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Old 05-04-2019, 02:52 PM   #1
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1/2 Ton vs 3/4 Ton 5th wheels

Well its been awhile since I have been on this forum. We traveled across the US 4 times in 4 years in our TropiCal MH and it was awesome. Fast forward we settled down in AZ and sold the MH, now looking to get a 5th wheel for shorter trips and get back to camping. We have a 2016 RAM 2500 4x4 fully rigged to handle up to 17K lbs towing (we want to stay at 29-32ft, so will have no problem at all)

It seems like the industry started going after 1/2 ton towable around 2006 or so. (I could be wrong about the date)

OK so I have been looking online and we even went to a few dealers (Yikes!!) The new product that we saw was so terrible (bad quality), we decided NOT to buy new.

Buying USED is always challenging because you may not get all the history of issues which the rig I have to admit we have had good luck with our last 3 purchases of used units and we are very meticulous when checking used 5th wheels. Here is my issue. Post 1/2 ton towable between 7-9K lbs UVW (not to mention lighter hitch weights) vs Mid Range 3/4 ton towables around 11K lbs UVW?

The newer 5th wheels seem to have really cut some corners to make these rigs light. Which do not get me wrong I like from the aspect of easier to tow, back up, dry camp and fuel economy, but at what expense?

I always appreciate any advise, comments and general sharing. What has been your experience? Thank you peeps!!
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Old 05-04-2019, 03:07 PM   #2
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So we had a 2017 Reflection 27RL. Listed on the website as 11k gvwr , but spec sticker said 9995. Perfect for a 3/4 ton , eh. Not so fast. Pin weight of 2k. 200 lb hitch. Regular truck bed stuff. Most RAM trucks in your vintage I’ve looked at run around 1800 lbs. ccc if a somewhat upscale truck. Not quite enough. I actually had a F250 , but same scenario. I towed it on exactly one trip , 30 miles each way.
Fortunately I jumped straight to a DRW and have been very happy. The short version is most times with a reasonable size fiver you are going to be ahead of the game with a 350 / 3500 format.
The trailer seemed good for the year we had it , but was not marketed as a 1/2 ton towable.
Just one man’s opinion.
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Old 05-04-2019, 03:31 PM   #3
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Terms like UVW are meaningless, as are the rediculious dry hitch weight numbers. First off, you will never ever tow a "dry" trailer. What does your truck weigh ready to travel? That means people, full of fuel, all the junk you normally carry. Add 150 pounds for a regular hitch to that. Subtract that weight from the GVWR listed on the drivers door sticker. That how much you have for pin weight. As to digure pin weight, use 20% of the trailers GVWR. That will get you within range. People lie, numbers dont. Do your homework based on worst case and you will always be safe.
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Old 05-04-2019, 04:15 PM   #4
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So I will NEVER use the UVW again. Thanks Don. My bad. My question was somewhat lost in my attempt to setting some guidelines, in order to explain my dilemma. Again my bad.

What we are looking for help with is your experience with the lite weight and ultra lite 1/2 ton 5th wheels in the 29-31 ft range. Is their lack of craftsmanship and overall quality...really worth the savings on fuel economy and was of towing?
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Old 05-04-2019, 04:35 PM   #5
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Fuel economy is more related to wind resistance than weight. I have towed the same size trailer but one was several thousand pounds heavier and the mileage only changed by 1 MPG. I have also towed much heavier flat bed trailers and the mileage almost doubled because they were not pushing much wind. For that reason I suggest you buy a well built trailer even if it is heavier. What little extra you spend on fuel will be more than made up for in repair costs.

Most 3/4 ton trucks are maxed out carrying a 10,000 pound 5er, some will carry a 12,000 pounder. 16,000 pounds is the upper limit of 1 ton SRW. After that it is all duelly territory. In my opinion there is no reason to go 5er unless you have a 1 ton since you would have to get a much smaller unit than you could if it was a travel trailer.
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Old 05-04-2019, 04:52 PM   #6
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The old adage, the sweet taste of a cheap price is long forgotten in the sour taste of a poor choice.
There are decent, and there are OK, and there are junk in any RV line. Light or ultra lite trailers are light for reasons. Small tank capacities, lighter materials are a few of them. Bottom line, know how much fiver you can safely handle, then go shopping for the best floor plan in that weight range. If you want to save fuel, forget fifth wheels. Sell your truck,,buy a light half ton like a Ford Eco boost and pick yourself up something like a Aliner, tear drop, or maybe a Casita. If you go for a fiver, expect maybe 10MPG regardless of total trailer weight.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:37 PM   #7
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After pulling an ultra-lite (Bullet) for over 36,000 miles and suffering a broken spring hanger in Alaska, then a broken spring and bent axle when we moved up to a fiver I bought a new F350 diesel and when we looked at fivers the first thing I told salesmen was that I did not want to see anything half-ton rated. I spent three hours in Tok, AK, while getting the spring hanger fixed, listening to the repair guy curse ultra-lites. I will never own another because there is a reason they are lighter—they’re made lighter and cheaper.
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Old 05-04-2019, 09:30 PM   #8
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Just curious on the need for a fifth wheel? There are alot of TT's out there that would fit your weekend camping ticket and would tow nice behind a 2500 Ram.
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Old 05-04-2019, 11:50 PM   #9
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Your 2016 RAM 2500 has ratings that are slightly lower then my 2007 Dodge 3500 SRW


Have been towing a 5th wheel with a 14K GVWR since 2006 with my truck.
Right at RAWR and under tire max load rating (6200# & 6390#)



Stay under 13K GVWR due to your 2500 RAWR being 6000#
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 450Donn View Post
The old adage, the sweet taste of a cheap price is long forgotten in the sour taste of a poor choice.
There are decent, and there are OK, and there are junk in any RV line. Light or ultra lite trailers are light for reasons. Small tank capacities, lighter materials are a few of them. Bottom line, know how much fiver you can safely handle, then go shopping for the best floor plan in that weight range. If you want to save fuel, forget fifth wheels. Sell your truck,,buy a light half ton like a Ford Eco boost and pick yourself up something like a Aliner, tear drop, or maybe a Casita. If you go for a fiver, expect maybe 10MPG regardless of total trailer weight.
Thamk you 450 Don...
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by grindstone01 View Post
Just curious on the need for a fifth wheel? There are alot of TT's out there that would fit your weekend camping ticket and would tow nice behind a 2500 Ram.
Personal preference.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:17 AM   #12
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My personal preference is I would stay with the 2500HD Ram truck. You did not say what engine/transmission or style of your truck. When I checked the official Ram towing guide for your year of truck the RAWR were either 6,000LBS or 6500LBS depending of style and other factors. This is why I asked?

Another thing I have always felt that the 1/2 ton truck is geared more as a grocery getter and a weekend warrior type truck. Were as the 2500HD and the 3500HD trucks have heaver duty components such as engine, transmission, differential. frame, suspension wheels and tires and so forth. The 2500HD and 3500HD series of trucks will provide you a more enjoyable towing experience with that size 5er.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:31 AM   #13
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It could be assumed that the heavier the RV, than the better the quality! The RV industry is very antiquated when it comes to using building materials. The don't use carbon fiber and hydro formed HSS frames like weight conscience auto makers do. In fact most RV frames use a I beam or C channel, only a few use a lighter wt expensive box frame.
I believe the OP already has a 2500 Ram truck and is looking for a light wt good quality fifth wheel.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 450Donn View Post
Terms like UVW are meaningless, as are the rediculious dry hitch weight numbers. First off, you will never ever tow a "dry" trailer. What does your truck weigh ready to travel? That means people, full of fuel, all the junk you normally carry. Add 150 pounds for a regular hitch to that. Subtract that weight from the GVWR listed on the drivers door sticker. That how much you have for pin weight. As to digure pin weight, use 20% of the trailers GVWR. That will get you within range. People lie, numbers dont. Do your homework based on worst case and you will always be safe.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimcumminsw View Post
My personal preference is I would stay with the 2500HD Ram truck. You did not say what engine/transmission or style of your truck. When I checked the official Ram towing guide for your year of truck the RAWR were either 6,000LBS or 6500LBS depending of style and other factors. This is why I asked?

Another thing I have always felt that the 1/2 ton truck is geared more as a grocery getter and a weekend warrior type truck. Were as the 2500HD and the 3500HD trucks have heaver duty components such as engine, transmission, differential. frame, suspension wheels and tires and so forth. The 2500HD and 3500HD series of trucks will provide you a more enjoyable towing experience with that size 5er.
Your right Jim...its the 6.7L CTD Laramie with the 68RFE AT 4x4 CC SB, with the A20 Curt hitch and Firestone Air Bags. I bought it used with 30K...its at 50K now. Love the truck. I looked up the specs before seeing your reply, and you are right 5750 Front and 6000 Rear. I am going to stay around a 12000-13000 GVWR 5er should be OK. Lighter if possible but then you start to get into the "Lite Series" trailers (I beleive?) Thank you very much for your comments, I appreciate it.
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