According to the RVIA, more than 11 million American households own RVs. These include retirees, families who love outdoor vacations and millennials who’ve decided to hit the road full-time.
If you belong to any of the above categories, and you’ve spent time searching for RVs for sale, you’re likely to come across the term, ”fifth wheel”.
Keep reading to find out more about these unique RVs and whether a fifth-wheeler is a good choice for your family vacations.
What Is a Fifth-Wheel RV?
A fifth-wheeler is one of five major types of RVs that you tow behind your vehicle. It stands out for its unique tow hitch, spacious interiors, and often luxurious design.
Fifth-wheel trailers get their name from the circular shape of this hitch, first designed by The Martins company in the early 1900s.
Unlike regular towable RVs, fifth-wheelers attach to the bed of a truck using a specialized hitch that accommodates the kingpin attached to the trailer.
An arm, called the kingpin box, goes from the kingpin to the trailer and allows you to adjust the distance from the trailer to the kingpin.
Since the kingpin can swivel easily over a wide arc on the hitch, these trailers are much easier to tow than rear-mounted travel trailers.
Fifth Wheel RVs are very large, measuring between 25 and 45 feet long. Most of these RVs accommodate between 4 and 7 people.
You need to ensure your current truck has the towing capacity to cope with this large trailer and accommodate the specialized hitch before you buy a fifth-wheel,
Some of the top brands in the realm of fifth-wheel RVs are Jayco, Forest River, and Grand Design RV.
Why Choose a Fifth-Wheel RV?
Thanks to their great towing capabilities and spacious interiors, fifth-wheel RVs have long been a favorite amongst outdoor enthusiasts. These are some of the best benefits of these campers:
Most of the other large types of RVs are of the motorized variety. That means you’ll need to take a second vehicle along with you on vacation unless you want to pack up your campsite every time you need to go anywhere.
With a fifth wheel, you get to enjoy the comfort and spaciousness of a large RV and you can still use your vehicle independently.
Some of the weight of your fifth-wheel RV rests on your tow vehicle. That makes it easier to maneuver and more stable when it’s in motion.
The elevated hitch point reduces trailer sway on the road and better distributes the weight of the trailer. Thanks to this, you’ll use less fuel than when towing a regular travel trailer.
Large and Luxurious
Large families can’t go wrong with a fifth-wheel RV. Most of them have a lofted sleeping area in the space that goes above the truck bed, which acts as an extra room.
It can either serve as a master bedroom or a multi-bunk area. Nowadays, fifth-wheel trailers come with dedicated office space, too.
Fifth wheels have large interiors that aren’t taken by engines or driver cabs. They feature spacious kitchens with all the mod cons and ample bathrooms with space for everything you need.
Most fifth-wheels also have multiple slide-outs, which maximize the size of the interiors. Usually, these conveniences help enhance the living area, kitchen, bedroom, or wardrobes.
They have ample storage, especially if you choose one with a pass-through basement area.
Like any vehicle, a motorized RV requires routine maintenance and repairs. You’ll need to change the oil, flush the fluids, and fix issues, effectively doubling your vehicle maintenance costs.
With a towable trailer, you never have to pay for these issues. You’ll still need to replace tires, keep any moving parts well lubricated, and see to wear and tear.
Are there any Negatives Associated with Fifth-Wheel RVs?
Although size is a major benefit of fifth-wheel trailers, it’s also associated with most of the drawbacks. These are:
Fifth-wheel RVs weigh between 6,000 and 14,000 pounds when they’re empty. The huge weight of a fifth-wheel RV means you’ll need a powerful towing vehicle to tow your trailer.
You must tow your RV with a truck that’s powerful enough to haul it and stop it. In many cases, you’ll need to buy a suitable vehicle when you purchase your RV.
When towing a trailer, you can’t nip into the living quarters of your RV for a quick cuppa. Your towing vehicle and your RV are completely separated.
So, if everyone decides to travel in the RV, you could face a long, lonely road ahead.
Unless you’re living in your RV full-time, you’ll need somewhere to store it when you’re not using it. These types of trailers are enormous, so can’t simply pop them into the garage, or leave them outside in your yard.
When you own such a large trailer, you’ll likely need to hire a storage unit to keep it safe when you’re not using it.
Test Drive the RV Lifestyle
Are you eager to experience the benefit of a fifth-wheel RV, but not sure if you’re ready to commit to the high price tag of these luxury vehicles?
The best way to find out if a fifth-wheel suits your needs is by renting one from a reputable dealer. You should also discuss your needs in depth when visiting a dealer to see what’s available.
RV salespeople have all the know-how to guide you in the best direction for your vacation needs.
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