Storage has always been one of the most significant struggles facing RVers. Large, bulky items like a honey wagon are useful, but finding somewhere to put them can be challenging.
Many RVers look at the ladder on the back and see an opportunity to hang stuff, but is it a good idea? Today, we’ll help you determine if using your RVs ladder for storage is a bad idea.
Let’s hit the road!
Is It Legal To Strap Things To An RV Ladder?
We have laws governing our roads to make them safe for everyone using them. So are there laws governing strapping things to a ladder? Well, not directly, but many jurisdictions have similar clauses about securing loads. We cannot check every jurisdiction but here are some of the general rules that need to be considered when strapping anything to a vehicle.
Securement and Safety: The primary legal requirement is that any item strapped to a vehicle must be securely fastened. This means using appropriate straps, ropes, or other securement devices to ensure that the load will not shift, fall off, or create a hazard while the vehicle is in motion.
Visibility and Lighting: Items should not obstruct the driver’s view or interfere with the vehicle’s lights. This includes brake lights, turn signals, and headlights. If the load obstructs the rear view, additional mirrors may be required.
Size and Weight Limits: There are legal limits on how large and heavy a load can be. These limits can vary, but generally, the load should not extend too far beyond the sides or rear of the vehicle, and it should not exceed the vehicle’s weight capacity.
Overhanging Loads: If the load overhangs the vehicle, there may be additional requirements. For example, overhanging items might need to be marked with flags or lights to alert other road users.
Liability and Insurance: Improperly secured loads can lead to accidents and damage. This can result in liability for the driver and may affect insurance coverage.
Inspection and Maintenance: The securement devices (like ropes, straps, chains) must be in good condition. Regular inspection and maintenance are important to ensure safety.
It’s always recommended to consult local regulations or a legal expert in your area for specific advice. Safe loading and transport practices not only comply with the law but also ensure the safety of everyone on the road.
Can You Strap a Honey Wagon to an RV Ladder?
Whether you can (or should) strap a honey wagon to an RV ladder is a controversial topic in the community. Some swear against it, and others have been doing it for years without issues. Since a traditional honey wagon weighs from 25 to 40 pounds when empty, is it a problem?
Technically if a ladder is rated properly to hold your weight, it should not be a problem to strap 50lbs to it. However, the risks are generally with the unit accidentally coming off. As the ladder cannot be seen easily when driving, you may not know if you have a problem.
Also, strapping a honey wagon to your RV ladder can make using certain functions on your camper challenging. For example, it could block a backup camera and require you to remove the tank to use your ladder.
Some RVers state they’ve carried their honey wagon this way for thousands of miles without fail. They may have luckily avoided a disaster. However, take extra precautions if you decide to strap your honey wagon to the RV ladder.
Dangers of Strapping Things To Your Ladder
Manufacturers design and test RV ladders as ladders, not for storage. Strapping things to your ladder can be extremely dangerous, especially if you don’t do it correctly. The vibrations from traveling can cause things to come loose. If they loosen enough, a bump in the road could send your gear onto the highway.
We’ve seen some horrific accidents due to drivers swerving to miss items on the road. Being the one responsible for a dangerous or deadly accident isn’t something we’d wish upon anyone. That’s a burden that you don’t want to risk carrying.
If you choose to strap anything to your vehicle, please make sure you are using straps that cannot come undone easily and multiple of them. Redundancy is key in making sure you don’t cause an accident.
Other Things We’ve Seen Strapped to RV Ladders
It always amazes us when we see people strapping items to their RV ladders. During our adventures, we’ve seen traditional items like lawn chairs, bicycles, and even other ladders to their ladder. Whether it was for use in other areas or for work, we’re sure there’s a backstory there somewhere.
We’ve also seen kayaks, satellite dishes, and many other things. Sometimes we see travelers that look like the Beverly Hillbillies after they packed up and started heading west. When these situations occur, we’ll change lanes the first chance we get. You don’t want to be behind one of them when something comes loose.
Do All RVs Have a Ladder?
Some campers come with a ladder on the rear or side. Unfortunately, not all RVs have them. Manufacturers put them there to make it easier to access the roof. This is essential for cleaning, inspecting, and completing routine maintenance. However, many travelers use them to sit on roofs and enjoy an epic sunset.
If your RV doesn’t have a ladder, you’ll likely need to use a foldable version to access the roof. While you can find aftermarket kits, we typically don’t recommend using them. They may sound useful, but they can do more harm than good.
Mounting a ladder to your camper requires reinforcing the area’s structural supports. Without proper support, there’s a chance you’ll experience significant damage. To us, it’s a risk that we’re not comfortable taking.
Pro Tip: RV ladders aren’t just useful for watching stunning sunsets. We took a closer look at Why Do You Need An RV Ladder?
What’s the Weight Capacity of an RV Ladder?
Weight capacities for RV ladders will vary from one unit to the next. Generally, you can expect them to withstand anywhere from 225 to 250 pounds. However, some models will feature ladders that can hold 300 pounds. Check the specifics of your ladder to avoid any issues.
Thankfully, manufacturers often make it very easy to know this information. Most of these ladders have stickers that communicate the maximum weight. If the sticker on your unit is illegible or no longer there, call customer support for your manufacturer. They’ll be your best and most accurate source of information.
Alternative to Using Your RV Ladder for Storage
Since using your RV ladder isn’t always the best idea, you’ll want to consider a few other options. Here are some alternatives to using your RV ladder for storage.
Instead of using an RV ladder, try a bumper-mounted cargo rack. These devices use clamps to fasten around the metal bumper on your rig. They are better options as they can store more cargo and spread the weight across the bumper. This helps reduce fatigue from bouncing and movement while traveling.
- Transports 1, 2, 3, or 4 bicycles on an RV or camper trailer...
- Designed for 4" to 4.5" square RV bumpers, installs with a 6.5"...
- Heavy duty steel construction with a black paint finish and...
Many of these racks are capable of hauling various gear and supplies. Some RVers use them for carrying bikes and other essential equipment. However, their weight capacity is typically around 60 pounds. In addition, when securing them to your bumper, you want to avoid over-tightening them. If not, you could severely damage your bumper.
Under Storage Compartments
Some RVs come with storage compartments ideal for storing gear and equipment. These can vary in size from one rig to the next and often come with latches and locks. Storing items in these compartments keeps them off your ladder and in a much safer location.
These storage compartments are fantastic storage solutions. Some pass through the underbelly to the other side. You can install drawers that make it convenient to access anything you want to store in them.
Some of the largest storage compartments can house kayaks, bicycles, and other large items without problems. However, most are relatively small and will require creativity to maximize your use of the space.
Another unique feature for some RVs is a rear hitch. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t always install these items on their campers. However, they can be beneficial. These typically come with weight ratings of around 300 pounds. This is often sufficient for bicycles, generators, and kayaks.
When using this method, ensure everything is secure. Locks are a good idea as you might not always be within eyesight of your stuff. You don’t want it to disappear because someone saw an opportunity to make a quick buck.
RV Roof Rack or Storage Box
A roof rack box is a solid or soft-sided storage box that can be a helpful option. These containers fasten to the top of a vehicle and protect the contents from the elements. The box connects to the roof rack on your vehicle. Their mounts typically feature locking capabilities, so you can have confidence your items will stay put while traveling.
While these may not be great for larger items, they can be excellent for storing loose items like clothes, blankets, and pillows. You can worry less about the water, bugs, and other gunk from reaching them.
Pro Tip: Pack up all your gear in one of these 5 Best Overland Roof Racks For Carrying Your Gear.
Utilize Tow or Toad Vehicle
Another option is to use as much space from tow and toad vehicles as possible. While you still need to consider weight distribution, you’ll likely be fine if you’re not hauling something extremely heavy.
If you’re hauling a fifth wheel, consider the movement of your trailer when making turns. Your trailer could contact whatever you’re storing and cause severe damage.
We’ve seen some impressive setups with travel trailers that maximize the bed of a truck. You can pack a tremendous amount of gear, equipment, and supplies into the truck bed. However, be mindful of your payload capacity so you don’t exceed it.
Should You Strap a Honeywagon to Your RV Ladder?
Strapping a honey wagon to your RV ladder can be a suitable use of space for short trips. You want to be careful not to place too much weight on it, especially during longer trips. If you do, fatigue will set in on the metal and cause it to break eventually.
While it may sometimes work, it might not be the best long-term solution. If you try it, do your best to secure it. You don’t want to cause an accident!
What items have you seen people attach to their RV ladders? Tell us in the comments!
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