Fifth Wheel RVs: 10 Factors You May Want To Consider
Traveling with a fifth wheel RV might seem like the epitome of road trip luxury. However, beyond the comfort and space, there are considerations every potential owner should be aware of. In this article, we detail the ten downsides that come with the grandeur of towing a fifth wheel RV.
1. Size and maneuverability
Fifth wheels are larger and heavier than most other types of RVs. This size can make navigating through tight spots, small campgrounds, or urban areas a challenge. Moreover, backing up requires skill, patience, and often a second set of eyes to guide the driver.
2. Height concerns
Given their design, fifth wheels are taller than other RV models. This height can be problematic when trying to pass under low bridges, overpasses, or even some trees in campgrounds. Always be conscious of clearance heights when traveling with a fifth wheel. Use an RV-safe trip planner and GPS like RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE App to make sure you are traveling on roads that are safe for your specific RV.
3. Setup time
While fifth wheels boast more space and amenities, setting up and breaking down your campsite can be more time-consuming compared to smaller RVs. This includes leveling the RV, connecting to utilities, and setting up outdoor equipment.
4. Specialized tow vehicle needed
You can’t tow a fifth wheel with just any truck. You need a heavy-duty pickup with a special hitch mounted in the truck bed. This not only adds to the initial cost but also limits the type of vehicle you can use for day-to-day travel when not towing.
5. Fuel efficiency
Due to their weight and size, towing a fifth wheel will decrease the fuel efficiency of your truck significantly. While all RVs have this concern, the larger fifth wheel models can be especially hard on your wallet at the pump.
6. Storage concerns
Their sheer size means that storing a fifth wheel when it’s not in use can be a challenge. Many homeowners’ associations do not allow such large vehicles to be parked on the street or driveway. This may mean renting a space at a storage facility, adding to the overall cost of ownership.
7. Higher maintenance costs
More space and more amenities mean there’s more that can go wrong. From slide-outs to leveling systems, the complexity of a fifth wheel can result in higher maintenance costs over time. However, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your maintenance records and costs with tools like RV LIFE Maintenance, which streamline the process and help owners stay organized.
8. Cost of ownership
Fifth wheels tend to be pricier than their travel trailer counterparts. While you’re paying for added space and luxury, it’s essential to budget not just for the initial purchase but also for ongoing expenses like maintenance, storage, and fuel.
9. Learning curve
Driving with a fifth wheel attached is a skill that takes time to master. There’s a learning curve associated with understanding how the fifth wheel responds to turns, stops, and starts. Moreover, the added length means you’ll need to plan your routes carefully to avoid tight spots and ensure there are appropriate places to turn around if needed.
10. Limitation on spontaneity
Given the challenges of maneuvering, setting up, and finding suitable parking spots, traveling with a fifth wheel RV can sometimes limit spontaneity. Unlike smaller RVs or camper vans where one might decide on a whim to park at a scenic overlook for the night, fifth wheel travelers often have to plan their stops more carefully.
While fifth wheel RVs offer a luxurious and spacious traveling experience, they come with their own set of challenges. Potential owners should weigh the pros and cons, considering not just the allure of the open road and the comforts of home, but also the realities of towing, maintaining, and storing such a large vehicle. As with any significant investment, doing thorough research and understanding what you’re getting into can ensure many happy miles ahead.