A weight distribution hitch makes towing a trailer much safer and smoother.
Instead of loading too much of the weight of your heavy RV or trailer onto the rear axle of your vehicle, a weight distribution system (“weight distribution hitch,” or WDH) keeps the weight distributed evenly between your front and back axles.
WDHs work by counteracting the downward force of your trailer on your vehicle’s hitch with spring arms that apply upward pressure, counterbalancing the vehicle and keeping it level.
This gives you more control over your vehicle, makes it easier to stop quickly, and reduces the side-to-side “sway” that can be annoying or even dangerous for those towing large vehicles. It also allows you to get the full weight capacity out of your hitch.
If you are in need of a more stable way to drive your horse trailer, boat trailer, or mobile home, or are looking to get one of these heavier trailers, a weight distribution hitch may be an essential product for you.
There are a lot of choices, so we’ve narrowed it down: here’s our guide to finding the right weight distribution hitch for your needs:
6 Best Weight Distribution Hitches
Best Overall Weight Distribution Hitch: Equil-i-zer Hitch w/o Shank
- Weight: 44 lbs.
- Capacity: 1,000 lb. tongue weight, 10,000 lb. trailer weight
- High Points: Lightweight, lifetime warranty, highly durable and effective
- Low Points: Doesn’t come with a shank or ball hitch
Why it’s Our Top Choice:
This is one of the most effective trailer options out there, yet often offered for significantly cheaper online than can be found at dealers or RV stores. It works with pretty much anything you pull with a bumper, from boat and utility trailers to RVs and horse trailers.
You will have to purchase the shanks separately, but this can actually be a benefit, since you’ll still often same money compared to other options, and can customize the size to fit the exact height of your receiver, which can be a challenge with other options.
It has four point control to reduce sway (compared to the typical two-point connection system), which adds noticeable stability.
Unlike other options, it’s also easy to install. You should see an immediate difference when towing using this model over other, less-effective weight distribution hitches.
What the Experts Think:
This model’s design builds in sway control that is surprisingly effective compared to even high-end sway protectors. It provides peace of mind while driving at highway speeds and avoids that white-knuckle feeling when a gust of wind hits or a semi passes.
The effect is that of pulling a much smaller trailer; this is accordingly a very popular and widely recognized option.
Features and Considerations
As mentioned above, the Equal-i-zer does not come with a ball stud, which you will need to purchase separately.
The ball stud length is also somewhat unusual, at 2 3/8” maximum, which means that it may be difficult to find one that will fit unless you purchase it through Equal-i-zer. While this is annoying, again, it’s still typically cost-effective to purchase this option compared to other high-end options.
Make sure to double-check the installation against instructions or online tutorials; malfunctions most often come about through poor installation, even when it’s performed by a dealer.
Overall, this is a durable, highly effective choice that should last for years.
Runner-up Overall Weight Distribution Hitch: Husky 32218 Center Line TS with Spring Bars
- Weight: 116 lbs.
- Trailer Weight Capacity: 12,000 lbs.
- High Points: Quiet, effective weight distribution and sway control combined in one piece of hardware
- Low Points: Difficult installation, some quality control inconsistencies
Why it’s Our Top Choice:
This model comes without separate sway bars, which would normally be a deal-breaker, but with this design, you still get sway control in the single unit due to its somewhat unique construction, which eliminates the need for additional hardware.
It’s also quieter than other products and produces little to no rattling or creaking during use.
At 12,000 lbs. capacity, it’s also a heavy-duty model which delivers excellent durability and long-term resilience. It comes partially pre-installed which can cut down on installation time.
What the Experts Think:
This is another fan favorite, and the slightly lower price point than our number one pick also makes this an appealing choice.
Reviewers largely report quiet, easy-to-use functionality. There can be some inconsistencies in manufacturing/quality control that make the mounting holes line up poorly, but once it’s installed, this is an easy to use, reliable option.
Features and Considerations
You could, in theory, use the built-in handle to install additional sway bars if you’re really concerned about movement while underway, but this is unnecessary for most people (and you’ll likely have more impact on trailer movement by redistributing your cargo weight than you would by adding sway bars).
There’s no need to unhitch this option when reversing, though it can start to make some noise during sharp turns.
Installing friction bars and taking them out can be difficult and annoying due to the tight fit; an electric trailer jack under the tongue can raise the vehicle up, which makes it must easier to remove the bars from the trailer saddles.
It comes with a full installation kit with all the needed tools and hardware.
A Close Third Place: Fastway e2 2-Point Sway Control Trunnion Hitch
- Weight: 30 lbs.
- Lift Capacity: Varies by specific model
- High Points: Comes in multiple weight tolerances to fit different trailer sizes without overkill, easy turns
- Low Points: Doesn’t include ball hitch, expensive
Why it’s a Top Pick
While not quite as sturdy as the Equ-i-lizer, which has four-point control, this model offers two-point sway control which can still outperform both add-on sway bars and cam-style systems, offering more sway control and better weight distribution.
It’s also significantly easier to install than older chain-based models.
It will work with the majority of trailers, from boats and RVs through massive construction and cargo toting scenarios, and it comes with a 10-year warranty for added peace of mind.
What the Experts Think:
Because it’s available in multiple configurations, this is one of the most popular choices out there. It’s reliable, flexible enough to work in most situations, and well-engineered.
Reviewers are largely satisfied with its performance even after years of use. Even when the weight is overloaded (something we don’t recommend), it still does what it’s supposed to.
It’s lightweight, which can be a red flag for durability, but in this case, it appears to perform well and reliably down the road, and the light weight also makes it significantly easier to install.
Features and Considerations:
Overall, this is a solidly constructed anti-sway hitch that you can back up with.
The shank length is customizable to fit various hitch height/vehicle height combinations. In some cases, the shank length for your weight tolerance may stick out too far from your vehicle; it’s always possible to drill new holes in the shank to move it closer to the vehicle.
Best For Low-Clearance Trailers: CURT 17501 TruTrack Black
- Weight: 120 lbs.
- Capacity: 10,000 to 15,000 lbs. total trailer weight, 1000 to 1500 lbs. tongue weight.
- High Points: Higher clearance than other options, effective sway reduction, all-included parts, durable
- Low Points: Expensive, and difficult to install
Why it’s a Top Choice:
If you have a low-riding trailer, this is one of your best options. It sits significantly higher off the ground even when fully loaded than any of the round-bar options and some of the square bar “trunnion” models on this list.
This specific model is notably heavy-duty and stands up to extended travel, tight turns, bumps, and other stresses.
What the Experts Think:
It’s quite heavy, making the free Amazon shipping a great deal for this option. Its weight can make it difficult to install solo, and cumbersome to take on and off your vehicle.
It can also be noisy during tight turns, but this is easily adjusted by lubricating the joints.
However, it’s still a fan favorite for those looking to haul larger RVs and trailers or who just want something durable and dependable. If you’ve ever scraped your hitch on the ground during the middle of a long hitch or discovered you don’t have enough clearance after loading up to go, this is one of the best ways to avoid repeating that experience.
Features and Considerations:
You may need to purchase special tool sizes to install this option the first time. It is possible to replace the ball hitch with other sizes, depending on your needs.
Remember to lubricate the joints to prevent noise, and avoid taking sharp turns without disconnecting it, though it is possible to back your trailer with it in place. It will reduce your weight allowance by over 100 lbs., which may be relevant if you’re getting close to the limit.
Best for Backing Your Trailer: Andersen Hitches 3394
- Weight: 60 lbs.
- Capacity: 14,000 lbs. or 16,000 lbs. trailer weight
- High Points: Inexpensive, easy backup, lightweight, noise-free, motion-dampening system
- Low Points: Expensive, some reported quality issues
Why it’s a Top Pick:
Comes with an adjustable shank, also doubles as standard ball mount if you want to use it without the weight distribution feature. Compact and lightweight, easier to set up than other options – no need to wrestle with aggressive heavy bars.
What the Experts Say:
This is a somewhat unique design with only chains instead of solid bars and brackets. However, it’s widely popular and has something of a cult following. It lasts well and stands up to extensive use.
When installed correctly, it leads to zero sway and excellent leveling. Due to the design, it’s also less of a hassle to install and adjust over time, and you won’t have to stop to disconnect anything to back or turn a trailer.
It does have some occasional quality assurance issues such as bent hardware, but the company does offer a lifetime limited warranty to make up for these difficulties.
Features and Considerations
You may need to purchase an extension kit to make sure the model you get fits your vehicle and trailer. It does come in two sizes with different weight limits as well, so be sure to double-check that before purchasing.
You will need a socket and torque wrench to install the ball the first time if you do it yourself, which many people don’t have on hand already.
Best For the Budget: Husky 31421 Round Bar Weight Distribution Hitch Package
- Weight: 96 lbs.
- Capacity: 600 lbs. tongue weight
- High Points: Inexpensive, adjustable height, easy assembly
- Low Points: Lower weight capacity than other options
Why it’s a Top Pick:
This is an older-fashioned model that still does the job well with some cool added features like the sway control brake pad, which reduces sway during exceptionally windy conditions.
It’s also much easier on the wallet than any of the other choices on this list, frequently coming in at under $175. It comes with all needed parts included and is easy to install.
What the Experts Say:
This is a less-popular model due to the popularity of the Equ-i-lizer and other more recent inventions, but it still does what it says it will reliably and effectively.
Despite the low price tag, it feels high-quality and durable. If you are at the lower end of the weight range but still feel more comfortable with a high weight adjuster, this is one of the most reliable, cost-effective options, and still gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Features and Considerations
This model does have slightly less weight tolerance than other options, making it less of a good choice for those with big trailers.
It does offer dual friction sway control to diminish sway which works surprisingly well, though it still can’t match the solid options due to the loose swinging chain configuration.
The Complete Weight Distribution Hitches Buyer’s Guide
What to Look For: How to Find the Right Weight Distribution Hitch
Weight distribution hitches rely on simple physics, and the basic design doesn’t vary much across most manufacturers.
However, there are some factors to consider which may vary from person to person, like:
- Weight Capacity (distribution and total weight)
- Installation Difficulty
Some of these may seem more significant to you than others, depending on your goals and vehicle(s). Here’s a quick guide to things you may want to consider or keep in mind during your search:
Type of Weight Distribution Hitch:
Brackets vs. Chains
Most weight distribution hitches have either vertical brackets, which are solid and coupled with spring arms used to distribute trailer tongue weight, or vertical chains.
Chains tend to be less expensive and easier to install, but also don’t inherently control sway (since they can rock back and forth), which makes them less popular.
There are also some newer options which do away with the vertical brackets, but they tend to be very expensive, and haven’t fully caught on yet.
The spring arm type can also be a differentiating factor.
“Trunnion” bars spring straight from the hitch head and are typically square. These have better ground clearance (leaving more space between the hitch and the ground), making them a better choice for low-riding vehicles and trailers, or situations where you know you’ll need to have higher clearance. However, they’re also often more expensive.
Round bars connect under the hitch head, then curve back until they are parallel with the ground. They are equally as durable, and often much less expensive than trunnion-style bars, but anyone who struggles with dragging their trailer on the ground will likely find this style very annoying to deal with.
There are also chain models, such as the Andersen Hitch, which don’t have bars at all, and also tend to have better clearance, though this can vary.
|Weight Distribution Hitch||Brackets||Bars|
|Equil-i-zer Hitch w/o Shank||Solid||Trunnion|
|Husky 32218 Center Line TS with Spring Bars||Solid||Spring|
|Fastway e2 2-Point Sway Control Trunnion Hitch||Solid||Trunnion|
|CURT 17501 TruTrack Black||Solid||Trunnion|
|Andersen Hitches 3394||Solid||Chains|
|Husky 31421 Round Bar Weight Distribution Hitch Package||Chain||Round|
Your Vehicle and Your Hitch Rating Limits
When it comes to hitch attachments, there are five classes, in which Class V is the most powerful hitch. To pull any trailer that needs a weight distributor, you’ll need at least class III, but consult your owner’s manual to make sure you can tow.
A small vehicle probably just isn’t capable of towing a massive RV in that rear view towing mirror; before losing money on any kind of hitch setup, look up your weight limits for both tow and hitch weight based on your make, model, year, and other equipment like the hitch rating.
Keep in mind that things like cargo, fuel, food, water, etc. in your trailer can affect its weight.
If you’re unsure of your trailer’s final loaded weight, you can often use a commercial scale (such as offered to interstate truckers on the side of the freeway) to measure your tow vehicle for a nominal fee.
Hitch Rating: More isn’t Always Better
In order to avoid cutting it too close, you may be tempted to overshoot your weight limits and buy the most heavy-duty option you can find.
Of course, it’s always better to slightly overshoot than undershoot when it comes to weight limits, but keep in mind that the heavier your weight distribution rating is, the stiffer it has to be to counteract all that weight.
You want that sturdiness if you have a lot of weight to displace, but on a small trailer, you will see much faster wear and tear if your hitch is on the overkill side of the scale.
If can also be stiff and uncomfortable for people in your car, and can be a nightmare to install, since the heavier your spring bars are, the more challenging they are to wrestle into place, at least as a general rule.
How Much are You Willing to Spend?
While you can find a few models for around $150, most hitches will run you at least a couple hundred dollars, plus more for expert installation if you don’t want to do this yourself.
It’s usually not worth paying less than this minimum, since you just don’t see the same durability and quality to make saving a few upfront dollars worth it.
On the other hand, it’s also not typically worth springing for the few very high-end models, since there aren’t many extra features to make that kind of investment worthwhile.
Going for a middle-of-the-road, high-quality but no-frills option that is just enough to meet your weight and distribution capacity is typically the best option; we included a range of options of this list to fit this range for the average motorist.
Some models include sway control as part of their design; prioritizing these choices is a good bet as they use the friction between arms to prevent movement. Any side to side movement causes more friction between the arms and the brackets, limiting sway.
You can also buy options without sway control (such as the ones with chain instead of solid brackets). These are cheaper but can defeat the purpose of getting a weight distribution hitch in the first place. You can always buy one and then buy sway bars as additional protection, but this typically isn’t as cost-effective.
How We Ranked Our List
The things you most want to consider while choosing the perfect weight distribution hitch typically include capacity, price, and durability.
Starting from that list, we’ve found what we believe to be the best choices for the average person, along with some special-case picks so that you can pick the jack that most suits you.
More specifically, some of the features we considered include:
Weight can also become a factor for light trailers or when you’re getting close to hitting your hitch or your vehicle’s limit, since some of these options and others can push the 150 lb. mark.
While the weight of most options on this list is typically negligible when compared with the weight of your trailer, it can make a difference in durability and ease of installation.
These heavier options tend to be more durable and heavy-duty, but are also harder to install.
Having a higher capacity than you need isn’t necessary. However, if you have a heavy trailer, using a weight distribution hitch rated too low can be dangerous or ineffective.
The last thing you want is to suddenly feel the sway of a gust of wind while going down the freeway or for something to break.
When creating this ranking, we prioritized higher weight ratings on this list, while still keeping other factors such as price and noise in mind.
Here’s a quick comparison:
|Weight Distribution Hitch||Tongue Weight Capacity (lbs.)||Hitch Weight Capacity (lbs.)|
|Equil-i-zer Hitch w/o Shank||1000||10,000|
|Husky 32218 Center Line TS with Spring Bars||800-1200||Varies|
|Fastway e2 2-Point Sway Control Trunnion Hitch||800||8000|
|CURT 17501 TruTrack Black||1000-1500||15,000|
|Andersen Hitches 3394||1400||14,000-16,000|
|Husky 31421 Round Bar Weight Distribution Hitch Package||600||6000|
Hitches vary in footprint and dimensions. This mostly makes a difference if you have low clearance, or other features that may interfere with your trailer tongue.
If you have a low-riding trailer, the amount of space between the side rails of your weight distribution hitch and the ground can quickly become an issue. Of course, this varies by trailer and vehicle type, but we looked for options that would work for as many people as possible.
While price is always a concern, a hitch’s function is to keep you, your trailer, and your vehicle safe, and these are all significantly more valuable than the hitch itself.
Buying an inexpensive hitch also isn’t worth the few dollars you saved to pay for it, if it breaks, doesn’t work as expected, or just doesn’t last the way a higher-quality option would.
So, while we looked for cost-effective options, we prioritized choices we thought provided good value for the money.
We considered installation difficulty as well as any operating struggles with backing or moving a trailer regularly.
We prioritized options with heavy-duty reputations, solid construction, and good track records with customer service and product quality assurance. We also prioritized products built out of durable materials or coated to help ensure you get the most possible life out of your hitch.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What types of trailers need a weight distribution hitch?
While there’s no hard rule, as a general idea, if you think you need a weight distribution system, you probably do.
Heavier cargo-carrying trailers, RVs and campers, some types of horse trailers, heavy enclosed cargo trailers, and some boat trailers can all sometimes require some kind of weight distribution system.
Anything that’s very heavy, or tall enough/with enough wind resistance to be affected by heavy crosswinds or the levelness of your vehicle, should have some kind of weight distribution system and sway protection, especially if you plan to travel on the highway.
Ok, but how can I tell if I need a WDH or Sway Bar, or Both?
Except in some states, where you’ll be required by law to have a hitch once your trailer is above a certain weight, there isn’t an exact rule for when you’ll need a weight distribution hitch.
The rule here isn’t an absolute weight, but rather has to do with the ratio between your vehicle’s weight and the weight of your trailer. This is the gross weight, which includes all the stuff you put in both vehicles.
The more the weight of your trailer exceeds that of the vehicle, the more likely it is that you’ll need a weight distribution hitch rather than just a ball hitch.
So, for example, if you have a 1-ton truck, you might not need a WDH system to haul a large trailer, but you definitely will if you have a smaller vehicle and a mid-sized trailer.
If you see any kind of “sag” in the rear of your tow vehicle, or you can see the nose of your vehicle lifting up, you definitely need a weight distribution hitch.
This can be very dangerous, since a lot of your steering and braking control are dictated by the front of your vehicle, which doesn’t work as well if it’s not firmly on the ground. Most travel trailer/tow vehicle combinations really should be using this type of hitch.
Using a weight distribution hitch becomes more necessary the closer your trailer weight gets to being the same as your tow vehicle weight (or a 1:1 ratio). In some cases, if your trailer weighs more than 50% of the towing vehicle’s weight, you’ll need a WDH system.
If you’re close to the point where you need one, a WDH often pays for itself in terms of peace of mind, and as soon as you make the switch, you should notice a difference, especially during highway travel.
Almost all weight distribution hitches have built in anti-sway control. Some models with older “chain” style brackets instead of solid vertical brackets do not, but for the most part, you should expect to get anti-sway protection with your WDH. If not, it’s almost always worth buying an additional anti-sway mechanism to protect you and your vehicle.
Together, the weight distribution and anti-sway mechanisms reduce the chance that a random gust of wind will knock you off the road, prevents lane wandering and trailer fishtailing.
If you’ve ever felt your trailer moving the rear of your vehicle while you were driving it, you’ll know how annoying and even terrifying it can be to fight this kind of movement at high speeds. They are particularly helpful when passing large vehicles or during steep up- or downhill travel.
Will using a weight distribution system increase the towing capacity of my vehicle?
Kind of. A weight distribution hitch can increase the amount of weight your hitch receiver can hold.
However, the towing capacity of your towing vehicle won’t change, and has the final word when it comes to determining how much you can safely tow.
Can I back my vehicle and trailer while a weight distribution hitch is in place?
Maybe. Some models do prevent backing and tight turns while in place. If you know you will be regularly backing your trailer, this is definitely something to keep in mind.
The Andersen Hitch is one model which enables self-adjustment and backup without the need to unhook or reinstall anything; several others do also, but make sure to double check if this is an important feature for you.
What do the different weight ratings mean?
Weight Capacity vs. Weight Distribution Limits
When researching these towing systems, you’ll likely encounter descriptions of weight capacity and weight distribution limits. These may sound similar, but mean slightly different things.
Above, we mentioned that WDHs can increase your trailer hitch limit. There is often a difference between the amount of weight your receiver hitch can carry on its own with a ball mount, and the amount it can carry using a weight distribution hitch.
Since WDHs spread out the trailer weight over a larger area, they create less stress on the suspension and rear tires of your towing vehicle. For this reason, the “weight carrying” limit of your hitch is typically significantly lower than the “weight distributing” limit.
Tongue Weight vs. Towing Weight
You may also see “tongue weight” as well as “towing weight.” Towing weight is the total amount that your vehicle can tow, and isn’t affected by the WDH. Tongue weight is the amount of pressure exerted on the hitch itself.
In terms of physics, your trailer is like a lever, with the trailer axle serving as the pivot point. Too much or not enough weight on the hitch makes the entire set up unstable.
For example, a hitch coupled with a ball mount might have a 5,000-pound towing weight limit, but a tongue weight of only 500 pounds. This means that it can only tow a trailer that’s less than 5,000 pounds.
You can often adjust the tongue weight by moving cargo forward or backward in the trailer, but you’ll still need to make sure that both your trailer and your weight distribution hitch setup are appropriate for the weight of your trailer.
If you don’t know your trailer’s tongue weight, you can typically estimate it as 10 to 15 percent of the total weight of your trailer, but since this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s likely easier to tell whether it’s too light or two heavy by how your trailer rides and/or sways.