Camping in Style: Fifth Wheel Vs. Travel Trailer

There are quite a few towable campers on the market, but if you are looking for one that is big enough for all of your family trips, you will most likely consider a fifth wheel trailer or a travel trailer.

Both are great options that you can consider for your next RV purchase, but they are different from one another.

Before you decide which type of trailer is right for your RV needs, it is a good idea to compare the two types of towable trailers.

In this guide, we are going to look into each one and discuss the pros and the cons of each.

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Fifth Wheel Trailer

Fifth-Wheel-Trailer

Fifth wheel trailers are popular amongst RVers who prefer to have a little bit of luxury during their vacation. This is an option that is designed to be attached to the back of a truck using a fifth wheel hitch.

Typically, these trailers are designed to sleep a larger family, and they have all of the amenities of a traditional camper.

In fact, since these models are typically large, bi-level models, you can find some additional amenities in these models that will add a lot to your camping experience.

Overall Size

Since a fifth wheel trailer is attached to the back of a large truck, there is going to be space above the bed of the truck that can be used as well as the rest of the trailer.

That means that the trailer can easily be the same length of a travel trailer and take up less space in total when it is attached to your tow vehicle. This means that the fifth wheel trailer literally starts at the back of the cab of your truck.

Most of these types of trailers tend to be about six to eight feet shorter than a travel trailer that is the same length.

In general, a fifth wheel hitch is 24 to 45 feet long, which means that the interior of the vehicle will be quite spacious for you to enjoy.

Living Space

One of the most notable features of a fifth wheel that sets it apart from a travel trailer is the fact that it is split into two different levels.

This makes the space look more luxurious, and it creates a feeling of more space.

Because of this dual level design, there is additional storage space underneath the trailer that you can use to store your camping equipment.

In addition, because of this bi-level design, you will find that the trailer feels more spacious.

In fact, slide outs are commonly used to increase the space that you have while you are parked at the campsite.

Since there is a lot of space above the bed of your truck, this area is typically made into a designated bedroom space so that you do not have to convert the sofa or the kitchen table into a space where you can lay out at night.

Towing

If you purchase a fifth wheel hitch, you are going to need to verify that you have a vehicle that is large enough to tow this type of camper.

You will need a truck, but if you have the proper type of tow vehicle, you will find that towing a fifth wheel is simple.

Because the hitch is located in the bed of the truck, you will experience a lot less sway while you are towing it. This means that you will have more control over the unit when traveling at higher speeds.

Hitching your truck to a fifth wheel is also a simple process because it means that you will be able to see the hitch as you try to align the truck with the trailer.

Cost

Typically, a fifth wheel trailer is going to be a bigger investment to start, but it will provide you with years of use and family enjoyment while you are camping.

If you are not able to invest in a brand new fifth wheel hitch, then there are used options that are available for you to consider as well that can help you spend less on your initial purchase.

Benefits

  • They are easier to tow because they are more sturdy on the road.
  • They are easier to hitch because you can see the hitch when you are backing up your tow vehicle.
  • There is a lot of extra storage space in this type of trailer.
  • There is typically a dedicated bedroom that is located above the hitch.
  • This type of trailer typically has larger tanks so that you have more water available to you. This is also great for boondocking because you will not have to dump the tank as often.
  • They have a much more spacious floor plan.
  • These have a lot of vertical space, which can be great for taller individuals.
  • The master suite has more privacy because of its location.

Disadvantages

  • These are heavier vehicles, which can make it more difficult to camp in certain areas.
  • Some campgrounds cannot accommodate the dimensions of this large RV.
  • The height of a fifth wheel will make it difficult to travel on roads that have low hanging branches or bridges with low clearance.
  • This type of RV costs more than most travel trailers.
  • You will need to have a truck that is capable of towing such a large trailer.
  • Installing a fifth wheel hitch to tow the trailer is a process that will take a bit of effort.

Travel Trailer

WINNEBAGO-RV-BRAND

A travel trailer is a great option for a family who likes to go camping in an RV but does not want to spend quite as much as you would with a fifth wheel camper. 

A travel trailer is a spacious camper that is able to accommodate anywhere from four individuals to 12, which means that you can have an intimate camping experience or one that includes your entire family.

Overall Size

Even though most travel trailers are quite large, they are still going to be the more lightweight option of the two.

Since this type of trailer is going to be easier to tow, you will not need to pull the trailer with a heavy duty truck.

In addition, the roof of a travel trailer is much lower than a fifth wheel. This is beneficial because it makes traversing roads with low clearance an option.

In fact, many travel trailers are not higher than nine feet, which means that you can take it across most bridges and through most underpasses with ease.

Living Space

A travel trailer is going to have a very spacious design, but it is not going to have the pullouts and the excess storage space that can be found in a fifth wheel.

To accommodate more people, this type of camper is going to be designed to convert spaces within the travel trailer into sleeping space.

This means that there may be a dedicated bedroom or two, but the dining space and the couch are likely to be designed this way.

Towing

When you purchase a travel trailer, you do not need to get a specific type of hitch installed on your vehicle.

In fact, travel trailers are designed to use a standard ball hitch that you would find on most trucks today. With that being said, a ball hitch can also be attached to an SUV or even a car.

This allows you to tow the trailer with nearly any vehicle that is rated to tow a travel trailer with ease, which means that you can take a more spacious vehicle on your camping trip.

Another advantage of a travel trailer is that it is going to be connected to the bumper when it is towed, which means that the bed of your truck will be free.

This allows you to bring motorbikes, four-wheelers, and ATVs along if you want to have a bit of fun during your travels. This makes it easier to enjoy the wide open spaces that some campgrounds offer.

Another aspect to consider is that a travel trailer is likely to sway a bit when you are traversing highways and traveling at higher speeds.

This means that you may experience swaying as you drive, but there is still quite a bit of stability when you are towing a travel trailer.

In addition, because they are able to turn without worrying about hitting the vehicle like a fifth wheel, you may find that backing up is more manageable with this type of camper.

Cost

Typically, the cost of a travel trailer is going to be much cheaper than the price of a fifth wheel trailer, but you will still be able to find a deal in either category, so consider all of you options before deciding which one is best for you.

In fact, it is important that you consider both new and used options to get a full picture of what is available to you. However, the price of a travel trailer is going to vary based on the size of the RV and the number of individuals that it accommodates.

Benefits

  • This type of trailer has a lightweight design that is easier to tow with a wider selection of vehicles.
  • The lower roof that can be found on this type of camper is ideal for roads that have an area with low clearance.
  • They utilize a ball hitch, which means that you will not need to have a heavy duty truck option available for you.
  • If you do use a truck, the extra bed space that you do not need to attach your hitch will serve as a location to store things like bikes, ATVs, and motorcycles that you may want to enjoy while you are camping.
  • Since this is a smaller trailer, it will be more fuel efficient.
  • Typically, this type of trailer is about $10,000 less than a fifth wheel.
  • The height restrictions that you encounter will typically not affect your travel trailer.

Disadvantages

  • When you purchase a large travel trailer, you can expect that it will sway more while you are driving.
  • These campers have fewer storage options.
  • A travel trailer will take up more space behind your tow vehicle.
  • There are not many models that are designed with slide outs.
  • There may not be a dedicated bedroom space in this type of RV, which means that you may need to change the dinette or the couch into a sleeping space each night.

5th Wheel vs Travel Trailer: Compare Table

​Features

Fifth Wheel

Travel Trailer

Interior Design

Bi-level

Single-level

Towing Vehicle

Heavy duty truck

Any vehicle

Type of Hitch

Fifth wheel hitch

Ball hitch

Private Bedroom Space

Yes

Most

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between a fifth wheel trailer and a travel trailer. 

Deciding which one is best for your camping needs can be difficult, so you need to take all of the features of each into consideration before delving into one of the options.

I could tell you that one option is better than the other, but the truth is that both are great and the one that you select is going to depend on the type of travel that you do.

If I were to choose one of the campers as the best, the fifth wheel would probably win out because it has a spacious design that is easy to tow, which is something that a full-time RVer would appreciate.

However, if you are new to RVing, then you may not want to invest so much in a trailer. If this sounds like you, a travel trailer is a great option to consider that will not hit your bank account as hard.

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Cheers and have a nice day!

Christina Powell
 

Hi everyone, My name is Christina Powell, chief editor at Wheel On Road. I have a passion for car when I was young. I Started this blog with my team and we share to people everything about automotive, car like how to drive car carefully, maintain a car and many other topics. Hope you will also share and track us. If you have any problem, you can contact us at: Christina.WheelOnRoad@gmail.com

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