Neat Tricks to Measure Your RV & Slides – Without Tools!

There are few things more annoying than parking your RV, starting to set up camp, and realizing that your slides will not extend because there is a power post or a tree in the way.  Of course, it’s not exactly convenient to pull out a measuring tape every time you get to a camp site either.

Here’s an easy way to measure your RV and slides without a measuring tape. Use yourself! You won’t need to get anything out to measure because you are already there.  

how to do it

How to measure your RV length.

It’s handy to know how long your RV is but even if you know the exact length in feet, it can be difficult to visualize and you won’t know how long the site you are pulling into is.  

In this scenario, you can use your footsteps to make sure your RV will fit in a space.

Start at the back of your RV and walk along the length of it while counting your steps.  If you counted to 12, that is your “footstep” length.  

Like this:

how to measure rv length without tools
Measure your RV length with your footsteps!

The next time you are looking at a site and you are not sure if you will fit, you can walk the length of the site while counting your steps and you’ll know whether you fit!  

It’s not a perfect measurement but it is close enough to give you a very good idea before you try to pull in.  

How to measure your RV slide.

You’ll also want to know how much room your RV slides need. You can use your footsteps for this too but there is a more accurate way.

With your RV slide extended, stand next to your slide.  Now make a fist and hold your arm straight out from your shoulder and place your knuckles on the side of your RV. 

Like this:

measure rv slideout
Seeing if our slide will fit in a campsite. Yup! It extends to my shoulder.

How far out does your slide extend?  To your elbow?  To your shoulder?  Take note, this is your slide measurement. You might want to jot it down for now but after you do it a few times, you’ll remember. 

Do this for every slide you have.  

Now, when you pull into your next campsite, use your RV slide measurement to determine how far your slide will extend. You’ll know how much room you need for your slide without any extra tools! Oh, and make sure to look up and make sure there are no branches overhead within your slide area.

If you want to take it one step further, before you pull into a campsite, take a look around the site and decide where you want the outer edge of your slide to be once you’ve parked. Use your extended arm RV slide measurement to determine where the side & wheels of your RV should go when you pull in. Then put a small cone down next to where you want your wheels to be. As you park, aim to put your wheels right next to the cone. Once you’ve parked double check your slide measurement just to be sure you fit!

How to measure how far your awning extends.

Of course, you want to be able to put your awning out at your campsite. But exactly how much room does it need? Here’s how to find out.

First put your awning all the way out. Then, stand underneath your awning with your back against the side of your RV. Start walking and count your footsteps as you walk. When you reach the outer edge of your awning you will know your awning footstep measurement.

Now you will always be able to tell how much room you need for your awning.

Jot down all of your measurements, like this:

  • RV Footstep Length: 12 footsteps
  • Awning Extension: 8 footsteps
  • Slide Footsteps: 2 1/2
  • Slide Arm Length: Sidewall to shoulder

After the first few times you use your measurements you’ll remember exactly what they are. If there is anything else you want to measure, add it to the list too.

Believe it or not, it took us far too long to come up with these simple tricks. They make it much easier to park our RV in a site and get it right the first (or second) time! We hope they work as well for you!

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We’ve been full-time RVers since 2012. Over 127,000 miles and 47 states later, we are still towing our home around the United States.

On TowingHome we share what we have learned along the way; what we love (and what we don’t) about the RV lifestyle, tips and tricks, our favorite campgrounds, places and gear.

We hope that it makes your journey a little bit easier.

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