You think that a motorhome is the perfect answer to your family’s travel dreams. It provides ample space, a modern feel, and all of the amenities you’ll need.
But have you looked at 5th wheel RVs?
You can get similar space, decor, and amenities for a much lower price. Saving money sounds like a great idea, right?
Let’s take a closer look at why you should choose a 5th wheel.
What’s the Difference Between a 5th Wheel and a Travel Trailer?
The hitch is the biggest difference between a 5th wheel and a travel trailer. A travel trailer, often called a bumper pull, connects to a hitch on the bumper of a vehicle. On the other hand, a 5th wheel connects to a hitch in the truck’s bed. This special hitch is attached to the truck bed, and the 5th wheel front cap slides into it.
Because of the different hitch, 5th wheels are taller than travel trailers. The average height of a travel trailer is 10-12’, whereas the average height of a 5th wheel is 13’. This increases the ceiling height in the rear of the RV. The interior height is 8-10’ in a 5th wheel versus about 6’6” in a travel trailer. Because of the stairs leading up to the front cap of a 5th wheel, the front of the RV will be around 6-8’.
Pro Tip: Ready to buy a 5th wheel RV? These are The Best Fifth Wheel Brands (2022 Models).
The Benefits of Choosing a 5th Wheel RV
A 5th wheel is a great option for taller people because of the height. But there are other benefits to choosing a 5th wheel, from easy towability to more living space. Let’s take a closer look at why RVers choose 5th wheels.
Perfect for Long Adventures
When you’re traveling for longer than a weekend, you’re going to want as much space as possible; 5th wheels offer this space. Whether you’re a couple making a cross-country trip or a family looking to move into an RV, a 5th wheel is a great option. As mentioned before, the taller ceilings create a homier feel, almost to the point that you don’t feel like you’re in an RV.
Long adventures mean more time in the RV. If you’re a traveling couple, you’ll enjoy the huge living space with ample seating to entertain and welcome guests. If you’re a traveling family, you’ll appreciate the bunk room options — either a rear bunkhouse or a mid-bunk room — while still having family space for eating and entertaining.
Easy to Maneuver
Compared to travel trailers that attach to the back hitch, 5th wheels have much better towability. The hitch in the truck’s bed creates more stability because more weight is on the truck. The turning radius is also much tighter. A truck pulling a 5th wheel can make turns at intersections much easier than a truck pulling a bumper pull.
The hitching and unhitching processes are also easier. No sway bars or safety chains are needed. There’s no physical labor involved. The RV just slides into the 5th wheel hitch and locks. The process is much simpler.
More Bang for Your Buck
Although a 5th wheel is more expensive than a travel trailer, you get much more space for your money. And when you add in the other benefits such as towability and maintenance, the entire camping experience is less tedious.
Compared to a motorhome, a 5th wheel is a cheaper option. You get a similar amount of space for less money. The cost of maintenance for a Class A or Class C can also be very expensive compared to maintenance for a 5th wheel.
Because you don’t have an engine to maintain, taking care of a 5th wheel is easier than a motorhome. You do have to perform maintenance and repair on the tow vehicle, but finding a repair shop for your truck should be easier than finding a repair shop for a motorhome.
The tires on a motorhome will also be much more expensive to replace. Overall, the maintenance checklist will be similar: checking the roof for leaks, properly sealing cracks, lubing slide outs, etc. But the repairs will be cheaper should you need a visit from an RV mobile technician.
Your Car and Home Are Separate
A 5th wheel allows you to venture into town to get groceries or take a trip to a local swimming hole because of the tow vehicle. You can set up your home at the campsite and then head out to sightsee or go hiking. This is also important when something goes wrong.
If your 5th wheel needs repairs, you can take the tow vehicle to a hotel and still get around. With a motorhome, if your home needs repairs, your car goes with it.
Another nice benefit to having a separate car and home is travel accessories stay in the vehicle. Your home remains less cluttered without a front cab, and you end up with more living space in 5th wheels compared to some motorhomes.
Who Are 5th Wheels Best For?
As already mentioned, 5th wheels are great options for taller people. Since the ceiling height in travel trailers is 6’6”, anyone over 6 ft tall can feel cramped. Also, 5th wheels are great options for families. They offer ample living space and multiple floorplans with bunk rooms.
The taller ceilings make a family feel like they have even more space. For families who travel frequently or live in an RV, 5th wheels create a “home” atmosphere.
Are There Any Downsides to 5th Wheel Living?
With all of the positives, there are a couple of downsides to owning a 5th wheel. First, 5th wheels tend to be longer. When added to the length of a truck, a 5th wheel can be difficult to get into some campsites. Staying in national parks or state or local parks won’t be impossible, but there won’t be a wide selection.
Second, 5th wheels aren’t made for off-road adventures. If you’re looking to camp in the wilderness, it’s not just the size that will keep you from pursuing primitive camping options. 5th wheels just aren’t equipped with the shocks to handle rugged terrain.
Finally, 5th wheels are more expensive than travel trailers. If you have a tight budget, you may not be able to afford a new 5th wheel. Although pricing ranges based on options, size, and brand, a new 5th wheel will cost at least $50,000. Some models are more than $100,000. And when you also have to buy a heavy-duty truck to tow it, you could be spending a lot of money.
Keep in Mind: Size does matter and 5th wheel RVs can be quite big! Unsure if you’re comfortable driving such a big rig? Find out How Big Are Fifth Wheel RVs?
Check Out a 5th Wheel
5th wheels are great RVs. They can provide ample living space while also being easy to tow. The ceiling height is a great advantage to create a true home feel.
If you’re in the market for an RV, it’s worth looking at 5th wheel options. Compare them to travel trailers and motorhomes to see which type of RV you like best. Maybe you never thought you’d purchase a towable RV. But once you walk into a 5th wheel, you may not want to walk out!
Have you ever been inside a 5th wheel? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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Monday 10th of January 2022
We had a Fiver and loved it. When it cam time to buy again we ended up going to a Class A motorhome. The real problems we had with the fifth wheel was 1) to many steps for retired knees and hips, 2) too much length for staying at some of the places we really enjoy, and 3) far to tall for getting into many of the places we like to go. As for cost, Compared to a Class A motorhome, not ,much difference purchase wise. A new fiver and proper tow unit came about the same as the motorhome. You have to take a tow (toad) either way as you really don't want to break camp with the motorhome to get groceries. We pull our Ford Ranger. As for maintenance costs, the fiver wins every time. Just replaced my coaches tires and that came to over $3,000. Annual oil change and maintenance on the motorhome runs $1,200 to $1,500. Finally there is the fuel consumption,,,, I get 11 mpg at the best and more like 8.5 overall. We do miss our fifth wheel but item 1 above makes that a moot point. Length and height advantage also go to the motorhome. Ours is lower and shorter even with our toad attached... BUT we do miss the room we had in the fiver.
Why Choose a 5th Wheel RV? - VanLifeAdvisors
Monday 10th of January 2022
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