If you’re someone who looks forward to escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life every now and then, a fifth wheel may be the right purchase for you. It’s a great option for those who still need their vehicle once their trailer is parked. Even if you’re just looking for an RV to use on a few weekends or for side trips, a fifth wheel could be your best bet. If this sounds like you, keep reading for everything you need to know before purchasing a fifth wheel.
What is a Fifth Wheel?
In the simplest of terms, a fifth wheel is an RV that tows in the bed of a truck. It’s easy to get these confused with other RVs, like travel trailers, but those are towed with a hitch on the back of the vehicle. A gooseneck hitch is an option if you don’t want a hitch in the bed of your truck but still want a fifth wheel. These are easier to travel with and often safer than travel trailers because they won’t sway or swing as much when you’re driving. Fifth wheels also have a better turning radius because of where they’re hitched, so they’re a popular choice amongst RVers that prefer to have their daily driver separate from their motorhome.
How will you use it?
Once you’ve decided you’re going to purchase a new fifth wheel, the next thing to think about is how you’re going to use it. Will it only get used on weekends? Just during the summer? Or, do you plan to use it full time in the of the forest with no hookups? Whatever you’re using it for should be your buying guidelines. Knowing its exact purpose will also help you decide how much you want to spend on your fifth wheel and help filter out any unnecessary (or necessary) add-ons or features.
Don’t forget about weight!
Before you purchase your dream fifth wheel, make sure you have enough power in your truck for the best balance, safety, and ease of towing. The best way to find out is by knowing the weight of the fifth wheel. Some can weigh up to 14,000 pounds, so it’s important to know how much weight your truck can handle. Towing a fifth wheel that’s too heavy for your truck could be detrimental.
Smaller and lightweight fifth wheels can be towed by small or midsized trucks. These are great for those who are looking to take some weekend trips and don’t need much living space. Midsize and full trailers will offer more amenities and living space, but they demand a more powerful vehicle.
You’ll also need to factor in any additional weight once you load your fifth wheel with water and personal items. They add up quickly, so be sure to save 2,000 pounds or so for these items when shopping for a fifth wheel.
If you’re looking to buy a new truck to haul your new RV, a diesel truck should be an option. Gas normally costs less than diesel and maintenance on a gas vehicle is normally cheaper, but a diesel might save you more money over time. They have more towing capacity because of the torque they’re putting out, and they tend to last longer.
Fifth Wheel Interior
RV floor plans have gotten spacious and luxurious over the years, and fifth wheels are no exception. Each manufacturer will have multiple floor plans to choose from so they can cater to a wider range of needs for RVers. It’s up to you to determine which amenities you can’t live without and which ones you can pass on. This goes back to the purpose of the RV. What are you buying your fifth wheel for? Lots of floor plans come with as many as slide outs, but if you’re RVing by yourself or with just one other person, you probably don’t need the extra space.
It’s best to walk through the fifth wheel yourself to get a sense of available space and features.
Fifth Wheel Exterior
Newer fifth wheels are finished with shiny fiberglass that’s made to withstand the test of time and the elements. Some have rubber rooftops attached and others come with ramps and garages to tow and store toys.
Because of the way they’re built and the way they tow, fifth wheels are safe to carry a lot of weight without swaying or being unbalanced.
How much do Fifth Wheels cost?
A fifth wheel can range anywhere from $2,000 to $200,000. That’s a really wide range that gives you lots of options, like choosing the size, floorplans, weight, and any special features or amenities. Of course, older, used models are going to be on the less expensive end, and that might be what you’re looking for if you’re new to RVing and want to try it out first before splurging on a nicer model. What’s important is that you’re happy with your purchase, because regardless of the price, an RV purchase isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s a large responsibility with unimaginable worth once you realize all the opportunities you’ll be able to seize with an RV.
Is a fifth wheel right for me?
Fifth wheels are great for many reasons, which is why they’re one of the more popular RV models. They’re a great start for newbies because they’re easy to tow and maneuver, they tend to have more living space than motorhomes, especially models with slide outs, and if your truck needs repairs while on the road, you’ll still have your living space to use.
It also doesn’t matter if you’re on the road full time or if you want an RV just for the weekend or seasonal trips. The RV lifestyle is about having fun and being carefree. Fifth wheels give you the convenience of traveling in your own vehicle that detaches in no time and gives you the comforts of home out on the open road.
What’s your favorite part about owning a fifth wheel? Let us know down in the comments!