Can The GMC Sierra 1500 Pull Campers and Trailers?


The GMC Sierra is one of the most popular pickup trucks in the US, with over four million units sold throughout its history. Along with competitors like Ford and Ram, it’s a staple in American automotive tradition. The wide array of engines available makes the GMC Sierra a capable workhorse.

Can The GMC Sierra 1500 Pull Campers and Trailers?

The GMC Sierra 1500 can pull a wide variety of trailers and campers, thanks to a maximum 12,200-pound towing capacity. Other versions can tow to 9,700 pounds when the driver chooses one of two possible 5.3L V8.

The least capable version can still pull 6,500 pounds, so there’s a Sierra for every need. To achieve the maximum towing capacity, you need to purchase the trailering package. GMC fits the Sierra 1500 with improvements for better performance when pulling heavy loads. 

If you consider how much campers and trailers weigh, you can be sure that the Sierra 1500 will cover most of your needs. But, there’s a lot to towing than just a number. There are many factors that you need to understand to do it safely. We’ll cover them in this article. 

Also, the GMC Sierra powerplant and drivetrain configuration are essential. There is a difference in towing capacity between a 2WD and a 4WD Sierra 1500. Due to how the power splits between the wheels, usually, 2WD will pull more. We’ll explain what’s the particular case with the Sierra. 

One of the Sierra’s main advantages is that there are many powerplants available. Drivers can personalize the vehicle for their specific needs. Need heavy towing day and day out? There’s a Sierra for that. Are you going to have random towing and challenging terrain? There’s also an option for that. 

Plus, there’s a lot that goes behind what you’re towing. Campers come in many shapes and sizes, as do trailers. Understanding their characteristics is vital for towing safely. But, before we get into what kind of trailers and campers the GMC Sierra 1500 can tow, let’s see how each engine performs. 

How Many Pounds Can The GMC Sierra 1500 Tow?

The GMC Sierra 1500 can tow up to 12,200 pounds, but there are many different towing capabilities for every need. The following table shows the most towing capacity for each powerplant and drivetrain configuration. This information is only for those GMC Sierra 1500s with automatic transmission and a ball hitch. 

GMC Sierra 1500 Version4,3L V62,7L Turbo3,0L Duramax5,3L V8 (L83)5,3L V8 (L84)6,2L V8
Crew Cab Short Box 2WD77006900920098009600/11400*NA
Crew Cab Short Box 4WD75006600850096009400/11200*9300/12100*
Crew Cab Standard Box 2WD76006800NA98009600/11300*NA
Crew Cab Standard Box 4WD74006500NA96009400/11000*9100/12000*
Double Cab Standard Box 2WD77006900930099009700/11300*NA
Double Cab Standard Box 4WD76006600900097009400/11200*9300/12200
Regular Cab Long Box 2WD7900NANA10000NANA
Regular Cab Long Box 4WD7700NANA9800NANA

*Max Trailering Package included

If you’re looking to tow heavy loads, then 2WD GMC Sierras are your best choice. In all vehicles, the engine sends power to the wheels. 

These, in turn, move the truck and deal with friction. In 2WD, the powerplant sends all its power to just two wheels (the rear, in the case of the Sierra). Therefore, only two wheels have to deal with road resistance. 

In 4WD, the engine must first split power between four wheels instead of two. The vehicle has to overcome more friction, and this resistance affects towing ability. Plus, because a 4WD truck has more components, such as a front differential, it’s usually heavier, reducing the pulling power. 

Also, it’s important to highlight that the GMC comes with three V8 options, two of which have the same displacement. The L84 is the newest alternative. It provides more efficient fuel management but has sacrificed some towing ability. 

You might notice a considerable difference in towing abilities when using the Max Trailering Package. Let’s find out why. 

How Does The GMC Max Trailering Package Increase Towing Capabilities?

When you’re towing heavy loads, you’re putting extra strain on components like the transmission, brakes, suspension, and engine. Especially in the case of automatic transmissions, this translates to more heat and decreased use life. 

So, manufacturers offer improvements in tow packages to meet superior towing demands. In GMC’s case, it’s the Max Trailering Package. This upgrade includes a 3.42 axle ratio for more torque. The radiator is bigger to meet cooling demands and heavy-duty rear springs to aid in stabilizing heavy loads. 

These improvements increase the towing capabilities up to 12,200 in the GMC Sierra 1500, with a double cab and a standard box. The powerplant must be the 6.2L V8 and the 4WD version. There are 2WD options for this style. 

Read more on how towing packages can help you increase your vehicle’s towing ability in our article. 

How Does The GMC Sierra 1500’s Towing Capability Compare To The Competition?

There are several pickup trucks in the market that can tow thousands of pounds, so the GMC Sierra 1500 faces tough competition. Let’s see how it stacks up against other brands in the following table. Keep in mind that these are the maximum towing capacities, which might include towing packages. 

MakeModelMaximum Towing Capacity (pounds)
ToyotaTundra10,200
NissanTitan XD11,070
GMCSierra12,200
Ram150012,750
ChevroletSilverado13,400
FordF-15014,000

The GMC Sierra shares a platform and most mechanical components with the Chevrolet Silverado. Still, it underperforms against its sibling. But the Sierra comes in at a couple of thousand dollars cheaper. 

But the Silverado isn’t the only truck that outperforms the Sierra. The Sierra is the lowest performer when compared to the rest of the US-based brands. 

This list’s surprise is the Nissan Titan XD, with a respectable 11,070 pounds, beating its Japanese rival, the Toyota Tundra. But, the clear winner is Ford. With its tow package, the F-150 runs away with an impressive 14,000 pounds. 

So, now that we’ve seen how the GMC Sierra 1500 compares to the competition, let’s find out what kind of trailers and campers it can tow. 

What Kinds Of Trailers And Campers Can The GMC Sierra 1500 Tow?

Even if the GMC Sierra 1500 tows less than trucks from Ford, Ram, and Chevrolet, it can still pull heavy loads. The following table gives you some examples of campers you could handle with your truck. 

This table factors in a 40-gallon water tank. The additional weight column includes supplies like food and clothing. 

Camper sizeWeightWater weightAdditional weightTotal weight
13 feet1,5453323502,227
22 feet3,6343323504,316
28 feet6,5863323507,268
35 feet6,6203323507,302

This information tells us that, excluding the inline-4, most of the GMC Sierra 1500’s powerplant options could tow these campers. 

Let’s discuss trailers. While there are many varieties out there, these are some general examples. It would be best if you always weighted your trailer individually to verify the exact towing figures. 

Trailer TypeAverage Empty WeightAverage Load capacityEstimated total weightGTWR
Car Trailer1,9007,1009,0006,000 to 15,000
Small Horse Trailer2,9004,3007,2007,000 to 8,000
Large Flatbed trailer3,0007,40010,4002,900 to 26,000

From this table, we can see the 4.3L V6 engine would be put through its paces with small horse trailers and unable to tow the other examples. In any of these cases, we recommend a tow package. 

Remember that GTWR is Gross Trailer Weight Rating, the maximum recommended weight for a fully loaded trailer (or camper). 

Another important towing term is the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR), the maximum recommended weight of your vehicle and your fully loaded trailer. 

Make sure that these figures do not exceed the manufacturer’s guidelines. To read more about exceeding towing capacities, check out our article on the topic.

Closing Thoughts

The GMC Sierra 1500 is a versatile truck that can fulfill most towing needs, thanks to the many powerplant options available. GMC even includes diesel and four-cylinder options. But, with such variety, it’s essential to understand their towing capabilities. 

If you’re looking to tow heavy loads, you should go for the V8 or Diesel alternatives and consider the Max Trailering Package. These combinations deliver the most pulling capability, in some cases reaching 12,200 pounds. 

As with any towing experience, you should check the manufacturer’s ratings. Then it would be best if you weighed each camper or trailer individually. This way, you can ensure the safest experience. 

When it comes to the competition, the GMC Sierra 1500 doesn’t keep with brands like Ford, Ram, and even Chevrolet, with which it shares most components. Still, there are plenty of trailers and campers you can pull with the Sierra.

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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