What is a Fifth Wheel?
Fifth Wheels are a type of RV that connects via a special Fifth Wheel Trailer Hitch into the bed of a truck, right behind the cab.
Iconic features of fifth wheel RVs are an elevated master bedroom that sits above the truck bed, a tall ceiling, and the most spacious floor plans and storage of any other recreational vehicles.
Advantages of a Fifth Wheel:
1. Separate Master Bedroom
Because fifth wheel campers attach to the bed of the truck instead of the traditional ball hitch, they have an elevated bedroom situated above the truck. This creates the distinct look of the fifth wheel.
Inside the camper, there are several stairs leading up to the bedroom. This allows for greater separation of the bedroom from the rest of the living space, creating the feeling of a traditional house.
2. Ample Storage
Fifth wheel RVs are designed to offer ample storage space. There are storage areas underneath the living space of the camper, as well as in the cabinets and cubbies throughout the inside.
Because fifth wheels don’t have a drive-motor in them, like the Class B and Class C RVs do, the extra space is devoted to storage.
3. Modern Amenities
Fifth wheels are among the most luxurious of recreational vehicles. Of course, the size of the RV can limit the options, and there are different levels of amenities.
It’s common for fifth wheels to include kitchens with stoves, microwaves and full sized refrigerators, and sometimes even dishwashers. They often boast at least one bathroom, with the option of a tub as well as a showerhead. This is a highly coveted feature for travelers with young children.
Other amenities like electric fireplaces, kitchen tables, pull out couches, office desk space and spacious living rooms are available depending on the RV length, floor plan and number of slide-outs.
The goal of a fifth wheel is to offer a truly luxurious home on wheels.
4. Lots of Space
Because fifth wheels have the master bedroom above the bed of the truck, they usually offer more spacious floor plans than other travel trailers.
They also have taller ceilings which make the inside seem much more open, and accommodate taller travelers better.
5. Driving Stability
Fifth wheels connect to a truck with a fifth wheel trailer hitch in the bed of the truck, instead of to the ball hitch at the back of the truck like a travel trailer does. Because the connection is more toward the center of the truck’s gravity, this makes it easier and more stable for the truck to tow.
Fifth wheels offer greater stability over travel trailers and are able to be towed at higher speeds without feeling the swaying effect that is common with travel trailers.
6. Ability to Detach Truck from Fifth Wheel
Fifth wheels can be easily detached from the tow vehicle, allowing you to have individual use of your truck. This is great if you are an infrequent RV user and want to use your truck in everyday life, or if you want to use your vehicle while you’re on the road RVing.
This is a distinct benefit over Class B and C campers, in which the vehicle and living space are one.
Disadvantages of a Fifth Wheel:
1. Require a powerful tow vehicle and special hitch.
Fifth wheels require a powerful truck in order to be towed. Depending on the size and weight of the fifth wheel, ½ ton trucks maybe be adequate. However, for larger fifth wheel RVs, ¾ or even 1 ton trucks maybe be necessary.
Careful consideration should be given to the weight rating of the fifth wheel and what your vehicle is rated to be able to tow. Consult an expert to determine if your vehicle is adequate to pull the RV you’re looking at.
You will also need a special fifth wheel trailer hitch installed into the bed of your truck. This is where the fifth wheel is hooked to.
2. Gas mileage
Compared to a pickup or pop up camper or small travel trailer which can possibly be pulled with a smaller vehicle, fifth wheels require large trucks as tow vehicles. This decreases the fuel efficiency and makes travel more expensive.
However, compared to many Class B and Class C campers, fifth wheels can get slightly better gas mileage.
Because of the luxury nature of fifth wheels, they are often more expensive than travel trailers of equal size.
One way to lower the cost is to consider buying a used fifth wheel.
Regardless of whether a fifth wheel is bought new or used, it is usually still a more affordable option than Class B vans or Class C motorhomes.
Styles of Fifth Wheel:
If you’re truly looking for a small RV and a small fifth wheel is on your list, Scamp makes a 19 foot Fifth Wheel that offers many of the amenities that make a fifth wheel an amazing choice, in a very small package.
Fifth wheel RVs are luxurious campers that are the favorite choice of many retirees and people who RV full time.
They are among the most deluxe of RV options, and are truly a house on wheels.