When considering purchasing, or even renting, a fifth wheel there are a few things you need to ask before you head out to your campsite in your new RV. First, make sure you know what type of RV this is by checking out our article, “What is a Fifth Wheel?“
After answering the questions below about buying a 5th wheel, you will be well on your way to choosing the perfect RV for your needs. Or you may decide that another type of RV is a better fit for how you plan to camp.
Top Things to Consider Before You Buy a Fifth Wheel
1. What is Your Tow Capacity for Towing a 5th Wheel?
Fifth wheels are towable campers, so knowing your vehicle’s towing capacity before you buy a trailer is important. Your towing capacity will dictate the weight of the trailer you can buy, or create the need to buy, a vehicle that can pull a heavier trailer.
The towing capacity is the max weight a tow vehicle can tow. This includes the weight of the fifth wheel and everything and anything extra you put into the RV, including water in the holding tanks.
2. How Do You Plan to Camp With Your Fifth Wheel RV?
Fifth wheels are a great option for just about any type of camping you plan to do! Both those looking to RV full-time or camp only on the weekends will find that these campers offer many of the same creature comforts of home when utilizing full hook-ups.
Depending on a 5th wheel’s size and durability, they can be great for boondocking on BLM land or state and national parks as they can come equipped with large fresh water and holding tanks.
3. How Long of a Fifth Wheel Do You Need to Camp With?
Fifth wheels come in various lengths, ranging from Scamp 5th wheel trailers, which are no longer than 19′, all the way up to campers over 40′ long.
Fifth wheels on the smaller side will be easier to maneuver and fit into shorter campsites or camp off-grid. Larger 5th wheels will do nicely in level pull-through spots at private campgrounds with full hook-ups.
4. Do You Need a Fifth Wheel with a Bunkhouse or Extra Living Space?
5th wheels are often larger than other RVs and come in a variety of floor plans, including bunkhouses and separate loft sleeping areas for children or guests. Many RVers have even converted the additional space at the back of fifth wheel RV toy haulers into offices and bedrooms, like The Jurgys did in the video below.
Light 5th wheels are models that are lighter in weight, having fewer slides and opportunities to expand trailer living space. Regular 5th wheel models usually have two to five slides to increase the size and feel of the interior of the RV.
5. What Size Holding Tanks Would Your Fifth Wheel Need?
If your fifth wheel will mostly be parked at private campground with full hooks, you don’t really need to worry about the size of your tanks. You’ll have constant and regular access to fresh water and a place to empty your fifth wheel’s tanks.
If you’ll be RVing off-grid in your fifth wheel, without access to fresh water or sewer hook-ups, then you’ll want your tanks to be as large as possible. Larger holding tanks in most fifth wheels minimize the need to break down your RV to go find a place to refill your fresh water tank or dump your grey and black tanks.
6. Where Will You Store Your Fifth Wheel Camper?
If you have a driveway or a large garage, it can be a great place to story your 5th wheel camper. If that is not an option, renting a space at a storage facility is another common way people choose to store their recreational vehicle.
Protecting your fifth wheel from the elements of severe weather conditions is also important. Some people choose to cover their 5th wheel camper with a RV specific tarp, while others opt for a more permanent solution, such as a metal storage shed.
Fifth wheels take up a lot of space, so make sure you have space to store your RV or the budget to afford a monthly RV storage fee. Ultimately, the decision of where to store your 5th wheel camper is up to you and should be based on your specific needs and circumstances.
7. Can You Afford the Insurance for Your 5th Wheel RV?
RV insurance for your camper is a must but is costly. Fifth wheel RV owners pay an average of $800 to $925 per year for insurance. However, a high end 5th wheel camper can cost up to $1,300 dollars a year to insure. If you’re thinking about buying an RV, you need to make sure you can afford the additional expense of RV insurance.
8. Do You Have Experience Towing or Parking a Fifth Wheel?
It’s always better to take a fifth wheel for a test tow before hopping on the open road for the first time. However, towing is often one of the easiest parts of owning a fifth-wheel.
Fifth wheels are more stable than travel trailers when being towed. Backing a fifth wheel into a tight campsite can be tricky at first but with time, most RVers find it to be relatively easy.
9. Will You Need Access to the Interior of Your Fifth Wheel While Traveling?
Gaining access to the interior of your fifth wheel while traveling can be tricky. Smaller RVs do not have as many slides, so you may be able to gain access to the bathroom or refrigerator if you pull-over to the side of the road.
No towable RV with slides will allow for full access to interior until the slides are out. If want to be able to move around in your RV or take a nap on travel days where you can’t put out your slides, a towable fifth wheel RV may not be best for you.
Should You Buy a Fifth Wheel?
Deciding whether a fifth wheel camper is right for you really comes down to your individual needs, camping style, and preferences. There are many reasons to both choose a fifth wheel RV and reasons to avoid buying a 5th wheel.
However, with all the different types of fifth wheel campers on the market, from small and lightweight models that can be towed by most trucks to large luxury models that require a heavy-duty truck for hauling, it should be easy to find exactly what you are looking for.
Since there is almost an endless variety of fifth wheels available, you simply have to decide on what length, weight, and holding tank size works for you. You can also find fifth wheels with slide-outs, which can provide even more space inside the camper when you are parked.
If you’re still not sure, renting an RV to try it out before you buy is always a great option and could save you thousands of dollars if you ultimately decide that a fifth wheel isn’t for you.
We hope this article shed some light on things to consider before buying a 5th wheel RV.
Let us know below what type of RV you decided to rent or buy!