When folks visit us looking for the perfect RV, we get asked a lot of questions about towing: Can I still tow an RV if I’m an SUV-owner? How much weight can my vehicle handle? Does the length of my truck bed matter when I’m choosing a new trailer? At South Thompson RV, we want all of our customers to drive away in the RV of their dreams - but we also want to help them come to our dealership armed with the knowledge they need to make an informed buying decision. That’s why today on the blog, we’re chatting about fifth-wheel trailers: the benefits of this unique trailer, why people love them and how on earth to tow ‘em!
A fifth-wheel trailer is simply a unique type of RV that needs to be connected to the back of a truck using a specific “fifth-wheel” or "gooseneck" hitch. These trailers are quite large, and well-suited for families or couples who are looking for a lot of space inside of their RV. They also have a unique shape, with an upper bulkhead that juts out over the truck bed - just about any transport truck that you see on the road is a great example of this design. Besides all of the extra storage and living space that these trailers offer, there are a few other perks to purchasing a fifth wheel:
• They are highly maneuverable, thanks to the style of the specialized fifth-wheel hitch. Many folks who are new to towing a trailer love how easily you can make sharp turns, and even park, a fifth-wheel trailer.
• A fifth-wheel hitch is exceptionally sturdy and distributes weight evenly, adding to the ease with which these RVs can be towed, and making them quite safe as well.
• A fifth-wheel allows you to have a longer trailer, but achieve an overall shorter combined vehicle/trailer length, since such a significant part of the trailer sits atop the truck bed.
• Fifth-wheel campers can offer a larger variety of interior layouts than other trailers due to their unique design, allowing you to shop for an RV that suits your specific needs.
In order to tow a fifth-wheel camper, you’ll need a pickup truck. This is because the fifth-wheel hitch needs to be installed over the rear axle of a truck, directly inside of the truck bed, and because you need a truck bed that’s long enough to allow the upper portion of the fifth-wheel trailer to sit on top of it.
So do you need a heavy-duty truck with an extra-long bed? Not necessarily! Many manufacturers are designing their pickups to be versatile towing machines, typically capable of hauling at least 10,000-pounds. Not only that, but many shorter fifth-wheel campers (anything that’s 30-feet or less) have an upper-portion that can comfortably ride on a shorter, or at least, average length, truck bed of 6-feet.
For the vast majority of fifth-wheel trailers, a light-duty pickup truck, or a bed that measures 5.5-feet or less, won’t have the capabilities you need to properly install a fifth-wheel trailer. Now, it’s not impossible - there are very specific fifth-wheel hitches and goosenecks (a slightly different type of hitch that can also be used to tow a fifth-wheel camper) that can be installed on a 5.5-ft bed. However, you’ll also need to find a camper that matches your vehicle’s specifications, which can be challenging. If you’re determined to purchase a fifth-wheel trailer and you already own a short-bed pickup, then don’t discount the possibilities - simply give us a call at South Thompson RV and our team of experts will get to work finding something that works for you!
Figuring out whether a specific trailer and vehicle are compatible is quite simple. All pickup trucks are rigorously tested and labelled with a “max towing capacity.” The towing capacity of your vehicle should be easy to find in your manual, or even a quick online search. Keep this number in mind when you start shopping for a new RV, paying attention to the “gross weight” of the trailers you’re interested in. So long as the weight of your RV is within the limits of your vehicle’s max towing capacity, you should be in the clear.
Let’s take a look at a quick example: an everyday RAM 1500 pickup truck is cleared to tow up to 12,500-pounds, and a spacious 2019 Arctic Wolf fifth-wheel trailer has a gross weight of 8,876-pounds. Even with the additional weight of the trailer hitch, fluids and gear onboard, your RAM should be able to confidently tow this particular RV through the BC mountains. You can find the weight of every RV in our inventory right on the unit’s model page, making it easy for you to narrow down your search online.
Fifth-wheel trailers are incredibly popular, and offer many benefits for both new and verteran RV-owners. Still have questions about how to choose the right fifth-wheel for your specific vehicle? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts here at South Thompson RV - we’re standing by to answer all of your questions, and to help you find the RV of your dreams!