On land, towables include travel trailers, fifth-wheels, slide-in campers, pop-ups, horse trailers, toy haulers, utility trailers and park models. Driving with these in tow can present challenges to seasoned drivers. Water sports equipment includes water skiing, tubes and other inflatable towables, which can present hazards. Without proper product testing, injury can result. Warning labels may not cover all the possible dangers, so buyer beware.
Boat tubes are inflatable floats that are towed behind a boat. The boat captain shapes the tube's water course by the speed and turns made. Cross-wake direction can range from slight to rapid and forceful. Water sport towables connect to a boat by ropes or harnesses with thousands of pounds of tensile strength. These cables create an attachment point at the centre of the boat, behind the outboard or stern drive. A tow harness can pull a skier, wake boarder, knee boarder, or tube rider or riders.
On the road, towables, which are designed to be pulled by a family car, van or pickup truck, are made with wheels for towing on roads and flat bases for towing on water or ice. They are mainly used to provide sleeping quarters while on the way to a campsite. They can also be unhitched and left at a campsite or other location while one goes exploring in the tow vehicle. Towables are available in standard, fifth-wheel, folding camping, toy haulers, folding camping trailer (pop-up) and travel trailers. According to Frommers.com, the least expensive of the RVs are folding camping trailers, and are priced on average from £2,340 to £11,700, and sleep up to eight people. Motor homes can tow a car behind them.
Safety on Land
According to the RV Safety & Education Foundation, 51 per cent of RVs exceed one or more safety ratings. The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the maximum an RV can carry safely. A leading cause of RV accidents is driving or towing an overloaded rig. Overloaded tires are more prone to blow out. Furthermore, unequal weight distribution can compromise steering and braking. According to John Anderson, an RV safety expert, nearly two-thirds of all the RVs weighed exceed one or more of their load ratings. Chassis manufacturers specify that if a vehicle exceeding a certain weight is to be towed, supplemental braking for the towed vehicle is required, so check with the chassis manufacturer. Truck campers and travel trailers can be hard to handle. Their weight distribution and higher centre of gravity often make handling these units challenging on the road. Handling a travel trailer, especially when backing up, takes extra skill for the driver. For a safe towing system, make sure to have the proper hitch, tire inflation and anti-sway devices. Check for product safety before buying an RV towable. The RV Consumer Group is an independent, non-profit organisation that puts out an RV Ratings Guide for Towables for 2000-2011 models. The Recreational Vehicles Dealers Association (RVDA) rates towable and motorised RV brands with its Quality Circle Awards. To reduce risk, take out a recreational vehicle insurance policy, understand proper load distribution, vehicle preparation and other safety issues. Fill liquid propane (LP) tanks to only 80 or 90 per cent of their volume. When arriving at your campsite, chock all four wheels both forward and backward.
Safety in the Water
When going water tubing, make sure your swimming skills are strong. To reduce safety risks, in water sports wear a life jacket or vest at all times. Some flying ski tubes have been banned because they bounce the rider high in the air and then plunge the person back down abruptly. A boat that comes too close can cause a huge wake, lifting riders into the air or causing a collision. Make sure that cables and harnesses are not frayed or damaged. When it comes to water towables, exercise caution while having fun.