Should You Buy A Fifth Wheeler? (Pros And Cons)

When you are in the market for an RV to go camping in, there is a good chance that you will choose a towable RV over a motorhome. This is because motorhomes are generally more expensive upfront and have higher maintenance costs. However, when shopping around for a towable RV, you will quickly notice several types ranging in size from 10 feet all the way up to 45 feet in length.

But fifth wheelers may have caught your eye. Perhaps you like how they look or have a powerful pick-up truck that can easily pull one. Whatever reason you have, you may still be on the fence about fifth wheelers and asking yourself if you should buy one.

Purchasing a fifth wheeler is not something you should take lightly. They tend to be the most expensive towable RV for good reasons. Fifth wheelers are packed with amenities made with luxury materials which offer the best solution when looking for a full-time living arrangement in an RV. Furthermore, fifth wheelers are easily the heaviest towable RV and require a powerful pick-up truck to haul them around. These two qualities will need to be considered before you make your final decision.

With that said, we have created a list of pros and cons you need to consider.

Pros of Owning a Fifth Wheeler

  • Tons of Living Space
  • Luxury Amenities that Make You Feel Like You’re at Home
  • A Large Amount of Storage Space
  • Very Stable Towing
  • Towing Vehicle Can Be Detached

Cons of Owning a Fifth Wheeler

  • Can Be Very Expensive
  • Can Not Access Living Area While Transporting
  • Hitching Takes Time
  • Need a Powerful Towing Vehicle
  • Fifth Wheelers are Tall and Can Have Clearance Issues
  • You Can’t Tow an Additional Small Vehicle or Toy Trailer

The list above is vague but straightforward. However, we will provide an in-depth explanation of every pro and con on our list to help you decide if a fifth wheeler is right for you.

What is a Fifth Wheeler

© Jayco

A fifth wheeler is a type of towable RV similar to a travel trailer. However, instead of using a standard hitch for towing, a fifth wheeler comes equipped with a gooseneck hitch that connects to a pick-up truck flatbed. So basically, if you are in the market for a fifth wheel RV, you need to have a sturdy pick-up truck to haul them around. Fortunately, gooseneck hitches are more stable and provide increased maneuverability over a standard hitch.

Fifth wheelers can be the heaviest towable RV option while also being more expensive than other towable RVs of the same length. However, fifth wheelers offer more living space due to their height and expandable compartments. With a press of a button, certain areas of a fifth wheeler will expand to offer a lot more room to move around. Furthermore, fifth wheelers are often packed with top-of-the-line amenities like full-size kitchens and bathrooms with showers. These luxury amenities often resemble the ones you have at home, providing a more comfortable camping experience.

Like all towable RVs, a fifth wheeler can be detached from your towing vehicle once you have set up camp. This allows your towing vehicle to be used for errands and exploration without the worry of having to move your entire rig or tow an additional vehicle.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Fifth Wheel RV

You should consider everything we discuss in this article to see if a fifth wheeler is right for you. You should measure each pro and con against what your primary use for your RV will be. If the pros outweigh the cons, or if the cons do not affect your decision, then it should be clear that the fifth wheel is for you.

The Pros of Owning a Fifth Wheel RV

First, we are going to kick off our list with the positive aspects of owning a fifth wheeler.

Luxury Amenities that Make You Feel Like You’re at Home

© Byerly RV

Fifth wheelers are packed with amenities that often resemble the ones you have at home. For example, most fifth wheelers will come with a full-size kitchen, including a residential fridge and an oven which most other RVs won’t have the room for. Furthermore, fifth wheelers have enough space to have other full-sized appliances like a washer, dryer, fireplace, and even a dishwasher.

If that was not enough, you are able to install your own residential furniture like a full living room set that includes couches, chairs, and ottomans. Unfortunately, this type of furniture is often too big for motorhomes and travel trailers and sets fifth wheelers apart from the rest.

Tons of Living Space

Fifth wheelers will often have more living space when compared to other towable RVs and motorhomes of the same length. This is due to the higher ceilings inside a fifth wheel, making moving around feel less crowded. Furthermore, fifth wheelers will usually come with expandable compartments, widening certain parts of the RV. These expandable areas, along with the higher ceilings, allow fifth wheelers to feel very spacious, even with multiple people moving around simultaneously.

Like all towable RVs, fifth wheelers do not have a driver’s cabin like a motorhome does. This allows for the manufacturers to lengthen the RV and make more room for amenities and walking around. These aspects combined often make a fifth wheel RV feel more akin to a second home that you can bring along with your adventures.

A Large Amount of Storage Space

© smfdva / Montana Owners Club

Fifth wheelers also come with a fantastic amount of storage space. Fifth wheelers come equipped with pass-through storage space like class A and some class C motorhomes. This storage area is located outside and towards the front of the RV. Slide-through storage opens both sides of the RV and offers tons of storage space. There are multiple slide-through storage compartments on fifth wheel RVs, and most come with hooks that you can install on the walls of a slide-through storage compartment. With these hooks, you can easily store fishing poles, tiki torches, and other objects while having enough space for large boxes, suitcases, and coolers.

Furthermore, the gooseneck hitch that connects to your truck’s flatbed leaves ample room for storing additional items like coolers and other containers.

Very Stable Towing

Due to the weight of a fifth wheeler, they are less susceptible to side winds and swaying when towing than other towable RVs. Not only that, but a fifth wheeler uses a gooseneck hitch that connects to the flatbed of a pick-up truck instead of your traditional hitch. A gooseneck hitch provides a much more stable towing experience that further reduces trailer sway and improves maneuverability.

Due to the fifth wheeler’s enhanced stability and maneuverability, many RV owners prefer the fifth wheeler over other towable RVs when traveling off-road. Because of these factors, towing the fifth wheeler is easier than the other towable RVs.

The Towing Vehicle Can Be Detached

© Camper Report

One of the best advantages that fifth wheelers and other towable RVs have over motorhomes is that once you have set up camp, you can detach your towing vehicle and use it for exploration and errands like grocery shopping. On the other hand, motorhomes have to tow a separate vehicle behind their rig or pick up camp and use their rigs for errands.

While towing an additional vehicle behind a motorhome might seem like the same thing as towing a fifth wheeler, you must consider that you now have two engines to worry about instead of one. Furthermore, towable RVs do not have to get an engine serviced before a trip if the RV has not been used for an extended period.

The Disadvantages of Owning a Fifth Wheel RV

Now that we have finished listing the best advantages of owning a fifth wheel RV, it is time we talked about the other factors that might make you avoid buying a fifth wheeler. The pros of owning a fifth wheel RV may seem amazing and extravagant, but the cons will be the deciding factor. If you find that the cons are overwhelming, then it is best if you do not purchase a fifth wheeler.

Can Be Very Expensive

When it comes to the prices of towable RVs, the most expensive ones are travel trailers and fifth wheelers. A fifth wheel RV will always be more expensive than a travel trailer of the same length when comparing prices. For example, a high-quality travel trailer that is around 24 feet long will usually cost $20,000 to $25,000. At the same time, the cheapest 24-foot fifth wheel RV costs $25,000.

What doesn’t help the fifth wheeler’s case is that you can only tow them with a powerful pick-up truck. This addition of an expensive pick-up truck is usually the deciding factor. However, most people who already own one of these powerful pick-up trucks will often choose to purchase a fifth wheeler over other types of towable RVs.

Can Not Access Living Area While Transporting

Most people will say that the worst thing about towable RVs is that you can not access the living area while you are in transit. However, this gives an advantage to motorhomes, especially if you are traveling with someone who can fix issues that can occur inside the living space or get something to drink while you continue to drive.

But take note, moving around in an RV while traveling is genuinely not safe, and all passengers should remain seated to help prevent injuries while the RV is moving.

Hitching Takes Time

© MotorTrend

Once you are ready to leave and when you finally reach your destination, you will have to hitch or unhitch your fifth wheeler. This can be an annoying process for inexperienced people. However, hitching the fifth wheeler is easier than hitching a travel trailer. Furthermore, the hitching process becomes much easier over time with practice anyway.

Need a Powerful Towing Vehicle

One of the most significant downsides of a fifth-wheeler is the fact that you need a sturdy pick-up truck to haul them around. This factor is due to a few reasons. First of all, the fifth wheeler’s shape and hitching system. Fifth wheelers have a bit of overhang where their gooseneck hitch is. While this overhang can be used for extra storage inside the RV, getting the gooseneck hitch into the flatbed of a pick-up truck is required. The second reason you need a powerful pick-up truck is because of the immense weight of the fifth wheeler. Fifth wheelers can easily weigh over 7,000 pounds which requires you to have a powerful engine in order to haul them around.

If you do not have a powerful pick-up truck, but you are dead set on getting a fifth wheeler, then you have to add the price of an expensive vehicle to the price tag of an already expensive RV. However, keeping up with maintenance on a truck will almost always be cheaper than maintaining the engine of a motorhome.

Fifth Wheelers are Tall and Can Have Clearance Issues

Fifth wheel RVs tend to be the tallest out of the towable RVs and usually stand around 13 feet or taller. This poses a risk when traveling because there is a chance that you can severely damage your RV if you do not pay attention to the clearance signs on the road. Furthermore, you cannot store large objects like canoes on top of your fifth wheeler like you can on other RVs for the same reason.

You Can’t Tow an Additional Small Vehicle or Toy Trailer

In most cases, towable RVs cannot tow an additional small vehicle or a toy trailer behind them. Most states have a law restricting towing something behind another towable object, but few states do not have these laws. However, towing an additional object behind a towable RV adds a significant amount of difficulty and risk.

If you plan on bringing a couple of dirt bikes, ATVs, or an additional small vehicle to get around in, you will have to do additional planning to have someone drive or tow your toy hauler.

Final Thoughts

In general, a fifth wheeler will be best for people who plan on living inside their RV for a long time. Whether you want to live in your fifth wheeler full-time or plan on going on a road trip that will take months to complete, a fifth wheeler is best for you. Furthermore, if you already have a powerful pick-up truck, then a fifth-wheeler can be a good choice for you.

In the end, the final decision comes down to you. If you feel like the pros outweigh the cons, or the cons don’t affect your final decision, then go with a fifth wheeler. However, if the cons we listed above make fifth wheelers too much for the hassle, try going with a travel trailer or a motorhome instead. Whatever your choice ends up being, we hope that our guide has helped you decide.

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