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Toyota Tundras have been proving that the automaker can produce a mean full-size pickup since they first hit the North American market back in 2000. But how does Toyota’s half-ton pickup hold up against notoriously heavy 5th wheels? We’ve done the research, and here’s what we’ve found.
Depending on the model, properly equipped 2021 Toyota Tundras have towing capacities between 8,800 and 10,200 lbs. This amount of power is enough for several lightweight 5th wheels on the market, including these:
- The Scamp 19′ Standard and Deluxe
- The Escape 5.0
- The KZ Sportsmen 231RK
However, be careful, as most 5th wheel campers exceed even the maximum Tundra tow weight, with some weighing as much as 20,000 lbs! To keep yourself safe and your Tundra strong, aim for a 5th wheel with a gross vehicle weight rating of 80% of your towing capacity.
Getting the most out of pulling a 5th wheel with your Tundra takes a bit of digging. Fortunately, we’ve done the digging for you here. Read on to learn more about towing capacity and trailer weight, differences between Tundra editions, and towing features that come with your Tundra.
Understanding Towing Capacity and 5th wheel Weight
Now that you know that some models of Tundra can tow up to 10,200 lbs, you may be tempted to run out and get yourself a 10,200 lb 5th wheel.
As you probably guessed, it’s not that simple. In fact, understanding everything in detail about the topic could take ages. For now, let’s just look at some of the essential information.
Unloaded Vehicle Weight and Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings
When you buy a 5th wheel or another camper, you will get information on several weights. One is the dry weight, also called the unloaded vehicle weight (UVW). This is what your camper weighs when completely empty, water tanks and all.
The next is the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This is the total weight of the camper with the maximum cargo it’s weighted to carry. Keep the extra weight in your camper below the difference between the GVWR and the UVW.
Even if you have very little cargo, it’s best to imagine you are towing at the GVWR when calculating your towing weight.
Towing Capacity and the 80% Rule
With the knowledge of the difference between UVW and GVWR in hand, you might once again be tempted to buy the heaviest 5th wheel with a GVWR below your towing capacity. This would not be wise.
The towing capacity of your Tundra (or any vehicle for that matter) isn’t just a measure for the weight of the vehicle you are towing. Any extra weight on your Tundra also needs to be included.
This includes you and your passengers, any cargo you have in the cab or the bed, and anything you have loaded on top of the cab with cargo racks too.
If you have spent a lot of time reading about campers and towing capacities, you’ve likely encountered the 80% rule. In simplified terms, this rule states that you shouldn’t tow more than 80% of your manufacturer’s recommended towing capacity.
In this case, it means having a 5th wheel with a GVWR around 80% of your towing capacity (and not exceeding the GVWR when loading your 5th wheel).
There is still a lot more that could be said on this topic. To get more details, check out this post: Towing Capacity And Trailer Weight – What RV Owners Need To Know
5th wheels for the Toyota Tundra
As we saw earlier, depending on your model and features, the towing capacity for a 2021 Tundra ranges from 8,800 to 10,200 lbs. Applying the 80% rule means that we should consider 5th wheels with GVWRs between 7,040 and 8,160 lbs.
This weight range is below most 5th wheels on the market, but several great options do exist. Let’s look at some here.
Scamp 19′ Standard or Deluxe
Scamp campers are some of, if not the, lightest 5th wheel campers on the market. With weights ranging between 2,200 and 2,800 lbs, you’ll be able to tow the 19′ Scamp 5th wheel comfortably with any model of Tundra.
The fiberglass construction and smaller footprint of the scamp help keep it so light. It still has a lot of comforts to offer, with a built-in kitchen, bathroom, dining area, and queen size bed.
Learn more about Scamp’s 5th wheel and other campers in the video below:
Escape Trailer makes lightweight, fiberglass trailers to order. While they have a variety of bases to choose from, the Escape 5.0 is their only 5th wheel.
It has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 5,500 lbs, meaning that even fully loaded, it falls comfortably below the towing capacity of all Toyota Tundras.
If you want to get your own Escape 5.0, order soon, as it can take over two years to complete your order. If you want something on the road a little sooner, you can also check their pre-owned trailers page, too.
See a walkthrough of the Escape 5.0’s base features here:
The KZ Sportsmen 231RK
The KZ Sportsmen comes in several floorplans. The lightest is the 231RK, with a GVWR of 7,500 lbs. This puts it above the 80% rule for some editions of the Tundra, but if you opted for one with the most towing power, you’ll be set.
At 24’10” in length, the KZ Sportsmen 231RK is not just the heaviest but also the longest 5th wheel on this list. That extra space means extra room to relax when you’re on holiday from Yellowstone to the Everglades.
See a walkthrough of the Sportsmen 231RK and its surprisingly spacious layout here:
How big of a 5th wheel can a Toyota Tundra pull?
If you follow our advice and the 80% rule, you would be hard-pressed to find a 5th wheel larger than the KZ Sportsmen 231RK for your Tundra.
The 80% rule is a good guideline to save you the trouble of actually weighing out all your cargo, yourself, and your passengers. If you are willing to be cautious and attentive with those weights, you can afford a little wiggle room and a larger 5th wheel.
A good choice would be the Palomino Puma 253FBS. It comes in at a GVWR of 8,800 lbs, leaving you 1,400 lbs wiggle room in your truck if you have the best towing Tundra.
It also measures an impressive 28′ in length and has a comfortable enough setup; you won’t miss home while on the road.
Check out the 2021 Puma 253FBS here:
Is the Toyota Tundra a good tow vehicle?
As long as you don’t exceed the Tundra‘s tow limit, it is a great vehicle for towing. The tow package comes standard with all 2021 Tundra models. This tow package doesn’t just include a hitch receiver, but other great features too.
One such feature is the tow/haul mode. When activated, this mode keeps the Tundra in lower gears for longer.
Doing so improves throttle response, tow power, and engine braking while also avoiding excessive gear shifts. Using this mode helps you stay in control when hauling your 5th wheel or other cargo.
Another feature included in the standard tow package is the integrated trailer brake controller. This allows you to activate electric trailer brakes as well as control the braking force of your trailer brakes.
Learn more about the integrated trailer brake controller in this video from Toyota:
What Toyota Tundra model is best for towing?
If you want to get the most out of towing in your Tundra, opt for the models that get you the full 10,200 lbs tow capacity. Those models include the SR and SR5 4x2s with 6.5-foot beds. Only these two options come with that maximum tow capacity.
However, if you want more bed space, going with the 8.1-foot bed for either SR or SR5 4×2 will only shave off 100 lbs of tow capacity, leaving you with 10,100, enough for the 5th wheelers listed above.
If you want a 4×4 Tundra or a CrewMax cab, be prepared to lose some towing power. The 4×4 1794 Edition or Platinum model with CrewMax cab have the lowest tow capacity of any Tundra, coming in at just 8,800 lbs.
How do I increase the towing capacity of my Toyota Tundra?
The only chance you get to increase your towing capacity is when choosing your vehicle. Choosing a 4×2 with a smaller cab and bed will net you more towing power.
We can’t responsibly advise you to try increasing your towing capacity. Pulling above the towing capacity of your vehicle not only increases the wear and tear on your vehicle, but it increases your risk of getting in an accident and your liability in such an accident.
That being said, you can improve your towing experience. Choosing a 5th wheel instead of a trailer is a good place to start. While they tend to weigh more than trailers, you’ll find 5th wheels handle more smoothly.
Upgrades like high-quality hitches and sway bars can improve trailer handling. Furthermore, towing mirrors will do wonders for your ability to see behind and around either a trailer or a 5th wheel.
How do I know if my Toyota Tundra has a tow package?
All 2021 Toyota Tundras come with the tow package standard, saving you the guesswork. The same is also true of the 2020 Tundras. For earlier model years, it’s not difficult to ascertain whether your Tundra has a tow package if you know what to look for.
The easiest way to check is to look for a tow/haul mode in the dash controls of your Tundra.
Typically located just below the air conditioning controls, if your Tundra has this option, it is sure to have the Tundra tow package. This function goes back to at least 2007, so it should be a good indicator for most Tundras on the road today.
The Toyota Tundra is a great half-ton truck that is only growing in popularity. It has great features for towing and, with the right know-how, you can get a lot out of it.
It might not be able to tow every 5th wheel on the market. Still, there are great options for you if you want a 5th wheel/Tundra combo for your next outing.
If you’d like to see even more camper options for the Tundra, it’s worth considering camper trailers too. Check out this post to see some options well within the Tundra’s price range: 8 Best Small Camping Trailers With A Bathroom