Towing fifth wheel versus towing bumper hitch - Fiberglass RV
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Old 02-02-2014, 01:57 PM   #1
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Towing fifth wheel versus towing bumper hitch

I know some of you have experience towing both types of fiberglass trailers, so I am looking for your input. Could you describe the pros and cons of towing each type of fiberglass trailer, in your opinion? Would you prefer one type over the other if you plan to make annual trips across the Appalachians or the Rockies? Is either one easier or harder to level or stabilize at the campsite? Escape is planning a twin axle, the 5.0TA, beginning in March. Will the twin axle yield significant benefits, in your opinion?

I am doing my own compare and contrast between the available fifth wheel and bumper hitch trailers as far as layout and amenities, and I am fine doing that on my own. My challenge is that I have no experience towing either, so I am looking to those who have towed both types to help with the compare and contrast from the towing perspective.

Chances are that someone will respond and tell me that this has been covered in earlier threads. Sorry, I haven't mastered the whole search function on this site, so if that is true, please provide the link to the thread and I will gladly read through it.
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Old 02-02-2014, 02:26 PM   #2
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Another consideration: Towrite makes a hitch that fits under the tow vehicle and it tows a trailer like a 5th wheel.
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Old 02-02-2014, 02:40 PM   #3
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We've towed 1 bumper hitch 16' Scamp and two 5th wheelers (Scamp and Escape). We definitely prefer the feel of the 5er for towing. It is neither more nor less a hassle to level or stabilize at campsites...about the same.

As long as you have the right tow vehicle a 5th wheel is our preference...just watch your total cargo capacity since the 5er hitch tongue weight is generally more than the bumper tongue weight and it is IN the bed.

Good luck shopping!
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Old 02-02-2014, 02:56 PM   #4
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We've towed both a Scamp 16 and a Casita 16. We do not use a weight distribution system. They both towed beautifully. We use an anti-sway bar on the Scamp and did not use one on the Casita though we have towed the Scamp for 1000's of miles with no anti-sway bar.

Both towed beautifully behind our Honda CRV, not a particularly large tow vehicle. We have towed all over North America. Ginny says towing these trailers is just like driving the Honda normally but someone's following awfully close.
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Old 02-02-2014, 03:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by drstock View Post
I know some of you have experience towing both types of fiberglass trailers, so I am looking for your input. Could you describe the pros and cons of towing each type of fiberglass trailer, in your opinion? Would you prefer one type over the other if you plan to make annual trips across the Appalachians or the Rockies? Is either one easier or harder to level or stabilize at the campsite? Escape is planning a twin axle, the 5.0TA, beginning in March. Will the twin axle yield significant benefits, in your opinion?

I am doing my own compare and contrast between the available fifth wheel and bumper hitch trailers as far as layout and amenities, and I am fine doing that on my own. My challenge is that I have no experience towing either, so I am looking to those who have towed both types to help with the compare and contrast from the towing perspective.

Chances are that someone will respond and tell me that this has been covered in earlier threads. Sorry, I haven't mastered the whole search function on this site, so if that is true, please provide the link to the thread and I will gladly read through it.
I guess the first question is if you have an existing vehicle you want to use for towing, or are you prepared to buy whatever is needed. That said, a 5th wheel means a truck....period. Not withstanging some Disneyesque workarounds that have been seen.

And the advantages of a 5th wheel vs. a standard hitch pull tow with a suitable pick-up is an entire topic of it's own.

FWIW: I have never heard anyone say that towing with a 5th wheel was more difficult than a hitch pull. Usually it's the oppposite.

All that said, more than one peep has fallen in love, and even sometimes bought, the trailer of their dreams only to find that they didn't have a suitable vehicle with which to tow.



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Old 02-02-2014, 03:58 PM   #6
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I currently have a trailer and have the 5.0TA on order but have never had a FW.

Far a FW, you have to have an open bed truck, for the new Escape a decent size one. You also lose use of most of the bed of your truck. I currently carry my bikes inside a truck cap, and a canoe on the roof, that will no longer be an option. I'll put the bikes on the back of the FW and will need to go with a front receiver to handle the canoe, doable but far from ideal.
I'm going with the FW to get a floorplan and trailer size I want while keeping the complete tow package to as small a size as I can. My truck and my 16' trailer (box) comes out to 40', each being 20'. Going to the FW I get a bedroom while keeping the combined size to about 35'. If I had gone up to a trailer with the bed area I wanted, the combination would have been roughly 45'-50'.

From what I've heard from those who have had both, towing is nicer with a FW.

One thing I've learned is each type of camper has it's trade offs. Going with the FW means I have to drive the truck everywhere when on a trip. Folks with smaller trailers can tow with a smaller more fuel efficient vehicle. If you've not had one, a full size truck is a pain to park sometimes, not to mention the higher fuel and purchase price.
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Old 02-02-2014, 04:55 PM   #7
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You also lose use of most of the bed of your truck.

I still manage to carry a lot of stuff in the cargo bed carefully packed around the Scamp "5th Wheel hitch."
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:32 PM   #8
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I guess the first question is if you have an existing vehicle you want to use for towing, or are you prepared to buy whatever is needed. That said, a 5th wheel means a truck....period. Not withstanging some Disneyesque workarounds that have been seen.

And the advantages of a 5th wheel vs. a standard hitch pull tow with a suitable pick-up is an entire topic of it's own.

FWIW: I have never heard anyone say that towing with a 5th wheel was more difficult than a hitch pull. Usually it's the oppposite.

All that said, more than one peep has fallen in love, and even sometimes bought, the trailer of their dreams only to find that they didn't have a suitable vehicle with which to tow.
Thanks, Bob. An appropriate tow vehicle is assumed in my questions, mainly because I a stickler for having a healthy margin of safety when it comes to any equipment.

Would you be willing to share a few of the advantages you see in the fifth wheel set up? I've heard the overall length of the rig addressed in earlier responses. Is there any advantage on mountain roads, or is that a function of driving skill mainly.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:45 PM   #9
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Well if we were talking about larger heaver trailers then definantly the fifth-wheel out tows a tag-along. Since I have change to FG units and have owned both a 16' Scamp and our currant 19' Scamp 5er; and have towed both with the same vehicle I can honestly say that I couldn't tell allot of difference IMO. That being said you do loose bed space with a 5er but make up the difference with trailer space. I agree it depends not only on your tow vehicle as to what may make the difference unless you plan on purchasing a vehicle depending on what unit you want to purchase. Again this is my personal opinion from the trailers I mentioned and my TV which is a 2012 Chevrolet Colorado Crew cab with a I-5 cylinder.
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:11 PM   #10
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Ted, do you like the Chevy Colorado? Do you have 2- or 4-wheel drive on it? Also, what size bed are the Colorados available in? Thanks for your post.
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Old 02-02-2014, 11:14 PM   #11
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I really do love the Colorado. I owned one when the Inline-5 Cylinders came out. I sold it because we sold our Class C Motorhome and went to a 34' Fifth Wheel and I needed a 3/4 ton. I always regreted it. So, when we sold our big unit and went to the FG Scamp I purchased another Colorado. Since mine is a Crew Cab with 4 doors the bed is 5'. Mine is a 4x4. I live in the Blue Ridge Mtns. so I need it in the winter time.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:15 AM   #12
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A 5th wheel tows better, no doubt about that. That being said there are always trade off. We towed a 28' 5th wheel before getting the Casita and from bumper to bumper there isn't but a few feet difference in length between the two. SO 5th wheel gives a tighter turning radius up to a point (when it hits the back of your truck cab).

The 5th wheel only can be towed with a truck, hitch takes up a lot of your cargo space, they put a lot of weight on the truck (one reason they tow so much better), they back differently. Google "chucking" with a 5th wheel. They can give the tow vehicle an odd ride, more like being in a boat as the load weight influences the ride of the truck much more than a BP.

The bumper pull has to be a longer package for the same interior room, sometimes much longer, BP is usually lighter than equivalent 5th wheel.

Personally I prefer the BP on the lighter trailers. They tow so well when set up properly that towing just isn't the issue. I hated the loss of my truck bed, the air ride pin box and sliding hitch the 5th had to have cost almost as much as my used Casita did. The 5th wheel was also a lot taller than the Casita.

Now having a truck set up to tow an 8000lb 5th wheel and dropping down to a Casita is quite a change. In the end less is more. Not sure what my thought would be exactly if I have been towing a much smaller 5th wheel.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:44 AM   #13
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"Generally speaking"..... on a good day, and going in a straight line the 5th wheels can feel good.

But a properly set up good handling TT connected with a superior connection system (ie Hensley) will also feel and tow very good.

The 5th wheels high mounting point and higher center of gravity is one of the shortcomings resulting in unimpressive emergency maneuvering at highway speeds.

For optimum road feels and performance the TV/trailer is IMHO the 1st choice.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:56 PM   #14
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I have noticed that most FW are larger and heavier than Travel Trailers. Small FW like the Scamp and Escape are relatively rare. The biggest reason to go with a FW is that heavier FW trailers tow better than TT because the weight handling is superior. So if you want a large RV go with a FW for sure. TT's are best on the shorter and lighter side. I plan to stay with bumper pulls because I want all the cargo space in the back of my truck.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:34 PM   #15
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In addition to this one, I'm a member of several broader spectrum RV forums. Same tow principles apply from big to small, differences being only those of scale. Consensus among towers at t'other forums seems to be that fivers are more stable under tow than bumper pulls. They also allow for tighter turning radii- a distinct advantage in some situations.

Downsides of course as stated, the main one being loss of carrying space in the truck bed.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:40 PM   #16
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For me the biggest downsides of a fifth wheel is that it would require that I purchase a truck, and it would be very difficult to carry canoes and kayaks when towing a 5'er. When towing my trailer with my FJ, I can carry at least 3 canoes or kayaks on the roof of the FJ.
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:28 PM   #17
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For me the biggest downsides of a fifth wheel is that it would require that I purchase a truck, and it would be very difficult to carry canoes and kayaks when towing a 5'er. When towing my trailer with my FJ, I can carry at least 3 canoes or kayaks on the roof of the FJ.
When I had the 5th wheel, the only solution I could come up with was an AIRE inflatable kayak. It works good but now I have a TT and could easily tote a hard shell. If you carry anything other than tennis shoes when you go camping, loosing the space is a consideration.
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:53 PM   #18
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The responses to my questions have been really helpful. As a reminder, I am interested in your experience towing a fiberglass fifth wheel versus a fiberglass travel trailer. (Stick built in either type is not on my radar screen.)

Also, I am still curious to know what others see as any towing advantages, if any, in the new two-axle Escape fifth wheel. I am hoping Donna adds her viewpoint, since I know that she has one ordered.

Thanks again to one and all for taking the time to offer me your insight.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:38 PM   #19
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I have noticed two things: The Casita tracked with the van, the 5.0 tracks slightly inside the truck. Something to keep in mind in narrow spaces. When backing, the 5.0 does not start turning quite as soon as the Casita did and needs to start about 5 feet further past the space to back in. Not part of your question, but my 17 ft Casita and Grand Caravan were 35 feet, while the almost 20 foot 5.0 and Frontier are a foot shorter.
I should not make this comparison because the TV's are so different, but I can't tell much difference in straight towing.

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Old 02-05-2014, 05:58 AM   #20
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I am hoping Donna adds her viewpoint, since I know that she has one ordered.
Well, my viewpoint might be pointlesss... sorry. I've never towed a 5er of any kind. I'm buying the new Escape 5.0TA because it has the lay out I desire and is still relatively small, not necessarily because it's a 5th wheel or tandem axle. I've driven a truck for more years than I have ever driven a car. I'm just a truck gal! I'm not too terribly concerned about losing some bed space. I pack too much crap as it is, maybe that will rein me in a bit
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