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Old 01-14-2012, 12:28 PM   #1
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How Big is too Big?

BTW, I am talking about fifth wheels

I am researching fifth wheels for our next camper and we really like some of the larger ones. For those of you that have big rigs, are there challenges with finding adequate campsites, getting in/out of gas stations, etc? I am thinking the sweet spot may be around 35-36feet, but I really like some of the 38-39 footers. I will also be buying a truck, so I can match the truck to whatever fiver we end up choosing.

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Old 01-14-2012, 02:26 PM   #2
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I do not know what others may consider "too big" but I have been hauling a 38ft 5ver for almost 15 years & have NEVER had problem. When I fuel up I always chose fuel at a truck stop fuelling station.(Flying J Pilot, Love's etc) Just watch your fuel gauge & find available stations to go too. I have had a few tight RV lots to get into but none I could not overcome. I do not know if this will help you in your decision process but this has been my experience. If you have any doubts on your ability to tow & handle a large unit, then rent one, or go to a dealer who will let you take one out for a test drive & see how comfortable your feel. Sometimes it just takes a bit or a lot of practice to get to your comfort level. I feel very comfortable pulling my 5ver any where, freeways, traffic conditions, through small towns, in the country, nearly any where. Just don't drive down narrow or rough roads if your in a hurry. Slow down & take your time & your can enjoy the drive & sights.
One thing you can do is find a big empty parking lot & practice turning, parking, backing up & all those things you may think you will encounter. Usually a Church parking lot is less congested then a Shopping Mall today. JMHO


38ft Snowvilla. Triple Glides. 2010 Ram 3500 CC Dually. to tow anywhere, anytime.
!!!!!! "RETIRED" !!!!!!.
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Old 01-14-2012, 05:28 PM   #3
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We have a 39 ft. 5er and only had one tight fit at a campsite which wasn't a real problem. After having a 39 ft. 5er I don,t think my DW would settle for anything smaller. Once you get a little road time with it, a longer 5er is not much more hassel then a shorter one--you just have to use a little common sence when pulling it and not get into tight spots. Get what you really like and want or you will be regreting your choice and wind up spending more money for what you wanted in the first place.
Thane & Sharon
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Old 01-14-2012, 07:15 PM   #4
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Kind of depends on what kind of places you want to camp. If state parks, COE parks or forest service sites are what you want, the extra length may be a problem. Our rig measures 36'6". One state campground we visited limited RV lengths to 36' and were adamant about it. I fibbed and said I was 36'. I barely could get into the biggest site they had, no so much the site size as the maneuvering required to get into it.

But if full service private campgrounds and RV resorts are your objective, most any modern campground can handle any length.

If we were to go to Alaska again, I would be more comfortable towing something shorter. Not that a lot of folks don't tow longer rigs up that way, but that's my personal preference.
Dave & Jo Ann
'08 HitchHiker Champagne 35LKRSB | '11 F350 Lariat 6.7PSD
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:04 PM   #5
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Our last fiver was 39'11" and 13'4" tall.
we towed it all over just fine.
i think it was a snap putting into spots, all except at home.
USN Retired, Life time member of the DAV.
Enjoying the 2008 Damon Tuscany 4056, no your eyes are fine, there are 6 slides
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:52 AM   #6
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Great feedback folks. I appreciate the reassurance about larger 5ers. My father-in-law used to be a full timer with a 36' motorhome and he has been suggesting that over 36' could be a problem.... A friend of mine told me yesterday that his parents are selling their 2008 Cameo 38 footer, as well as their 2005 F350. I don't know about the truck, but the Cameo pics looks good. I will check it out.

Another question: It looks like Carriage is going belly up. Should I be concerned about buying a used Carriage product? I wonder how easy parts will be to find down the road....
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:16 AM   #7
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My last 5er was 40'8". I loved it and didn't have any problem. You wouldn't notice any difference between a 36 and a 40. A few parks may have restrictions but I personally never ran into one.
Carriage built very nice units. Most of the items on any unit are going to be manufactured by someone else, not the unit manufacturer. i.e. the slide mech by one company the axles by another the a/c, furnace, fridge etc. Some of the trim items may be special to Carriage but even that is usually not too big of a problem.
Del and Loretta + Hirem the beagle
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:14 AM   #8
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I think this question misses an important point - there''s a 400 sq. ft. maximum on RVs (I know there are some bigger, and I'm not clear on the issues they face). But most models fit under the 400 sq. ft. regulation regardless of length, so your choice really is shorter and wider (slide-out depth) or longer and narrower. For example, my Alfa is a 34 footer (little over 35 ft outside dimensions) and is 399 sq. ft.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:35 AM   #9
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Get whatever you want, Plenty of places to go.....G
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:05 PM   #10
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They have changed the rule on the sq footage, I think it is 440 sq foot now.
My 30' alfa has 354 sq foot, with only 2 slides.
03 Silverado cclb 3500 drw, D/A, Reese 22k hitch
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:07 PM   #11
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We went from a 32' to a 36' back in 2002. Sometimes it is a problem getting into places, but the added living space is well worth it. I don't think I would ever go longer than 36', but that's just me. You have to decide what the extra length is worth to you and what problems you will encounter by having it. Good luck & God bless!
Joe & Annette

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Old 01-16-2012, 04:13 PM   #12
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My first 5er was 38'. It did take some getting used too driving it around. For the most part its been an easy learn.
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Franka548 View Post
They have changed the rule on the sq footage, I think it is 440 sq foot now.
My 30' alfa has 354 sq foot, with only 2 slides.
Frank, are you sure of that? I just did a Google Search and found references to the RVIA voting to change the Travel Trailer maximum from 320 to 400 sq. ft. but nothing about increasing the Fifth Wheel maximum over the 400 sq. ft. maximum.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:44 PM   #14
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I just went to RVIA.org and didn't find anything there. I've heard this same number quoted other places, but I've never been able to find it published in an authoritive place. Without slides, a motor home or 5'er would have to be 47' long just to get to 400 square feet. Even with two 2' x 10' and two 18" x 8' slides you would be looking at 39' 6" overall length.

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