5 Reasons to Avoid 5th Wheel RV Trailers

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By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

5 Reasons to Avoid 5th Wheel RV Trailers

5th wheel RV trailers have more diverse layouts and usable storage than any other RV type.

There are lots of reasons to own a 5th wheel.

Today, however, we’re talking about the reasons you may want to avoid these unique RVs. 

Keep in mind; no RV is perfect. They will all require a few compromises. 

Let’s dive in!

What is a 5th Wheel RV Trailer?

5th wheels distinctive characteristic is their special in-box hitch called a fifth wheel coupling. This hitching method increases safety while towing. 

In fact, it’s the same type of connection semi-truck use to connect trailers.

The safety benefits include less sway and better weight distribution on your tow vehicle. Larger 5th wheels will obviously require large trucks, like a 3500 dually. But, some fifth wheels can be towed with 2500 trucks.

Here are the reasons we think 5th wheel RVs should be avoided.

#1 Expensive – The Truck & the Trailer

Buying a powerful truck to tow your 5th wheel can set you back $70,000, easily! Additionally, the trailer itself is also expensive.

By the time it’s all said and done, you could easily purchase a new Class A Motorhome. 

If you already own a heavy-duty truck, a 5th wheel may be an option to consider. However, if you need to purchase both, you may want to consider a drivable RV.

Avoid overspending, buy used! A used 5th wheel is much cheaper than a brand new unit. This rule applies with your tow truck as well.

With all the said, we’re excited to see the new Tesla Cybertruck & 5th Wheel combo (pictured below).

#2 Too Big for State & National Park Campgrounds

There are always exceptions to the rule, but overall, 5th wheel RVs will restrict where you can park.

They’re tall – making low hanging branches a severe issue. Our 5th wheel friends travel with saws to cut branches in emergencies.

They’re also long! Many National Park campgrounds (especially in the East) don’t allow them to make reservations.

If you want to explore these public parks, you should consider other RV types.

#3 Gas Mileage Is a Sad Story

Sure, no RV gets impressive gas mileage. 5th wheel towing is notoriously awful on the MPGs.

On travel days, you’ll probably get single-digit MPGs.

Keep this in mind when you’re deciding what RV type will be best for your budget.

#4 Your Daily Driver is Huge

Once you set up camp and get relaxed, a simple drive into town may bring back your anxiety! You’ll be driving a huge truck (often a dually) around small-town America.

Tight turns and even tighter parking spots will be a reoccurring pain in the neck. 

To make matters worse, your MPGs around town won’t be inspiring either.

Some folks are used to driving large trucks and aren’t phased by this. However, if you’ve only driven small vehicles, swithing to a dually will be a drastic change.

If you buy the smallest 5th wheel in the USA, this won’t be an issue.

#5 Limited Access on Travel Days

Like all towable RVs, access to your trailer will be limited on travel day.

This is worse with 5th wheel RVs…often, the living space is only accessible when slides are out. Making a quick snack in the kitchen or sleeping at an overnight parking spot can have added challenges.

Before buying a 5th wheel, make sure you test it’s functionality when the slides are in.

5th Wheel RVs Have Many Advantages

5th wheels are still very beneficial. They have added towing safety and the luxury of living space.

Here are a few reasons we like them:

  • Large Tanks (great for boondocking)
  • Separation of Spaces (multiple bedrooms and bathrooms)
  • Room for Company
  • Tons of Exterior Storage

Here at Drivin’ & Vibin’ we believe in giving every RV type a fair shake. You can see the reasons to avoid other RV types here:

Explore the Best Free Camping in a 5th Wheel RV

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:


  1. To be perfectly honest. I’ve driven 27 years in a semi. A 5th wheel is by far the BEST way to go. I use a gooseneck and it’s truly safe. I have a F350 crew cab. Love camping. And furthermore I’ve never been turned away for a spot.

  2. Not only is the 5th the best way to go u save money in the long run no DMV fees for a RV that sits half the year insurance is cheaper and u don’t have extra car bills

  3. I knew those going into it. However, I decided to trade in my travel trailer for a fifth wheel for 1) AC is not at ear level and loud 2) towing and maneuvering is so much easier 3) space and convince is awesome 4) there is headroom! Your points are all valid, but I think the rewards far out way the benefits.

  4. One reason you give is your tow vehicle will be too big for day trips but you suggest buying a Class A RV for equal money. 🤦‍♂️

    1. Class A owners don’t drive their RV around town. They tow small vehicles behind their Class A for that. 🤷‍♂️🤦‍♂️

  5. I don’t agree with any of that I have owned just about everything there is to go camping I am in a city wheel know and is the best thing I have done driving a class a motor home was very tiring and if you are towing be sure of where you are going because you can’t back them up with a tow dolly I can go on and on but I am very happy with my unit and it didn’t cost that much found everything used and one owner 34 foot city wheel and f-250 4×4 supercab eight foot box the whole thing under 30000 dollars take your time keep searching you will find want you want and a good price

  6. My Chevy 3500 gets between 17 and 19 mpg . Pulling my 5 wheel I average 11 to 15 mpg unlike a class A that gets 12 mpg or less . With the slid in I still can get to the bed or bathroom and kitchen. And I don’t need a second vehicle to tow. I live around small town streets I get around just fine.

  7. Kyle and Olivia are NOT idiots. They know how to get you attention to read this. Their points are for you to consider then make up your own mind. Be more polite. Internet already is too full of trolls.

    1. Ok, they’re probably not idiots but there really is a lot of misinformation in this article.

  8. We also have a F358 which is a dually. It is a 2004 that we bought 18 months ago and only paid $4500. for it. It does a great job and the mileage is around8 to 10 mpg. Really not bad.
    The inside space is great. It is a 2004 Cari Lite 5 challenger 36 ft. with 5 slides. We only paid $20,000 for it 4 years ago and it even had a washer and dryer in it.
    You do not have to buy everything new.

  9. Switching from a travel trailer to a 5th wheel was the best thing I ever did. I got a reese goosebox.
    My 2000 lb heavier 5th wheel gets about 3 mpg better than our TT did on the same vehicle. It Tows so much smoother.
    It is way better driving in high winds.even with equalizer hitch on the TT.
    It is shorter overall length with the same length of trailer.

  10. Yeah, if you can afford $100k between your 5’th wheel and your truck I bet you’re not crying too much over dropping a couple MPG’s. Lol.

  11. You might have picked a newer 5th wheel, anyway, no comparison, with the new in bed hitches , if needed you can pull the whole thing out. Better handling just a better, yes more expensive way to go. In the wind a pull behind is suicide . This from a guy retired with over 4 million miles pulling doubles in Buffalo/Boston traffic

  12. I got talked into a 5th wheel when looking for our first RV. I st up our RAM 1500 then found all the 5th wheels were too heavy. I almost gave up when we found a small Idle Time trailer that was light enough to safely pull. We bought new/unseen and really love it and have pulled it all over the Country. Yup bad mpg but I don’t regret the purchase.

  13. We have a Winnebago Micro Mini 5th wheel at 5700 pounds dry weight and 26.5 feet in length. Still small enough to get into dispersed areas and national forest. Tows like a dream with our half ton truck.

  14. Dont agree with most of it..all is based on top notch new that only a well off person can afford
    I can do for 1/20th of that..gas mpg..go slow 50mph..remember its a commercial load several tons at speed and has a mind of its own a wreck is easy and will jackknife..dont be spoiled in where you camp most expensive is not best ..maintenance is priority don’t get coerced into the mainstream for 120G’s to vacation

  15. F150 LWB Ecoboost, gets me 17-18mpg in town.
    Opted for an older, no slides, 26′ 5thwheel. I prefer pulling it over the 18′ travel trailer.

  16. I purchased a fifth wheel and the diesel truck and spent far less than I would have a class a diesel pusher. You have more usable space in a fifth wheel, specially to the fact that they have higher ceilings give some impression of more room, which they do have. As far as fuel mileage goes, I have consistently been over 10 plus miles per gallon I’ve never talked to anyone that had a class A diesel but got anywhere near that. You have to take into consideration that the area where the driver and pass sit in the front of a class A motorhome is a wasted space, so you take four feet right off the length of the vehicle. Any of the fifth wheels made today not require having a dually, and you can get a short bed pick up the sliding fifth wheel hitch. Have traveled all over the country and I can tell you from my own experience that fifth wheel is far better than motorhome. I passed motorhomes going up grades and ones that couldn’t handle strong cross winds.

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