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5th wheel suggestions

zonanavystar
Explorer
Explorer
Hello,

I am in the process of moving from a truck camper to a 5th wheel. I've had 3 truck campers over the last decade or so and the family has outgrown them. Two of the truck campers were Lance (825 and 915), and there weren't that many brands and/or options on a truck camper. 5th wheel seems to be a different story. I'm looking for some advice on directions/brands to look into. I generally look for used units in the 10 year old range. The truck is a 2016 F350 CC LB SRW diesel with 5th wheel prep package (puts max 5th wheel towing at 12,500 lbs I believe). For the trailer, we like the bedroom above the hitch with the shower/bath. We would also look for a rear bunk room option with a second bathroom potentially. I was hoping to stay under 33 ft, but it might be hard with the bunk room. I generally am fond of the looks and functionality of Montana 5th wheels, or any of the other Keystone brands, but there seem to be a lot of options. Does anyone here have suggestions, tips, advice, brands to look for, brands to look out for if they are willing to share? Thank you in advance!
10 REPLIES 10

MFL
Nomad II
Nomad II
zonanavystar wrote:
Thanks for the breakdown. I would like to boondock more, but more so in the national forests, and less so in urban areas, so I feel like we could still get to regular campgrounds and occasional national forest primitive areas.

As for weights, I see the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation of %15-25 of the trailer should be on the pin. How does this work out in real life experience? Also, how close do folks get to the actual GVWR of their trailers?

Thanks again!


Boondocking in NFs would require a lower height FW. Even a lower say 12' height would limit access many times, due to low hanging branches.

Most times FW pin wt will be at least 20%. As to GVWR, some will have much more CCC than others. Many so called 1/2 ton models have limited CCC, with a GVWR of 10K. The axle ratings affect the amount of CCC available. Some FWs have 4,400 lb axles, not allowing much CCC. If you get 5,200 lb, or higher rated axles, you get more capacity, and larger/better hubs/brakes.

Looking at Montana models, and similar size models should give capacity, but may be 13' or more in height.

Lots to consider,

Jerry

JKJavelin
Explorer III
Explorer III
My rig is 9345 empty (when it was new), with a GVWR of 12,500. The actual loaded wgt is 12,100, with a Pin wgt of 2750 (23%).
JK
2018 Ram 3500 Laramie Cummins 6.7
2016 Open Range RF316RLS
Titan Disc Brakes
Trailair pinbox
Morryde AllTrek 4000 w/ wetbolt kit
Demco Autoslide
570 watts of Solar

2017-2022 555 Nights
2023- 106 Nights

zonanavystar
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks for the breakdown. I would like to boondock more, but more so in the national forests, and less so in urban areas, so I feel like we could still get to regular campgrounds and occasional national forest primitive areas.

As for weights, I see the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation of %15-25 of the trailer should be on the pin. How does this work out in real life experience? Also, how close do folks get to the actual GVWR of their trailers?

Thanks again!

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
zonanavystar wrote:
Hello,

I am in the process of moving from a truck camper to a 5th wheel. I've had 3 truck campers over the last decade or so and the family has outgrown them. Two of the truck campers were Lance (825 and 915), and there weren't that many brands and/or options on a truck camper. 5th wheel seems to be a different story. I'm looking for some advice on directions/brands to look into. I generally look for used units in the 10 year old range. The truck is a 2016 F350 CC LB SRW diesel with 5th wheel prep package (puts max 5th wheel towing at 12,500 lbs I believe). For the trailer, we like the bedroom above the hitch with the shower/bath. We would also look for a rear bunk room option with a second bathroom potentially. I was hoping to stay under 33 ft, but it might be hard with the bunk room. I generally am fond of the looks and functionality of Montana 5th wheels, or any of the other Keystone brands, but there seem to be a lot of options. Does anyone here have suggestions, tips, advice, brands to look for, brands to look out for if they are willing to share? Thank you in advance!


First off, how are you going to be camping? Are you strictly full hook up campers or do you like to boondock? If you're boondockers, the one GLARING weakness of almost all RVs is the ludicrously small black tanks on most of them. Just how many days boondocking, do you think a 28 gal black tank will last before it's full, especially with a family, ESPECIALLY with girls! 🙂 I can tell you that it's about 3, max, with a 45 gal tank. (I used 28 gal, as that was the size of the #2 rig on my list when I was shopping a few years ago. It was a Jayco Eagle HT.)

Second, you'll realize that there's a very limited number of floorplans out there, across literally all brands. Yes, there are small differences, but form follows function and they all have the same function. The differences are the smaller things, not the gross overall layout. Also, build quality, which all suck at, but some are worse. Once you decide on a couple different floorplans, then SHOP, SHOP, SHOP and put eyeballs on them. NEVER shop without HER being with you, as she'll catch things that you never thought about, or didn't think were important. (BTDT!)

Third, research dealers, especially if buying new. A bad dealer can make your RVing life hell when you need service and a good dealer is literally worth their weight in gold. Even then, realize that you're likely going to have to do a lot of your own repairs, even under warranty, since you'll almost certainly not going to be near your selling dealer when something breaks.

Fourth, if you're considering used, look into hiring a professional inspector to go over any rig you're considering. While I've never used one, I did have several good conversations with a couple NRVIA inspectors when I was loooking at some used rigs several years ago. Check out nrvia.org for more info on their program and to find inspectors near where the rig is located.

Lastly, for now, I created a spreadsheet with all the data of the rigs I was shopping. Brand, specific model, length, height, weight specs, tank sizes, # of slides, etc. Allowed me to easily sort them, too. (Yeah, I'm a bit of a nerd.)

Hope these hints help.
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member

BB_TX
Nomad
Nomad
I towed my 35’ 5er with my 2012 F350 SRW 6.7 3.55 diesel and it was great. Our 5er GVWR about 14,000 lbs although we never loaded it very heavy. But you will need to look at the pin weight of any 5er you are considering compared to the truck payload rating to make sure you don’t get too heavy of a trailer. The fact it is rated to tow 15,700 doesn’t mean it will for sure support the pin weight of a 15,700 lb GVWR 5er.

zonanavystar
Explorer
Explorer
My apologies. Per the 2016 towing guide, the 5th wheel towing capacity is 15,700 lbs (F-350 CC, Diesel, 4x4, SRW, 3.55). I still have the torklift upper and lower stable loads and 19.5 commercial tires and wheels, so I'm assuming I'll keep those items for this conversion, but I'd be curious on other folks' experiences as well.

Thanks for the information. This is a helpful start. I assumed I would be looking at a wide search area, so no problem there. Great info on the hitch too, thank you!

wing_zealot
Explorer
Explorer
The max tow rating for that truck changes per conventional towing vs. 5th wheel towing, engine, rear end ratio, and 4x4 vs. 4x2. For a diesel it could be as low as 14,000 lbs or as high as 26,500. No way of knowing (for real vs. guesses) without more information.

BB_TX
Nomad
Nomad
That 12,500 is the max bumper tow rating. The 5th wheel towing is around 16,000.

MFL
Nomad II
Nomad II
Finding the right FW is kind of a what works best for you. Looking at 10yo models, the condition/care of the unit will be a main factor.

As to your truck, it is more capable than you think. You can carry up to about a 16K GVWR FW. A B&W 3300 will be a great choice for your FW prep kit Ford. It is light wt, but very solid, and will drop right in the pucks, ready to tow.

Jerry

Likes_to_tow
Explorer II
Explorer II
Your experience is very similar to mine. I had 4 truck campers in the early years and when I retired the move to a 5th wheel was part of the plan. I'm now on my 3rd 5th wheel. Yes, I'm getting old !!

The first two 5th wheels were used. We started with a 24 Low Profile Forest River and soon traded for a mid profile 32 CrossRoads Cruiser. Like all RV's you have to look hard for any sign of leaks around seams and windows. Delamination is a cruel result with no repair possible. You're going to have trouble finding a two bathroom model under the 33 ft range. Rear bunk room models are very nice if you have guests, they can be found easily if you look online. RVtrader.com is a good place to look. Be prepared to drive a few miles to get exactly what you want!

Our current and last 5th wheel is a Grand Design Reflection 31' with 3 slides and a rear living area. The kitchen is in the center of the trailer. We soon discoverd years ago this is a good layout for us. Most campsites have a better view out of the back than on each side due to those other folks camped beside you. Our first 5th wheel had a rear kitchen and immediately we discovered that small window over the sink did not allow much of a view. Large windows in the back afford much better possibilities at most campsites. This will be a take away for you with a rear bunk model.

This last 5th wheel we bought new and there were issues, all covered by warranty. It seems there is nearly no quality control at factories and they rely on the dealer to correct issues. I fixed many issues myself but it did require 3 trips to the dealer (30 miles away) and a waiting period to get things resolved. This is a good thing about buying used, someone else has gone thru the shake down and all issues should be resolved. Never forget the delamination issues caused by leaks. This you can see and if you do then run away!!

The main difference you will notice in moving into a 5th wheel is the fact that trips will now require more planing!!! Not all campgrounds, especially state and national parks can accommodate large RV's due to length and overhead trees. Getting in a out of fuel stops can be challenging because pumps now require you to pull forward toward the building. This is so the attendant can observe activity at the pumps without a blocked view of the first row. However people parking in front of the building does not allow you to swing wide enough to get out. Also beware the back of a large 5th wheel will pivot in a tight turn and some accidents have occurred where the back of the 5th wheel hits a gas pump!!
With diesel you can use truck stops which is much better for maneuverability.

My plan is to keep this 2017 5th wheel a few more years then move back to a truck camper!! I have never been turned away from a crowded RV park when using a truck camper. They will find somewhere to put you normally! We once parked along side the park office and plugged into the outlet on the building. Big rodeo in Cody Wyoming and there were no more sites anywhere. We were heading home and were only needing an overnite. They made room for my truck camper!

So to sum it up, nothing is perfect. You have trade offs you must deal with. Truck camper is a very easy unit to travel in. If you can park the truck then there is no problem. With a large 5th wheel in tow you have to plan ahead and beware of boxing yourself in or finding a parking lot big enough to park sideways over several slots. WalMarts and such will normally have room for you to park way out from the building for a shopping trip, some even allow overnight stays. 5th Wheels are very stable to pull even with some crosswind. Good choice over a bumper pull RV for that reason.

Good luck in your hunt