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The Tongue Weight of a Trailer Should Be What Percent of the Total Weight of the Boat

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

the tongue weight of a trailer should be what percent of the total weight of the boat

For boaters who live far from the water, having a trailer to transport their vessels before and after each boating trip is a must. Still, there are tasks that need to be done carefully when loading crafts onto a trailer, especially those relating to a trailer’s tongue weight.

Hence, this concern leads us to the question “The tongue weight of a trailer should be what percent of the total weight of the boat?” Understanding the right measurement of the trailer’s tongue weight will help you maintain safety while towing your vessel.

Although it seems to be difficult to work with numbers, you may find it really easy if you follow the instructions included in our article. 

This is the basic information on trailer’s tongue weight that boaters need to know to maintain the safety standard while trailering their vessels. Thus, make sure you follow this carefully!

Also, other recommendations on loading boats onto trailers will be mentioned throughout the text, so pay attention until the end!

What Is the Proper Trailer’s Tongue Weight


What is the proper tongue weight for your trailer? It should only be around 10% to 15% of the overall trailer weight. A 1,000-pound trailer carrying a watercraft plus goods, for instance, needs to have a tongue weight of 100 to 150 pounds. By shifting the cargo or subtracting and adding weight, boaters will be able to modify the trailer’s tongue weight.

Furthermore, some hitch structure limits may apply. For example, a Sierra version 1500 pickup truck pulling trailers with a tongue weight larger than 700-800 lbs should switch from a carrying hook to the weight-distributing hitch. For further information, have a look at your owner’s handbook.

The correct tongue weight for fifth wheel trailers, which also are built to carry heavier loads, is said to be in between 15 and 30% of the completely loaded weight.

The Effects of Trailer’s Tongue Weight on Your Towing Vehicle

The trailer’s bass boat tongue weight is the constant tension exerted on the hitch ball by a trailer tongue. The distinction between a secure trailer carrying experience and a disastrous voyage can be determined by the trailer’s tongue weight.

If there isn’t enough load on the tongue, it may swing too much, making it extremely difficult to manage. On the other hand, if you put too much stress on the hook ball, the force will overwhelm the towing vehicle’s back tires and drive the car around.

Tips for Tongue Weight Measuring and Safe Vessel Trailering


After knowing all information about a trailer’s tongue weight, I’m sure that boaters are now aware of the importance of measuring this specification correctly. Follow these below tips for get the accurate trailer’s bass boat tongue weight calculation:

1. Considering GVWR

GVWR is the abbreviation of the term “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating”, which implies the total maximum safe weight of your towing vehicle. The formula to calculate GVWR is:

GVWR = The curb weight (the weight of empty vehicle) + The load weight of passengers, cargo + The boat trailer’s tongue weight

The gross weight of the vehicle should have an 85 percent rating. When you trailer your vessel for the first time, pay attention to it. Here are some general categories:

  • Class 1: Recommended 1700 pounds for GVWR to 2000 pounds
  • Class 2: Recommended 2975 pounds for GVWR to 3000 pounds
  • Class 3: Recommended 4200 pounds for GVWR to 5000 pounds
  • Class 4: Recommended 85% of total weight for GVWRs larger than 5000 pounds

Another consideration is the GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating). This is the carrying capacity of the watercraft trailer tires at a minimum rating. It can be equivalent to GVWR, but not below.

These figures may be found on the capacity plate of the trailer. It’s normally found along the curb and may be used to determine the precise weight of a vessel trailer.

2. Adjusting the tongue weight

As previously stated, the tongue weight of a craft trailer needs to be 9 to 15% of the overall weight of the vessel. You may adjust this to bring the trailer into a balanced position and stabilize hauling.

If the trailer is bouncing and shaking, it is fishtailing. This situation happens when the boat tongue weight percentage is bigger than that of the threshold. To avoid this and obtain the proper proportion, move the boat’s weight forwards.

Thus, the towing vehicle’s rear end might pull down since the tongue is too big. Controlling and steering will be challenging. You are just putting yourself at risk in this circumstance. Keep in mind that each state has its own set of speed restrictions.

3. Inspecting your towing vehicle

Examine the following components of the towing vehicle: tires, brakes, wheels, transmission and engine cooling systems, axle ratio, suspension, battery, motor power, and alternator. Also, boaters should familiarize themselves with the towing restrictions provided by authorities to prevent unwanted violations.

4. Secure a vessel on its trailer

When buying a watercraft trailer, remember to look for pads, bunks, and rollers. It’s possible to purchase them individually as long as they suit your trailer. Hence, they can keep your vessel from being damaged or twisted. Straps are required to secure the craft. The objects staying inside your boat also benefit from proper boat tie.

To understand more about the safe trailer’s tongue weight, please check out this video: Tongue Weight Safety Demonstration


Knowing the right measurement of your trailer’s bass boat tongue weight is extremely essential as it will help you ensure safety while carrying your boat on the road. Other tasks like securing boat trailers or calculating GVWR also need to be done carefully when you trailer your boat.

We hope that the above information and suggestions on the tongue weight of a trailer should be what percent of the total weight of the boat is helpful during your boating experience. Did you enjoy the article? Do you want to add anything else? Please let us know and leave a comment below.

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