Fifth wheel hitches are a special class of hitch designed to carry a very heavy load like a large trailer. They carry a heavier load and larger trailers than the typical ball hitch which we are all familiar with. Fifth wheel hitches are designed so that the front hitch of the trailer extends over the rear bumper.
When properly installed, the weight of the trailer should press down between the cab of the pickup and the rear axle. Fifth wheel hitches can securely haul your large trailer and belongings to and from any given destination.
NOTE: In general, you can’t get too large or beefy a hitch; but you can get one that is too light for the job….The only downside to getting one rated extra high for your needs is if you need to use the bed of your truck for other things when not towing; the heavier-duty hitch will weigh more, which will make assembly and reassembly harder.
Top Rated 5 Best 5th Wheel for the Money:
|#1. CURT 16049 Q25||– Quarter-turn Anchoring System
– 360 Degree Kingpin Contact
– 25K GTW
|#2. Reese 30128 Pro Series||– 10 Bolt Rail Design
– 13″ to 17″ Vertical Adjust
– 4-way Pivoting head
– 15K GTW
|#3. B&W RVK3270||– Fully Articulating Head
– 17″ to 19″ Vertical Adjust
– American Made
– 18K GTW
|#4. B&W Companion RVK3500||– Under-bed mounting system
– 10 minute install
– 20K GTW
|#5. Pro Series 20K
||– Fits most rail systems
– Good factory warranty
– 20K GTW
Quick ‘n Easy Hitch Selection Tutorial
NOTE: The information here is assuming your pickup truck is capable of towing your intended fifth wheel trailer.
…If you’re not sure, here is a detailed calculator that answers the question, “How heavy a trailer can I tow with my truck?”
The type of fifth wheel hitch you need depends on 3 basic things:
- Trailer weightsa. GTW (Gross Trailer Weight)b. Max king pin weight
- Length of pickup truck’s bed
- Do you need to use your truck’s bed for other tasks when not towing?
The above 3 items broken down:
a. GTW (Gross Trailer Weight) is also known as the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) and the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).
It is the combined weight of the trailer plus full fluids, cargo, and propane. The fifth wheel trailer manufacturer will provide this number for you.
Experienced RVers have found, however, that this number is often listed by the manufacturers as optimistically low. Apparently, it is a selling point for a fifth wheel trailer to be lighter.…So it is recommended you get the entire rig weighed at a public scale. I found a good guide here for this. (Obviously you can’t-do this beforehand, but after your rig is the setup you should have it weighed. That way you’ll know if there’s any necessary upgrades you’ll need to do.)
b. Max king pin weight (or Max Tongue Weight for non-fifth wheel trailers) is the weight pressing vertically down on the hitch when the trailer is fully loaded. This number is a percentage of the GTW and should also be provided by the trailer manufacturer.
It is usually 25 percent. For example, to get the max king pin weight for a trailer with a GTW of 10,000 pounds, you’d multiply 10,000 X 0.25 = 2500 pounds.
…So in this example, your trailer – when fully loaded – would press down on your fifth wheel hitch with 2500 pounds of weight.
Why is the max king pin weight an important number?
Because you do not want to exceed your pickup truck’s maximum allowable rear axle weight rating.
2.Length of pickup truck’s bed
If you have a short bed truck – generally less than 6.5 feet long – you will need a “sliding hitch.” It’s identical to a standard fifth wheel hitch with the exception of the ability to manually release the hitch and slide it rearwards about ten inches for tight turning and backing…
This comes in handy on short bed trucks when maneuvering in a campground, for example. Without the ability to slide the hitch rearward, the nose of the fifth wheel trailer could contact the cab of a short-bed truck in a tight turn, usually when backing up.
You may be tempted to think, “why not just leave it in the rear position all the time.” The reason this would be bad is; that the king pin weight would be too far to the rear – behind the rear axle – instead of slightly in front of the rear axle.
3.Do you need to use your truck’s bed for other tasks when not towing?
If you do, you may want to consider a custom “gooseneck” hitch setup. With an under-mount gooseneck hitch, only a ball hitch sticks up – and even that can be removed when not in use.
Otherwise, you can disassemble a standard fifth wheel hitch, but the mounting rails on most models will still be bolted to the bed.
5 Best 5th Wheel Hitches Reviews
Have you ever wanted to buy an RV trailer trucks but you think that it is not something you will be able to use in the long run? Unlike regular vehicles, it would be quite difficult to drive around town with an RV trailer as parking, and other space limitations become an issue. Also, since RV trailers trucks have their own engine, this means having to purchase another vehicle altogether – definitely a problem regarding garage space if you have a smaller home. One solution to this dilemma has a separate trailer behind your vehicle converted into your own needs. However, how do you tag it along where you’re going?
No, ordinary hitches will not be able to cut in carrying this size trailers. What it needs is a special kind of hitch called the fifth wheel hitch and one of the best products out in the market is the CURT 16049 Q25 5th Wheel Hitch.
CURT 16049 Q25 5th Wheel Hitch Features
This is the product that you attach to the rear of your vehicle. However, unlike other ordinary hitches, it does not attach to your rear bumper, rather to the industry standard rails. All CURT Q-series comes packed with a maximum trailer capacity of 20K, 24K and 25K pounds – that is enough to bring a portable kitchen, bedroom, and toilet with you wherever you go!
Fifth wheel hitches are by no means cheap, and their prices range from anywhere from $500 to $3000, depending on the item’s features. The Curt 16049 Q25 5th Wheel Hitch is not the most expensive fifth wheel out in the market but it definitely packs the same features most of its expensive counterparts have at more than $1000.
Unlike ball hitches that you attach to the rear bumper of your vehicle, attaching a fifth wheel is somewhat more time consuming. First of all, if you need rails installed to your vehicle, you will need a professional to install it for you. After which, you just bolt the side arms and feet with the side brackets together and then attach them to the head unit. Make sure that you choose the correct hole when attaching the three parts together based on your vehicle’s height. Remember to consider the weight as heavy trailers will normally pull down the fifth wheel a bit.
Advantages Of The Curt 16049 Q25 5Th Wheel Hitch
The Curt Manufacturing 16049 is the perfect product if you are in need of a relatively cheap but entirely trustworthy fifth hitch. One of the many features of this fifth wheel hitch includes the no-nonsense positive locking dual jaw system with indicators. Now, with these indicators built in place, you no longer need to worry about leaving your trailer and vehicle connection wobbly because it’s unlocked.
Another notable feature of this fifth wheel hitch is the axial bearings. Its multi spatial, spherical axial bearings make it easy for you to maneuver without impacting the fifth wheel. It makes towing a lot quieter and a lot smoother.It also helps that this fifth wheel hitch comes packed with all the necessary screws and bolts and gives easy to follow instructions if you want to attach it yourself.
Of course, aside from all of these, the capacity of the hitch is what brings home the bacon. With a hitch of this caliber, you would not expect it to be able to tow weights of more than 5,000 lbs. But with the Curt 16049 , you can go all the way up to 24,000 lbs, perfect for camping, moving houses, and towing really heavy items. At its price range, this hitch performs much better in terms of load capacity compared to its competitors.
Test of endurance
No matter how many advantages this fifth wheel hitch has, the real deal breaker comes with its endurance. How well does it perform on rough roads? Superb! Using the Curt 16049 feels like the fifth wheel, and the vehicle is one and the same. The hitch is so silent you will barely even feel it, and it is very flexible that it follows your directions with no problem at all. Hearing a little squeaky sound? Just use a generic lube for the joints, and everything will work perfectly again in no time. Tested this fifth wheel hitch through bumpy, dusty off-roads and you could really tell how well it holds the fifth wheel in place. The fifth wheel does not wobble and the lock on the hitch keeps it safe and secure.
One disadvantage you might find in the Curt is that its height adjustment will not accommodate all types of vehicles. For instance, if you own a 2008 Ram 4WD, then most likely, this fifth wheel hitch won’t be able to attach low enough for you to hitch your trailer. To avoid spending money on this product and finding out later on that it is not suitable for your vehicle, make sure that you have carefully measured the height your vehicle would need and verify it with the salesperson.
So, will I spend almost $800 on the Curt 5th Wheel Hitch? It depends. If you are the type of man who is handy enough to tow stuff yourself or if your family is a lot of camping, then this fifth wheel hitch is perfect for you. Just one of these hitches will serve you for a long time, and with their 10 year warranty, you can be sure that you are getting your money’s worth. With this, you don’t need to worry about having to pack smart as you can bring all the contents of your house to your camping trips and you won’t even have a problem towing it along. This is the ultimate partner of happy campers.
Want to know whether the Reese 30128 Pro Series 15K Fifth Wheel Hitch really allows tight turns with a loaded trailer without smashing your truck? We’ll let you in on the secret. The Reese 30128 Pro Series hitch features an improved slider designed especially for extended cab and short bed trucks that allows clearance during tight turns without damage. This fifth wheel hitch, which has the capacity to tow up to 15,000 lbs, works well with both long and short bed trucks. Furthermore, you can actually adjust its height for the best fit you’ll need. Equipped with a four-way pivoting head, the Reese Pro Series hitch offers a quiet and jerk free ride no matter what you are hauling.
This Pro Series hitch is also quite easy to install as well as disengage using its easy-to-reach handle. In addition, it also includes a 10 bolt rail installation kit to allow a firm and secure setup in your truck bed. The Reese Pro Series also comes with a rounded slide bar to allow the king-pin to completely enter the head as it connects during hook-ups. This ensures a strong connection that won’t accidentally come loose. So, the Reese 30128 Pro Series 15K Fifth Wheel Hitch is a high-quality product that provides a strong and effective tow for your trailer or RV.
If you prefer a rail mounted fifth wheel hitch, then the B&W Trailer Hitches RVK3270 Fifth Wheel Hitch may be just what you need. This fifth wheel hitch comes with a fully articulated head to allow pivoting from side to side and front to back – great for those tight turns you’ll need to make sometimes. This fifth wheel hitch also allows for three height adjustments – from 17 inches to 19 inches – that ensure a perfect fit for your trailer. Additionally, this powerful tow system is built to accommodate various size trailers and is actually designed to fit all industry standard mounting rails. The B&W Trailer Hitches RVK3270 Fifth Wheel Hitch also comes with 12 inches of slide that’s perfect for short bed truck manoeuvres. It also works well on uneven surfaces and can be hitched and unhitched under unfavorable conditions.
This is possible thanks to its easy-to-reach Cam action handle. This trailer hitch latches automatically for a tight and secure fit in your truck. The B&W RVK3270 is built for heavy loads, and yet it provides a smooth ride, free from bumps and jerks so common with less well-designed hitches. No doubt, B&W has produced yet another winner that you can trust with your RV or trailer when you hit the road.
For those long-haul road trips with a trailer or RV attached to your truck, trust the power and strength of the B&W Companion Fifth Wheel Hitch RVK3500. Most hitch experts regard the B&W as the best product that is available. That’s because the B&W Companion fifth Wheel Hitch utilizes a turnover ball under-bed mounting system and installation is quite easy. This complete system allows you to tow a fifth wheel trailer as well as a gooseneck trailer and still leave your truck bed free whenever you are not hauling loads.
This sturdy and durable hitch has the capacity to pull trailers and RVs of up to 20,000 lbs without stress to your pickup. It also comes with a fully articulated head that allows for side to side and front to back pivoting. That’s great for those tight manoeuvring that you need to do at times. This hitch also offers a quiet and smooth hauling operation both on the highway and off the beaten track. This is possible with its Polyurethane bushings which add to the RVK3500’s noise and jerk reduction design. Its Cam action latching handle makes unhitching an effortless task, even if you are parked on rough surfaces. The B&W Companion Fifth Wheel Hitch RVK3500 is highly recommended as a quality product, well worth the money you’ll pay. It’s a little heavy, but that’s another testimony to its strong and sturdy design.
Whether your truck is a long or short bed, the Pro Series 20K Fifth Wheel Hitch is worth considering. The entire package includes a head, head support, handle kit and legs. Built to haul up to 20,000 lbs of trailer or RV, the Pro Series Fifth Wheel Hitch also offers stability in every ride. If you need to mount your hitch with a rail kit you’ll have to buy that kit separately. In any case, you can certainly trust the Pro Series 20 K either as a replacement hitch or a first-time purchase. The Pro Series 20 K also features a four-way pivoting head that allows for easy manoeuvring even in tight spots. You won’t experience any annoying jerks or bumps whenever you haul your trailer or RV.
So expect a smoother ride on any road surface with this well-designed hitch. For security, this hitch also provides a tight clam-shell like locking system that keeps your trailer securely attached to your truck. It’s so easy to unlock the hitch as it comes equipped with an easy-to-reach handle that safely releases it. The price you’ll pay won’t burn your pocket and you’ll really get great value for money. So, expect a great performance from this exceptional Pro Series 20K Fifth Wheel Hitch which is also backed by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Well, that’s pretty much all the basic info and best list you need for your fifth wheel hitch setup. The following info is ‘extra’ information that you may find useful, although some of it is already covered above.
…There is a handy hitching checklist lower on this page. Whether you use this one or another, the main thing is to always use a checklist when hitching or unhitching – especially if you’re new at this.
Common Features of a 5th Wheel Hitch
Should you operate an automobile that requires a 5th wheel hitches, chances are good that you have a minimum of some working knowledge of how 5th wheel hitch accessories can guard your truck, enhance driving comfort, and make sure that your automobile stays scratch-free. Nevertheless, for individuals drivers just beginning to understand the functions and roles of the 5th wheel hitches, here is definitely an overview of some of one of the most well-liked 5th wheel hitches optional and mandatory add-ons that you will require to learn about in purchase to run the vehicle safely and effectively:
A bedsaver helps to avoid you from dropping the whee. The accessory attaches to the 5th wheel problem and prevents the trailer from falling onto the truck within the event that the 5th wheel becomes detached (or uncoupled) in the hitch. In essence, the bedsaver catches the 5th wheel hitches and holds it until you can fix the issue. The bedsaver doesn’t get in the way of loading or unloading and will be reapplied by backing up until the hitch pin is placed back into the hitch.
No matter which type of 5th wheel problem you get, you’ll require having wiring components, for example, plug adapters, in purchase to correctly run the fifth tyre safely and inside the law. These adapters should fit onto any 5th wheel hitches.
5th wheel hitches
There are a range of different kinds of 5th wheel hitches. Nevertheless, each 5th wheel hitch is uniquely created to carry several thousand pounds within the trailer weight and a number of more thousand lbs in problem or torque weight. The hitch should include specialized mechanisms that allow it to be easy to load and unload the hitch in the trailer.
Extended King Pin
An Extended king pin will make it feasible to add inches to the clearance among the truck and also the trailer, which can make a ride a lot safer and easier. The king pin can adjust towards the amount of lbs that are being hauled.
Before you buy add-ons for the fifth tyre, make sure you realize what type of load you is going to be carrying, including the approximate weight with the load, when feasible. Having the right accessories will make your travel safer and will make your work much more effective than ever before. Drive safely!
Is a Fifth Wheel Trailer For You?
Fifth wheel trailers are among the largest, most luxurious, and expensive RVs. They can sleep up to eight people, and have multiple slide outs – some as many as five. This, of course, adds tremendously to the weight, which in turn affects gas mileage.
They often sport full-sized kitchen appliances, and lavish comforts by way of furnishings. Some include a king-sized bed in the master bedroom. They are roomy inside, which makes this a great place to hang out if it is raining out of doors.
The fifth wheel can be detached from your tow vehicle while you are camping, and used as transportation on local expeditions.
What about the towing vehicle?
If you already have a large truck or SUV, you are better off with a fifth wheel than a motor home where you would be buying another engine. It is easier to hitch a fifth wheel to a tow vehicle than it is a travel trailer. The size of the fifth wheel camper requires a heavy-duty towing vehicle because the rear suspension of your truck will support the trailer’s weight. Be sure to match your pickup’s pulling capacity with the weight of the fifth wheel.
How to decide what you need
These trailers are among the most expensive RVs. They offer extravagance that you will not find in any other RV such as bi-level living space. For those who do not want or need that much space, you’ll be happy to learn that manufacturers are coming out with some smaller, lightweight fifth wheel trailers.
How Do Fifth Wheel Hitches Work?
The 5th wheel hitch is located in the bed of the pickup truck instead of on the bumper or rear frame. The added weight pressing down on the bed of the truck is therefore between the cab and the rear axle – not on the rear bumper as with ball hitches.
If you’ve looked closely at a big rig’s hitching mechanism, you’d notice that a fifth wheel hitch for pickups is just a smaller version:
The head is the flat plate with a ‘jaw’ opening that funnels the trailer’s king pin in to where it is locked in place. This completes the trailer-tow vehicle connection.
How Does The Fifth Wheel Trailer Attach To The Fifth Wheel Hitch?
With a “king pin.” This is a downward facing pin that’s connected to the trailer and rests on top of the 5th wheel hitch plate. The king pin is locked into position so that it’s secure but it is free to pivot as the vehicle, and the trailer negotiate turns.
How Much Does A 5th Wheel Hitch Cost?
The heavier the weight rating of the hitch, the higher the cost. We’re talking around $300 for a smaller “budget” hitch to over $1500 for top-of-the-line models that have better bearings, sliding hitch features, and other heavier attachment hardware.
…But the $500 range 5th wheel hitches are fine for most recreational 5th wheel trailers.
Can You Install A 5th Wheel Hitch Yourself?
First off, regardless if you decide to install one yourself or get a professional to handle it, make sure that your tow vehicle can handle the extra weight. This can normally be found in the owner’s manual.
After you’ve learned your pickup’s bed weight rating (rear axle or “drive axle” weight rating) and any other pertinent info, you have a few choices:
If you absolutely need every square inch of your pickup’s bed when not towing, you’ll need a custom “gooseneck” hitch that will attach to your fifth wheel trailer. Note that goosenecks are usually for livestock trailers but you can get adapter kits to extend your trailer’s hitch to fit the gooseneck hitch in your pickup.
Most modern standard fifth wheel hitches (that have the standard “head” assembly – such as on 18-wheelers) can be disassembled and removed from your bed. But unless it’s a custom setup, you’ll still have the mounting rails permanently in the bed. Goosenecks, on the other hand, can be installed mostly under the bed with just a hitch ball sticking up through a hole in the bed (which can be removed as well).You can purchase a universal, ‘one size fits all’ fifth wheel hitch installation kit or one that’s customized for your vehicle. Obviously the latter would be a better choice, but it will cost more.
…But if you’re ready, willing and able to get the universal mounted one to work for you, great. Just be aware that you may have to do some welding and other customization under the truck bed.
Yep, the the custom kits are definitely the way to go, and many require no drilling or welding – with the holes in the brackets lining up with pre-existing holes in your vehicle’s frame.
Other things to consider:
Your plastic bed liner will have to come out, but a spray-on liner is fine. (The plastic will eventually wear out where the fifth wheel hitch is bolted and become loose.)
Fifth Wheel Hitching checklist:
It happens: Oops! (or “Aww crap!”) You pull forward while leaving your fifth wheel landing gear down, or you drop the trailer onto your truck bed because you forgot to lower your fifth wheel’s gear first.
* The main thing is to never be in a hurry! *
Using a checklist will eliminate many expensive mistakes:
1. Raise or lower the 5th wheel trailer to set the king pin to the correct height.
2. Lower the tailgate of your truck (unless you have a special tailgate).
3. Open the locking bar on the hitch.
4. Back your truck under the trailer and engage the king pin of the fifth wheel.
5. Secure the locking bar on the 5th wheel hitch.
6. Test the hitch connection by merely putting the tow vehicle into drive gear.
7. Connect the breakaway switch cable & umbilical cord.
8. Check trailer lights & brakes.
9. Raise the p/u tailgate.
10. Raise the landing gear of the 5th wheel trailer.
11. Remove the wheel chocks.
The fifth wheel unhitching procedure is basically a reverse of the hitching procedure.
Take your time and do it right. Otherwise, you will make a mistake which could prove costly and dangerous.
A fifth wheel trailer that is safely and securely connected via a fifth wheel hitch to a good tow vehicle drives very easy – especially compared to using a conventional ball hitch-pulled trailer.
And when compared to the cost of driving a full-size motor home, it is a no-brainer.
Fifth wheel trailers enable you to travel cheaper – without giving up comfort and space. But they also make for easier towing. After all, driving and maneuvering your rig is a big part of fifth wheeling fun, thanks to a 5th wheel hitch mounted in your pickup!
Design of Fifth Wheel Hitch
Fifth wheel hitches are designed to work a certain way. The design of fifth wheel hitches is a large flat plate that has horseshoe shaped metal rails that run beneath the hitch and attach to the frame for strength. The trailer then connects to the hitch via a downward-facing pin called a king pin. Along with the king pin is a plate that the king pin locks into position with. This secures the hitch and pivots which accommodates turns. The flat plate and the flat plate of the trailer hitch are in constant contact of one another. They slide against one another continuously when the trailer is in motion. One crucial thing to remember when properly caring for fifth wheel hitches is to never run out of is proper lubrication.
The majority of people love to travel and enjoy traveling the wide open roads pulling their RV’s. In order to remove these huge, heavy RV’s successfully fifth wheel hitches are required. There are so many stores all over the world that carry fifth wheel hitches and there so many brands to chose from. These hitches range in price but are fairly inexpensive considering the job they do. One of the best selling brands of fifth wheel hitches is Reese. Reese has a two jaw lock, vertical adjustments, has pivoting, a 22k towing capacity and a 16,000 GTW. Another popular brand of hitches is Curt. Curt has a 16,000 towing capacity, a single hand operation, an auto lock mechanism, four position height adjustments and a five year warranty. The brand Draw is another great brand. Draw has a two lock jaw, vertical adjustments and can handle 20,000 GTW.