Here at Juniata Valley RV, we understand how important purchasing the right RV for you and your needs are. It takes lots of necessary time and research, but if done thoroughly, it is well worth it in the end. Deciding between a fifth wheel and travel trailer is a choice many RVers must face. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you decipher just which one is right for you.
The main difference between a fifth wheel and travel trailer is the way they’re towed. A fifth wheel is secured to the bed of the towing vehicle, while a travel trailer is hitched to the bumper. There are so many differences between the two and even more questions to answer. So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a fifth wheel?
A fifth wheel is a towable RV that is made by sort of cutting out a part of the RV so it is situated atop the truck bed and attached to the bed vertically. This type of towing can only be paired with a pickup truck that is fitted with a special hitch coupling.
Fifth wheels tend to be a tad more luxurious than travel trailers because it’s simply how they’re designed. They come equipped with the comforts of home, mostly because there’s space for it all. And, they use every square inch of room available for overhead storage. With a fifth wheel, you’ll a modern style along with a high level of comfort – floorspace included. Purchasing a fifth wheel will give you extra room, something often longed for in RVers. You can even find fifth wheels that are convertible to a toy hauler if you’re in need of a garage but can be converted back for sleeping space.
Here are the pros of a fifth wheel:
- Floorplans are often roomier and no storage space is wasted.
- They’re great for first-time towers because jackknifing rarely happens.
- Usually is taller, allowing RVers to fully stand up instead of hunching over.
- Normally easier to hitch than travel trailers, meaning less time to set up and tear down.
- It can also be ideal for full-time RVing, seeing as they come with ample storage space and even king size floorplans for those wanting the more luxurious option.
Fifth wheel cons:
- Fifth wheels are heavy, making them more difficult to tow and make for bad gas mileage.
- They’re typically more expensive.
- More storage in and outside means more maintenance.
What about a travel trailer?
The travel trailer is a general term that describes a towable that can be hitched to the back of any pickup truck. You do not need a special hitch as you do for the fifth wheel – travel trailers use a conventional hitch.
The travel trailer seems to come in endless shapes, styles, and sizes. Some come equipped with awesome outdoor kitchens. Some are only made with enough room for two. Others expand to sleep up to 12.
If you’re looking for a trailer that just sleeps one or two, you have the option of a pop-up or an expandable to look at. However, if you’re taking the whole family, you might need a full-family camper with a luxury kitchen and bathroom. Lastly, toy haulers are great if you need garage space for your favorite motor vehicle. They are so many choices, so start by deciding exactly what you’re needing the RV for. From there, you can narrow your search to make life a bit easier.
Now, for the travel trailer pros:
- Travel trailers are usually much more affordable than a fifth wheel.
- You don’t exactly need a truck to tow one of these – it can be done with an SUV.
- It’s easier to boondock with a travel trailer because they can squeeze into a wider variety of settings.
- Since they hook up at the bumper, they don’t take up any valuable truck bed space.
- These are typically lighter than your average fifth wheel, meaning they’re often easier to tow.
Travel trailer cons:
- They’re normally longer and make trailer sway more inevitable.
- Not as much storage as fifth wheels.
- They’re made smaller, so they are smaller than most RVs.
- The ceilings are lower which can make the space feel cramped.
Which RV is right for me?
Here are a few things to think about before you make your RV purchase.
A fifth wheel might suit you if you already have a large truck you can tow it with and you enjoy taking luxury with you on the road. If you’re worried about maneuvering and towing your RV, fifth wheels are easier to handle. You also won’t have to worry about tight turns or jackknifing with a fifth wheel.
However, if you don’t want to buy another vehicle or have one just for RVing, a travel trailer might fit you better. These can fit any lifestyle, especially if you take a more practical approach to RVing and isn’t afraid to go without hookups. And, since there are so many options, you have a wider financial range. These also tend to be more budget-friendly.
When it comes to choosing between the two, it comes down to your personal needs and what features are most important to you. Do you already have a truck for towing? What’s your price range? Once you have answers to these questions, the choice will be clear to you! There’s no wrong way to RV, but doing ample research ahead of time will help you be happier with your purchase. For example, you may think a travel trailer suits you best, but after doing some homework, you find out the fifth wheel is more appealing to you.
Either way, both of these towables have their pros and cons, but matters most is that you’re happy with your RV and all the great features that come with it. If you have any questions, give us a call at (717) 436-8883 and one of our friendly staff members will help you choose the right RV for you.