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5 Reasons to Avoid 5th Wheel RVs

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

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:

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  1. Fred John says:

    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. Vasquez says:

    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. Richard Okrasinski says:

    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. Crewsy says:

    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. 🤦‍♂️

  5. Kyle & Olivia Brady says:

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

  6. Peter Palmieri says:

    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

  7. Paul Williams says:

    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.

  8. Jack Darby says:

    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.

  9. Nancy Chriss says:

    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.

  10. Bob SMITH says:

    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.

  11. Steve Edberg says:

    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.

  12. Steve Edberg says:

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

  13. Don Godwin says:

    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

  14. William P. Edwards says:

    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.

  15. Denise Thelen says:

    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.

  16. Brant Ardrey says:

    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

  17. Dustin T Goettsch says:

    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.

  18. Albert says:

    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.

  19. Sean Butler says:

    Yeah I got to say just about everything that you said on here was incorrect when it comes to the cons. Fifth wheels come in all shapes and sizes and you can get one’s that are as short as 23 ft with no slide outs. And you can get travel trailers that are 40 plus feet with 3+ slideouts, towing with a fifth wheel is much more stable yes it is also BETTER on gas, more stable means better on gas, there is also less area for the wind to get trapped and kill your MPG. My 01 pre hemi Ram 1500 has no trouble moving my fifth wheel and my soon-to-be new fifth wheel that is 31 ft long with two slide outs and 7800 lb, I got a gooseneck I would never tow a travel trailer like this without sway bars. And you’re not really limited on space cuz if you had a travel trailer that didn’t have slide outs it would be just as big as the fifth wheel with its slide outs in. Overall your grasping at straws fifth wheels are basically the best way to RV if you’re not going to get a drivable. The only advantage of a travel trailer really is that they tend to be lighter if there’s no slide outs, but that also means that they’re cheaper made made.

  20. Donna says:

    We have a 5th wheel and love the space we have. I’ve gotten into places with my 5th wheel that been a little f,ee but made it I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The only thing that’s bad with one is the wind when your traveling. Mileage we get 14 mpg I think that’s good.

  21. Anonymous says:

    A liberal def wrote this article.

  22. Rick barbieri says:

    I would much rather have a text if possible but if not I understand or paper mail

  23. Johnnie McNeal says:

    I enjoyed the pros and cons about 5th Wheels and travel trailers. I want to travel trailers in my life, and I won only 1/5 wheel. We camped with our travel trailers and with the children and we had a double box bunks inthe back. However, after my divorce and paying expensive apartment fees and rental home fees, I decided to purchase a fifthwheel and I love it. This will be my ninth winter living in my fifth wheel in an RV park in Texas and I love it it’s easy to maintain there’s not excessive cleaning I live alone but have lots of plants outside in my space. It’s Built really well. It is heavy but I like the stability when there’s Highwinds it feels like a Home because I have three large Slidell‘s. It is 37 ft. I thought about going back to a travel trailer because I do not want to purchase a truck that takes so much gas to pull my fifth wheel. I drive a small car and when I purchased a fifth wheel they brought it to my RV space and that’s where it’s been sitting for almost 9 years, I’ve never moved it. I’ve been thinking about going to a tiny house. I have watched almost every video I think on tiny houses, but I would not like to pull the tiny hills on the road. I’d like to live in it and then have a small travel trailer to take out on weekends and on vacation and across the country . And again I do not want to go in debt and purchase a truck that just drinks so much gas that’s the reason I’ve never purchased a truck to pull my sis wheel. I’ll leave it stationary when I have guess they have been comfortable sleeping in the fifth wheel. I just recently purchased a queen size mattress at Sam’s Club For my bed I think fifth wheels are great. I have certainly enjoyed living in one full-time but like I said I’ve never moved it. I wish the RV parks had more space. I can hear conversations that my neighbors are having in their fifth wheels and travel trailers. It seems they try to get as many trailers in the small spaces that’s the thing that makes me feel uncomfortable not having enough space. Many of the seniors that are retired and travel have and are experiencing health issues and so they are deciding to live the rest of their lives out in RV parks. It makes it more economical to live in our RVs, then live in an apartment in crowded cities. I certainly enjoy it. The travel trailers that we owned in the past I used to go to the backyard and take my sewing machine out there to sew in my travel trailer to give me some space and privacy away from my family it was like a little getaway for me. I have nothing but praise for RVs. Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you all.

  24. Paul Mizzi says:

    I am a new 2023 fifth 35 ft wheel owner and love it. We had a 30 foot travel trailer for 20 years. The difference is remarkable:
    No swing or drag or air pockets
    Better gas mileage
    Easy to handle and turn
    More comfort and space
    More new latest devices such as hot water on demand

  25. Karin says:

    Esacape 5.0 5th wheel avoids all the disadvantages! Fits everywhere and can be pulled by a smaller truck. We leave unhook and go exploring in our F-150.

  26. J Thomas says:

    This is one of the most inaccurate articles on 5th wheels that I’ve ever read. The author should clearly consider getting out of camping since it is not for them. Referencing the cyber truck and 5th wheel combo is certainly a testament to thier mindset in that the truck is heavier than a typical dually, not to mention the battery range when towing is only a few hundred miles. Do some research on EVs paired with campers and everyone has been drastically disappointed. The cost associated with a newer class A far exceeds that of a truck and 5th wheel combo and an older class A will measure up to the cost in maintenance. Almost all of the campers and travelers that I’ve encountered incur and manage the cost as a way of life while doing what they love.

  27. steve Lawton says:

    My fuel mileage increased pulling my 5th wheel compared to pulling a towable backing up a 5th wheel is alot easier you can get into tighter spaces. I would never pull another towable agai after pulling a 5th wheel

  28. Happy Camper says:

    Depends on the design. Our 29.5 ft. Jayco Eagle superlite we can get to everything while towing. Our new 40 ft. Sanibel we get to nothing while towing. We can take a cooler for access to food and sit on the steps or in the truck to eat. Milage is less but worth it!! Upgrading was still worth it!! Minor inconveniences vs. much bigger and better living while camping.. we’ll survive!! -Happy Camper

  29. Rich Staley says:

    I love my fifth wheel I get 13 mi to the gallon and that is not a problem

  30. Kevin M. says:

    It’s our 8th yr living full time in a 5th wheel. We are empty nesters and work construction during the summer. It is great. We have a 35ft 5th wheel and a Ford 5500 to pull it. Shop around! We took 2 years to upgrade from a 25ft and a 2500 pickup. Lower Mpg is just part of the life, plan for it. We have lived in 9 of the western states in the last 3 years and wouldn’t change anything. Take the chance and do it but research the truck and trailer, the Gvrw of both, the turning radius, how EVERYTHING works, but more importantly, what do you like and want most in a 5th wheel and truck. And my only advice is talk to other 5th wheel owners. We love to talk and can give you the “true” pros and cons of the lifestyle. The best part is the view out of the dining room table can change every day!

  31. Frank says:

    Every point is based on 5th wheel larger than travel trailers instead of comparable towables. That’s comparing apples to watermelons! Similar 5ers to TT the 5er wins out every time.

  32. Ruth Drake says:

    The article on pro’s and cons on 5th wheels is b.s. I have never had a problem with mine and if you’re having to travel with a saw for overhead limbs you’re definitely where you don’t belong. Best purchase I ever made and I make this my HOME.

  33. Robert says:

    None of you who are replying are Camping is when you pack a tent in your car, the kids are sitting on anything soft, and you arrive at the site, unload, set up, then explore. You are all abunch of softies!

  34. Scott Mcintyre says:

    All your reasons for not buying a 5th wheel. Could also be used for travel trailers. You need to buy what you feels best for your situation.

  35. Eric Bureau says:

    Fifth wheel do NOT get worse mpg than bumper pull, mpg is relative to weight.
    Also, again, fifth wheels are not bigger, some are, some are not, there are 18 foot 5th wheels, and for the same size, fifth wheels actually tow and handle better and are easier to maneuver.
    Some 5th wheels can be towed with a 1/2 ton truck.
    Size for size, a 5th wheel with truck is shorter than a bumper pull and truck…

  36. Norman young says:

    I’ve been a 5th wheeler for ever because there are many unseen major advantages not mentioned enough in this otherwise well written article.
    Think about these.
    1) The safety factor is far, far better because the center of gravity is exactly where you want it, namely over the driving wheels & the entire truck is the best guiding force as opposed to only the outside front tire of a Motorhome on a
    turn. Stability, also.
    2) There are all sizes of 5th wheel from 24ft to over 40ft, ALL of which are much more maneuverable than EQUALLY sized MH because the 5th wheel can jackknife(pivot
    in the middle) into a far tighter. ALL RV operators must be competent/safe to “back” their vehicles no matter the type. Learn!!
    3) When hooked-up, the MH stays put, therefore, your not going anywhere on any errands. BUT, your 5th wheel truck is free to move about anytime.
    4) Access to things inside of the MH while moving is NOT wise EVER(& not legal some places for that reason).
    So, take an exit, stop and do it right/safely
    without endangerment. NOT ALL 5th wheels have slide
    outside that “block” the access when closed in. If that is a big problem, maybe you need a smaller unit. Slideouts do add space along with much added weight but most MHs
    have there same issue.
    5) The $70,000 for a “big” truck is not the full story. You have to pay for the Engine/Trans+
    in the MH, also, plus the
    Cabin. Maint on the truck mech less than maint on the same equipment(mech) on the MH. because the truck was made in huge high quality numbers &
    the MH is basically a re-
    design/incorporation, un-
    less you spend half a million, duh.
    6) There are too many variables to directly compare MPG. Ice talked to many MH owners who get 6-8 MPG. AND, yes some trucks get similar while towing. Personally, I get 13+ towing my 22ft 5th wheel with my ’08 TACOMA
    with 6 speed manual trans
    7) Driving an MH downtown is easy/safe with a size equivalent 5th wheel due to the pivoting in the middle(see #1) and the width is the same. The height, granted, can be more in a 5th wheel(why on earth do they need a 6ft+ high ceiling bedside above the hitch is quite unnecessary.
    8) The MH only has advantages that override
    the 5th wheel if your values are such. But, be objective, 5th wheel is the better of the two.

    PS. Yes, I owned a MH for over 5 years and they’re nice to stay in
    & yes the 5th wheel may take a little longer to prep for the road.

  37. Craig Holstedt says:

    I think this was a fair, objective review of advantages/disadvantages of a fifth wheel. We were work-campers for several years. A 5th wheel made good sense because coming back to it after a full day’s week, it was big enough to feel like you were coming home (ours was a 38ft, Big Horn). I believe 5th wheels generally give you the most space for the dollar. But also they generally seem to lose the greatest percentage of their resale value each year of all the RVs. I totally agree with the comments about the large tow vehicle. For towing, they are really optimum (we had a Ram 3500 long bed, quad cab, dually). But as your daily driver they are generally just too big and bulky. We sold our truck about 3 hours after we sold our 5th Wheel. We enjoyed them both while we had them and used them, but now we have moved on and are at peace with the decision.

  38. Bill says:

    Motor homes are just as tall as a fifth wheel. Motor homes are harder to get around some camp grounds because they are long and don’t have a hinge in the center. Motor homes don’t get such great fuel mileage. And dumbasses drive motor homes, set the cruise and go back into the kitchen.

  39. Jj says:

    Written by someone who obviously has never pulled a 5th wheel trailer before

  40. Timothy Sonner Sr says:

    Every dog has his day. One person can connect to tow vehicle. Complaint is the person or salesperson that knowingly sale a 5th wheel knowing the tow vehicle is not the right GVWR

  41. Gena Olson says:

    We have a 26 ft. 5th wheel and a Dodge dually to pull it. None if the disadvantages you listed apply to us. We don’t have room for guests, which is fine with us!

  42. Theresa Shiflett says:

    We are just getting back into camping after a few year of being out of it. We are empty nester, and retired and take care of my mom.So we are trying to get back out there so my mom can enjoy this as well.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Your article on why not to buy a fifth wheel is ridiculous. The cons are not true. Mileage is not worse, there are many pull behinds that are just as big. Stupid article.

  44. Herb Jerb says:

    Clearly whoever wrote this listicle has never pulled a trailer before. Damn clickbait….

  45. J says:

    Nice, more clickbait! Harder to back up, you’re full of it.

  46. Lawrence Grabas says:

    Hi this Lawrence i live in Alberta if you have a boat you have to have a fifth wheel trailer