Are you trying to decide if buying a 5th wheel is the right choice? The answer to this question will end up depending on your budget and lifestyle. But after research, we found some information about this topic that’ll help you answer this question.
Buying a 5th wheel trailer isn't something to take lightly as they are expensive. But they're costly for a reason as 5th wheels offer the best solution for full-time living in an RV. These two qualities give you a little idea of the things you'll need to weigh before making a final choice. Considering the following pros and cons should get the ball rolling further (we've added them as a graphic card further down this post too).
|Pros of Buying a 5th Wheel RV||Cons of Buying a 5th Wheel RV|
Of course, listing these pros and cons out is a bit vague. But I dive further into each of these below to ensure you know what comes with owning a 5th wheel. So, keep reading and let’s figure out whether a 5th wheel is a good idea for you.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a 5th Wheel
Every pro or con we discuss should be something you think about in connection with your own lifestyle. In other words, you need to measure how much each factor matters within your lifestyle. From there, it will become apparent whether a 5th wheel is the right rig for you.
Oh, and by the way, we're assuming you already know what a 5th wheel is and compared it to travel trailers and motorhomes as other options for RV's. If this isn't the case, take a break and read our post about the various types of RV's first.
The Advantages of 5th Wheel Trailers
Let's kick off the discussion on a positive note and list the great things about purchasing a beast of a 5th wheel.
More Living space
5th wheel trailers offer more living space than you’d find in a motorhome or a travel trailer. What do I mean by this? Well, the inside of a 5th wheel never feels crowded due to the higher ceilings.
You can also take advantage of their being no cockpit inside a 5th wheel. This aspect means there won’t be a dashboard, steering wheel, and other driving essentials talking up space.
As a result, it creates a feeling that your 5th wheel’s a second home rather than a large vehicle. All of these benefits often make RV owners feel like 5th wheels are larger than motorhomes with the same dimensions.
More home-like features
5th wheel trailers are often packed with home-like features. For instance, the kitchens mimic the one you have back home better than your standard motorhome or travel trailer. They come with features like a residential fridge that you don’t usually see within other rigs.
These home-like features aren't only isolated to the kitchen. Their larger size allows them to have full-sized appliances throughout the living areas. It's not even uncommon to see 5th wheel floor plans with both a full-sized washer and dryer.
You can also put residential furniture into a 5th wheel, which wouldn't fit inside a travel trailer or motorhome. In the end, these rigs offer more a homey feeling than the other options.
Larger storage space
These rigs come with pass-through storage that some travel trailers don’t offer. I tend to pick up a lot of things during my travels, which means extra storage space represents a win.
It also helps that 5th wheel trailers don’t take up all the room of your truck’s bed. Due to this, you can store small items like coolers or tubs within this area. You can then take them out when you parked.
It becomes a real lifesaver for hoarders like myself, who often find them struggling with limited storage space. It’s a convenient little benefit that most people don’t think about when comparing rig options.
More stable when towing
5th wheel trailers are less prone to sway compared to a travel trailer. You see, attaching a 5th wheel hitch to the middle of a truck’s bed makes driving actions more manageable. Drivers who have tried both say that making turns with a 5th wheel is more comfortable than doing the same with an attached trailer.
An even more important point: 5th wheels are less prone to trailer sway you might see with a travel trailer either. If you're not sure what that is, check out our post about trailer sway and how to prevent it when towing.
Some say this aspect also makes the 5th wheel a better option for people that like going off-road. These rigs handle the bumpy dirt roads much better than your standard motorhome. In fact, you can even flip the axles on a 5th wheel, which makes them deal with rougher roads better.
Your tow vehicle can be detached
One of the best things about 5th wheels and travel trailers is you can detach your tow vehicle from them. You don’t have to worry about dragging your whole rig on errands such as grocery shopping. Instead, you can camp your 5th wheel somewhere and complete the chore in your tow vehicle.
A motorhome doesn’t have this luxury, and it can be a real hassle. I mean, imagine trying to park one of these larger class A RVs in a grocery store parking lot. Doesn’t seem too fun, right? Well, this experience is something a 5th wheel trailer can easily avoid.
The Disadvantages of 5th Wheel Trailers
It's time we list all the factors that might make you question buying a 5th wheel. Having an understanding of these disadvantages will give you a clearer view of what represents the right choice.
5th wheels tend to be more expensive
5th wheel trailers will often cost more than a travel trailer of the same size. This higher price comes from their larger living space and home-like features. You’ll have to decide whether these benefits are worth the extra money upfront.
It also doesn’t help that you can only tow a 5th wheel with a pickup truck. This issue could result in you having an extra expense you won’t have with either a travel trailer or motorhome.
Can’t access living quarters when driving
Some people say the worst things about 5th wheels is you can’t access things like your fridge or bed when traveling. However, moving around in your rig while on the road is not safe. Whether in a motorhome or a trailer, everyone should stay seated and wearing seatbelts while the RV is on the move.
Read more: Can you ride in an RV while it's on the move
There’s a solution for this issue though; pulling over for a few minutes and quickly eating a sandwich. You could even make some food beforehand and store it into a plastic bag. In the end, this problem is a matter of convenience rather than being a necessity.
Hitching up takes time and practice
5th wheels require a bit more preparation to get them on the road. Motorhomes have their own engine, which means they’re ready to go whenever you need. And the art of hooking up the 5th wheel can be a complete nightmare for new owners.
But there’s good news about this issue is hitching the 5th wheel's easier than with a travel trailer. You’re just going to need a little practice before you master it.
Need a bigger tow vehicle
There’s no way around the fact that 5th wheel trailers need a pickup truck to tow them. This factor comes from their shape, which requires them to hitch onto the middle a truck bed. As a result, you can't get away with towing them with a Ford Expedition like you can with a travel trailer.
If you don’t have a pickup truck, this truck will represent another expense you wouldn’t have to pay with a motorhome. But truck upkeep is much less extensive than you can expect from either a towed vehicle or a motorhome.
It's also essential you realize that larger 5th wheels are going to need larger trucks. If you're worried about how your truck might fare, this article will offer you some insight.
Can't tow smaller vehicles behind the trailer
In most cases, you can’t tow a smaller trailer behind your 5th wheel due to road laws. Certain states do allow this action, but it can change from state to state. As you can imagine, this issue can make traveling quite problematic.
Motorhomes don’t have this problem, and you can tow a smaller vehicle behind them without issue. But travel trailers are in the same boat as 5th wheels.
Might have height clearances issues
Do you know those clearance signs that are placed right before bridges and tunnels? Well, these signs are in place due to larger 5th wheel trailers. As a result, you must stay clear of these areas to ensure you don’t end up in an accident.
It’s also wise to avoid storing things like canoes on top of your 5th wheel for this very reason. Motorhomes and travel trailers don’t have this problem and clear these areas without issue. You don’t have to worry about storing things on top of these vehicles.
Read more: How tall is the average RV
So, is a 5th wheel the right choice for you?
Let's take a final look at the pros and cons -
Generally speaking, a 5th wheel makes sense if you plan on spending a long while in your RV. Whether going full-time or going on months-long road trips, a 5th wheel will provide you with a good towing experience and a comfortable living experience.
However, if you're just looking for an RV to hitch up to your family vehicle and go on the occasional weekend getaway, a travel trailer may make more sense. Travel trailers are not as comfortable as 5th wheels but they are more affordable.
Also, if you own a full-size SUV but not a truck, a small travel trailer would probably make a good starting point.
You can always try the RV life on weekends in your camper and then upgrade to a 5th wheel. In fact, many RV owners start out with a travel trailer and then upgrade to a 5th wheel when they have more time to travel and decide to take longer trips.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below. We'd love to help you out in any way we can.
Saturday 14th of May 2022
What about trailer parks that have " no trailer/5th wheels over xxxx amount of years age allowed" .
Willam Henry Jr
Wednesday 10th of November 2021
Very good information about travel trailer vs 5th wheel. I’m definitely going with a 5th wheel, I will be staying in it 6 months during the winter in Arizona. I have a travel trailer and it is too small for a week vacation 29’ but ok to sleep and cook small meals. You helped me make a good decision on getting a 40’ fifth wheel. Keep informative information coming. Thanks
Friday 8th of May 2020
What are the options and availability for hiring full-sized tractor trucks to haul a 5th wheel trailer to a desired living location? What about shorter term (2 weeks) hauls by for-hire owner/operators?
Saturday 9th of May 2020
Nigel, you should be able to find independent load haulers in your area with a Google search. A 3/4 ton or 1 ton truck should suffice.
Wednesday 9th of October 2019
I was at the Dallas RV Show a couple of years ago and there was a vendor there that was selling a small trailer with a Fifth wheel attachment built in to it. One if the selling points was that it would give you all the space back in you pick up truck bed. The claimed this thing was built stout so you wouldn't have away issues. What are your thoughts on this and have you seen it?
Wednesday 9th of October 2019
Jim, we can't say anything about the specific brand. The design concept sounds good! 5th Wheel trailers do free up a lot of bed space because of the nature of their mounts.