RV slide-outs can add lots of additional living space to an RV’s floor plan but knowing how much weight they can take is important before buying an RV that has one. Putting too much weight on an RV slide-out can damage its hydraulic system and lead to hundreds of dollars in repairs on your RV.
Most RV slide-outs can handle anywhere from 600 to 1,400 pounds. The amount of weight an RV slide can take depends on the RV model. Weight limitations can also be affected by how the weight is distributed across the slide-out and other factors such as age, condition, and location on the RV.
Knowing how much weight an RV slide can take can help you maximize the living space and storage in your RV without damaging it or creating an unsafe environment. Keep reading to learn more about the factors that affect how much weight an RV slide-out can take.
How Do RV Slide-Outs Work?
It’s important to know what an RV slide-out is designed to figure out how much weight it can safely hold. Slide-outs have been a part of RV design ever since the late 1990s. Most RVs will have anywhere from one to five different slide-outs to increase the RV square footage.
RV slide-outs are a way to expand the RV when it’s at rest so that there’s more space to move around on the inside of the vehicle. Most RV slide-outs are designed to act as additional living/moving space rather than storage. (Source: LazyDays RV)
Slide-outs on RVs are extended and retracted via a series of mechanisms. Many RVs operate on a hydraulic system, but others may operate on electrical or even manual cranking systems depending on the age of the RV and the size of the slide.
There are a few reasons that the weight on the slide-out matters:
- Slide-out expansion and retraction systems can be damaged by excess weight placed on the slide-out. This can even result in the motor on the slide-out burning out completely if it’s an electrical slide-out.
- Excess weight puts stress on hydraulic systems. If too much weight is placed on the slide-out for the hydraulic system to handle, this will activate the hydraulic relief valve. Hydraulic systems are expensive and difficult to replace, and once they start to go out, it can be difficult to keep the RV slide-outs closed correctly.
- Excess weight on the slide-out can throw the RV out of balance. If there is too much weight on one side of the RV, this can increase the chances of the RV being tipped over by accident.
Weight Limits for RV Slide-Outs
The good news when it comes to figuring out a weight limit for your RV slide-out is that you aren’t likely to hit an overload on your slide-outs before you hit your RV’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GWRV). This is the amount of weight that the entire RV is designed to be able to safely carry fully loaded down at any given time and includes things such as the following (Source: Family RV):
- Maximum number of passengers
- Cargo weight
- Weight of vehicle fluids
The main concern with going over your gross vehicle weight rating is that it is dangerous regardless of where in the RV the vehicle is loaded down. While most RVs are not required to stop at interstate weigh stations, if a state trooper or police officer determines that your vehicle may be overweight during a routine traffic stop, they may direct you to a weigh station.
In the owner’s manual, many RVs will not include a specific weight limit for the slide-out portion of the RV. Instead, owners are recommended to use the GVWR to determine how much weight their RV can carry without putting passengers or the RV at risk.
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Furniture Weight and RV Slide-Outs
One question that comes up often about RV slide-outs is whether they can support the weight of both people and furniture. Most RV slide-outs are already set up for specific use (such as a couch area) and if an RV slide-out contains a couch, this is already an indicator that the slide-out is sturdy enough to handle multiple people sitting on it without undue stress.
In general, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the weight you put on the RV slide-out as long as you stay under your RV’s GVWR. Keep in mind that the RV is designed for people to use the entire expandable space, so it can likely handle more weight than you’d think.
Should You Put Stabilizers Under an RV Slide-Out?
While some RV lots may recommend slide-out jacks or stabilizers to support the slide-out during use, these supports are controversial among veteran RV owners. This is because settling or strong winds can cause the slide-out jacks to create tension between the slide-out and the RV base. This can result in damage to the RV slide over time. (Source: RV Life Pro Forums)
The other major concern with using stabilizers under an RV slide-out is that if you don’t remember to remove the stabilizers before retracting the slide-out, this can cause significant damage to your RV.
However, there are several scenarios where a person might be better off using RV stabilizers, such as the following:
- When the RV is set up for extended periods: If you are setting up camp in an RV for several days or weeks in one place, setting up RV stabilizers can help keep the slide-outs from sagging due to weight and gravity as it settles.
- When the slide-out holds a lot of furniture: If your RV slide-out functions as additional sitting space and supports a heavy couch or another piece of furniture, stabilizers can help take some of the excess strain off the joints in the slide-out caused by uneven weight on the slide.
- When there is lots of movement in the cabin: Carrying a bunch of pets or energetic kids in the back of the RV can cause a lot of swaying and movement as people move around. Setting up stabilizers can make the RV feel more like a permanent settlement and less like you’re walking around in a swinging hammock.
At the end of the day, determining whether you need stabilizers for your RV will depend on how much weight your slide-outs generally carry and how often you leave your RV set up in one location. Since stabilizers need to be removed each time the RV is packed up, they may not see much use in an RV that doesn’t post up in a single place often.
Can Overloaded Slide-Outs Tip an RV?
While overloaded slide-outs can cause some damage to the mechanisms of the slide-out, the good news is that putting too much weight on an RV slide-out is not likely to cause the RV to tip over as a result. (Source: RV Life)
Most RV tip-overs are caused by trailer sway due to powerful cross-winds while the vehicle is actively driving down the interstate. It is also common for RVs to be tipped over when the driver takes a corner too fast.
Even though it’s difficult to tip over an RV as the result of an overloaded slide, RV owners should be aware that it’s significantly easier to overload an RV above weight capacity than it is a car. This is because people often underestimate the weight of both passengers and cargo on an RV, and physical space in a car restricts the amount of cargo it can carry.
RV Slide-Outs Can Take a Lot of Weight
Most RV slide-outs are designed to take significant amounts of weight and can even be used to store large pieces of RV furniture such as chairs or sofas. However, being sure not to overload your vehicle and taking care of your slide-out during use can help keep it from being damaged by excess loads.