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.
5th Wheel Pros & Cons (Before We List Reasons to Avoid)
We’re not hating on 5th wheel RVs. In fact, we own (and love) our Alliance 5th wheel.
So let’s look at a few pros and cons before we get into the reasons to avoid them.
- Most stable of towable RVs to drive due to the kingpin hitch.
- Most storage space of towable RVs.
- Many varieties of floorplans available for many different tastes.
- It can have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
- No engine maintenance.
- It truly feels like a house or apartment on wheels.
- More interior space than a motorhome of the same length because there is no cockpit area.
- Requires a more substantial, heavy-duty truck to pull. This can be cost-prohibitive.
- Difficult to maneuver into tight campsites, takes practice to learn to back up correctly.
- Less MPG when pulling a 5th wheel than a travel trailer.
- More expensive to maintain than a travel trailer because they usually have more moving parts, slides, etc.
- Can’t access some remote locations or go down certain roads due to length and height.
5 Reason You’ll Want to Avoid 5th Wheel Travel Trailers
OK – Don’t get mad at us for telling it like it is!
#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
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You should give it a try!
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