For best traction in winter you want a greater percentage of the vehicle’s weight centered over the drive wheels. You should also consider winter tires for increased traction, which our sister, Subaru dealership recently wrote an article about: Are Winter Tires Worth It? For now though we’ll focus on properly weighting your truck bed.
Weight should be centered over the rear axle, or as close as possible to the rear axle for optimal traction. When it comes to figuring out how much weight to use it really depends on what truck you have. There isn’t a cookie cutter number for every truck, so trial and error is going to have to take place to figure out the best for you. A general rule of thumb is 240-300 pounds for a ½-ton pickup and 300-400 pounds for a ¾ to a 1-ton pickup. A common concern with adding weight to your truck bed is that it may increase your brake distance, but this isn’t true. The added mass isn’t enough to make a noticeable difference in your braking.
What materials should you use? This really comes down to preference, but you’ll find that sandbags are the most popular option, as they are fairly cheap, especially for the amount of weight they provide. We’ve also seen people use bags of rock salt, cat litter, potting soil, and miscellaneous things they have around the house. Regardless of material, you need to make sure you properly secure the load so the weight doesn’t shift around the truck bed, creating worse issues. Consider the pendulum effect of a load too far to the back for example.
Stay safe out there, folks, and when the winter weather finally arrives, hopefully these small recommendations come in handy.