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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