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Tow Vehicle Options
Travel trailers are generally lighter than 5th wheels. This makes them easier to tow with a wider range of vehicles. A large selection of trucks can pull a travel trailer, whereas many of the larger 5th wheels require a specialized diesel truck.
Travel trailers can be towed by any vehicle with a tow hitch, whereas 5th wheel trailers need a special hitch.
With their lighter weight, travel trailers tend to have less storage space than 5th wheels. However, many travel trailers are available with modular storage systems that add storage space where you need it most.
Fifth wheels are larger than travel trailers because they have to be long enough to accommodate the "gooseneck" style hitch that connects them to the truck bed. The slide-out rooms in larger models make fifth wheels feel even bigger inside than their floor plans suggest. We traded up from a 36-foot travel trailer with two slide outs to a 40-foot fifth wheel with four slide outs. More space means more comfort, but it also means more weight and less maneuverability.
When it comes to vehicle weight and tow capacity, the trailer is king. If your tow vehicle isn't up to the task, it may result in an accident. The first thing you need to do is find out what kind of load your vehicle can carry. The easiest way to do this is through your owner's manual. You'll find a table in there that tells you what your truck or SUV can handle when it comes to Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) among other types of weight.
- Tow rating
- GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating)
- GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating)
- Curb Weight (CW)
- Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
- Pin Weight (PW)
This is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely tow, according to the manufacturer.
This is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle and trailer can weigh combined, according to the manufacturer. is important because it tells you both how much you can tow and how much your trailer can weigh when fully loaded (for travel trailers, this includes the tongue weight).
This is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle and trailer can weigh combined, according to the manufacturer. The GCWR is important because it tells you both how much you can tow and how much your trailer can weigh when fully loaded (for travel trailers, this includes the tongue weight).
GAWR is an acronym for Gross Axle Weight Rating. This rating is based on the maximum amount of weight that can be carried by a single axle on your travel trailer or fifth wheel. A higher GAWR means that your vehicle can carry heavier loads without risking damage to its frame or tires.
GTW means Gross Trailer Weight. This is the weight of the fully loaded and ready to go travel trailer or 5th wheel.
This is the base weight of the trailer itself. It does not include passengers, fresh water, LP gas, cargo, or dealer-installed accessories. It does include the weight of standard equipment, fluids (engine oil and coolant), full fuel tank and air in tires.
The amount of weight you can add to the trailer before you exceed its maximum allowable GTW. This includes everything you carry in or on your travel trailer or 5th wheel, including people, food, clothing and other supplies. The CCC includes both dry and wet weights. Dry weights refer to cargo that is fixed in place while wet weights refer to cargo that moves within the trailer (like water in the fresh tank).
This is the vertical weight pressing down on your hitch ball when you connect your tow vehicle to your trailer.
- A dedicated office space for work
- A dedicated bedroom space for sleep
- A dedicated bathroom space
- WITHIN those spaces, lots of storage!
Facts about travel trailers versus 5th wheels
- 5th wheel trailers are typically more comfortable than travel trailers because you have more space, more closet space and more floor space.
- 5th wheel trailers cost more than travel trailers because they're bigger and the tow vehicle needs to be stronger.
- 5th wheel trailers are harder to drive with a long wheelbase.
- Travel trailers are easier to move in and out of parking spaces with a short wheelbase.
- Travel trailers can be towed by any vehicle with a tow hitch, whereas 5th wheel trailers need a special hitch.
- Travel trailers can be parked in places that don't allow motorhomes (RV's).
- Because they're smaller, travel trailer are cheaper to buy, own and operate.
- You can park a travel trailer in your driveway or even in your backyard if preferred.
- A travel trailer typically has a smaller, lighter frame than a fifth wheel.
- Travel trailers come in all shapes and sizes.
- Fifth wheels use a heavier weight rating than travel trailers.
- Fifth wheels are also more expensive due to the fact that they need to carry more weight for stability and structural integrity.
- Fifth wheels typically have larger slide-outs or can be purchased as an expandable model that is even larger than a standard fifth wheel.
- Fifth wheels can also be self-installed so you can save on cost if you're handy with tools.
Cooling and Heating
Most RVs come with a roof air conditioner, but if you plan to live in your RV full-time, it may not be enough. You'll need a heat pump for cold days and nights. Standard trailers use truck heating systems, which can be loud and inefficient. A quieter, more efficient option is an RV add-on furnace that uses fuel from the vehicle's tank or propane tanks.
5th wheels tend to struggle more with cooling and heating over a travel trailer due to their larger size. Depending on where you are in certain types of 5th wheels, you can either be feeling more heat over cold.
So, which is better – travel trailers or 5th wheels?The answer isn’t that simple.
Travel Trailers are more maneuverable than 5th wheels and also tend to weigh less, which makes them easier on your tow vehicle. But they also ride lower to the ground, so you can feel more movement when you’re driving down the road. Some people find that unnerving and uncomfortable.
5th wheels are larger overall (especially the living area) and give you a bigger size-for-size option than travel trailers. They also tend to be sturdier than travel trailers because they ride on top of your truck bed instead of behind it, which gives you more stability while you drive. The downside is that they’re harder to back up and take some getting used to.
Once you’ve made the decision to go with trailer or a 5th wheel, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each type. Specifically, you’ll need to consider whether or not you prefer the level of mobility that comes with a travel trailer. In practical terms, trailers offer more flexibility for traveling around and a more realistic option for people who need towing capabilities. However, if convenience is your top priority, then a 5th wheel may be your best bet. With the break from the tow vehicle that comes with a 5th wheel, you can more easily pop open the door and take care of things on your own.
The best thing to do when comparing the 5th wheel to travel trailer is to determine which one will suit your needs the best. Both have their perks and it's up to you to decide how much space you want as well as how many features are important to you.