If you own a caravan, RV or a motorhome, there’s an excellent possibility, an inescapable inevitability, in fact that at some point you’re going to find yourself needing to park on uneven ground.
It’s not an altogether unwanted dilemma, though. Some of the most spectacular locations a caravaner’s ever likely to want to set up on are going to be along those less-travelled, untrodden sloping hills and beachfronts. It’s why, arguably, one of the least convincing reasons for not setting up camp there would be because the ground’s not perfectly level.
Fortunately, you don’t have to always haul a ton of improvisational gear around with you to overcome the obstacle. You just need to have the right equipment on hand to rise above it.
Keeping a level head
Although levelling your caravan may sound like a headache, it’s exceptionally simple. The real headache is realizing that your fridge or plumbing probably won’t work properly, or just how many doors will refuse to stay closed, until you’ve done it. Which is why the use of a safe and simple caravan ramp kit is an affordable way to get levelled, along with using interlocking levelling blocks with wheel chocks to take the headache out of setting up.
A set of lightweight, polyethene stepped ramps is sturdy enough to support up to five tons per axle on either single or dual axle caravans, RVs or motorhomes, stow away easily, and is ideal for making height adjustments up to 100mm without the need of a jack. And for camper trailers and lightweight caravans, stackable 40mm blocks allow for even greater vehicle adjustments.
Regardless of whether you use ramps or handy caravan wheel blocks, though, it’s still a quick and easy process. You do, however, need a bubble level to measure how straight your vehicle’s sitting, that includes front to back as well as left to right. Fortunately, almost all of today’s smartphones include built-in leveller functionality, so even if you don’t have a bubble level, you probably won’t even need to buy one.
Having a helper to lend an extra pair of hands and eyes as a ground guide would also be a plus, if available; but if you’re camping solo, you’ve still got this in the bag. And of course, after you’ve chocked your wheels, you can sit back and enjoy that view from a perfectly levelled-out perspective.
Time to level-up
Like any good outdoorsman, setting-up camp should begin before the first tent peg gets driven in, or in our case, before the caravan gets unhooked. If you’re reasonably certain about where you expect to set up, let examining the terrain be the first thing you do. Walk the area before manoeuvring your caravan into position and make a mental picture of which side, or either both sides, will need to be adjusted.
Is the ground soft or silty? Is it likely to erode or liquefy if it rains, or do you need to do some initial “site-prep” with a shovel to sure up the location before you break out the leveling ramps? Once you’ve done the literal “legwork,” though, it’s just a matter of manoeuvring your caravan into the exact position you want it and start the levelling process.
First, left to right
- Working first on side-to-side positioning; place your bubble level or smartphone on the tongue of the caravan, and determine which side will need to be raised for it to sit perfectly horizontal.
- Set your ramps or blocks next to the wheels on the side of the caravan that’ll need to be raised, and then pull the vehicle slightly forward.
- Place your ramps or blocks precisely where your wheels were. Because of their shape, achieving the necessary height using ramps will be easy in the next step, but if using blocks, building a graduated ramp is going to be the best way to increase height. And if your caravan has dual axles, having stepped ramps with a removable rear section will enable you to slide them conveniently between the tandems where overly long ramps may not be able to fit.
- Back your caravan onto the ramps or blocks and check to see if it’s level. If not, with the ramps simply pull further forward or backward; and with the blocks, you can either add or remove height by repeating the steps above until you’ve reached the necessary height.
- When you’re satisfied with the height, chock the wheels to ensure the caravan doesn’t roll forward, and unhook the caravan from your prime mover.
Then, front to back
- Since you’ve unhooked, place your bubble level or smartphone again on the tongue of the caravan, oriented now in the opposite direction.
- Now, raise or lower the caravan from the front end using the tongue jack until it’s also level.
- Lower your caravan’s stabilizing jacks into their firming positions, and place stabilizer blocks or jack pads underneath to avoid sinking them too deeply into the ground.
And that’s it. Job done.
The final word
At the end of the day, unless you’re absolutely determined to invest several thousand dollars in an automatic levelling system, there’s no easier way to get levelled out than with a good caravan ramp kit.
And, you can also stop ferrying the heavyweight DIY wooden ramps around with you everywhere you go, along with inventing increasingly dangerous ways of using scissor jacks to level off. Before you hit the road for your next caravan adventure, be sure to pick up a set. It’s an investment that you won’t regret.