Rving is one of the most freeing experiences in the world. Once you’ve got the right tow vehicle and camper, you just want to get out on the open road. But there are a few pieces of safety equipment that you need to look over first. One important item is the sway bar, which is common in many towable RVs. But do you really need a sway bar for your camper, or is it just one more unnecessary accessory?

RVers everywhere dread sway. Luckily, you can significantly reduce trailer sway with the addition of a sway bar for your camper. Let’s take a deeper look at sway: what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent it.

When it comes to RVing, sway is best saved for the hammock. Feeling your travel trailer sway from a gust of wind is scary, but there are products and strategies that can help reduce sway and keep your RV aligned. 

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So what is sway anyways?

You can experience sway when driving any vehicle, not just a camper. When referring to vehicle sway we are talking about side to side body roll

Camper sway is when the trailer starts to swing side-to-side behind the tow vehicle, usually while you’re going down a highway. Trailer sway can become dangerous and uncontrollable if not managed. It can even lead to accidents. 

The most common causes of sway are gusts of wind, drafts from passing semi-trucks, turns on curvy roads, and imbalanced loads in the trailer. Even a small amount of sway can be exhausting for a driver, forcing constant steering adjustments. Weight distribution and sway prevention systems make for a safer and smoother ride.

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So what causes sway? Trailer sway has several causes: Improper weight distribution, driving too fast, and wind gusts or bursts of wind from other large vehicles like RVs or semi-trucks. 

If you want to stop  your travel trailer from swaying when you are going down the road, then a sway bar is probably going to be the best accessory that you can invest in for your new camper. 

orange pickup truck and large utility trailer

So What is a Sway Bar?

A sway bar is simply a device that stiffens side-to-side motion to minimize it. They can be installed on vehicles to minimize body roll or on hitches to minimize camper sway.

Sway bars are important pieces of safety equipment for RVs. They help prevent swaying on the highway and they can even save your vehicle from a dangerous crash or rollover. Some drivers find that sway bars make it harder to turn, but overall, the extra safety is worth it. Most campers on the market today come with sway bars pre-installed, so you don’t need to worry too much about seeking one out.

Camper sway bars come in a couple of different forms, but they all serve the same purpose. The two main types are hitch sway bars and adjustable sway bars.

Hitch sway bars are made with a pair of sturdy metal arms that connect the trailer to the hitch of the tow vehicle. With this model, the sway bar is built directly into the weight distribution hitch with no need for extra add-ons. Sometimes chains or adjustable bars are added for greater control or flexibility.

Adjustable sway bars are a bit less common these days, but they are still good pieces of equipment. The adjustable type of sway bar connects directly to the tongue of the trailer and the hitch of the tow vehicle. It is a solid bar that can lock into place at whatever length you choose. When you’re traveling on the highway and experience rough conditions, this bar will stay steady and prevent the trailer from moving closer or further from the tow vehicle.

red truck towing a travel trailer on the road

So Do I need a Sway Bar for my Camper?

Fifth-wheels do not need sway bars. One of the major benefits of a fifth wheel is the way it pulls from over the axle it is much more stable. Travel trailers however can benefit greatly from a sway control hitch.

Many modern travel trailers are built with weight distribution hitches and they have sway bars that are already attached. Sway control or sway bar hitches are optional pieces of equipment that you can add to your camper or hitch to prevent sway. Although they’re not required, adding a sway bar will provide a much more comfortable and stable towing experience and give you peace of mind.