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The 10 Downsides To Towing A Fifth Wheel RV

truck towing fifth wheel RV

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.

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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.

11 thoughts on “The 10 Downsides To Towing A Fifth Wheel RV”

  1. What a bunch of baloney. 5th wheel is easier tow and back up. It also takes much less time to unhook and level up. Especially with auto level. When I go to hook up, the autolevel puts the hitch back to the same position as when I unhooked. I just back in and lock hitch. Way faster.

  2. Boy this couldn’t be further from the truth.
    I have owned both and the 5th is the better of the two. Only thing you got right was the height issue. The rest of the article could pertain to either a tow behind or a 5th.
    Simply put, you’re wrong!

  3. Not all fifth wheels are giant and some are made for smaller trucks. Fifth wheel trailers are more stable towing than bumper pulls and easier to park.

  4. Ridiculous article! A 5th wheel trailer should be compared with a similar size travel trailer or motor home. Otherwise you are comparing apples to oranges!

  5. I think this arrivals was written by someone that just doesn’t like fifth wheel RV’s. 1. You should always use someone to help back up, it’s the safest. 2. As a commercial driver you can maneuver a fifth wheel better than a tow behind i.e. you can not jack knife a tow behind. 3. Most important one should always practice with there rig to understand how it operates.

  6. Most of the issues are about size. People who want more room need a bigger RV and understand what size issues may arise. As far as setting up it is no different from a travel trailer. Driving is easier and safer than a comparable travel trailer. This article must be written by someone who just doesn’t like 5th wheels.

  7. You failed to mention the importance of tires and fifth wheels I feel it’s the most important issue because of the weight of a fifth wheel and speed. After pulling a fifth wheel for over 15 years, this was the one area that I had most trouble with when you buy tires buy the best tires you can find no matter the cost

  8. I have owned 1 tow-behind rv and 4 5th wheel rv’s. There are many reasons for this. I could easily challenge all 10 of the “Downsides” discussed in this article. The author seems to be thinking only of the b
    iggest, heaviest, most expensive 5th wheels out there with this downside list. How about we compare his(?) tow-behind to a legitimately comparable 5th wheel. Most, if not all of the downsides will simply go away.

  9. all true. Some factors can be lessened through training and experience, some not. However, there is one more factor that could be mentioned: high crosswind towing. The higher profile does make the trailer more reactive to gusty cross-winds, and can force a choice of slowing down, changing direction, or parking in a safe area to let them abate. One purchase choice can make cross-wind towing less scary, and that is having a “dually” tow vehicle. Our experience has been that dual rear wheels under the nose of the RV lessened the white knuckle aspect dramatically, to the point where we towed comfortably at 55 – 70 mph in 40 mph cross-winds on the prairies/plains, when other RVs were parked or blown over. I am not recommending pushing one’s own comfort, capability, or consideration of other drivers, merely that heavy cross-winds, coupled with a high profile, is a factor to be considered when shopping for the RV and the tow vehicle.

  10. We have had our 2000 Komfort 24FS, CousinEddie, for over 15 years and have really enjoyed it. At 25′ long it is still small enough to park at most USFS campgrounds and state parks. As the article discusses, height & maneuverability are the biggest challenges but, overall, we are very satisfied with it. Every time we go look at another RV we come away refreshed at how well Komfort designed Eddie. At this point, unless manufacturers return to making smaller 5ers, we plan to keep on using Eddie for as long as we can :-).

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