Everything You Wanted to Know About Fifth Wheel Trailers
If you're a road-tripper, a snowbird, or just someone who likes to see the country, a fifth wheel may be for you. You can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and still enjoy a lifestyle just like home along with all the comforts and amenities that come with it. You'll even still have easy access to a vehicle for regular use once your trailer is parked.
About Fifth Wheel Trailers
A fifth wheel is a large RV that tows in the bed of pickup truck. There are different types of hitches both for long and short bed trucks. Another option is a gooseneck hitch if you prefer not to have the hitch in the bed of the truck. 5th Wheel hitches minimize the risks of the RV swaying behind the vehicle while driving. They also have better turning radius and are easier to handle than a trailer. This is one of the benefits of these types of trailers, and one of the reasons they are preferred by many travelers. The 5th wheel can be detached from the truck once it is parked where you want it to stay. This truck can then be used for daily travel, side trips and scenic tours, thus eliminating the need to tow a separate car along with your rig.
5th Wheel Toy-haulers are great for taking along your toys such as golf carts, motorcycles, go-carts and additional items. These type of 5th wheels have cargo space in the back of the unit along with a ramp in the back that comes down and allows you to move the toy of your choice into your trailer and store it there while you drive.
Fifth wheel trailers vary greatly in price. A smaller, older trailer can be in the $10,000 range, with newer luxury models in the $50,000-$100,000 range. The price you pay will depend on your preference of amenities and luxuries you want and need in a trailer.
Towing Your 5th Wheel
Fifth wheels can be up to 45 feet long and can weigh upwards of 10,000 pounds. Because of this, it is important to consider the towing capacity of your truck and make sure the two are balanced for maximum safety and ease of towing. Of course, the hitch is important in how the trailer tows also, so make sure to talk to your RV Dealer about the best hitch for your towing needs.
There are a range of weight classes for fifth wheel trailers, which are factored by the length, height, amenities and slide outs. Manufacturing also plays a large role in the weight of the vehicle.
Lightweight fifth wheel trailers can be towed by smaller or mid-sized trucks. Smaller and lighter weight RVs are good options if you're taking shorter trips or don't need a lot of living space while out on the road. Midsize and full trailers will offer more living space but require larger vehicles, and the largest trailers will require a diesel engine vehicle to tow them.
As an estimate, you can expect to add somewhere around 2,000-3,000 pounds to the weight of your trailer once you have it packed with fuel, water, propane and all of your personal items. That is something important to consider when choosing the right 5th wheel for your vehicle (or the right vehicle for your 5th wheel).
Many newer 5th wheels are made of a gloss-coated fiberglass designed to keep its color and shine and also withstand the elements. Some have rubber rooftops and awnings attached, and others even have ramps and small garages for storing toys.
As far as the build goes, 5th wheels make it is easy to safely carry a lot of weight because of the way it attaches to the towing vehicle to maintain balance and prevent swaying. If your RV lifestyle involves a lot of boating or off-roading, you may want to consider a different type of RV or look into models built to hold toys in the 5th wheel itself.
There are various floor plans of fifth wheels with bedrooms, bathrooms, common living space, dining areas and more. Every manufacturer will have their own floor plans to choose from, and it is up to the buyer to determine what ultimately best suits their needs. One popular floor plan even has the living area in the front of the 5th wheel as opposed to the usual floor plan with the bedroom in the front.
Many fifth wheels come equipped with slide outs that, with a simple push of a button, move sections of the trailer out to create more space inside. Some 5th wheels have as many as four slide outs. It's best to determine the size and features that best suit you by walking through the trailer for yourself. This allows you to imagine the comfort and travels you could have in that particular RV.
A fifth wheel can offer everything that your home does. And since many people use these as their actual home for many months of the year, it is important to know what amenities are available to make a comfortable life out on the road.
- Kitchen - Fifth wheels have the option of full size kitchen appliances and food pantries for easy storage and dining experiences. They offer wood cabinetry in a variety of textures, types of woods, colors and grains. Countertops range from basic laminate to luxurious granite. Kitchen Islands also make for a more spacious cooking area.
- Sleeping areas - The master bedroom is typically full sized with all the comforts of home. Master bedrooms come equipped with queen to king size beds, complete with closets, dressers, vanities and televisions. Many family friendly 5th wheels have bunks areas separate for the kids along with entertainment centers so they can have their own personal area.
- Living area - Seating options range from cloth to leather and from basic benches and sofas to plush luxury recliners. Built-in electric fireplaces offer additional coziness and comfort that feels just like home.
You can have big screen televisions on a swivel base with surround sound to enjoy your favorite shows from almost anywhere in the trailer. Satellite radio can be set up, and even desks and work stations with internet connections are in some models.
To really let you appreciate the beauty of your travels, though, many fifth wheels have large bay windows in the back so you can take in your surroundings.
- Cleaning appliances - Fifth wheel owners can keep things tidy with central vacuum systems that allow for easy emptying. You can eliminate the need for other types of vacuums that take up valuable space.
Washers and dryers are also options in many trailers so you'll always have fresh and clean clothes while on the open road.
- Bathrooms - Bathrooms come equipped with toilets, sinks, mirrors, and full-size showers.
Electrical and water capacity will vary with each trailer so be sure to consider what types of traveling you will be doing and what your needs are.
What Can You Do with a Fifth Wheel Trailer?
- Go camping - Taking a fifth wheel camping means a luxurious stay in the woods. Build your campfire nearby and cook dinner, roast marshmallows and tell campfire stories, then re-enter your RV to enjoy clean comfortable living and the convenience of modern bathroom amenities.
- Take road trips - Family road trips have never been better than with a fifth wheel. Driving to see the country one city at a time can have its challenges and expenses, too. Save on costs of a hotel and enjoy familiar surroundings by staying in your fifth wheel. Save on food by cooking in your trailer rather than eating out. Detach your truck and drive into town to explore the nearby areas. You get the convenience of having a vehicle that can go places huge motor homes can't without the need for a rental car.
- Get out of the snow (or into the snow) - Snowbirds can conveniently drive to your favorite sunny destination for just a few months of the year to escape the cold weather and relax in the sunshine.
If you're the cold-weather-loving adventurous type, drive into cold country and stay for a nice ski trip with a full kitchen and all the other comforts of home, without expensive seasonal lodging costs.
- Be a full-timer - Live an exciting life on the road full-time. Fifth wheelers provide luxurious and comfortable living anywhere your life, and your travels, take you. Visit the grandkids, see cities you've always wanted to visit, or go RV camping on a whim. Park for weeks, months, even years w in one of your favorite locations and simply enjoy life with all the belongings and amenities you're used to.
Maintaining your fifth wheel is important for long-term use and also for your safety. Be sure to follow any user manual and instructions that will come from your dealer.
Maintaining the hitch
- Regularly inspect and re-lube the hitch.
- Check for any missing or damaged parts at least every 6 months.
- Check the torque once a year and tighten any nuts and bolts if you need to.
- Check the breakaway cable and make sure the lock is working properly.
- Maintain the interior of your 5th wheel like you would a home.
- Clean, polish, dust and vacuum regularly.
- Be sure to check bolts and screws at least once a year and tighten anything that is loose.
- Clean out your refrigerator, oven and microwave regularly. Check refrigerator ventilation to ensure that it is always clear.
- Check and clean lights and fans and make sure electrical outlets are working properly.
- Check all batteries every 6 months to ensure there is no corrosion and that they work.
- Be sure to clean and check ducts and vents. Replace parts when necessary.
Maintaining the wheels and undercarriage of the trailer
- Check brakes and wiring every 6 months.
- Regularly check the wheel bearings.
- Each time you travel, inspect the tires, rims and suspension to make sure they are safe and in working order.
- Keep slide out rams and wheel bearings lubricated.
- Regularly flush out your fresh water system. Running bleach through it every so often helps to keep everything clean and sanitary.
- Flush and clean out your waste or black water and gray water tanks regularly.
- Be sure to always use disposable RV toilet paper.
- Check and clean all valves.
- You should inspect the exterior of your RV often.
- All hardware, seals and vents need to be kept in good shape.
- Check for cracks or damage to the exterior and underneath your trailer.
- Rubber roofs can be scrubbed with basic household cleaning detergents and a medium or soft bristle brush. Check all seams at least four times a year. Reseal the roof annually or sooner if needed.
- The body of your trailer should be washed as need and waxed at least once a year will keep it looking top-notch.
- Inspect your awning and lubricate when needed. Clean your awning with a brush and mild soap like dish detergent.
When not using your RV, you'll need to properly store it. You will need a large space, so that is something to consider carefully when purchasing. Look into your storage options. In some areas, there are places built specifically for storing recreational vehicles that may have the capacity to store your 5th wheel. If you plan to store yours at home, you can build a large garage, a special carport, or even store it next to your home on a cement slab. The important thing is to make sure your RV remains well maintained while not in use.
Why Choose a Fifth Wheel Trailer Over a Motor Home?
- Fifth wheels often have more living space than a motor home, especially because of the slide out options available.
- They are typically easier to move when trying to park or maneuver.
- If an engine repair is needed while on the road, your entire living space won't need to go to the repair shop along with the engine.
Whether you're on the road 12 months out of the year, or just enjoy taking smaller road trips or camping trips, RVing is a lifestyle to be enjoyed. The fifth wheel can give you the convenience of traveling with your vehicle - one that is easily detachable and accessible at all times. It may not have its own motor, but you can still take all of the comforts and luxuries you would enjoy in your own home.