Go Back   iRV2 Forums > TRAVEL TRAILER, 5th WHEEL & TRUCK CAMPER FORUMS > 5th Wheel Discussion
Join iRV2 Today

Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on iRV2
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-14-2012, 06:02 PM   #1
Junior Member
Shutterbug71's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 9
Send a message via Skype™ to Shutterbug71
Newbie 5th wheel questions/concerns

Hi everyone,

Could you please answer a few questions for me about 5th wheels?

I am currently in college, finishing up my Zoology degree, and I am thinking of buying an RV when I graduate and living in it full-time.

Why an RV? Because I want to take seasonal jobs working as a Nature Interpreter at National Parks and Wildlife Refuges across the country. But I am tired of renting apartments. An RV seems like the perfect solution - a home of my own that doesn't have to stay in one place!

Why a 5th Wheel? I want to be able to have a commuter vehicle and leave my RV in one place for weeks at a time, but I may need to travel on unpaved roads for my job, so I'd rather have a truck than a small car. Also, I only want to have to maintain 1 engine, not 2.

Here are my concerns:

EXPERIENCE: I have never actually been RVing, driven anything bigger than a 1/2 ton truck (I don't own a truck right now, I'll buy one after I pick what size of 5th wheel I want), and I've never hitched up or pulled any kind of trailer before.

PHYSICAL ABITLITY: I am going to be doing this entirely on my own. I am single - no husband/kids/etc. I am also very short (5'1") and not very athletic. So I'm concerned about being able to maintain, park, and hitch/unhitch a 5th wheel all by myself.

SECURITY: I will need to leave my 5th wheel alone for 8+ hrs/day. But I am worried it might be broken into or stolen completely while I'm at work.

Feedback/advice/comments please??



Shutterbug71 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 RV Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

iRV2.com RV Community - Are you about to start a new improvement on your RV or need some help with some maintenance? Do you need advice on what products to buy? Or maybe you can give others some advice? No matter where you fit in you'll find that iRV2 is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with other RV owners, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create an RV blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 11-14-2012, 06:14 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 4,232
As far as hitching/driving/etc., that's just practice and is not hard.

I will say, it is not cheap to RV properly, so don't expect that. Put a house on wheels, expect issues. Need to always keep an eye on the outside for water tight seals. Other things may just pop up all of a sudden, so you just have to expect it sort of.

I wouldn't be concerned about being able to do all/most of everything yourself. Like I said, it's not hard. It's more mentally demanding to make sure you remember everything. Just always take time. I'm learning that if I think I should do something but am about to walk away and not then I better go do it and take the time.

I've seen multiple units where the entry door was damaged from attempted break ins, but never any successful.
Usually if it's higher up, getting in busted windows would be hard.
Now, the cargo bays take a dumb, almost universal key. That would be my only concern.
The trailer hitch can be locked up, so don't worry about it running off down the road.

jesilvas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 06:29 PM   #3
Junior Member
Keith4001r's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Near Gettysburg
Posts: 28
I think what you're planning is great, I wish I could do that. Where will you be staying? If you're staying in a campground, either public or private, you'll meet very polite people. I probably wouldn't worry about leaving my rig too much. You can buy a 5th wheel pin lock at any truck stop for about $25.00. It locks to your pin so no one can hook to your trailer. One of those canned air horns is cheap insurance against unwanted visitors.

Pulling and backing a 5th wheel is easier than a bumper pull trailer, but still takes practice. Hooking up your 5th wheel won't take much to master. Do it a few times and you'll be an Ace. See if your dealer (or seller if a private sale) will give you a few pointers, and then go to a parking lot and practice. Not rocket science. You'll have it in no time.

Remember this acronym- G.O.A.L. Get Out And Look. You'll actually save time (and money). Best of luck, and keep us posted on your progress.
2000 Fleetwood Flair 25Y "The Box"
If you served our country, Thank You!
Bud, USMV M/C 2007 FLHP
Keith4001r is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 06:36 PM   #4
Moderator Emeritus
TXiceman's Avatar

Vintage RV Owners Club
Texas Boomers Club
Oklahoma Boomers Club
Ford Super Duty Owner
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Full Time, TX Home Base
Posts: 17,139
Blog Entries: 21
Hi Amy. Have you ever been in an RV for any length of time? We have had pop ups, travel trailers, class As, class C's and a couple of 5th wheel trailers. For long term living and not moving very much, we prefer the 5er.

A word about 5ers, there are weekend trailers and full time trailers. A full time unit is also a 4-season trailer. What part of the country do you plan to live? Winter living can be a challenge in an RV, but it can be done in a 4 season trailer.

A full time trailer requires more truck than an equal size weekend trailer. A full time trailer will be better insulated, heavier frames, heavier built cabinets, better storage and better furniture. A lot of the manufacturers will not warranty a full time use of their trailer

Manufacturers of true full time trailers are Nuwa (Hitchhiker), New Horizon, Carriage (Cameo), Teton, King of the Road, DRR (Mobil or Select Suites), Arctic Fox and Excel.

There a lot of really nice 3 to 4 year old high end full time trailers on the market. I feel you would be better off spending the money on a better used full time trailer than a mid to entry level weekend trailer.

Usually a Full time trailer (depending on size) will require a 1 ton dually or larger. A few manufacturers offer some smaller full time units which can be used with a SRW (single rear wheel) truck.

With your height, a 5er will be harder to hitch and unhitch due to reaching reaching into the bed to operate the hitch latch. But you can keep a small step ladder or stool in the bed of the truck to help with the hitch.

Number one thing is to never believe the RV sales person. They will tell you anything to sell an RV. When you reach a deal, get it ALL in writing. Anything promised needs to be in the sales contract and signed by an official of the dealership. If you are buying used, make the contract contingent on you getting an inspection from a 3rd party inspector that you hire. It will cost $200 to $300 to get an inspection. Before you pay for and take the unit, have the dealer demonstrate that all equipment and systems are operational when delivered.

Have fun,

Amateur Radio Operator (KE5DFR)|Full-Time! - 2012 6.7L Ford Crew Cab Dually -2013 HitchHiker Champagne 38RLRSB - Travel with one Standard Schnauzer and one small Timneh African Gray Parrot
TXiceman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 06:42 PM   #5
Registered User
wincrasher's Avatar
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Greer, SC
Posts: 670
Well, your budget certainly is a factor. It won't take much of a 5th wheel to get you needing a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel truck. If you can only afford a 1/2 ton, and an old one at that, you may be better off getting a tag along. Whatever you get, I'm assuming you will be in cold weather areas at times look for a 4 season unit. Tank heaters and thermopane windows will make it easier to deal with extremely cold weather.

It's advisable to make an RV checklist and have it laminated. Even some of us old timers still use a check list to make sure we've got everything buttoned up and ready to travel.

With all the equipment you can get, your size and strength shouldn't be an issue. It will seem a bit much at first until you are used to doing all the things you need to do. But once you are used to things, it's not a big deal. I would advise you to get a good roadside assistance plan for changing tires and such - especially if you are getting older equipment - many use the Good Sam service and recommend it.

Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide to do.
wincrasher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2012, 04:55 PM   #6
Senior Member
tuffr2's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 2,073
My DW is 5'1". We have a 5th wheel but I do all the outside stuff and she does the inside stuff. Anyway - she would recommend a class C gas motorhome towing a jeep wrangler. Says a 5th wheel and big truck would be too much for her to handle. You do need to reach into the bed of the truck to release the hitch as well as during hook-up you need to set the lock pin.

Also towing a 5th wheel is easy going down the highway but not easy when pulling into a gas station, walmart, side streets etc. A 5th wheel will track way inside of the truck path when making a turn. Ever see a semi make the wide turn at an intersection? You have to do the same thing when towing a 5th wheel. However backing is easier.

Humm - I would recommend a smaller 30 to 32 foot 5th wheel pulled by a 3/4 ton off road capable diesel truck. Artic Fox and NuWa are two well made 5th wheels with smaller 5th wheels. My thought is that a smaller 32 foot 4th wheel would be easier to get into and out of parking lots and gas stations. Easier than a 38 or 40 footer.

Good luck and let us know what you end up with ... cool plan.
tuffr2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2012, 05:27 AM   #7
bdwillie's Avatar
Thor Owners Club
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 54
My wife is your height and she can handle the hooking and towing, she wanted to learn in case I got sick or injured while on the road. Just takes patience and practice but it isn't rocket science , you can do it!!
Bob & Kimi, Fuzzy Butted Daughter Penny
2012 Crossroads Cruiser CF27RLX
2000 Ram 2500
bdwillie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2012, 04:00 PM   #8
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 99
I suggest a bumper pull. They offer smaller sizes, can get by with a smaller tow vehicle, imo they are simpler to hook/unhook and because of shorter length easier to back up.
For a single person, a 30' or longer seems unnecessary to me. 20-25 seems like a more manageable size.

I have towed both.
fishinjim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2012, 07:21 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 221
Hello Amy!

Congratulations on finishing your degree and having the confidence to embark on your life's adventures on your terms. :-)

I did almost the same thing you're considering when I finished grad school (25 years ago). I was, and still am, 5'2" and never over 120 lbs. While not weak or frail, I wouldn't consider myself an Olympic athlete either. I've never had any problems towing, driving, hooking/unhooking, setting up a rig, and so forth.

In my case, I started out living in a van conversion -- lived in that for almost one year. A friend let me "rent" her side yard for $10 a month plus yard work. Had elec & water hook ups, and was in a nice, safe neighborhood. That saved me money, and gave me time to learn ins & outs of this type of lifestyle w/ minimal monetary investment.

I had a small pickup truck and couldn't really tow that w/ the van. So after about a year I swapped the van conversion for a used class A rig. Eventually -- like after 4 years -- I bought a house and the RV again became a recreational vehicle only. But for those first 4 years after grad school I rarely had any problems full-timing in a RV, and I managed to save quite a bit of money at the start of my career. (Shedding those student loans ASAP was great, too!)

If I could just offer a few tips in addition to what others already mentioned:
1) buy and drive whatever type, size, or year of RV you are comfortable using, espec at the outset. You probably won't need lots of bells & whistles, and it might even be less stressful starting out in an older, smaller rig that's easy(ier) to operate and maintain;
2) get familiar w/ basic maintenance so you can save add'l funds on oil changes, repairs, etc.; and
3) if you're going to be entirely on your own and/or in remote locations, buy a personal security device like pepper spray or stun gun AND learn how to use properly. Better safe than sorry.

Best wishes! :-)
[B]BichonLover is a 100% California gal, driving a vintage Fleetwood in SoCal.
BichonLover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-17-2012, 08:00 PM   #10
Senior Member
Arch Hoagland's Avatar
Monaco Owners Club
Workhorse Chassis Owner
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Clovis, CA, USA
Posts: 4,738
Security....We've been in campgrounds all around the U.S. and never had a problem. Once you are in a site get to know the neighbors and you'll do just fine.

Physical ability....You'll do fine but if you need help you will soon discover RVers are always more than willing to help others out. Get to know the neighbors.

Experience....Everybody on here was new to it at one time.

My only advice....Don't buy a half ton. Buy the biggest you can. I think you are making a wise move.
You will be able to go places and do things you wouldn't be able to do if you were tied down to an apartment.
2004 Monaco La Palma 36DBD, W22, 8.1, 7.1 MPG
2000 LEXUS RX300 FWD 22MPG 4020 LBS
Arch Hoagland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2012, 03:01 PM   #11
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 25
If reaching into or over the truck bed rails will be an issue you can always get a 1 ton truck with a flat bed instead of the standard bed. Farmers do that all the time to pull gooseneck trailers. No bed sides to get in your way or crunch if you happen to "high hitch" and lose the trailer. (BTW - not likely to happen if you pay attention)
Bipeflier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2012, 07:56 PM   #12
CampDaven's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Fulltime, USA
Posts: 12,741
Blog Entries: 1
Don't ever drive a class A and tow a Wrangler. You will never go back!
Dave and Nola, RVM1
The Journey is Our Destination!

CampDaven is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2012, 08:36 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: lancaster CA
Posts: 469
Go no longer than a 27 for excellent manuvering. The flat bed is a great suggestion. My first puller was a flat bed and I hate this pickup for all the reasons mentioned and i am 5' 8.

oldbeek is offline   Reply With Quote


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:16 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.