Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by Christina
Recreational vehicles are growing in popularity with adventurers of all ages and fifth wheel RVs are perfect if you want to quickly hook up and take off. Whether you like to keep camping simple at your local campgrounds and state parks, you are a recent retiree who wants to hit the open road and explore or you are ready to splurge on luxury, there are fifth wheel floor plans for every need.
A fifth wheel is a home on wheels that offers the most spacious accommodations and luxurious amenities of any other type of towable RV. Unlike a motorhome, fifth wheels tow behind a heavy-duty truck, giving you more mobility than a Class A or Class C RV. Fifth wheel RVs are also a cost-effective alternative to the expensive and ongoing costs associated with hotel lodging, eating at restaurant and traveling by air.
Fifth wheels are great for larger families and for those who want some privacy while camping. The roomy interiors are also perfect for hosting get-togethers with friends and family. Additionally, they offer a smoother driving experience with less sway, so they work well for longer trips.
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Table of Contents
What is a fifth wheel?
Fifth wheels are split-level RVs that must be towed by a truck with a special hitch. Typically, a fifth wheel will have a living space or bunk area on the lower level and a private bedroom that hangs over the truck bed. Fifth wheel RVs are available in all sorts of styles and sizes. The smallest fifth wheels have less than six feet of headroom and are just large enough to squeeze in a wet bath. The largest fifth wheels weigh tens of thousands of pounds and must be towed with a semi-truck cab.
Fifth wheel travel trailers are great because they offer both the flexibility of a towable vehicle, as well as the comfort and luxury of super-sized RVs. If you plan to spend more time on the road, then you will want to make sure you have enough space for long comfortable trips, as well as some amenities for those rainy days. Even if you’re only a weekend warrior, a fifth wheel gives you plenty of extra leg room to feel comfortable anywhere the road may lead. If you have a family with children, a fifth wheel can give you a little bit of extra privacy.
What are the primary differences between fifth wheels, travel trailers and toy haulers?
When it comes to choosing between travel trailers versus fifth wheels, there are not many differences. Instead of thinking of it as fifth wheels being better or travel trailers being better, it’s more about fit and which kind of RV best suits how you want to travel.
Fifth wheels and travel trailers vary greatest when it comes to length. They are available in a bigger range of lengths — from 12 to 35 feet. You can get the same roomy feel of a fifth wheel with a large travel trailer, but you also have the option to go much smaller. The smaller options allow you to tow with a smaller vehicle, like an SUV or light pickup truck. In other cases, you may be able to tow with a mid-size truck rather than a full-size truck. On average, a fifth wheel weighs somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds. In contrast, travel trailers tend to weigh 3,000 to 12,000 pounds.
Fifth wheels have an unparalleled amount of storage compared to other types of RVs. The longer an RV, the more outdoor storage bays it has available. In addition to more exterior storage bays, fifth wheels are often equipped with a basement of sorts. This term refers to large pass-through areas that can accommodate long items, such as paddles, surfboards, etc.
Additionally, fifth wheels have the greatest variety of floor plans. The placement of slide-outs can make a huge difference.
The main difference between toy haulers and fifth wheels is seen inside the RV. With a toy hauler, you will have a large garage space that often transforms into a living area with couches or beds when not being used to haul toys and gear. With a toy hauler, it’s not just about living in or camping. It’s also about getting your golf cart, ATV, motorcycle, dirt bikes or other toys to the campground.
Toy haulers are built on a sturdier frame and, therefore, can be much heavier. The dry weight for the average toy hauler is around 10,000 pounds, but models can range from 4,000 pounds up to 15,000 pounds. If you’re a traveling family, the extra space in the garage will provide additional sleeping areas for the kids and an indoor play area. The garage can also be converted to a space for homeschooling a young family. Furthermore, pets are another reason you might choose a toy hauler. The garage area is a great place to bring your wet, sandy or muddy pets inside, but still keep the dirt under control.
How big are fifth wheels?
Fifth wheel RVs often stretch anywhere from 30 to 45 feet in length. Many families opt for fifth wheels because they’re usually some of the largest travel trailers. Fifth wheels can vary widely in weight, with the smallest starting at around 2,400 pounds and going up to 24,000 pounds. It’s critical to have a heavy-duty truck — and a fifth wheel hitch — to tow them.
Unfortunately, not every fifth wheel will fit in any RV park. Many older parks have not updated their campsites to reflect the length of newer RVs. Even some national park campgrounds can’t accommodate an RV more than 30 feet long. If you plan to stay in state parks and national parks often, you may want to consider a short fifth wheel. Many RV parks across North America can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet long, but be aware that those spaces may be limited. Make reservations in advance.
Is a fifth wheel easy to tow?
While travel trailers attach to your vehicle using the conventional hitch ball system found on most trucks and SUVs, fifth wheels use a special hitch which can only attach to the bed of a pickup truck. Because fifth wheels tend to be larger and heavier than travel trailers, you’ll need a truck with a high towing capacity. Before purchasing an RV, check the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for the fifth wheel and compare it to your truck’s towing capacity. If the GVWR is heavier than the towing capacity, you’ll either need a bigger truck or a smaller RV.
That said, many people find that towing a fifth wheel is easier than towing a travel trailer because of the way it is hitched.
Where can you go camping in a fifth wheel?
Due to their size and weight, fifth wheels are best suited for a campground or a campsite that is easy to access. Most of these trailers are not equipped for wandering too far off-road, although that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for boondocking in a remote location. You’ll just need to choose the right place to accommodate a towable RV of this size.
Most fifth wheels come with fresh, gray and black water tanks, but they can vary widely in size. Some tanks as large as 75 gallons, which provide plenty of capacity for camping off-the-grid for an extended period.
Who are typical fifth wheel owners?
Trailing only conventional travel trailers, fifth wheels are the second most popular RV types, accounting for 20% of RV owners. An RV Owner Demographic Profile from Go RVing shows young families make up 27%of fifth wheel owners, while 34% are Millennials or Gen Zs and 24 percent are first-time owners.
Fifth wheels are, on average, used roughly 30 days out of the year. They are used most often in summer (85%), followed by fall (61%), spring (50%) and winter (36%). Just over half of fifth wheel owners prefer to stay at private campgrounds or state parks, while a little more than a third favor national parks or campgrounds.
In terms of demographics, 46% are between the ages of 18 to 34, while 54% are ages 55 and older. 59% of those with a fifth wheel are female, and 41% are male.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning a fifth wheel?
Popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts, fifth wheels make it easy to take the whole family camping in comfort. Outfitted with numerous amenities and features, these RVs quickly become your home away from home.
Advantages of owning a fifth wheel
Tow Vehicle Doubles as Transportation
When you purchase an RV, it only serves one purpose. Very rarely would you drive your RV around town to run errands. Additionally, once you set up camp with an RV, you don’t want to break everything down to run back into town or to access a nearby lake or trailhead. Conversely, with a fifth wheel, the truck that tows your RV can double as transportation both during and after a trip. When you are in-between camping trips, your truck can also act as a primary vehicle while your RV is stored.
Safe Towing Option
One of the benefits of a fifth wheel versus many travel trailers is how much safer they are to operate. A fifth wheel holds the weight of the RV in the bed of your truck. This makes it easier to maneuver the RV and increases the stability of the fifth wheel when in motion.
For large families, a fifth wheel is the perfect choice. Most fifth wheels feature a lofted sleeping space above the truck bed. This extra space is typically designed as a primary bedroom or a multi-bunk area. Additionally, fifth wheels frequently feature slide-outs, which can be equipped with even more sleeping options.
Versatility in Amenities Offered
There’s no limit to the amenities a fifth wheel can offer. The large body space provides ample room to host all of the extras. If you want to take your dream kitchen on the road, or if you cannot do without your own personal bathroom, a fifth wheel is an excellent choice.
Less Vehicle Maintenance
When you purchase a motorhome, such as a Class A, B or C, you commit to upkeep on a second motorized vehicle. This means double the oil changes, fluid flushes and general vehicle upkeep. With a fifth wheel, you only need to perform maintenance on your truck towing the RV. While there are still some maintenance tasks associated with owning a fifth wheel, such as replacing tires as needed and keeping moving parts lubricated, there is far less maintenance than a traditional motorhome.
Disadvantages of owning a fifth wheel
Requires a Capable Vehicle
Normally, it doesn’t matter what size your personal vehicle is. For example, you can drive a small Toyota Corolla as your daily commuter. However, when you choose a fifth wheel, you will need to ensure you have a truck capable of towing the RV. Fifth wheels require a heavy-duty truck that can not only handle the weight of the RV, but can also safely stop it. If you don’t already own the right vehicle, this can require a second investment.
Separation Between Driving and Living Space
When you are towing a fifth wheel, you will be separated from your living space. Unlike a motorhome, you cannot simply run into the back of the RV and hop back into your seat. You will need to pull off the road, exit your truck and enter the fifth wheel to access the kitchen, bathroom or bedrooms. Currently, only 23 states allow passengers to ride inside fifth wheels while driving, but each state has its own safety requirements and conditions. Even if it is legal in some states, this does not mean it is always safe. Additionally, if you cross into a state that does not allow passengers to remain in fifth wheels, all passengers must ride in the main vehicle.
Needs Ample Storage Space
When you aren’t using your fifth wheel, you will need to find a place to store it. Unlike a small camper van or pop-up trailer, fifth wheels take up a decent amount of room. If you don’t have the space at home, this might require renting a storage unit or RV storage space during the off-season.
How much do fifth wheels cost?
Because they’re extended travel trailers instead of motorhomes, the best fifth wheel RVs come at competitive prices. Expect to spend between $25,000 and $120,000 for a fifth wheel RV. Extra features and higher build quality will cost more. Not all fifth wheels are classified as being a luxury model. In fact, there are many models that are basic and designed to appeal to tradesmen and construction workers who want the comforts of home, but don’t necessarily care to pay extra for leather furniture and hot tubs.
A fifth wheel typically costs more than a travel trailer, as it provides a bit more amenities and a better driving experience. It’s a better option if someone wants to try full-time RVing. Fifth wheel prices tend to vary depending on the make, year and amenities that come included.
Another factor to consider is storing your RV when it’s not in use. If you do not have the space to store your RV on your property, you’ll likely need to rent space from a storage facility. On average, it costs between $50 to $200 per month to store an RV, with the actual cost influenced by various factors. The average cost to store an RV indoors is roughly $135 a month, according to Sparefoot, a self-storage marketplace. Naturally, the size of an RV can greatly influence the cost to store it.
Financial options for purchasing a fifth wheel
A number of financial options are available when it comes to purchasing your fifth wheel. While some may pay in cash, most will finance their purchase over the course of several months. Monthly payments can be reduced by providing a large down payment at purchase. This could also help secure a lower interest rate, leading to even more savings in the long-term. Many RV dealers and banks offer great financing options.
Creating an RV budget will help you stay within your financial boundaries and help narrow your fifth wheel RV search. Be sure to also include parts or accessory upgrades, regular preventative maintenance and RV insurance in your budget. You will also need to account for storage costs if you are unable to store your fifth wheel on your property when not in use. RVing is growing in popularity at an exponential rate because it can be enjoyed on nearly any budget. Read about some ways to save money while RVing.
What’s the best fifth wheel for me?
Offering superior space, amenities and maneuverability compared to other towables, fifth wheel RVs are a popular choice for travelers who want it all. If you’re looking at trailers more than 28 feet long, a fifth wheel is probably the better choice. They have higher ceilings with multiple levels and can be situated better when you are pulling them.
Next to your home, an RV is most likely the second-most expensive item you’ll ever purchase. If you’re looking for an RV that’s spacious enough for the entire family, you’ll definitely want to check out the best fifth wheels General RV has to offer.
Before you buy: 10 Best Fifth Wheels at General RV
The Grand Design RV Reflection combines luxury, value and towability in one amazing, best-in-class package. The quality and service you have come to expect from Grand Design have made the Reflection a trusted name in North America.
Reflection is built with the Artic Four-Season Protection package, which provides a 35,000 BTU high-capacity furnace, double-insulated roof and front cap, a heated and enclosed underbelly with circulating heat and 12 volt heat pads on the holding tanks that allow you to travel during any climate. The interior offers residential cabinetry, a deep-seated stainless steel kitchen sink in the gourmet kitchen, a spacious shower with a glass door and ductless flooring in the living area.
Brinkley RV has introduced a new mid-profile luxury fifth wheel, the Model Z. The bright and modern interior provides more than just luxury and feels like a home the minute you step inside. The Model Z features wide-stance leveling jacks for easy set-up, an automotive-grade front cap, lights and lens for a superb upscale look and feel. It also features industry-first brass plumbing connections, quad-entry solid steps with motion lights and two outside hot and cold showers.
On the inside, clean lines create a modern look throughout that is both warm and inviting. The cabinetry and kitchen fixtures feature gold-accented handles and great lighting. All of the details will make you feel right at home as you travel. The center island features built-in double pull-out trash bins with an integrated Stow & Go paper towel holder, doggy bowls, plus a built-in utensil drawer in the dining table. There is ample storage both inside and out, with tons of overhead cabinets, drawers and shelves. You’ll also find hidden storage in the bedroom, an 84-inch pantry, ample exterior storage and more.
The Forest River RV Impression mid-profile fifth wheel is designed for comfort through quality craftsmanship and attention to what customers’ desire. The open floorplans, décor and high-end amenities provide a luxury feel throughout. Each fifth wheel is constructed with an Aluma-Frame structure with laminated aluminum sidewalls, slide boxes, a front wall and floor, plus one-piece Tufflex PVC roofing and an LCI Space Saver Upper Deck and LCI Rhino Box for more strength.
The exterior offers the One Touch automatic leveling system, Shurflo water pressure regulator, an enclosed docking station and off-grid camping prep. The interior includes Congoleum residential linoleum, Shaw residential carpeting with Stain Guard protection and electric fireplace and space heater, as well as oversized windows for great views and circulation of natural air.
The Keystone RV Avalanche fifth wheel allows you to live large for less. These full-profile luxury models feature spacious living quarters, a unique wide-body construction and frameless panoramic windows to give you great views of the mountains, lake or forest.
Each model includes an exclusive four-season RV Polar Pack climate protection that will allow you to camp all year long with its heated and enclosed underbelly, two static attic vents, a 35,000 BTU furnace and more. The modern interior decor and stunning solid wood cabinet doors will have you feeling right at home. Each model includes a 40-inch designer fireplace with a decorative surround for a truly cozy space. Towing is made hassle-free due to the Road Armor shock absorbing hitch pin, plus the Max Turn Technology and Hitch Vision with LED lighting. The one-touch, six-point hydraulic level up system makes setting up easier than ever.
The Keystone RV Cougar fifth wheel goes above and beyond. This collection showcases some of the most livable full-profile floorplans, while still maintaining an ultra-towable length. The MaxTurn technology with Road Armor shock absorbing hitch pin and Hitch Vision create unparalleled towing control. The innovative iN-Command smart RV control system and Climate Guard all-season protection make the Cougar fifth wheel an obvious choice for full-time or extended-stay camping.
The SolarFlex 200 solar energy system comes standard, but you can upgrade this system to a SolarFlex 400i or SolarFlex 600i-L to suit your needs. Some other new features include the 16 cubic-foot, 12-volt refrigerator, an on-demand water heater and a new exterior graphics package. Another Keystone advantage is the Blade Pure air conditioning system. Keystone has developed air vents and air intake which incorporates a residential air filter to help alleviate airborne annoyances that cause pollen allergies. The system utilizes a standard-size air filter available at most hardware stores.
A higher standard is found with the Crusader fifth wheels by Prime Time RV. These models have been designed by thinking outside of the box to bring you product innovations, durable construction and luxury features.
Each fifth wheel includes the Extreme Thermal Package Plus with an enclosed and heated underbelly, heated basement storage, high-density block foam insulation and more, to deliver zero-degree extended season enjoyment. The Super Turn front cap with LED lights and Dexter E-Z Lube axle hubs provide hassle-free towing. Set-up will be easier than ever with the auto-leveling system. The interior will make you feel right at home with hardwood cabinet doors, beveled solid surface countertops, blackout roller shades and stain-resistant, easy-to-clean vinyl furniture.
After customers told Alliance RV what they wanted in a fifth wheel, they delivered the Paradigm. Designed by the Alliance RV team with hundreds of years in the business, you can be sure you’re getting a functional, high-quality luxury fifth wheel with the Paradigm.
The eight-and-a-half-foot wide-body chassis, Mylar-reinforced exterior seals and insulated, laminated rear wall will provide a durable fifth wheel made to last. A MORryde CRE 3000 suspension system and Dexter 7,000-pound axles provide the ultimate towing experience and the six-point hydraulic leveling will make set-up easier than ever. Head inside to find Champagne Bronze hardware, atrium windows, a large residential shower and MCD roller shades throughout to provide privacy.
The Grand Design RV Solitude are extended-stay fifth wheels that are spacious and include residential features, giving you long-term value. Taller ceilings, bigger cabinets and a sweeping scenic window all make the Solitude a dream.
The 101-inch wide-body, five-sided aluminum cage construction is a full five inches wider than many RVs in its class. The wide-body chassis allows for more livable floor space with deeper slide rooms, wider sofas in rear lounge models and space-saving sliding pocket doors into the bathrooms — all at a shorter towing length. More standard features include the chef-inspired stainless steel cooktop and oven, the six-point hydraulic auto leveling system, Weather-Teck insulation to enjoy four seasons of camping, plus many more comforts.
Redwood fifth wheels by Crossroads RV are the foundation of luxury. There are many best-in-class features that will snag your attention, like the aerodynamic profile, solid hardwood cabinets and solid-surface countertops. Each fifth wheel is built to make you feel like a king or queen.
Throughout the interior, you’ll find residential carpet and linoleum, as well as USB ports and a central vacuum with power dust pan for when messes happen. There is an iN-Command global automation system, Winegard Connect 2.0 4G/Wi-Fi, 15,000 BTU Whisper Quiet A/C and energy-efficient 35,000 BTU furnace. A second 15,000 BTU Whisper Quiet A/C is included in the bedroom, along with a 39-inch LED HDTV and gel-foam tilting king-size bed. An exciting living area features a 5,100 BTU fireplace, Bluetooth sound bar with powered subwoofer, wireless charging pad and 4K Smart HDTV. All of this luxury sits on a Custom FIT 2.0 chassis with six-point hydraulic jacks, a MORryde LRE 4100 suspension system, Falcon 8,000-pound axles and a Falcon two-inch receiver hitch rated at 3,000 pounds.
Start an extraordinary adventure with an Arcadia three quarter-ton fifth wheel by Keystone RV. The Arcadia includes higher ceilings, unmatched storage space and more fresh water tanks in each floor plan. Whether you plan to camp on weekends or go full time, the Arcadia is for you.
Each Arcadia includes the Peak Weather Protection Package for better protection all year long and the standard SolarFlex 200. Or choose the optional SolarFlex 400i or 600i for even more off-grid camping capabilities. You will feel right at home with residential features like designer vinyl flooring throughout, a farmhouse-style sink, an upgraded memory foam mattress and much more.
Is a fifth wheel worth it?
If you already own a truck capable of towing a heavy load, a fifth wheel could be an affordable entry into RV ownership. Another advantage of towable RVs is that you only have one vehicle engine to maintain, compared to a Class A or Class C motorhome with a tow car.
Owning an RV can lead to significant savings compared to the costs of a typical vacation with flights, rental cars, accommodations and meals. However, fifth wheels, like any RV, also come with long-term maintenance costs, storage fees and other expenses to consider.
Finally, choosing the right RV comes down to meeting all of your needs, including price points. General RV’s experts can answer all your questions and provide recommendations based on your unique needs. Visit your local General RV dealer to explore our huge selection of fifth wheels for yourself. We have thousands of fifth wheels in stock including all the best brands from top manufacturers. After you’ve found the perfect RV, we’ll provide a personalized orientation to get you on the road with confidence.