RV Leveling Systems for Off-Road and Rugged Terrain

Hitting the open road in an RV is an amazing way to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. But when you’re traveling over rough, uneven terrain, getting your RV properly leveled at your campsite can be a real challenge. Having the right leveling system for rugged conditions can make all the difference in setting up a stable and comfortable camp.

Why Leveling is Important

Before jumping into recommendations, let’s quickly cover why having a good leveling system for your RV is so critical when you’re boondocking or camping off-grid. Here are some of the main benefits:

  • Comfort: When your RV isn’t level, it can be uncomfortable to walk around inside and sleep in the bed. Leveling helps create a feeling of stability.
  • Appliance operation: Many RV appliances like refrigerators and water heaters require the RV to be level in order to work properly.
  • Tire and trailer wear: Being un-level side-to-side or front-to-back puts strain on tires and trailer components. This can cause unnecessary wear over time.
  • Power and water systems: RV plumbing, electrical, and slide-out systems often perform best when the RV is level.
  • Safety and stability: Attempting to cook dinner in an un-level trailer can be dangerous. Leveling minimizes shifting and rocking for greater safety.

So however you plan to camp, having some method of leveling your RV will make the experience much more comfortable and enjoyable. This is especially true if you plan to camp on unimproved sites or rugged terrain where the ground is uneven.

Next let’s look at some leveling options, from basic to advanced, that are well-suited for off-road and rugged conditions.

Leveling Blocks and Ramps

One of the simplest and most affordable ways to level your RV is with leveling blocks or ramps. These are placed under the RV’s wheels or jacks to lift one side higher than the other until the RV is level side-to-side and front-to-back.

Leveling blocks are a very popular option for RVers camping in undeveloped sites simply because they are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to use. Plastic and vinyl blocks are durable, weather-resistant, and can provide lift heights from 1″ to 9”. Many types are inexpensive around $20-$30 for a set of 10 blocks.

Some top-rated RV leveling blocks include:

  • Camco 44414 RV Leveler Blocks – Made in the USA, Camco’s yellow leveling blocks are all-weather and interlock for stability. One of the most popular leveling block sets with a 4.5/5 star rating from over 3,000 reviews.
  • Lynx Levelers, BAL,** Andersen,** and Pogo – These brands all make quality interlocking leveling block sets at varying price points. The Lynx and BAL sets are a bit cheaper but still highly-rated. Andersen and Pogo charge slightly more for thicker construction.
  • Tri-Lynx 00015 Lynx Leveler Ramps – These plastic ramps make it easy to drive your RV’s tires up onto the leveling blocks for greater ground clearance.

Using leveling blocks takes a bit more time and effort than automatic or electronic leveling systems. But they are an inexpensive, low-tech solution that works great for rugged terrain. With a little practice it just takes a few minutes to get your RV leveled and ready to camp.

Automatic RV Leveling Systems

For ultimate convenience and stability on uneven ground, automatic hydraulic or pneumatic leveling systems are the way to go. These systems use electric motors and pumps to automatically extend and adjust jacks at the corners of the RV to achieve a perfect level.

Automatic leveling is standard on most Class A motorhomes and 5th wheels. But there are also systems made specifically for travel trailers. The initial investment is higher but these systems save a ton of time and frustration compared to levers. They also provide unmatched stability on rugged terrain.

Some of the top automatic RV leveling system brands include:

  • Lippert Ground Control 3.0 – Lippert is probably the best-known RV leveling system. The latest Ground Control 3.0 is fast, quiet, and reliably levels RVs up to 45’ in under 60 seconds.
  • HWH Space Sav’r – Extremely sturdy hydraulic leveling system for heavy RVs. Touchpad or smartphone control.
  • Level UP – Automatic electric leveling best for smaller travel trailers. Levels RVs up to 33’ and lifts up to 12”.
  • Equalizer Auto-Level – Fast hydraulic auto-leveling system popular for 5th wheels. Can be operated via one-touch remote.
  • Bigfoot Hydraulic Leveling – Top choice for class B van conversions. Jacks tuck away for driving.
  • MPS Power Up – Unique scissor jack system levels trailers quickly with push-button ease.
  • Kwikee Electric Tongue Jack – An electric-powered tongue jack takes the crank out of manual leveling for small trailers.

With their fast operation and minimal effort, automatic RV leveling systems take all the frustration and hassle out of the leveling process. They provide unmatched stability on uneven ground. For avid RVers who do a lot of boondocking off-grid, a hydraulic auto-level system is worth the investment.

Manual RV Leveling Techniques

If you don’t have an automatic leveling system or prefer not to rely on technology, there are some manual techniques you can use to level your RV on uneven ground. Here are a few tips:

  • Place leveling blocks under side-to-side first, then front-to-back. Using an RV level tool, adjust until you achieve level.
  • Partially extend your RV’s stabilizing jacks to provide stability as you level with blocks. Don’t rely solely on jacks.
  • Carry multiple sizes of blocks – you may need to stack or pyramid blocks to achieve the right lift height.
  • Use specially designed ramps to easily drive RV tires up onto the leveling blocks without scraping or getting stuck.
  • Always chock your RV tires so the vehicle can’t roll once leveled.
  • For larger RVs, level side-to-side first using blocks under the wheels. Then place plywood pads under jacks to level front-to-back without sinking.
  • Use jack extenders or wooden blocks under stabilizer jacks to prevent them from sinking into soft ground.

The key is taking your time, using an RV level frequently, and adjusting each jack and tire incrementally until you achieve a perfect level. It may take 30-60 minutes your first few times, but with practice manual leveling gets faster. This method gives you full control for uneven sites.

Leveling on Driveways, Patios, and Concrete

Sometimes when RVing, you may need to park and level your rig on a paved driveway, patio, or concrete pad. This presents a different challenge than natural terrain – you can’t just place leveling blocks under the tires.

Here are a few tips for safely and effectively leveling on concrete with an RV:

  • Use leveling ramps specifically designed for concrete. They have a rubberized bottom that grips without slipping or sliding.
  • Carefully back your RV tires up onto the ramps. Take it very slow to avoid tire spin or sudden jolts.
  • Use rubber chocks behind the wheels for added safety once parked on the ramps.
  • Only extend stabilizer jacks enough to contact the concrete. Don’t rely on jacks for primary support.
  • You can also use thicker plywood pads under stabilizer jacks to better distribute weight on concrete.
  • Consider a pneumatic or scissor jack system that lifts from under the frame to avoid tire contact issues.

The key things to remember are taking it slow and cautious when backing onto ramps, using rubber chocks for safety, and not relying solely on stabilizer jacks resting on concrete for support. The right ramps and pads will allow you to safely level and camp.

Best Practices for RV Leveling

Leveling your RV properly is key to safety, comfort and appliance operation. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Always use wheel chocks, stabilizer jacks, and trailer locks for stability.
  • Check your RV level frequently during the process to achieve the best accuracy.
  • Level side-to-side first, then front-to-back. Use blocks or ramps under tires to correct side tilt.
  • When using a tongue jack, detach it from the hitch before leveling to allow proper axle alignment.
  • Extend stabilizing jacks just enough to contact the ground without lifting the full weight of the RV.
  • Use plywood pads under jacks to prevent them from sinking into soft ground.
  • If on uneven ground, consider investing in an automatic leveling system for the ultimate in speed and stability.
  • Practice patience and take precautions when leveling on driveways or concrete with wheel ramps.

Taking a few minutes to properly level your RV using the right gear will allow you to safely and comfortably enjoy your camping trip, even on rugged backcountry terrain.

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