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Author Topic: 5th Wheel Advantages / Disadvantages  (Read 4835 times)
sixpantsmaloney
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« on: July 28, 2010, 05:20:08 PM »

I've used Google and searched these forums and have failed to find a simple, point-by-point comparison of traditional hitches and 5th wheel hitches.

I'm interested in personal experience.  It just seems that a 5th wheel would tow better and "feel" better.  But I have come upon a few things that say that isn't so.

So here's what I think is true:

5th Wheel Advantages
Easy to hook-up to trailer.
Better load distribution (over axle rather than behind)

Traditional Hitch
Cheaper
More universal

That said, I find most new 5th wheel TTs are far too huge.  They are like small apartment buildings.  The older 5th wheels seem a bit more sensible.

Thanks for your thoughts!
Brian
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2010, 10:20:09 PM »

For us, the disadvantages of a 5th wheel:

Our TT may be towed by either our SUV or a pickup truck. 5th wheels require no less than a pickup truck.

With our TT, we don't lose valuable space which would otherwise be forfeited by a 5th wheel to allow room for the back end of a pickup truck.
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sixpantsmaloney
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 02:17:47 AM »

That's interesting what you say about lost space.  I always think of it as gained space because it's over the vehicle.  Otherwise you'd "chop off" that part making the trailer shorter.

Another benefit would be the overall shorter tow length but getting additional room.
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willingtonpaul
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 04:12:34 AM »

5'ers do tow better, period.  this is not debatable.  they also hook up easier, period.  this is also not debatable.

for us, it is the lost cargo area in the truck that is the deal breaker.  kayaks on the tracRac's, firewood, bikes, genset, extra fresh water....all in the bed of the truck.  and i can use the bed of the truck when not towing without having to take the hitch out of the bed.

now many of these issues can be solved with a 5'er.  build in the genset, bikes on the back of the 5'er, firewood in front of the hitch, etc. etc.  i have not seen an easy solutions for the kayaks, yet.....

but for us, the way we camp, it is too much to overcome.  give me a TT with a reese dual cam and i am happy. 

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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 04:15:12 AM »

You can get low-profile 5th wheels, which is probably what you're thinking.  Of course there are mid-profile and high-profile apartment buildings, as you say.

I think any space lost in the bed of the pickup is more than made up by the basement storage in 5th wheels, but perhaps not quite as convenient.  You could still toss firewood, coolers and dirty stuff in the bed of the truck as long as it's not too high. 

The interior space of most 5th wheels is appealing for long-duration trips.
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 04:45:42 AM »

I see it all the time in campgrounds ... 1/2 ton trucks that have no business towing the monster 5th parked behind it on the campsite ... which is no different that seeing a minivan that has no business either towing that travel trailer also sitting behind it.  Sure, there may be a few particularly small 5ths that could be towed with a 1/2 ton but for the most part at least a 2500, 3500, even a 4500 series truck is required, better still if it's a smoker.  I'm not interested in anything larger than a 1/2 ton gasser because I also want it to be a family vehicle when we're not towing, nor am I interested in parking an "apartment building" in front of my house when so many options are available in a (relatively) low profile travel trailer that can easily be towed with a 1/2 ton gasser.  As it is I've got too many stairs in my house so I sure don't need more in a 5th! Dead
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chilipyro
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2010, 07:26:18 AM »

I see it all the time in campgrounds ... 1/2 ton trucks that have no business towing the monster 5th parked behind it on the campsite ... which is no different that seeing a minivan that has no business either towing that travel trailer also sitting behind it.  Sure, there may be a few particularly small 5ths that could be towed with a 1/2 ton but for the most part at least a 2500, 3500, even a 4500 series truck is required, better still if it's a smoker.  I'm not interested in anything larger than a 1/2 ton gasser because I also want it to be a family vehicle when we're not towing, nor am I interested in parking an "apartment building" in front of my house when so many options are available in a (relatively) low profile travel trailer that can easily be towed with a 1/2 ton gasser.  As it is I've got too many stairs in my house so I sure don't need more in a 5th! Dead

I've noticed a trend to more light weight 5th wheel trailers lately, so that might be changing. I have also seen (at RV shows) a lot more family friendly floor plans in 5th wheel trailers than in previous years - though those floorplans tend not to be so light weight. My half ton tundra is our primary family vehicle. It use to be as comfortable a drive without the trailer as our minivan. But, after upgrading the suspension to be comfortable with our new trailer, the ride comfort without the trailer is not much different from willingtonpaul's F350 'smoker' (having had the pleasure of a ride in his most capable truck recently, I can say that from experience). While a bit rougher, no one complains. I use it daily, and it doesn't bother me either. So, I would not mind at all making the move to a bigger truck - and may do that one day soon. Such a move would be to gain payload ability in the back of the truck, while towing my current trailer, but I have also thought that it would be nice to have a truck that would handle a fifth wheel some day. Going down that path of thinking, it occurred to me that I would want a long bed crew cab - and that is a bit of a sticking point for me. I am already long enough that I have had more parking lot damage (from other cars backing into me) than I have had with any previous car. With a crew cab long bed, I'd be in the two parking space size range. It seems like that would be inconvenient and result in even more parking lot damage, but I am still thinking about it. Like willingtonpaul, the loss of bed use in the pickup, due to the fifth wheel hitch, would be a big negative for me.

I kind of like the step up into the master BR, but to each his/her own. For me, the large master BR, and add-ons like a washer/dryer and generator always catch my eye. The height of the usual fifth wheel would be a concern. At a recent trip to a state park in RI, I did a bit of damage to my caulking from overhanging tree branches on the camp road. I don't think I could have brought a fifth wheel trailer down that same road. I haven't seen the low profile fifth wheel trailers mentioned below, but I expect the master BR comfort would take a hit there - as the high roof is what allows you to stand up in that area over the pickup bed. Maybe the master BR would be in the back instead.
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JP campers
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2010, 08:15:15 AM »

I find that most 5ers have smaller(shorter) awnings due to curb-side slides.
I am mixed on which I prefer, TT or5er, it would be nice to have side by side pros cons.
We camp in mostly SPs and PPs, most which have low hanging trees or sharp curves that could give you a "challenge" while towing a 5er. Since DW and I will never agree on a floorplan in a 5er, I doubt we'll ever get one
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2010, 10:28:03 AM »

Smoker!  Ha!  The new Ford diesel apparently emits the same pollutants as a Honda Fit.  I had the chance to ride in a 1-ton 2011 Ford recently, as well as Dogger's 3/4 ton diesel crewcab.  These things ride like limos. 
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 10:53:15 AM »

Smoker!  Ha!  The new Ford diesel apparently emits the same pollutants as a Honda Fit.  I had the chance to ride in a 1-ton 2011 Ford recently, as well as Dogger's 3/4 ton diesel crewcab.  These things ride like limos. 

When's your delivery date Paul? Wink
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2010, 01:44:46 PM »

Once you get a whiff of the prices it kind of sobers you up real quick.  Heck, I even see Americans complaining about the prices, so that says something!  Shocked
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sixpantsmaloney
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2010, 05:14:45 PM »

I wonder if we could define "tow better" as it relates to 5th wheels vs. TT.

I've never pulled anything more than a small utility trailer so I genuinely have no idea.

Also, the standard hitch makers claim that the various sway/torsion controls make TTs just as easy to tow as a 5th wheel.  Does anyone with experience agree or disagree with these claims?

Thanks... you're a helpful bunch!
Brian
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2010, 05:53:34 PM »

I tow with a Hensley Arrow, and one of its maker's claim to fame is that it projects the pivot point ahead to the axle, resulting in towing behaviour similar to a 5th wheel.  Sounds fine but I've never towed a 5th wheel so I can't say from experience.  However, this isn't a claim you hear from traditional friction-based systems.

You commonly hear that a 5th tows better because of the pin being over the truck's axle.  Even then, setup is important and there's things that can be out of adjustment with any hitching system, making for a lousy towing experience.

I heard on the radio this week that anecdotally only three in one-hundred hitches are set up properly.  Any properly set up hitch should make towing easy, 5th wheel or any kind of TT hitching system.
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willingtonpaul
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2010, 07:10:31 PM »

sixpants....

my parents have been 5'ers for the better part of 30 years.  when my wife and i first started camping, pre kids, we borrowed their setup many times.  nothing tows better than a fifth wheel, and no trailer hooks up easier.  the hitch connection, and all the pin weight, is right over the rear axle of the truck.  that, coupled with the larger surface area of the hitch connection, makes for a trailer that really cannot move.  it is truly locked into the truck.  and the ride is super smooth, even over crummy roads.  i have never towed with a "premium" hitch  Evil, so maybe they tow as well as a 5'er with the projection features of the design.  but no way are they as easy to hook up.  just set the height, back under, and click goes the hitch around the pin.  done.  and you can see if from the back window of the truck, no camera setups needed  Grin  no weight bars, safety chains to mess with either. 

i like it, to be sure.  but not for us yet.  maybe when the kids are gone, we'll see.



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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2010, 01:35:19 PM »

I see it all the time in campgrounds ...  ... which is no different that seeing a minivan that has no business either towing that travel trailer also sitting behind it.   Dead


Locally, you'll often see my mini van parked in from of my HTT when Wayne is off elsewhere with the truck.  Maybe I should get a sign. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I actually towed it there. Shocked.
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