Level your travel trailer in 5 simple steps
Are you a first-time RVer’? Does leveling your camper/trailer give you anxiety? Let’s face it, leveling your travel trailer can be a stressful task, and that’s after you learn to back it into a campsite. Below we are going to walk you through Leveling Your Travel Trailer in 5 Simple Steps.
Why do we have to level our camper/trailer anyway? Well, if you have a refrigerator, slideouts, interior doors, or plumbing, you absolutely need to make an attempt to get your travel trailer/camper level.
This post will not go into specifics about WHY refrigerators, slideouts, doors, or plumbing need to be level – some should be obvious. What you should do is read your Owner’s Manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for leveling and proper operating conditions of your travel trailer/camper.
Before we go any further. Let’s make sure everyone understands the difference between Leveling and Stabilization.
Leveling: The process of bringing the camper/trailer into a level position from side-to-side and from front-to-back.
Stabilization: The process of securing the camper/trailer after leveling has been achieved. Use of jack stands, wheel chocks, stabilizer jack stands, etc. Stabilization reduces movement and maintains the level position.
Safety Tip – ALWAYS perform leveling safely and with regard to unexpected or abrupt movement of the trailer. Keep children and pets away from the travel trailer/camper until you have properly secured and stabilized the travel trailer.
Step 1: Determine the need for leveling
Once you have selected a campsite, visually inspect the site for obstacles and for natural slope. Unless you are visiting RV parks with concrete or blacktop pads that are essentially level, there will always be some natural slope of the site.
Visually inspect the site and have an idea if the site is uneven or sloped from side-to-side or from front-to-back. If you are inexperienced with leveling and the site you select is significantly sloped, you should consider selecting a different site. An extremely uneven site will cause significant leveling needs and can even be quite dangerous.
In both the photos above, you can see some natural slope. The photo on the left is more obvious than the photo on the right. Notice the back and to the left (facing the site) slope of the campsite on the left. This means that the doorway side of the travel trailer will have to be raised to be level.
Leveling front to back is usually a simple task of raising or lowering the tongue jack to bring the front of the trailer up or down to be level.
*If you use Bubble levels or have an electronic device to aid in leveling, then you can pull into your site and go from there. It is, however, still a good idea to visualize the site before you back in. This will save you the headache of backing, only to determine you cannot get your trailer level.
If you have an automated leveling system on your camper/trailer/RV, just go ahead and skip the rest of this post. You’re winning at life and you should just scroll on down to the bottom of this post and hit the Donate button 🙂
Step 2: Leveling
After you have successfully backed into your campsite, it’s time to bring your travel trailer up to level.
In the picture shown, our travel trailer was low on the doorway side and needed about four inches of elevation to bring the camper up to a level position.
*Note – I do not use a commercial leveling device or bubble levels. I level mostly by sight.
As in the photos below, I use and recommend the Camco Leveling Blocks for their ease of use, solid construction, interlocking design, and affordable price.
The best way I have found to accomplish pulling onto these is to place them right against the wheels as seen in the photos. This prevents sliding of the blocks and can be done by a single person. No guesswork about how far to pull forward to be on the blocks – simply pull onto them and stop when you see the travel trailer reposition.
You can spread out leveling blocks in a row or a strip like “pad”, but I do not do that simply because I do not like carrying that many blocks – which means more money.
Also, I do not advocate using wood boards for leveling. Wood slides when pulling onto it will begin to rot over time and is harder to store in longer pieces. Get some Leveling Blocks!!
Check your bubble level or electronic device for side-to-side level. Step 2 complete.
Step 3: Chock the wheels
This step really could be the final instruction in the previous step because, before you do anything else you should chock your wheels well to ensure that the work you just did to put your travel trailer onto these blocks is not wasted effort.
Furthermore, chocking the wheels of your travel trailer is a HUGE safety step.
Chock the wheels in both directions. On this trip one of my chocks was missing from my equipment bin – but, always chock both front and rear of the wheel. Step 3 complete.
Step 4: Unhitch from the tow vehicle
Once you have your travel trailer wheels chocked and are sure that the trailer will not abruptly roll forward or backward, it’s time to unhitch.
I find that it’s a good idea NOT to use the jack stand with a wheel on it – that should be obvious why. A wheel on your jack stand will promote trailer movement when unhitched from the tow vehicle. I recommend getting a solid commercial jack stand product, such as the Valterra Plastic Tongue Jack Stand (shown below). The product is very rigid, tough, and is rated up to 10,000 pounds.
Another great purpose for getting yourself a commercial jack stand – less cranking on the tongue jack to reach the ground. If you have a powered jack, you still save a lot of time by not standing there waiting for the tongue jack to hit the ground. Huge time saver!!
You are now safely unhitched from your tow vehicle. Pull the vehicle forward so you can level from front-to-back. Step 4 complete.
Step 5: Front-to-back leveling
With the tow vehicle safely moved away from the tongue of the travel trailer, you can now level from front-to-back.
If you are using bubble devices or an electronic leveler, check those now to see how much to move the tongue jack up or down.
*Note – most travel trailers and RVs have the wastewater tanks situated near the middle or rear of the coach. It is a good idea to level with the front slightly higher than the back to aid in draining of the plumbing while in use.
The photo above of the travel trailer has already been stabilized, however, it shows front-to-back leveling completed. The photo does not show it well, but the front is slightly higher than the back to help move waste toward the middle/rear holding tanks.
Also, note the natural slope we were dealing with at the rear of the travel trailer. This is another good use for a commercial leveling block set.
Once you are satisfied with front-to-back leveling it’s time to stabilize. Step 5 complete!
You are ready to stabilize in place.
Stabilize the camper in place
It’s time to lower your stabilizer jacks and secure your travel trailer/camper in place for your stay.
The idea of stabilizing is just to secure the position. You do not want to take too much weight off the wheels. Stabilizing jacks are not meant to lift the entire weight of the trailer. I have seen people with leverage bars cranking on these things until the coach is nearly off the ground. Typical stabilizing jacks are rated well less than your coach weighs, so DO NOT try to lift the trailer with these things.
As you can see, we had to use some spacer leveling blocks to give us the proper position of the stabilizer jack. You never want to extend the stabilizers much beyond half-way. Doing so will allow the travel trailer to sway too much when people are in the coach – you do not want this.
Tip: Get yourself a decent cordless drill and stabilizer jack quick-connect tool to raise and lower your stabilizers quickly. See below.
Handy stabilizer jack quick-connect tool. The one we have below was assembled several years ago by our camper vendor – we paid too much for that, but that’s why we’re here to give you a better option. These are readily available now as a single piece at a very affordable price. You should get two of these – they get lost easily.
Most stabilizer jacks are standard with a 3/4 inch adjuster. Make sure to measure your specific application before you order one of these.
Once the stabilizer jacks down and you are satisfied with the position and stability of your trailer, YOU ARE DONE!! Time to camp.
Proper and experienced leveling should only take ten to fifteen minutes.
Final note: Make sure to always walk around your trailer/camper and double check your wheel chocks. You do not want any unexpected movement.
Now that we have shown you how to quickly perform travel trailer leveling and stabilization, you can stop stressing about the process and have more fun camping with your family, friends, or even solo.
Check some of our park reviews where we have stayed around Illinois and Midwest:
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