Measuring the Departure Angle of our RV

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This one was kind of fun, and something you could probably pull off yourself at home.  Rather than be concerned about what sort of “departure angle” we had on our Winnebago Travato, I decided to measure it.  The result is this video.



All it takes is a reasonably flat surface, a sheet of plywood, and a Digital Angle Guage.  The one I used costs about thirty bucks on Amazon.  Beyond that, it’s just as easy as what you see in the video.  Give it a shot with your RV!

The results, in our case, were pretty darn good.  Due to the small rear overhang of the Travato, we got a 13 degree departure angle.  I think I’d be a lot more concerned if I had one of those class C RVs with 15 feet hanging behind the rear axle.  In terms of road signage, 13 degrees equates to about a 23% grade, which is pretty darn steep.  If you want a visual of what that kind of departure angle looks like, here it is:

Actual Departure Angle

Fortunately, in North American RVing, grade changes like that happen just about never.  So, I’m officially crossing “departure angle” off of my list of things to worry about.

Perhaps I’ll tackle “Ground Clearance” in a future video…

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    9 thoughts on “Measuring the Departure Angle of our RV

    1. Casa Rocinante

      Hi there. Love this post. Here’s a thought and question: Our major concern regarding departure angle is more about the “leaving the gas station” or “entering a parking lot” scenario where you are dropping down from the gas station to the street below, or climbing up into a parking area. That departure angle can sometimes be quite impressive. In your experience to date with Lance, have you experienced any scenario that created a departure angle great enough to either make you nervous or actually drag Lance’s backside as you left or entered such a location? Thanks!

      1. James - Post author

        Occasionally, when towing our trailer, I would scrape the bottom of the trailer hitch on the ground in a scenario like you describe: going over a curb.
        Those situations can usually be mitigated by taking the curb at an angle instead of straight-on.
        In daily driving: not much of an issue for us.

    2. mike

      My understanding was that a 100% grade was 45 degrees. A 13 degree angle would then equal 29 % grade.

    3. Mary

      Thanks for this! Please, please cover Ground Clearance too, I’m researching for my RV purchase and this is a big consideration/concern of mine. This website is fantastic, love it, been really helpful and I look forward to all your articles.

      1. James - Post author

        So glad you like our website!
        Ground clearance is likely to be different for each RV you’re considering. I can only really measure ours. And even if might be different from day to day depending on how we load it. I’ve thought about fun or interesting ways to do this (lasers, scooters on ropes, giant limbo bars, etc.) but haven’t settled on anything yet.

    4. BLS

      This is good to know when you need to be loaded onto a flatbed tow truck…
      Don’t ask me how I know, but it would be good to have your RV tiltmeter reading as well as a tow truck flat bed. This is the most severe angle I’ve ever encountered where my air bags weren’t even enough to help.
      The other problem for people to watch out for is added accessories on the back hitch receiver, like a cargo carrier, stowaway box, etc. that can lower your angle.


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