 foot strap. That way you will have some length to work with.
This same concept works with trucks and trailers. It’s common for both the truck and trailer it’s towing to get stuck.
You will need a tow strap that can handle the weight of both to get pulled out by someone else.
General Class C & Class A RV Weights
You will need to check the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or your motorhome to be sure of how much it weighs.
The GVWR is the maximum weight your RV can be.
If you’ve gone over the GVWR it’s no longer safe to drive and you will need to remove some camping gear to get back to the GVWR weight.
To give you an idea of how much Class C and Class A motorhomes can weigh I’ve put together this table using the average GVWR of different lengths and styles of motorhomes.
|RV Type||Length||Fuel Type||Avg. GVWR||Recovery Strap Break Strength (2 x GVWR)|
|Class C||24 – 26 feet||Gas||12,500 lbs||25,000 lbs|
|Class C||29 – 32 feet||Gas||14,500 lbs||29,000 lbs|
|Super Class C||34 – 35 feet||Diesel||19,500 lbs||39,000 lbs|
|Super Class C||36 – 38 feet||Diesel||22,000 lbs||44,000 lbs|
|Class A||24 – 26 feet||Gas||14,500 lbs||29,000 lbs|
|Class A||30 feet||Gas||18,000 lbs||36,000 lbs|
|Class A||35 – 36 feet||Gas||22,000 lbs||44,000 lbs|
|Class A||37 – 39 feet||Gas||24,000 lbs||48,000 lbs|
|Class A||34 feet||Diesel||26,000 lbs||52,000 lbs|
|Class A||38 – 39 feet||Diesel||32,000 lbs||64,000 lbs|
|Class A||44 – 45 feet||Diesel||46,000 lbs||92,000 lbs|
This table is just to give an idea of how different the weights of Class C and Class A motorhomes can be.
As you can see, diesel engines add a lot more weight.
I didn’t add the number or size of slide-outs in this basic overview. But expect your motorhome to weigh more if it has a lot of slide-outs.
The GVWR of an RV or vehicle can usually be found inside the door jam on the driver’s side.
If your Class A motorhome doesn’t have a driver’s side door the GVWR should be on a sticker somewhere in the cab area or the owner’s manual.
Recommended RV Recovery Tow Straps for Different Motorhome Sizes
Many of the popular recovery straps you can find online have high break strength ratings but the vehicle weight capacity isn’t more than 10,000 lbs.
Since even the smallest Class C RVs are over 10,000 lbs I’m only recommending heavy duty recovery straps that can handle at least 13,000 lbs or more.
For smaller Class C, Class B motorhomes and vans, the 3 inch Erickson recovery strap is a perfect size.
It has a vehicle weight rating of 13,500 lbs and a break weight rating of 27,000 lbs.
It’s made with high-tenacity nylon blended with polyester. There are heavy duty loops sewn on each end.
The RV recovery strap comes in a clear case for easy storage and it weighs 6 lbs.
A 1″ D-ring shackle like this one (click to view on Amazon) that has a working load limit of 17,000 lbs should be strong enough to attach the RV recovery strap to the RV and the vehicle pulling it out.
Since shackles are still a dangerous tool, you could also use extra strong soft shackles like these (click to view on Amazon).
They have a working load limit of 14,683 lbs and a break strength of 44,050 lbs. These will only work on smaller Class C, Class B, and van RVs.
They are safer than metal shackles, lighter, and easier to store.
This Erickson RV recovery tow strap is one inch thicker than the one reviewed above.
It has a working load limit/vehicle weight capacity of 17,500 lbs. The breaking strength is 35,000 lbs.
It uses the same strong nylon polyester blend that offers both strength and 20% stretch. There are loops sewn into each end.
This is a great option for medium sized Class C RVs or large Class B RV and vans.
It weighs 8 lbs.
When getting into heavier RVs and vehicles, soft shackles might not be strong enough.
A 1 1/8 inch D-ring shackle like this one by Mytee (click to view on Amazon) that has a working load limit of 19,000 lbs should pair well with this heavy duty recovery strap.
Now we’re getting into the super heavy duty RV recovery tow straps that can handle the weight of large Class C and small to medium sized Class A motorhomes.
It’s also great for trucks towing travel trailers and 5th-wheels that have a combined weight that isn’t over the maximum vehicle weight capacity.
This Erickson RV recovery strap is 6 inches thick and 30 feet long.
It has a vehicle weight capacity of 27,500 lbs and a 55,000 lbs breaking strength.
It uses the same nylon polyester blend as the other Erickson straps and there are loops sewn into each end.
It weighs 15 lbs.
A D-ring shackle like this (click to view on Amazon) that is 1 3/8 inches should pair well with this size of recovery strap.
The working load limit is 17,000 lbs. If your RV is over that weight you should size up, both the shackle and the recovery strap size.
Now it’s time for the ultra heavy duty recovery strap that is extra wide and made with two strap layers (2-ply).
The Erickson 2-ply recovery strap is 8 inches wide and 30 feet long.
It has a vehicle weight capacity of 50,000 lbs and a 100,000 lbs breaking strength.
This monster should be able to handle even the biggest Class A motorhomes and diesel pushers.
It’s even a good choice for small semi trucks, and tractors.
It uses the same extra tough nylon polyester blend that can stretch up to 20% to help slingshot a stuck RV out of whatever it’s stuck in.
It weighs 23 lbs and there are loops sewn into each end.
When your RV starts weighing around 50,000 lbs you are going to need to make sure you know where to attach the strap so it doesn’t damage the frame.
You may need to have some specialty hooks installed or check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend.
Conclusion About RV Recovery Tow Straps
You never know when you are going to get stuck. The perfect campsite is often down a dirt road that can be muddy or sandy.
Boondocking campsites are almost always dirt and even some campgrounds and RV parks have grass RV sites that you can get stuck in.
Checking out a campsite before you drive into it to make sure the ground is stable enough to park on is one of the best ways to prevent getting stuck.
But unexpected weather can make a hard dirt campsite soft and slippery very quickly.
Having a recovery tow strap that’s rated for the weight of your motorhome or truck and trailer on hand is always a good idea.
Even the extra large recovery straps don’t take up a ton of space when rolled up and they don’t weigh nearly as much as chains.
Also having a real shovel on hand is a good idea. I keep a shovel like this (click to view on Amazon) in the outer storage compartment of our Class C motorhome.
I’ve used that shovel for digging out other motorhomes, trucks, and cars, putting out wildfires, burying campfires, and more.
It’s the one tool I recommend for anyone who camps or drives to remote locations.
Have any more questions about RV tow straps for motorhomes and trailers? Leave a comment below.