Pros and Cons

5th Wheel

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Pros

  • Of all the RV types, 5th wheels have the most storage space inside the living areas.

  • 5th wheels have the highest ceilings of any RV type. This results in a more roomy, home-like feeling inside. They accommodate taller people better and provide more overall volume/breathable oxygen per person.

  • The stairs to the front area make it feel like you have more varied, separate areas of your living space.

  • They are easier to back into a space than travel trailers.

  • They have a tighter turning radius than a travel trailer or motorhome.

  • Because part of the RV hangs over the bed of the truck, your overall length including your truck is shorter than a travel trailer of the same living space length.

  • The pivot point (hitch) is directly over the axle of the truck, which translates to better control and smoother, safer handling than travel trailers.

  • In the event of mechanical problems, you have a wider selection of repair shops for a pickup than you would for a motorhome.

  • If you already have a sturdy work truck that can tow a heavy 5er, it might be a no-brainer.

  • Socially, people traveling in 5th wheels have an easier time fitting in with both the discriminating Class A owners and the down to earth folks in travel trailers Class Cs, etc. without a lot of prejudice.

 

Trailer-type Benefits:

  • With a towed RV, you can use your tow vehicle for adventures while at your locations without having an additional engine, transmission, etc.

  • If you need mechanical work done, you don't have to stay in a hotel while the shop has your RV.

  • Trailer floor plans make more efficient use of the front interior space than motorhomes.

 

Big RV Benefits:

  • There is usually a “basement” that provides additional storage space under the living area, which also provides for heating the floors more effectively and softening the sound of toys hitting the floor and other interior noise-making.

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Cons

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  • A pickup big enough and strong enough to pull a lot of the bigger 5th wheels can cost many times the price of a truck that can pull a smaller towed RV, or even a truck that can be towed behind a motorhome.

  • The entry doors tend to be high off the ground and the stairs can be harder and more dangerous to climb than a motorhome.

  • There are steps to climb inside the interior space to get up into the front area.

  • Having a 5th wheel hitch and a big chunk of the RV taking up your truck bed removes the option of carrying other items in your truck bed.

  • If you're not a tall person, some of the cabinets might require a step stool.

  • The pin weight is a larger percentage of the overall RV than a travel trailer, causing your truck to reach and exceed its max payload with less overall RV weight.

  • There are more situations that can damage your truck or RV than other RV types. Terrain that is not level can smash your RV down onto your bed rails. Turning too sharp can cause the truck and RV to collide if there isn't plenty of clearance. It can be easy to accidentally lower or drop your RV onto your truck bed, tail gate, etc.

 

Big RV Issues:

  • They tend to be a lot heavier than other RVs. This can cause problems with some bridges, snow, sand, mud, wet grass, etc., as well as triggering regulations that don't apply to lighter RVs.

  • If it's over 30 feet, big enough spaces are in shorter supply – particularly in national parks, state parks, Core of Engineers parks, etc.

  • They tend to be taller and have more limiting height restrictions than other RVs. This can make scenic drives like the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Natchez-Trace Parkway impossible.

  • Being tall can make low hanging tree branches in RV spaces a problem.

 

Trailer-type Issues:

  • If you travel a lot, a trailer can mean a lot of hitching and unhitching. This is particularly problematic if you have any physical limitations.

  • Your choice of “get around vehicle” is limited to a vehicle big enough to tow your trailer. (Or you have the cost and inconvenience of driving two vehicles on your travels.)

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