Going camping? Weight a minute!


When you’re packing for a camping trip, it’s easy to end up with a car that is overloaded with equipment. However, there are several reasons why it’s important to ensure your car has the correct weight distribution. Otherwise, you can end up with problems that could ruin your camping trip.

Weight distribution was initially a principle that was applied solely to race-car driving. However, nowadays it can be applied to all cars. Weight distribution will vary depending on the intended use of the car. Sports cars may end up with a more even weight distribution, however, this can cause everyday cars to handle poorly, as there will be too much weight in the rear of the car.

50/50 RULE

It has been an old myth that the 50/50 rule is the correct weight distribution for a car. After all, it seems logical that you would want a car that is evenly balanced. However, modern cars generally have a 55/65 weight distribution, with more weight over the rear. You also don’t want to overload one end of the car. If you have too much weight at the rear you can end up with inefficient tyre usage and the car will become harder to handle.

Cars don’t naturally have a good weight distribution due to the placement of the engine. Ideally, the engine would have to be placed further back. However, this would result in a larger front end of the car and smaller areas for your feet.

Remember, when packing for your next camping holiday, that generally cars have a maximum capacity. This is around 360 kilograms. This maximum weight capacity includes what you’re packing, as well as the weight of your passengers. To check the specific weight for your car, some vehicles will have a sticker on the panel of the driver’s side door which details the maximum capacity for your vehicle. To get the most out of your camping trip, don’t overpack, and consider safety precautions to avoid any safety problems.



No one wants to spend all of their money on fuel. However, excess weight in a car can lower its fuel efficiency. A heavier load will put more pressure on your engine, and therefore cause the increase in fuel usage. You’ll end up finding you have to stop more often to refill and may end up blowing your budget by spending too much on fuel. Save your money by avoiding over packing your car. Before you leave, plan out exactly what you need to bring and only bring the essential items. Reducing your vehicle’s weight will increase your fuel efficiency.


The last thing you want when you go on holidays is a damaged car. That can end up happening when you overload your car. Excess weight can cause your car tyres to bulge out and heat up. This increases the risk of a blowout. No one wants to have to wait for a mechanic or tow truck, particularly if you’re going camping in a rural area. Be on the safe side and avoid overpacking.


There are many safety issues associated with incorrect weight distribution. This includes:

  • Packing: if you pack items in your back seat or boot of the car, make sure to put larger and heavier items at the bottom. If you suddenly stop, items that are not properly secured can become projectiles and cause injury to those in the car.
  • Sight: make sure you can always see out of the rearview mirror. If your site is restricted this can cause safety problems when driving. If your site is restricted, make sure you can still see what is behind you in your car’s side mirrors.
  • Suspension: if you’re driving at high speeds on a highway with an over-packed car, it can cause stress to the suspension. If you’re on a long road trip with stressed suspension, this can eventually give way.
  • Brakes: your brakes can become less effective if your car is overloaded. Because of the extra weight, the brakes have to work harder. They can then overheat and will be unable to stop your car.

To avoid any dangerous safety issues, always remember to pack your car correctly before leaving on your camping trip.

Don’t have enough space in your car for all your camping gear? Consider getting some roof racks. Yakima has a range of roof racks, including WhispbarLockN'Load and any roof rack accessories you need.

Last updated: 23rd August 2017

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