Fifth wheel VS travel trailer – what’s best for you?

So, you’re ready for a big RV purchase? Congratulations – soon enough you’ll be a proud owner of the best RV to suit your needs!

But how exactly to make the best choice?  After all, purchasing an RV is not a decision to be taken lightly. First of all, they cost a lot of money. Second, you really want to make sure the specs of the model you’ve picked are just right for your needs. In short, it’s all excitement, fun and games until the moment comes to actually hand over the money…

Today, we will discuss what type of RV you should purchase. The options are numerous, and ultimately, you have the final say as there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. It’s practically impossible to provide uniform recommendations due to personal preferences, financial considerations and so on. However, there are certainly some general points everyone should think about before committing to a purchase!

For most people, the choice will ultimately be between a fifth wheel or travel trailer. Both have a few pros and cons which we’ll discuss – consider those carefully before making a final choice. Besides, there are additional factors which may influence your decision, such as size, resale value, etc.

With all those important things in mind, let’s get started!

 

Fifth wheel RVs

Fifth wheel RVs are trailers that have a “gooseneck” front section, which extends over the bed of the pick-up truck tow vehicle. Because of the location of the hitch (in the centre of the truck bed), fifth wheels can only be towed by pick-up or flatbed trucks.

One of the key advantages of these RVs is their incredible manoeuvrability, compared to travel trailers. In addition, fifth wheels are generally more stable as well, making it easier to backup and hitch them alone without any guidance necessary.

Oftentimes, fifth wheels also feature more storage space due to their unique design, compared to travel trailer models of the same length. Fifth wheels also tend to be taller, which means you will be able to fit in taller campers and other bulky items you may need to take with you.

More space in all dimensions also means that fifth wheels are much friendlier when it comes to accommodating more people, compared to many other RV models. They generally provide the most interior space among all trailer body types, which makes them ideal for family adventures.

In summary, pros and cons of fifth wheel RVs are the following:

Pros:

  • More space for large groups
  • Taller, so great for taller people
  • Increased storage capacity
  • Generally more stable
  • Amazing manoeuvrability
  • Often feature split bedrooms with doors
  • You may be able to increase bathroom space or opt for a king bed
  • Easier to hook up compared to other models
  • Overlaps the truck bed, so generally shorter compared to a trailer of same size

Cons:

  • Fifth wheels are considerably heavier than other models, making them harder for boon dockingdown on unpaved roads
  • Some models are quite long, whereas many campgrounds havelimited spots and/or restrictions for RVs longer than 30 feet
  • The same applies to height, which doesn’t always fit into spots with overhanging trees
  • Tend to be more expensive

 

Travel trailers

Sometimes also called “towables”, travel trailers are large trailers towed completely behind the tow vehicle. Hitching to the back of the tow vehicle, they can be towed by anything that has enough power to pull such a heavy trailer. For the most part, a regular car, an SUV or a van are all suitable options. Using these as tow vehicles also means you can take more people on the trip without a need to obtain a bigger trailer.

The best thing about travel trailers is probably the fact that they come in many shapes and sizes. This means you can pick a portable and lightweight one for short trips, or opt for a big travel trailer if you are planning on travelling with your big family. With one level floor plans and versatile living spaces, travel trailers can be easily customized to suit your needs.

Another important point to consider is the affordability of travel trailers. Compared to fifth wheels RVs of similar sizes, travel trailers are generally less expensive. You can also find lighter models, and some travel trailers are even expandable. Because of their versatility, travel trailers remain the most popular choice among many RV enthusiasts.

In summary, pros and cons of travel trailers are the following:

Pros:

  • Generally more affordable
  • Almost any vehicle can tow them – no need for a truck
  • Usually fit better within a larger variety of campground environments
  • Easier for boondocking/dry camping
  • Back of truck can even be used as garage!

Cons:

  • Tend to be less stable and sway more as a result
  • Low ceilings – not ideal for tall people
  • Less storage space

 

Which one is suitable for me?

So, how do you decide? As we’ve mentioned above, ultimately it’s up to you. Do a lot of research, talk to sellers, participate in forums and ask a lot of questions – the process will likely be quite exhausting, but you’ll find a perfect RV for you at the end.

And last but not least, if you are set on a model you can’t afford to buy new, make sure to regularly check various listings. Lots of people purchase RVs new and then end up almost never using them, which inevitably results in re-selling. So keep an eye out, and you may be able to score an RV pf your dreams for a fraction of the price!

Hope you found this article helpful, and best of luck in finding the RV of your dreams.