How did you learn to back your rig?

Got stuck the first night. Rutted my front yard something terrible, will be lucky if my water line to the house isn't broken.

After all that I had to call a buddy to come over and back it out for me and position it behind the garage.

So embarrassing. :blush: This thing is HUGE and it's not even one of the bigger fivers. Going forward isn't any problem but backing up is a horror.

Tomorrow I get to clean the mud out of the brakes and axles. Almost got it stuck but luckily the truck has four wheel drive. Rutted lawn and stuck the first night, that would have been just perfect.

Tell me I'll get better at backing up. At night, in the rain, into tight places.
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

Give yourself a chance from the start! You didn't. You failed to plan. Backing up under the conditions you describe isn't the way to learn.

I'm sure that it was suggested to you that you go to a mall (or large) parking lot (as empty as you can find one) and practice, practice, practice.

It isn't "easy", but with practice you can make it look easy.

As you're backing, alternately watch your mirrors and the front corners of your truck. That will give a better perspective to what you are doing.

Start backing up straight. Hold your hands at the BOTTOM of your steering wheel. Let your brain "see" which way the trailer goes when you push the wheel one way and then the other.

Try to make backing between some cones or markers a SMOOTH operation. Don't make LARGE changes. Make small movements and watch what happens. Go slow.

You can do it. Don't quit just because you get embarrassed at the parking lot. Stop when you run out of fuel! :clown:


Senior Member
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

Like Tex said it will come with practice. A parking lot with cones is a good training ground. Get the wife out too and get signals down in a non stress enviorment. Also I find at times getting out looking things over like I'm really looking at where I want the rig what I'm doing is visualizing what I need to do. This gets the rig positioned for the start of the backup. I see so many times in camp grounds the pull forward is no where near where the beging of the backup should be. Don't fix on one area of the backup, this is a sure way to trouble, Mirror mirror wife fender fender slow and ez.

Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

Everyone goes thru a learning curve, sorry yours had to be in your yard. One tip, place your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel, and they trailer will go in the direction you move your hands.


Senior Member
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

OK - backing a trailer with a truck can be done with pratice. How about backing a motorhome with a car on a tow dolly? Possible, or should I be looking for pull-thru parking spots?
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

I'm determined not to be limited to pull through spots. I can do this. We did practice in a parking lot before bringing it home, but that wasn't terribly helpful. I was tired and burned out by the time we started practicing and our RV dealer isn't a great driving instructor. We were near the point of deciding to come back the next day. The dealership kept us waiting for an hour before starting the walk-through, so it was late afternoon before we started home and we were both tired. So trying to learn in the dark in my driveway was a big mistake. I should have called my friend and practiced under better conditions. I'm relieved nothing worse happened but I didn't get in a hurry and realized I was over my head. That's something, right?

The hands on the bottom of the steering wheel is a great tip, you're the first ones to mentioned that. The other tip that I picked up both from you guys and my truck driving buddy is take the backing in little sections. Go part way, pull up a little to get the truck back, go a little more, get the truck back...little bit at a time. My friend said it was way easier than backing a tractor trailer because the back wheels are are farther forward and the back of the camper can hang over the edge of the road.

Figuring out where to park to start the turn, that's another one that's just going to take practice. Our favorite campground is pretty empty this time of year and has big, wide back in spots. We may go down there and ask for a spot away from other people and just back, back, back over and over. Even if they give us a pull-through, go do some practice backing anyway. Backing in when we get home should be easier because we'll be coming in from a better angle. Last night we pulled into the front driveway, which has brick pillars on both sides. That was the big mistake I made last night.

I'm not going to quit because I didn't back up like an RV rodeo star my first day, but it was bruising all the same. :blackeye:

Any tips on positioning to start the back up would be greatly appreciated.

Triple E

Senior Member
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

You should always back in to your spot from YOUR left side. Meaning that when you look out the driver's door window you can watch, with out any obstruction, the left rear corner of the trailer as you turn in to your spot. As as stated before, always walk the area where you will be parking. Look around, up, down and around again. Keep that picture in your mind while you are backing. Be sure you and your wife understand the hand signals before getting started. You will get it. Just have fun. ;)



Senior Member
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

well I hope you did not hit the brick pillars.If so let me tell you , you are not the first one. In less than 24 hours when i got ours home I knocked on of mine down. And I am an experience driver when it comes to backing,. I have driven large fire trucks going down narrow roads and backing them in the station. I have driven large farm tractors with hughs trailers on the back. But it was just one mistake I made. I guess what I am saying is that no matter how good you are, mistakes will happen, just don't give up. There is so much to see and fun to have. keep practicing. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
RE: How did you learn to back your rig?

Worth the time and practice to learn to back your rig. We got caught last year with a 34 ft R V with a 14ft car trailer in a dead end suburban street.It took 5 mins to turn around which was good considering the narrow street. Had a friend a few years back that was a racehorse trainer.He would not even consider putting his car in reverse if the trailer was attached.It was only a double float and many times he waited until the last race until the car park was empty.Sometimes he was 200 miles from home and he could have left at 1pm instead of waiting until travel home. He was a competant driver in all other ways but he let the reversing beat him. Patience and preparation mixed with practice.Find a large empty parking lot and you will find it will soon be easy. Regards from down under BIG BILKO :) :) :)

C Nash

Senior Member
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

Well, we got caught on a dead end road around midnight when we had a 5th wheel. No place to turn around. Had to back for what I though was 1/4 mile but was less I'm sure. Sure glad I was used to backing as we did it with no problem other than a slow go.
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

In addition to keeping my hand on the BOTTOM of the steering wheel as some have suggested, I also use only my side mirrors and watch the tires on my trailer. It seems easier to detect movement that way. I also have my wife back there with a two way radio directing me. The radios eliminate the confusion of hand signals and you can still communicate even if you can't see the other person in your mirror.

I started towing boats long before I had a trailer. I remember when I first started, I would not attempt to launch the boat unless I had the ramp to myself. I would wait until everyone else had cleared the area. I compare those days to one day recently when I had to back my trailer out onto a 4 lane highway in the Washington DC area. You do learn..
RE: How did you learn to back your rig?

Thanks for the support, guys. Thankfully I didn't hit either of the pillars and, so far, the water line doesn't seem to be leaking. The back breaking effort of filling in the ruts with a shovel and re-seeding the grass was a memorable lesson.

I have driven large fire trucks going down narrow roads and backing them in the station.

Me too. No problems there. In fact, a couple days before I backed our tanker uphill and put it right on the dime between an engine and telephone pole on a structure fire mutual aid. Backing a truck and backing a trailer are two very different things.

I have known people who avoid backing up trailers and I'm determined not to be one of them. The walk around, jumping out to look at the situation if you get cross-wise, take it in little sections and back with your space on the left (when possible), pull up a little to get your truck back in front of the trailer.

Maybe I could get some really practiced haulers to help me with a video about trailer backing. Advice from the pros, illustrations and commentary.

I'm going to make up some check lists for hooking up, backing and take down. One thing the FD has taught me is making SoP's for everything.
Re: How did you learn to back your rig?

Back in the 70's when I was driving truck for a living I once had to parallel park a rig with a 25ft trailer. Now that was a challenge! Anybody have to do that with a 5W yet?