All About Fifth Wheels
Fifth wheels, also known as “fivers,” are a type of trailer that can be towed behind a pick-up truck. They offer more interior space than the average travel trailer and also provide some storage underneath for luggage, supplies, and more. Fifth wheel trailers come in many different sizes and styles, but they all function the same way: towing them requires a hitch in the truck bed of your vehicle, as well as some specialized knowledge about driving these types of vehicles. Have you seen a large fifth wheel at a Harvest Hosts location or campground and been surprised by the size of it? If you’re interested in learning more about fifth wheels, then get comfortable with your favorite drink and let’s dive in!
Fifth Wheels vs Trailers
Many new RVers, or those that don’t own a towable, may get confused between these two types of RVs. However, there are some key differences to note.
The most prominent difference between a fifth wheel and a travel trailer is where they hitch. Most travel trailer RVs connect to a regular hitch on the back of the tow vehicle. However, in some cases a travel trailer can still have the gooseneck hitch, meaning that the hitch fits into the truck bed. It’s a common misconception that only fifth wheels connect in the truck bed. A fifth wheel connects into the truck bed via a kingpin. These hitches are larger and provide more secure turns than a standard hitch.
A fifth wheel hitch is very similar to those found on tractor trailers. The hitch is installed over the rear axle of the tow vehicle to help distribute the weight between the cab and rear axle. This setup allows the truck to tow significantly heavier loads than when towing via a regular ball hitch. With fifth wheel hitches, the towing overall is much more stable with virtually no trailer sway.
Fifth wheels often have significantly more room than a standard travel trailer. Because they can be heavier due to the type of hitch, this means a longer RV and more slideouts are on the table. Fifth wheels are also usually taller than most other towable RVs as well, which allow for unique floor plans and higher ceilings, for an ultimately homier feel.
Over time, fifth wheel manufacturers have continued to add new features and improve existing ones to make even more luxurious RVs. These features and amenities have truly allowed travelers to feel like they’re right at home while on the road.
Fifth wheels have an unparalleled amount of storage compared to other types of RVs. The longer an RV, the more outdoor storage bays it has available. In addition to more typical storage bays, fifth wheels are often equipped with a basement of sorts. This term refers to large pass-through areas that can accommodate long items, such as paddles, surfboards, etc.
Auto levelers are not exclusively a fifth wheel feature, as most Class As and Cs also have this nifty option. Still, this is a nice feature to have, especially for larger rigs. Towable RVs typically take longer to set up, so having the added luxury of auto leveling jacks is a huge time saver.
Fifth wheels are known for their larger size, and the larger slide often means they are manufactured with more slideouts than any other type of RV. It’s not uncommon for fifth wheels to have upwards of six slideouts. As most RVers know, the more slideouts, the more interior room is available. Some fifth wheels even have a slideout on the very back of the RV, creating a generous bedroom space.
Due to the secure style of towing and lack of trailer sway, fifth wheel manufacturers began the bold move of making the rigs taller. The move paid off, and many travelers love having a taller interior space and higher ceilings. The higher ceilings make the RV feel more like a house, instead of a home-on-wheels, while taller folks enjoy not bumping their heads when they stand up, too.
Unlike most Class A and C RVs, fifth wheels have the greatest variety in floor plans. The placement of slideouts can make a huge difference. One other variation is how the gooseneck portion is used, as this can vary by manufacturer.
It’s becoming more common to see fifth wheels with split levels, which means that part of the layout is set up a small set of stairs. What may seem like a simple feature can make an RV truly feel more like a home. It also usually provides more privacy for the bedroom portion of the rig.
Bunks or Lofts
Due to the higher ceilings, many fifth wheels come equipped with a set of bunk beds or even a loft space. Both are very appealing for families with children, allowing the children to also feel more at home in the RV, as well. A bunk bed in an RV is a great way to utilize vertical space while saving floor space. Likewise, a loft can provide a little privacy for kids to use as sleeping quarters or even a playroom.
The gooseneck portion of the fifth wheel can be used in a variety of ways. This specifically refers to the section of the RV that hangs over the truck bed. Some manufacturers prefer for the primary bed to be situated in the overhang. However, others have utilized that portion as a closet, as extra storage, as a small laundry room, as an entertainment center in the living room, and many other options. The ideas and uses are countless.
If you’re looking for a way to go on longer trips, or if you need more space than what can be found in your average travel trailer, then fifth wheels are an excellent choice of RV for you. They provide the extra room and storage that many people want when they take long road trips with their family or friends. You’ll also find plenty of options to choose from. Finding one that’s perfect for your needs shouldn’t be too difficult! Stay tuned as we cover more about each unique type of RV.
Do you have a fifth wheel? What’s your favorite thing about it? Would you ever get a fifth wheel? Tell us your thoughts on this rig type below!
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What we love about are 24.5 ft. Shadow cruiser 5th wheel, we can pull it with my 2006 ranger legallyand it get 20mpg
And it handles like a dream! Sometimes I forget it’s back there. .And backing into tight spots easy peizry
We have a Sliver Eagle Motor home Bus , My wife says I want slides, So we bought a 2007 Teton Experience . It’s 18,000 lbs empty so I pull it with a Frightliner CL 120 Columbia truck with 435 Hp. And 1780 lps. Of torque, It holds the speed set at 76 mph without dropping 2 mph no matter what hill you go up or down . Well worth the money!
Well I get the desire to have tall and lots of slides. We have a 35ft grand design bumper pull. Have auto leveling and added a Hensleyhitch for incredible towing stability at a fraction of the cost of equal size minus the many slides 5th wheel. We tow all over. Plus still have the truck with camper shell for all of our toys golf clubs bicycles etc. have had all other types of RV’s and love our current set up. Plus half the weight of the giant 5th wheels. Still pulling with the F250 turbo 6.7. Great combo. But everyone has to enjoy what they have and feel safe and comfortable. Have a great winter of traveling.
We absolutely love our new Montana High Country 383TH. The living area is so spacious and beautiful. With 5 slide outs it’s like a small home on the road. The toy hauler under the bedroom in the rear of the rv allows us to take our golf cart or motorcycle depending on the destination. This is our second toy hauler. The first was so cramped for open space. The garage was nice though because the back door could be used as a deck.
We love our 35′ Montana 5th wheel. The bedroom is big with a slide out, and the kitchen/living room is very roomy with both opposing slides out.
Ceiling height is another great feature as we don’t feel claustrophobic. And being plumbed for a washer dryer has been truly a game changer!
Please note: Do not under-truck! We have a Chevy 3500 Dually diesel and it is a dream. We have seen 3/4 ton gas trucks, but it becomes dangerous as they are usually maxed out and without an engine brake, it becomes a real safety hazard.
That’s my 2 cents!
Oh yeah, LOVE Harvest Hosts! Absolutely worth the money! I have been a big booster of the program whenever we meet other RV’ers.
Thanks for all that you do!
Trades up to a 32 ft fifth wheel from a 28 ft bumper tow travel trailer, two years ago. Just traded up my Silverado 2500 HD to a Ford 350 dually turbo diesel. Man! What a difference! I think about moving up on the size of my 5th wheel. Ha ha! But got now, my 2019 Jayco Eagle is fine. Love th Ed roominess.
We love our 5th Wheel. Hubby appreciates the height, especially in the bedroom. I love the bunkhouse which doubles as an office and guest room. It even has a half-bath in it. Very convenient when the grandkids stay with us. Named 2Hoots she is 41.5 feet long and 13.3 high. And yes I tow her as well. D. V. 🦉