5th wheel vs Trailer - Fiberglass RV
RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 02-05-2020, 12:23 PM   #1
Member
 
Name: corvetteguy
Trailer: Casita
Virginia
Posts: 34
5th wheel vs Trailer

We are enjoying our first camper, a Casita. I look at small fiberglass 5th wheels and wonder what is it about 5th wheels that people like vs trailers. To me it looks like it would be much harder to attach . It also takes up pickup truck bed storage room. I don't even think our bikes could be carried in the truck with the 5th wheel. I am anxious to learn what the 5th wheel advantages are.
garyhall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2020, 04:27 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Jon in AZ's Avatar
 
Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
Posts: 9,762
Registry
5th wheel vs Trailer

More room with shorter overall length. More stable towing. Sharper turns backing. More separation between living and sleeping areas.

You’ve identified many of the disadvantages. Obviously you have to have a truck in the first place. Most are taller, so more wind drag. Resale can be more difficult due to a limited market (truck owners).
Jon in AZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2020, 05:22 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
ZachO's Avatar
 
Name: Z
Trailer: Sasquatch
Montana
Posts: 2,550
Add needing to have a tow vehicle with a much higher payload limit, and you've covered the negatives.

Jon covered the positives.

When I look at the 5th wheel that Bigfoot used to make, what I see is a trailer which doesn't add any overall length to my tow vehicle/trailer length, yet takes my current trailer and adds a separate bedroom. That much more feeling of space, no setting a bed up and taking it back apart every night and morning, and the same "footprint". Pretty nice.

But I store too much in the back of my truck and need a topper, and am already maxed out on payload.
ZachO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2020, 05:40 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Name: Cathy
Trailer: In the Market
Kansas
Posts: 903
With a sticky 5th wheel, which I suspect would be the same issue with the molded fiberglass, I hated those steps. I know it isn't that many, but in the middle of the night when I was half asleep or in a hurry, I ended up "slip sliding away". I am not the most graceful person in the world, so results may vary for those that are graceful. Didn't work so well for the dog either.

I have noticed a definite trend back to travel trailers in the sticky industry as more people are buying to take the kids, and TTs are generally less money upfront. Trucks are SO expensive, even used.
Cathy P. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2020, 08:39 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,370
Registry
We have had a fifth wheel in the past. It towed great, and is shorter in overall length as part of it is over the bed of the truck. Very stable! We also liked that it felt like a two room trailer, with the bed area up front, away from everything else, and a dinette in the rear.

Yes, you need a higher payload rating as you have to include pin weight into your payload.

Forward or backing up, they are a joy to maneuver.

The only real negative is losing the storage in the truck bed, or at least part of it. In our case, we have a camper top over the truck bed, so we would lose 90% of that storage.

I still toy with the idea of going back to a fifth wheel. The Escape 5th wheel has a twin bed option which to me would be perfect.
thrifty bill is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 06:31 AM   #6
CPW
Senior Member
 
CPW's Avatar
 
Name: Carl
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5.0TA
Florida
Posts: 1,527
Registry
Given that there is only two of us, I use the back seat of the truck to transport or store items. That includes a toolbag, a 12v air compressor, a Weber Q in a tote, a small cooler, and a portable satellite dish with accessories in another tote. I do not PERSONALLY understand the need for a full truck bed of storage. My Escape 5.0TA has lots of storage space and frankly, when RVing, I don’t want to take along everything but the kitchen sink. Since 2012 when I bought my first fiberglass 5th wheel, I have had to empty the back seat exactly 2 times to carry passengers and the grill was already set up with the tote off the ground on the fold up/down cargo carrier on the back of my trailer. Took me around two minutes to clear the space. I do carry camping chairs and a 20-pound propane tank (secured in a milk crate) in the bed of the truck in the space around the hitch. If I want to take bicycles, I replace the cargo carrier with a 1Up bike rack, and can still place totes off the ground on it if the bikes are removed. It is easy to hook up because alignment with the 5th wheel hitch is in two planes (side-to-side and up/down) rather than three planes with a conventional ball and coupler (side-to-side, up/down AND front-to-back). And I use the space under the loft to hang wet towels and bathing suits protected from rain showers. The reduced overall length is great in tighter places (gas stations, etc.) and it tows much more stable than any of the bumper pulls I have owned. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and “reasons for,” but I strongly doubt I will ever have anything but a 5th wheel.
CPW is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 07:28 AM   #7
Moderator
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Name: Jim
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Alberta
Posts: 5,899
Registry
To start with a fifth wheel is a trailer, just sayin'.

What it comes down to with the difference to a 5th wheel and a bumper tow trailer bears completely on what works best for yourself, as everyone has somewhat differing needs for camping. Pretty much any trailer supported on this site will allow you the opportunity to go out and make some wonderful memories.

For me there are many benefits to our Escape 5.0TA over a few shortcomings. These are mostly covered already, but are my own feelings.

Benefits
1. Firstly, I just love the layout for the size of the trailer. Having the sleeping area out of the way in the loft is the biggest plus for us as I am an early riser and my wife can sleep in the bed without me bothering here in any way.
2. The added height the slope to the loft gives is an added benefit to the feeling of having lots of space. Great for tall folks too.
3. Though most other trailers tow just fine, the added benefit to a 5th wheel is nice. Extremely stable in cross winds, tighter turning when reversing, very stable when being towed, and much shorter for the overall trailer length.

Shortcomings
1. You do need a pickup with adequate payload capacity, but for me it was a downsize so I am just fine with it. I do need to tow other trailers heavier than my 5.0TA. If you really just want and SUV then it is a disadvantage, but many moulded fibreglass trailers now need more than the 5,000lb towing capacity.
2. You do lose some bed storage but can still carry a lot of stuff alongside, and in front and behind, the hitch. Besides hordes of storage inside. I also added a rear storage bin that holds my bikes on top and now can take way too much stuff if needed, and this is with only the floor in the rear of the cab used, as Jasper still gets the whole back seat.

Air drag is not a problem as the loft design carries the airflow over the top nicely. My fuel economy driving at moderate speeds is very good, but now if I do 120 kph lots that does drop, but very much did with my Honda Pilot towing our Escape 19 too. In fact, on a 2 1/2 month trip a year ago along with my brother and SIL towing their 19 with a Pilot and doing about 100 kph at the most on highways, we both got similar fuel economy. I did have the advantage of speed when needed.

I see the stairs as a huge advantage as they give that nice separation to the sleeping area, and being only three are not any trouble, especially covered in carpet. We may add a hand rail in the future, but I really don't need it at my young age (only 62).

Bottom line, for me our fifth wheel Escape 5.0TA is camping in luxury. Many newer to trailer camping find most of our trailers to be more like roughing it.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 10:42 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
ZachO's Avatar
 
Name: Z
Trailer: Sasquatch
Montana
Posts: 2,550
I agree, every trailer is a compromise, and a negative which is easily overlooked by one person may be a deal breaker for another person with different needs.

I would love to have a Bigfoot (or Escape) 5th wheel. But, I currently live in my trailer in the spring, summer and fall. Everything I own is in the trailer and my truck. I only have so much storage in the trailer, and I really like to be able to access things without digging through 1,000 other things piled on top of them. So I strategically manage what I own between the bed of my truck and the storage in my trailer.

I do pretty well with keeping my possessions down to a minimum, but I really do need the storage in the back of my truck. For now.

It's funny, but I swing from one end of the trailer spectrum to the other. What I really want is either a 5th wheel Bigfoot or Escape, or a 13' from someone else. Either go full luxury, or go bare bones. Maybe not so bare bones as just always tent camping, but as bare bones as houses on wheels get.
ZachO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 11:39 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,370
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPW View Post
I do not PERSONALLY understand the need for a full truck bed of storage. .
I can only speak of my situation. My wife and I are amateur pickers. So road trips become picking trips as a sideline. I buy, sell and restore vintage bicycles. We came out west a week ago to Utah. Along the way, I found EIGHT awesome vintage bikes at ridiculously cheap prices. I found so many in fact that I bought a pair and only had room for one. So I let the seller keep the other bike. On top of the eight I already had our two bikes in back. So that’s ten total. Besides that I have a few odds and ends, nothing that would prevent a fifth wheel.

While we are amateurs, we do well enough at it that we pay taxes on it, and it’s meaningful money.
thrifty bill is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 11:59 AM   #10
Member
 
Name: Bobby
Trailer: Trillium 4500, Casita f/d ,1987 boler voyageur,1988bigfoot5er
Ontario
Posts: 78
I loved my 2008 bigfoot 5er . I have owned many trailers, and it is the one I regret selling the most.It seemed huge inside yet very easy to tow.The largest fridge ,and best layout for a bathroom ever.
5ers are easier to hitch once you get the hang of it. Too bad they lost the molds for that one.
It came to either upgrading my tv or selling the bigfoot and I ended up selling both.
__________________
Prickly
TV- 2013 Land Rover R2
1977 Trillium 4500---2008 Casita F/D
2008 Casita f/d-----1988 Bigfoot 5er---1987 Boler
Bobby Kirk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 01:14 PM   #11
Member
 
Weavery's Avatar
 
Name: Jean
Trailer: Escape 5
North Carolina
Posts: 65
I have a fifth wheel Scamp I have no trouble hooking up alone with a Solo Hitch kit. I pull it with a 6 cylinder Nissan Frontier and have a lot of excess towing capacity, barely know it's there. I had a front receiver hitch added to the truck (I sent pix to the forum some time ago) so I can tote kayaks. The same roof rack on the truck can take a rooftop luggage carrier. The front receiver hitch can also take a bike rack. So I can't carry everything at once but the system is flexible. I also have a toolbox on the truck that has plenty of room in the bed when the trailer is hooked up. I carry a bag of set up tools, a bag of stuff for the dump station, and a bag with roadside breakdown tools in the tool box which is heavy plastic and easy to remove when I am home.

When I am not towing, I have a bed extender for the truck. Despite the hitch in the bed, the kids still hornswaggle me into their many moves and projects.
Jean
Weavery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2020, 03:41 PM   #12
CPW
Senior Member
 
CPW's Avatar
 
Name: Carl
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5.0TA
Florida
Posts: 1,527
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
I can only speak of my situation. My wife and I are amateur pickers. So road trips become picking trips as a sideline. I buy, sell and restore vintage bicycles. We came out west a week ago to Utah. Along the way, I found EIGHT awesome vintage bikes at ridiculously cheap prices. I found so many in fact that I bought a pair and only had room for one. So I let the seller keep the other bike. On top of the eight I already had our two bikes in back. So that’s ten total. Besides that I have a few odds and ends, nothing that would prevent a fifth wheel.

While we are amateurs, we do well enough at it that we pay taxes on it, and it’s meaningful money.
Bill, that is the first comment that I can fully understand. You don’t need the storage to bring stuff with you, you need it to bring back what you acquire. I never thought of that. For you, needing the entire bed makes sense. Best of luck “picking.”
CPW is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 12:54 PM   #13
Junior Member
 
Name: Donald
Trailer: Bigfoot 5th wheel
Colorado
Posts: 28
Bigfoot 5th wheel

We have a 1988 Bigfoot 5th wheel (3800 lb dry weight). We tow it with a Honda Ridgeline (5,000 lb tow limit). No problem with the towing. Several RV mechanics have told me that you can add another 20% to the tow vehicle tow limit because the weight sits right over the rear axle.

We have modified hitch rails which span across the bed and bolt directly to the frame. Ridgelines are unique in that they have a large trunk under the bed and we can access that with the hitch in place.

We had a welder add a tow hitch on the back of the 5th wheel so that we can use our bicycle rack.

If you can find a used Bigfoot 5th wheel, consider it. If you want any advice on modifications, let me know!
donniebob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 01:09 PM   #14
Junior Member
 
Name: Viron
Trailer: casita
Texas
Posts: 12
Another negative is elevated sleeping quarters. Not optimum at 3am.
thumper-tx is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 01:43 PM   #15
Moderator
 
Jim Bennett's Avatar
 
Name: Jim
Trailer: 2017 Escape 5.0 TA
Alberta
Posts: 5,899
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by donniebob View Post
Several RV mechanics have told me that you can add another 20% to the tow vehicle tow limit because the weight sits right over the rear axle.
I fail to see any logic to this, did they have any good facts as to why they said this? The tow limit is the same regardless of hitch type. Owners manuals and specs would let users know the difference otherwise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thumper-tx View Post
Another negative is elevated sleeping quarters. Not optimum at 3am.
How the heck is that a negative? We have never considered it an issue. Besides, given the fact the bed is so nicely removed from the rest of the trailer, we find the steps a huge plus.

Besides, heat rises so it is even warmer up there than lower when the heat is dropped during the night.
__________________
2017 Escape 5.0 TA
2015 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5L EcoBoost
2009 Escape 19 (previous)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
Jim Bennett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 02:19 PM   #16
Junior Member
 
Name: Viron
Trailer: casita
Texas
Posts: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
I fail to see any logic to this, did they have any good facts as to why they said this? The tow limit is the same regardless of hitch type. Owners manuals and specs would let users know the difference otherwise.


How the heck is that a negative? We have never considered it an issue. Besides, given the fact the bed is so nicely removed from the rest of the trailer, we find the steps a huge plus.

Besides, heat rises so it is even warmer up there than lower when the heat is dropped during the night.
If you don’t see having to go down stairs in the middle of the night as a negative,, you’re a lot younger than us. That one issue is a deal killer for us getting a 5th wheel.
thumper-tx is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 02:19 PM   #17
Senior Member
 
Name: Steve
Trailer: 2018, 21ft escape— 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
NW Wisconsin
Posts: 4,414
When we bought our new trailer in 2018 we looked at both bumper pulls and 5th
wheel trailers . There were pros and cons with both styles.
It finally came down to total cost . I could tow a newer , larger bumper pull with my present tow vehicle but a fifth wheel ( Pin weight / payload ) came too close to my vehicle’s limits for my comfort .
As others have said purchasing a new tow vehicle and a new 5th wheel trailer can easily approach $100,000 , which is more than we were willing to spend on what we consider a luxury .
steve dunham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 02:54 PM   #18
Junior Member
 
Name: Donald
Trailer: Bigfoot 5th wheel
Colorado
Posts: 28
Tow limit

When manufacturers compute the tow limits, multiple factors are involved, including:
  • Engine power
  • Torque
  • Braking strength
  • Suspension ability
  • Drivetrain factors

By placing the weight directly over the rear wheels, instead of at the rear end of the vehicle, it provides better performance for the last two factors. That is why you can safely add 20%, as long as you have enough engine power to perform well.
donniebob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 03:08 PM   #19
Senior Member
 
Jon in AZ's Avatar
 
Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
Posts: 9,762
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by donniebob View Post
Several RV mechanics have told me that you can add another 20% to the tow vehicle tow limit because the weight sits right over the rear axle.
I would love to see even one vehicle manufacturer source endorsing that assertion. GAWRs, GVWRs, and GCWRs are fixed values unaffected by trailer type.
Jon in AZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2020, 04:39 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Glenn Baglo's Avatar
 
Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE
British Columbia
Posts: 7,416
Quote:
Originally Posted by donniebob View Post
Several RV mechanics have told me that you can add another 20% to the tow vehicle tow limit because the weight sits right over the rear axle.

When I see a statement like this, I have to ask, do you go around asking RV mechanics this question, or do they volunteer this assessment?
Or, did you just make "several" up?
__________________
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
Glenn Baglo is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Scamp 19' fifth wheel towing -- Scamp hitch vs. converted 5th wheel Stendec Towing, Hitching, Axles and Running Gear 17 11-12-2020 09:13 AM
Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive, and weight-distributing hitches Meg A. Towing, Hitching, Axles and Running Gear 14 04-26-2011 09:04 PM
20' 1984 Bigfoot 5th Wheel Trailer Dana T Classified Archives 6 05-12-2009 08:35 PM
Can a 2007 Toyota Tacoma tow a Scamp 5th wheel trailer? Gary Foster Modifications, Alterations and Updates 4 03-28-2007 02:21 PM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.