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Old 08-10-2012, 11:41 AM   #1
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My wife and I are in the research stage of buying. We have never had an RV. What we would like to know is, what are the pros/cons of a fifth wheel vs travel trailer? My tow vehicle will be a Toyota Tundra SR5 with 5.8 V8. Any info you can give will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:09 PM   #2
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We're brand new at full-time RV'ing. We always wanted to travel North America upon retiring. So, we figured a motorhome in was the way to go and pull a vehicle for local running around so we bought our 38 1/2 foot diesel motorhome in August 2010. Having already traveled an awful lot before retiring, we ultimately found we preferred staying in one place for the season and making friends and having a more stable social life. With that in mind, we bought in a mobile home park in the Apache Juncton AZ to serve as our winter base because it was pretty well central to just about anywhere in the American west.

Then, when we came back up north to Canada, we traded in our motorhome for our 38 1/2 foot 5th wheel RV in May 2011 in Canada and set ourselves up in Red Deer Alberta as a pretty central base from which to visit anywhere in the Canadian west. It also gave us an extra 5-6 feet of space because there was no driver's cab portion lost to regular use like in the motorhome. That's working out pretty well so far with the exception that we want to find a less transient park with 50 amp service.

In a financial/economical sense, owning a motorhome meant that we had to own and maintain the chassis/truck/bus portion of the motorhome plust the RV portion on top of it, plus buy and maintain the towed vehicle for local use - 3 separate and distinct financial responsibilities - a truck/bus vehicle, a trailer, and a gasoline vehicle. Any money we spent there was money we didn't have for other stuff we'd like to do. On the other hand, trading in the motorhome for a 5th wheel and the towed vehicle (often called a "toad") for a heavy duty diesel dually pickup truck brought our load down to 2 financial responsibilities - a diesel pickup and a trailer.

Anyway, those were the big considerations for us. I hope this helps you in your deliberations and good luck with that. I know I was going around in circles for quite a while.

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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With your tow vehicle, I'd lean very strongly toward the travel trailer. A 5th wheel transfers ~20% or more of its laden weight to the truck as pin weight on the hitch, whereas a travel trailer will transfer ~12% of its laden weight to the truck. Your 1/2 ton Tundra is extremely limited by its low GVWR (relative to 3/4 and 1 ton trucks) insofar as its capability to tow a 5th wheel of anything more than minimal size is concerned.

For starters, you need to find out the GVWR, GCWR and GAWRs of your truck. The GVWR and GAWRs are on a sticker in the driver's door jamb. The GCWR might take some digging in the owner's manual and may vary depending on the axle ratio, whether or not you have the towing package, etc.

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:40 PM   #4
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A few thoughts for you. A TT will? be more suited to your tow vehicle. There are some new fivers coming on the market that may be ok for you, but its all about towing weights and your tow vehicle. One good thing about a TT is that you will have all of your truck bed to bring along all those goodies you will eventually want, kayaks, bicycles, and other stuff hard to deal with on a fiver. Good luck in your search, and when it comes to towing capability, if the salemans mouth is moving, he's selling and not particularly interested in your well being going down the road.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by nosticks View Post
Good luck in your search, and when it comes to towing capability, if the salemans mouth is moving, he's selling and not particularly interested in your well being going down the road.
As a former RV salesperson, I won't say I take offense to that because the reason I am not doing it anymore is that the dealer didn't like me being so honest with the people with what the can actually tow. But that is true of many sales people in the industry. But they probably went somewhere else where the sales person told them what they WANTED to hear. That is so true of many buyers. A lot know the numbers, but someone just told me I can do it, so.......

To the OP. there are a lot of nice TT's out there that will probably work for you. Most (I won't say all) 5er's in your range will be small; probably to the point that you have to go outside to change your mind. TT's put much less weight onto the tow vehicle so while you do need to pay attention to your tow vehicle GVWR, you have more room to play with in the GCWR area.

Fill the fuel tank, load up all the occupants that will go with you on a trip and drive to a truck stop to get your truck weighed. Then you can compare that to the GAWR/GVWR/GCWR to see just what you can tow. And when you look at TT's ALWAYS use the trailer's GVWR. Unloaded weight is meaningless.

I have had a few truckers stop (when I'm on the scales) and comment that many more RV'ers should be doing that.
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