By Cheri Sicard
Backing up a trailer has to be one of the most panic-inducing tasks facing new RVers. I have known numerous RVers who will go FAR out of their way and spend loads of extra money on RV park pull-through spots just to avoid this dreaded task. Panic no more. When it comes to the topic of how to back up a trailer, the video below is one of the best we’ve seen on the topic.
The team from the Wandering Wagners have done a terrific job of not only explaining how to back a trailer up, but they also do an equally excellent job at demonstrating it.
Beyond that, and even more importantly, you can duplicate their moves in order to practice and perfect your own trailer backing skills. Think of this as a video trailer-backing workbook. Complete the exercises and you will no longer be intimidated by the thought of having to back or park a trailer.
In the video, they take their travel trailer and pickup truck tow vehicle and put them through the basic maneuvers tested for a basic commercial driver’s license. To practice in the same way, you will need a big, empty parking lot and some parking cones (or a reasonable stand-in).
Instructions begin with an explanation of “tail swing,” meaning the amount of the back end of the trailer that comes out when you make a sharp turn. A tail swing rule of thumb is 1 foot of tail swing for every 3 feet behind your axles. Not paying attention to tail swing can especially get you into trouble at fuel stations because if you are parked too close, your tail end can easily clip the pump.
Using the lines in the parking lot allows them to visually demonstrate these principles in a way that will probably stick with you. Next time you have to turn or back a trailer, I’ll bet you’ll be thinking back to them.
They also take you through pretty much every how to back up a trailer scenario you will ever encounter, and even a few you probably never will.
Demo #1: How to back up a trailer in a straight line
In order to demonstrate backing up, they set up a lane of cones 100 feet long and about 12 feet apart. Making such a setup will allow you to practice backing straight up. Now that might sound pretty simple, and with a little experience, it is. But it does take some practice. The challenge is to back straight down the entire lane of cones. The video shows you how.
Demo #2: How to do a reverse lane change
First, they demonstrate how to back from the right lane into the left lane, then vice versa.
Demo #3: Parallel parking a trailer
OK, you may not ever use this, but it’s good to know how just in case. The driver’s skill in the video is truly impressive and he demonstrates parallel parking with a travel trailer from both the passenger and the driver’s sides.
Demo #4: The alley dock
For this maneuver, you start off at 90 degrees and back into the parking spot. This is the same move you will use to back into many campsites. OK, they show almost every scenario, but for some reason they only show the alley dock approached from one side.
Nonetheless, this is a helpful video that can help most anyone improve their trailer backing skills.