Some helpful ideas to consider when deciding between a travel trailer or a fifth wheel
Put any two RV enthusiasts together and you’ll never hear the end of why one brand is better than another and which offers more storage, better amenities, etc.
While we don’t claim to be the experts on “all things RV”, we can give you some pros on cons when it comes to comparing 5th wheels to travel trailers.
When looking at them for a side-by-side comparison, there are areas you must consider:
Travel trailers cost less. A big factor to consider if you will be using it infrequently. They also offer better fuel economy than a fifth wheeler.
You do need to know that travel trailers are harder to tow and can experience more “sway” on the road. This is because of the lighter weight and how the hitch attaches to the tow vehicle. Wind will throw you around and your turning radius is…well…let’s just say, “not so good.” Both types of units are available in multiple sizes, but it is important realize that a large portion of the fifth wheel is positioned over the back of your truck. This means that you aren’t towing all the trailer behind you. If you will be camping closer to home and/or not worried about weather conditions you may experience when towing, your decision might already be made.
Another thing to consider is the height. Fifth wheels are taller based on where the towing connection is made. Trailers are usually under 9’ in height.
If you go the fifth wheel route, you’ll need a bigger truck for towing. Some campers can be pulled behind cars, SUVs or light trucks. If you don’t already own a larger truck, you’ll need to add that expense into the mix.
Take a look at CamperWorlds Towing Guide Calculator if you are wondering if your current vehicle will pull the RV you’re interested in. https://rv.campingworld.com/towguide
Sound like a travel trailer is the way to go? Not so fast…
Fifth wheels are actually shorter than a towing vehicle with a travel trailer attached! And, although larger, towing them is easier since they move with your truck as one unit. So know this: a travel trailer attached to your towing vehicle might be too long for some of the smaller campsites. Be sure to check this out before you make a final decision on what to purchase.
Now this is where things get real. You’ve been told a lie (at least when it comes to RVs!) SIZE DOES MATTER…especially when it comes to living and storage space. Travel trailers are not good for long term or full time RV living, while a fifth wheeler is more like a tow-able “home”.
You need to compare storage space both inside and outside the unit. Here again, the fifth wheel wins in both areas. But, understand that a lot of the extra living space a fifth wheel offers comes in the form of slides that push out from the unit’s exterior once parked. More slides could mean more moving parts to repair and maintain.
Fifth wheels are heavier and safer.
Travel trailers are cheaper to maintain.
Fifth wheels have taller ceilings and offer more privacy.
Campers are great for short trips and “roughing it.”
Many fifth wheels have full size appliances, even washers and dryers! This is a definite plus for extended stays.
The greatest asset of a fifth wheel might also be it’s weakest selling point: THEY. ARE. BIG and ROOMY!
With both units, you’ll save money on hotel rooms, you’ll be comfortable and secure if bad weather happens during your camping trip, and you’ll already have your toad (what the car you need to tow behind a motor home so that you can get around once parked) – so it’s a tie on those arguments!
Best advice? Consider how the unit will be used and where you will be camping.