You’ve recently purchased a 5th wheel for your family. Or maybe you have your eye on a couple of different models and haven’t quite decided.
When purchasing a 5th wheel, you also have to consider the cost and installation of a 5th wheel hitch. These special hitches are necessary for towing a 5th wheel camper. They’re an added expense, but you have options.
Let’s look at three different types and the best 5th wheel hitches in 2022.
What Is a 5th Wheel Hitch?
A 5th wheel hitch is a special hitch designed just for 5th wheel RVs. These hitches attach directly to the truck’s bed. Then the 5th wheel slides in the hitch or connects to the top of the hitch.
Once connected, the hitch locks. You can only attach these hitches to truck beds and not to bumpers like a hitch that pulls a trailer. An SUV or sedan can’t pull a 5th wheel because there is nowhere to install the hitch.
What makes towing a 5th wheel so much smoother and easier than towing a bumper pull is this hitch. Since the camper sits right over the truck’s rear axle, the towability is easier.
The load isn’t at the back of the truck, where sway can occur more frequently. A 5th wheel hitch also makes turning easier because the turning radius is smaller with the front cap of the camper in the truck’s bed.
Types of 5th Wheel Hitches
There are three types of 5th wheel hitches. Often, it’s just a matter of preference when choosing a hitch. One consideration is the space in the truck’s bed.
Do you want access to an empty bed once the 5th wheel is detached? You probably won’t remove or retract a kingpin hitch frequently, but you can do so with a gooseneck hitch.
Another consideration is whether or not your truck is prepped for a 5th wheel hitch. If pucks are already installed, you can easily install a 5th wheel hitch. But if not, you’ll need to think about if you want rails in the truck bed.
A kingpin hitch is the most common 5th wheel hitch. These hitches operate with pin locks and release mechanisms, making them more complicated than gooseneck hitches. But that doesn’t mean they’re harder to operate. A kingpin hitch offers a smoother and safer ride because this system dampens vibrations and road shocks.
The hitch uses a solid horseshoe-shaped plate supported by a heavy-duty frame attached to the truck bed via pucks or rails.
Sometimes the rails are welded to the truck to provide even more strength. The kingpin attaches underneath the front cap of the fifth wheel. This downward-facing pin slides into the hitch when the truck backs up. The hitch then locks into place.
If you have a short bed or even a standard bed truck, you may have problems making tight jackknife turns. Sometimes the truck’s cab and the 5th wheel’s front cap can collide. A sliding kingpin will solve this problem.
A sliding kingpin box will move forward and backward so the driver can make a tight turn. The driver unlocks the slide and shifts the kingpin along the length of the truck bed.
Then they reset and lock it in place after turning. The sliding mechanism makes this hitch different from the standard kingpin hitch.
A gooseneck hitch is very different from a kingpin hitch. This hitch looks like the standard ball hitch you’d see on the back of a truck or SUV. You install the gooseneck hitch in a frame that stretches across the width of the truck bed. The ball sticks up in the center, and the 5th wheel cap connects via a coupler and sits on the gooseneck hitch.
Much different from the connection to a kingpin, the connection to a gooseneck hitch is very low and rides more like a travel trailer.
The advantage to using a gooseneck hitch is you can use your empty truck bed after disconnecting. There isn’t a huge kingpin hitch taking up space. The ball is removable or retractable, which means you can haul kayaks, bicycles, or a four-wheeler once you set up at a campsite.
How to Choose a Fifth Wheel Hitch
Choosing which 5th wheel hitch is right for you sometimes comes down to personal preference. But there are also specific things to think about, like truck bed length, camper weight, and the mounting system.
Truck Bed Length
The sliding kingpin hitch system is the most expensive option. If you can’t afford this hitch but have a short bed truck, you may not have an option but to use a gooseneck hitch.
This reduces the chance of hitting the truck’s cab with the front cap of the 5th wheel during tight turns. You have all three options available with a long bed truck because you have the space for those jackknife turns.
Gooseneck hitches have a higher weight rating than kingpin hitches. They’re more common for commercial travel like transporting a horse trailer or a heavy equipment flatbed trailer.
A gooseneck hitch is typically rated for up to 30,000 lbs, whereas a kingpin hitch can handle up to 24,000 lbs. The ride isn’t as smooth, but the ball and hitch can transport more weight.
Truck Bed Mounting System
If you don’t plan on moving the hitch frequently, then a kingpin hitch is the best option for a 5th wheel. However, if you want to use the bed of your truck for other things, then the less invasive option is the gooseneck hitch.
Because the mounting system is much simpler and smaller, the gooseneck hitch allows you to easily use the truck bed to pick up lumber at Home Depot or transport paddleboards to the lake. A kingpin hitch will be more difficult to remove when not in use because the mounting system is more complicated and bulkier.
Pro Tip: Need some help hitching up? Try out these 7 Tips for Hitching up an RV Camper that Actually Work.
7 Best 5th Wheel Hitches in 2022
Now you know the differences between a kingpin, a sliding kingpin, and a gooseneck hitch. Let’s look at your best 5th wheel hitch options for 2022. Then you can decide which will work best for your towing situation.
#1. B&W Companion 5th Wheel Hitch RVK3500
About: The B&W Companion hitch moves easily from front to back and side to side. It’s rated for 20,000 lbs and offers three vertical adjustments. The hitch itself weighs about 70 lbs and features polyurethane bushing.
Price: About $1,000
#2. Andersen Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection (Gooseneck)
About: This gooseneck hitch features a raised adaptor to lift the 5th wheel to a more level towing position. At only 35 lbs, it’s easy to remove when not in use. This hitch also offers three vertical adjustments.
Price: About $900
#3. CURT 16245 Q24 5th Wheel Hitch
About: A heavier option is the Curt 16245 Q24 5th wheel hitch. At 136 lbs, it’s a load. But its spherical axial bearing provides one of the quietest towing experiences in the industry. It can tow 24,000 lbs.
Price: About $975
#4. Reese Elite 30142 Fifth Wheel
About: Another heavy option at 137 lbs is the Reese Elite 30142 5th wheel hitch. This hitch has a lower towing capacity at 18,000 lbs and has only two vertical adjustments. The wider footprint increases stability and makes this hitch better for larger truck beds.
Price: About $1,000
#5. Pro Series 20K Fifth Wheel Hitch
About: With two vertical adjustments and a weight rating of 20,000 lbs, this Pro Series 5th wheel hitch is another good option. This model also features wider legs for increased stability. It is compatible with a Sidewinder for short bed trucks and weighs about 110 lbs.
Price: About $650
#6. CURT 16536 Q20 5th Wheel Slider Hitch
About: Another good option from CURT is this 16536 Q20 hitch rated to tow 20,000 lbs. Although more expensive, this 5th wheel hitch comes with a slider to allow for 12” of additional turning clearance. Like the previous CURT model, the 16536 Q20 also provides one of the quietest towing experiences. But at 205 lbs, it’s the heaviest hitch on the list.
Price: About $1,450
#7. PullRite 4100 16K SuperGlide 5th Wheel Hitch
About: A second sliding hitch option is this PullRite 4100 SuperGlide. It’s lighter than the CURT option above at 150 lbs but only has a 16,000-lb weight capacity. The SuperGlide automatically moves the trailer away from the cab for a safe driving experience and then returns the hitch to the safe towing position over the truck axle when you complete the turn.
Price: About $1,600
Pro Tip: Unsure if the PullRite hitch is right for you? This is Why We Chose a PullRite 5th Wheel Hitch.
Which 5th Wheel Hitch Will You Choose?
When you select a 5th wheel as your RV, you also have to choose the right hitch. The above list offers great options among the three different styles of hitches. Depending on your needs and budget, the 5th wheel hitch you select may not be the same as your camping neighbor. And that’s OK. Choose what best fits your needs.
Which 5th wheel hitch will you be getting soon? Drop a comment below!
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