What is a 5th Wheel RV?

A fifth-wheel RV is a type of towable trailer that hitches inside the bed of a truck instead of being mounted to a steel ball located on or below the rear bumper. A few advantages of fifth-wheel travel trailers are they can typically tow larger trailers allowing for more cargo storage and are more stable for towing.

Because fifth-wheel trailers allow for heavier payloads, they require a larger, full-size, one-ton, or larger truck to tow them. The unique hitch requires special towing equipment that's permanently mounted in the truck's bed. One of the primary advantages of this hitching method is improved safety while towing at highway speeds.

The best 5th-wheel RVs have many features that are typically a good fit for many types of owners. For example, a luxurious fifth wheel is commonly the choice of experienced or full-time travel trailer users because they offer larger floorplan layouts and easily accommodate many of the high-end amenities they want.

In addition to the layout, the best 5th-wheel RV living spaces also offer more weight capacity, which comes along with the upgrades and appliances. Few trailer manufacturers say heavier is better, but more weight often means higher quality for a fifth-wheeler and other travel trailers, but I'll say it. Lightweight trailers usually have more service issues because they're constructed with cheaper materials and skimpy systems that don't hold up under the rigors of extended trips on the highway.

Fifth-wheel campers often offer a private main bedroom with a door with full-sized queen and king beds! new RV shoppers may be surprised to learn this isn't the case in all travel trailers. A lack of privacy and a shorter RV-style "queen bed" are often offered.

The other features to consider closely when shopping for fifth-wheel campers are the storage space they offer, the quality of kitchen appliances and countertop workspaces, adequate sleeping space, bathroom/shower/sink layout, and entertainment options.

Top Features to Look for in a 5th-Wheel RV

It's a very practical and personal decision when considering a 5th-wheel RV because this is your home! You should feel super comfortable, so be sure to do your homework. To answer these important questions, there are several important features to consider. Learn the must-have features of 5th-wheel RVs and uncover your own top essentials to look for before making your purchase. Here are the top eight categories to consider:

Living Vehicle GT38

1. Floor Plan & Layout

The floor plan should suit your needs, providing adequate living and storage space, . Consider the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen layout, seating areas, and overall comfort. Full-time living space requires many comfort features considering the occupant's unique preferences.

Most people can put up with a quick weekend getaway or a multi-week trip with some deficiencies, but full-time living will require elements such as roomier floor plans that offer ample space.

One very ingenious outdoor living space is the option for a fold-down deck. This space get you outside to appreciate the weather and scenery of where you spent thousands of dollars and your valuable time to experience.

Another one of your values may be accommodating up to six people comfortably. This can be tough to accomplish in a way that feels right. I recommend that you and your family kick off your shoes, lie down, and experience the sleeping spaces. We'll cover the sleeping spaces component in more depth later.

Living Vehicle GT32

2. Size & Weight

Check the size and weight specifications of the 5th wheel to ensure it can be safely towed by your vehicle. Consider your tow vehicle's length, width, height, and weight capacity. Fifth wheel camper gross vehicle weight ratings vary widely, however, it's unlikely that a half ton truck will handle the necessary towing requirement. According to CURT, manufacturers of all types of towing equipment, the pickup truck's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) needs to be in the 18-20,00 range to accommodate the dry weight of 5th wheel trailers, which "are one of the heaviest types of trailer, with an average empty weight of about 13,000 pounds. The average GVWR for 5th wheel trailers is around 18,000 pounds, but some are as much as 20,000. Additionally, gooseneck trailers with a 5th wheel conversion can be even heavier." I recommend the towing capacity of the travel trailer be well over the total GVWR of the fifth wheel. This will take in to consideration of the entire RV living space, gear, liquids, and storage need required for full time living. Toy haulers will be particularly heavier due to having another vehicle loaded. Once you've answered the size and weight rating questions you'll be well on your way for enjoyable, successful, and safe RV living.

3. Quality Construction

Look for RVs built with high-quality materials and construction techniques. This includes sturdy frames, durable exteriors, and well-insulated walls and ceilings for better comfort and longevity. Build quality is often difficult to determine in a 5th wheel camper or any travel trailer without industry reviews from credible third-party sources and real owner reviews, so take the time to check them out. It's the same with automobiles. The reputation of top quality vehicles is often made clear from industry reviews like Consumer Reports. Ultimately, your own personal inspection will tell you if it's a quality product because you'll find solid hardwood cabinetry and solid surface countertops. These materials will tend to be heavier, so don't be surprised if quality equates to a higher GVWR. A sure sign of quality are all-aluminum cabinetry because they're not only strong and sturdy under challenging travel conditions, but they're lightweight too. Again, just like a quality automobile, the simple act of opening and closing doors and drawers will give you a firsthand sense of quality (or not). Finally, nothing can replace the quality feeling of a spacious living room, bathroom, and sleeping spaces with large outdoor openings for sunlight, magnificent views, and natural ventilabion. Travel experiences are always enhanced when you're not confined into a space that has little connection with the outdoors, so look for a 5th wheel camper with sliding glass doors, generous windows, and even skylights.

4. Storage Space

Ample storage is crucial in an RV, especially for extended trips and full-time living. Check for cabinets, closets, under-bed storage, and exterior storage compartments for larger items. Where will you securely store your snow skis, snowboards, and surfboards? Having enough space for your personal belongings and toys will enhance your travel experience. Multiple slide-outs are a plus, but they often leak and break. When they do you're up a proverbial creek. I recommend a fold-down deck that allows you to enjoy the Great Outdoors. Another place to check for storage is in the exterior walls. There should be deep and wide compartments for packing large, heavy items under the subfloor of your 5th wheel camper.

5. Kitchen & Living Amenities

A well-equipped kitchen will absolutely make life on the road much easier and more enjoyable. Look for features such as a large refrigerator/freezer, electric stove/oven, convection microwave, ample counter space, and a large deep stainless steel sink. Cooking needs are very individualized and the appliances provided should match your needs perfectly. Kitchen appliances should be of the highest quality, so again, look for industry and current customer reviews. Typically, stainless steel appliances are the best for a 5th wheel RV. To increase food prep space, be sure there's a kitchen island that has 120v power supplied and storage inside. An island kitchen should also be able to be relocated outside to the fold down deck like the Living Vehicle. The LV's center island is constructed from aluminum with a solid countertop and is surprisingly lightweight. Luxury features like a dishwasher (which saves waters over hand washing), and washer and dryer will allow you the freedom and longterm enjoyment you'll appreciate on your wilderness open road adventure.

6. Sleeping Configuration

It's a no-brainer that you'll consider the number and type of beds available. Look for comfortable, quality mattresses and assess whether the sleeping arrangements adequately accommodate your family and guests. How many do you want to sleep comfortably? Is there a convertible sleeping space or two where you can easily change them or make them disappear during the day? Fold-down bunk beds from the walls or a EuroLoft that lowers down of the ceiling is a clever and convenient touch. The most popular sleeping space is a queen size bed. RV manufactuers often offer what's known as an RV Queen, which is about 5 inches shorter than a regular queen mattress that is 60” x 80”. If you or your sleeping partner are over 6' tall (72") then 75" may not fit your needs. When it comes time to resell your camper, a queen-sized bed is better. Many consumers of a 5th wheel want a full king bed in a dedicated master bedroom, with walk-in closet. Mobile suites

7. Bathroom & Shower Facilities

Check the bathroom features, including the toilet, sink, shower/tub, and storage space. Look for a design that suits your preferences and offers sufficient privacy and functionality. Here again, noting beats a personal inspection because seeing is believing. Step inside the shower (I recommend keeping your clothes on!) and see how it feels? Is it wide and tall enough or do you have to keep your arms tucked in so you're not knocking off shampoo bottles off the shelves? And is it tall enough? Is there ample natural light and ventilation? Will you want the ability for two people to use the bathroom at the same time. Jump inside and "try" before you buy!

8. Entertainment and Technology

Consider the entertainment options available in the 5th wheel RV. Look for features such as a large screen TV, quality and adjustable sound system for each room, and multiple device connectivity options. Consider if the fifth wheel camper has a Starlink and WiFi system. Be careful non't to be too impressed by a large entertainment center because so many of entertainment needs are now taken care of by personal devices. Many 5th wheels will have huge over-stuffed leather lounge chairs but in a mobile setting permenant theater seating spaces may not be too practical. The key to a good mobile space is convertability. Along with comfort is the ability to change from one use to another -- this is essential because chances are down the road you'll want options.

In Conclusion

Remember that individual preferences and specific needs will vary, so it's essential to prioritize the most important features when choosing a 5th-wheel camper. New and pre-owned luxury fifth wheels are plentiful on the market. There are so many fifth wheels offering amenities and features that it can become dizzing. But the best fifth wheels for you will be the one that checks off all your personalized requirements.

Here are 9 fifth wheel RVs You Should Consider

Some of the best fifth-wheelers on the market include:

  1. Living Vehicle GT Series
  2. Grand Design Solitude offers
  3. Grand Design Reflection
  4. North Point
  5. DRV Luxury Suites
  6. Keystone Montana
  7. Jayco North Point offers
  8. Forest River Wildcat
  9. Forest River Cardinal