What is a Luxury Fifth-Wheel Camper?
Fifth-wheel campers are among the largest and most luxurious RVs on the market today because they offer more space, features, and can handle heavier loads, all with the luxurious amenities found in Class A motorhomes. A fifth-wheel camper connects to the bed of a truck instead of a 2-5/16" ball below or on the tow vehicle's bumper. One of the major advantages of a fifth-wheel hitch system is it provides more stable towing and turning than a typical travel trailer. They also have a GVWR of anywhere between 15,000 and 30,000 lbs. Typically, fifth-wheel campers are more expensive than bumper pull travel trailers; however, they're usually solid investments because you'll get more amenities and features for your money.
What to Consider When Buying a Luxury Fifth-Wheel Camper
When buying a luxury fifth-wheel camper, there are several crucial questions to ask yourself. These include:
Weight -- Does the GVWR match your tow vehicle's load rating?
Length of the truck bed -- Is the bed configuration compatible with your gear needs and tow vehicle specs?
Hitch style of the RV -- Are the truck bed hookups, height, and other hitch options compatible?
Length -- Are there any restrictions to the length of your fifth-wheel RV for where you want to visit?
Holding tanks -- What are the waste and freshwater capacities?
Size of kitchen and counter space -- Is there adequate storage and countertop space for your cooking needs?
Size and placement of appliances -- Does your fifth wheel trailer need a washer/dryer or dishwasher, and are the appliances you use daily in convenient locations?
Size and privacy of sleeping areas -- How many people will your new RV accommodate for sleeping?
Size and comfort of the living area -- Does the interior space layout meet your design/ comfort needs? Do you need more living space?
Number of bathrooms -- Is one bathroom adequate, or do you need two?
Aluminum construction -- Is this a short-term purchase, or is longevity important to you?
Stairs -- Are there any mobility restrictions? If so, how?
Outside shower -- Where will you wash the dog without messing up the interior?
Fully-equipped kitchen -- Are there any appliances you can live without, or do you need them all? This will often make all the difference in your experience.
Solar panel -- What are your solar energy production requirements? Is off-grid use extremely important?
Beds -- Do you need extra space for sleeping? How many beds?
Power tongue jack -- Is a manual or electric tongue jack important to you?
Power stabilizing jacks -- Are manual or electric stabilizing jacks important to you?
Avoid These Common Pitfalls
While focusing on the options and features to consider, you should be careful to avoid these pitfalls:
Buying the wrong size -- Best to try before you buy a fifth-wheel camper to know the best bet for you.
Ruling out used RVs -- Is buying a pre-owned fifth-wheel trailer an option or must it be new?
Not doing enough research -- It's best not to rush an important investment like this -- make the right purchase.
Not considering the towing vehicle -- Do you have a compatible tow vehicle? You'll certainly need a heavy-duty large truck. Will you want a new one, or will a used vehicle suffice?
Not considering the height -- Do your requirements have a maximum height limit?
Not asking enough questions -- Be a "Curious George" when visiting the 5th wheel dealership. Come prepared with lots of questions.
Getting the wrong insurance -- Consult an RV insurance expert who can advise you on purchasing the best insurance for your needs. Don't forget to consider roadside service or an extended warranty carefully.
Rushing your purchase -- Purchasing a fifth wheel might be a lifelong investment that you'll pass down to your children and grandchildren, so take your time. Don't be pressured into a fifth-wheel purchase by RV manufacturers or dealers.
Amenities and Options
The most popular luxury amenities and options for a fifth-wheel RV can include:
Residential-Style Appliances: High-end fifth wheels often feature top-of-the-line appliances like stainless steel refrigerators, convection ovens, sealed electric cooktops, and dishwasher options.
Upgraded Interior Finishes: Luxury fifth wheels may offer high-quality cabinetry, solid surface countertops, durable flooring materials, and decorative exotic wood accents.
Furniture Options: High-end fifth wheels often come with comfortable seating and office space options such as convertible office configurations that switch from a bed to a desk in seconds.
Master Suites: Luxury fifth wheels may feature a dedicated master suite with a spacious bedroom, a king-sized bed with a premium mattress, high-end bedding, and luxurious bedroom furnishings.
High-End Entertainment Systems: New fifth-wheels may include state-of-the-art entertainment systems with large flat-screen TVs, surround sound systems such as Sonos, and even integrated home theater projection screen setups.
Advanced Technology: Luxury fifth wheels may offer advanced technology features like touchscreen control panels, integrated smart home systems, motorized blinds or shades, and advanced audio/video.
Spa Bathrooms: These trailers often have lavish bathrooms with features like double vanities, high-end fixtures, larger showers with rainfall showerheads, and even spa-like amenities such as a spacious shower with several water sprayer options. You'll also want a no-fog mirror and ample cabinet storage space. Finally, be sure to have a large freshwater tank (100 gallons is best), so you won't have to settle for a military shower.
Washer/Dryer Combos: Luxury fifth-wheels may include built-in washer and dryer units, allowing for convenient laundry capabilities in the trailer. Be sure your new fifth wheel purchase includes a high-capacity freshwater storage for maximum tank capacity.
Enhanced Climate Control: Fifth-wheel RVs often have upgraded climate control systems with zoned temperature settings, advanced rigid foam insulation, and conditioned basement compartments to maintain ideal temperatures for all water and electronic systems.
Outdoor Enjoyment and Relaxation: Avoid slide-outs because they tend to leak and when they break you can't use your fifth wheel until it's repaired. Ensure your fifth wheel takes full advantage of the Great Outdoors with a large sliding glass door and fold-down deck for setting up a propane BBQ grill, an electric blender for outdoor parties, or a coffee maker for quiet morning reflective moments.
The gross vehicle weight rating of a fifth-wheel camper is critically important because it directly affects the towing capacity and stability of the towing vehicle. Exceeding the recommended fifth-wheel weight limit can lead to safety hazards, compromised braking ability, and potential damage to both the camper and the vehicle. Matching the right pickup truck to a fifth-wheel RV-type trailer is critical for a stable ride and fuel consumption. A larger tow vehicle, such as a diesel truck, will be necessary to pull large trailers. New, larger trucks will be more economical in the long run as they won't need more maintenance like used vehicles. A more traditional travel trailer, such as a bumper pull type, may require a bigger truck to pull versus fifth-wheel trailers. The unloaded vehicle weight is important, but it shouldn't be the only number that's considered because you'll most certainly be packing loads of gear, and this weight needs to be considered. You'll want to be sure your tow vehicle also matches the maximum loaded trailer weight rating with a bit of wiggle room so you won't exceed the manufacturer's weight recommendation.
There are several options for fifth-wheel storage:
Home Storage: If you have enough space on your property, you can store the trailer in your driveway, backyard, or garage. Ensure you comply with local regulations and consider any restrictions or homeowners' association rules.
RV Storage Facilities: Renting space at a specialized RV storage facility is a popular choice. These facilities provide secure parking spaces with amenities like security systems, gated access, and sometimes even covered or indoor storage options.
RV Dealerships: Some RV dealerships offer storage services for their customers. They may have designated areas or lots to store your fifth-wheel trailer for a fee.
Storage Yards: Storage yards cater specifically to RVs, trailers, and boats. These yards often provide open parking spaces or covered storage options for a monthly or annual fee.
Private Storage: In certain cases, individuals or businesses might offer private storage options on their property. This could be an empty lot or a large storage building where you can rent space for your fifth-wheel trailer.
Remember to consider factors like accessibility, security, cost, insurance, natural risks such as falling branches/ pine cones/ snow/ flooding riverbeds, and the proximity to your home base when choosing the best storage option for your fifth-wheel trailer.
Take the Go-Slow Approach
There's a lot to know before venturing out on your first trip, and it will be a fairly steep learning curve to get the hang of towing and operating any RV, whether it's a larger fifth-wheel RV or a smaller trailer with a bumper pull hitch. If you haven't yet test-driven other RVs, it's a good idea to check out a few first. Many recreational vehicle options are available for rent through websites such as Outdoorsy, RV Share, and Cruise America. Make buying a fifth-wheel RV fun! One of the highlights of your life, and the lifelong memories you'll create with family and friends, will be visiting national parks and exploring in your camping trailer.
Living Vehicle's Solar Powered Fifth Wheel
Living Vehicle now offers the first ever all-electric fifth wheel with unmatched towing performance and king bedroom suites. Visit their site to learn more.
A fifth-wheel camper is one of the best ways to enjoy what you're optimizing for in a truly amazing travel experience. It's a luxury travel trailer with maximum space, stable towing, and plenty of home-style amenities. It's ideal for those who want the luxuriousness of a diesel pusher motorhome but the flexibility of owning two vehicles, one being your home on wheels at your base camp and the other being disconnected and taken off-road even further into exploring new territory. It's truly the best way to live in a living space like no other!
If a fifth-wheel RV option isn't for you, learn more about alternative options.