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Old 06-29-2013, 11:14 PM   #1
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Travel trailer versus 5th wheeler

I know this has probably been argued about before, but I am new to this forum and don't have a lot of time for research, as I need to make a move soon on either 2004 Terry Quantum 32' travel trailer, or Keystone Sprinter 32' 5th wheeler. I hate to admit it, but I am not the best person to back up. How much ground or turning radius do I need to back up with either one, which one makes easier turns, etc. Any comments would be appreciated. I will be towing with a short box Silverado 250 HD. I know I will need to buy a slider, etc. if I get the 5th wheeler, as I have done research on that part of it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am looking forward to being part of this community.
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:21 PM   #2
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Just my opinion, but backing a trailer is like riding a bike. At some point it just comes to you and after that you just make adjustments to whatever the length is of whatever you're backing. It came to me backing a 40' lowboy trailer as a truck driver/engineer in the Army. Once I figured out that 40 footer everything else was the same. Just a little more or less turning of the steering wheel.
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Old 06-30-2013, 06:20 AM   #3
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I will never never buy a TT. They are made for short disance travel with weak frames. The 32 ft 5th has a 5 ft advantage in living space over the TT. The TT will also be longer by 5 ft when hitch.
The 2500 GM will do fine with hitch on center. I towed with older GMs with hitch set 2 inches in front of axle for 12 years. I had CB arials set 5 inches from the cab on my back rack and when they moved i stoped turning.
You need to swing the front of the truck more with a fifth due hitch on center of axle so I found that shorter trucks can make backing a trailer in a tighter spot much easier.
I have a LWB F250 because Ford and Dodge don't have enough room behind the cab, and would requirer a slider that I just don't want.
A TT has limited turning due to the front frame design and you need to be constantly reminded not to hit the bumper. The fifth do not need to turn 90deg and short ones need it less. When I turned mine 90deg in a parking lot it was scary to see the pressure on the axle and spring supports and I try to avoid it on our 40ft unit. Just because some can do it does not mean one needs to.
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Old 06-30-2013, 10:33 AM   #4
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Thank you both for replying!
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanttocamp View Post
How much ground or turning radius do I need to back up with either one, which one makes easier turns, etc.
Hi, wanttocamp, and

I towed a fold-down camping trailer for 20 years, then a small 5er with a diesel F-250 for 12 years, then switched to a small TT and an F-150 last year. The big difference in a 5er and a TT is hitch weight. It requires more truck to tow a 5er than a comparable TT.

If you have enough truck for the wet and loaded trailer without exceeding any of the weight ratings of the truck, then I wouldn't worry about towing either one. The weight limit you'll probably bump up against first is the GVWR of the truck. You don't want to be overloaded over the GVWR of the truck, so pay attention to that spec. Use 15 percent of the GVWR of the TT to estimate the wet and loaded hitch weight of the TT, and use 20% of the GVWR of the 5er to estimate the wet and loaded hitch weight of the 5er. Then you have a good chance of not being overloaded when on the road with a wet and loaded RV trailer.

But first you need to know how much the wet and loaded truck weighs, including people, pets, tools, hitch, full tank of gas, and any other weight that might be in the truck when towing. Subtract that weight from the GVWR of the truck and the answer is the maximum hitch weight of any trailer you want to consider. Divide that max hitch weight by 0.15 and the answer is the max GVWR of any TT you want to consider. Divide that max hitch weight by 0.20 and the answer is the max GVWR of any 5er you want to consider.

As for maneuvering, experience is the best teacher. A 5er and a TT are different, but you can learn to handle either one with some practice. If you can find traffic cones, then get several and go to a big empty parking lot and set up the cones to make a "parking place" for the trailer. Or if cones are not available use 2x4 or other construction lumber to lay out the parking space.

Then practice backing into that space, without running over the markers. Back in from various angles, including straight back, then small angles, then 45 angle, then 60 angle, and after some practice with lesser angles, work on a full 90 angle. After you get pretty good at backing into the space without running over the markers, then have a helper watch the back corners of the trailer as well as the trailer tires to be sure you don't crunch the trailer parked next to you or the utilities box right beside the "parking space".

With only a little practice you'll probably realize that tow mirrors are mandatory. OEM tow mirrors are best, but some people get by with aftermarket or clip-on tow mirrors.

Again, practice makes perfect, so don't skip that step. Find the trailer that best meets your needs, regardless of whether it's a TT or 5er, be sure it doesn't overload your tow vehicle, then practice, practice, practice.
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Old 06-30-2013, 01:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caissiel View Post
They are made for short disance travel with weak frames.
I don;t know where this comes from. There are plenty of lower end 5ers and some mid line ones that have frame issues.

If a TT fits your needs, by all means look at them.

Ken
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Old 06-30-2013, 02:50 PM   #7
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I don;t know where this comes from. There are plenty of lower end 5ers and some mid line ones that have frame issues.

If a TT fits your needs, by all means look at them.

Ken
Yeah, I agree. That blanket statement is merely an opinion and should not be taken as fact.
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren
The big difference in a 5er and a TT is hitch weight. It requires more truck to tow a 5er than a comparable TT.
You may read from uninformed posters that 5ers tow better than TTs. But that's not true if the TT is hooked up with a good weight-distributing no-sway hitch such as a Hensley Arrow or ProPride. Even with the relatively inexpensive Reese Strait-Line hitch with dual cam sway control, my TT tows as good under almost all conditions as the 5er I towed for 12 years. Only under extreme conditions of very high cross-winds combined with a bumpy curvy road would a Hensley Arrow or ProPride be better.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:36 PM   #9
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IMO after towing 2 TT's and now a 5'er I will never go back to a TT again. If one has to purchase a $3,000.00 WD hitch to make a TT tow as well then something's wrong. Most 5'er's have way more outside storage in them. More living space per foot that TT's. The 3-1/2' of tongue is wasted space. We have a 5th wheel that's 3' to the inch shorter than out previous TT and yet it has the same sq ft. Also it's shorter overall with 3' of the front in the truck bed. Only negatives is when turning, the 5th wheel wants to cut the corners a little more. Backing up is slightly trickier with the 5th wheel. I prefer the extra head room in a 5'er as well. As far as towing IMO a 5th wheel needs nothing and tracks perectly behind the truck. TT' need to have a WD hitch set up properly and even then depending on how long they are will be affected by semi's and wind. I can drive by pass semi's side by side on the freeway and not feel a thing. That won't happen with a TT unless you have a $3,000.00 Hensley Arrow or ProPride. IMO I would take the $3,000.00 and put it towards a 5th wheel.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:48 PM   #10
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Fivers have more available turning radius, but also take up nearly all the pickup bed space- a disadvantage if you like to use that space for other cargo.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:50 PM   #11
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I have a 6.5 bed on a 3500HD SRW with a B & W hitch with. 37' 5er have no problems at all.
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:15 PM   #12
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If you have a properly sized tow vehicle, a decent sway control hitch (Reese Dual Cam Straitline is great for the money), a proper hitch set up, a properly balanced trailer, it will tow fine. Most of the towing horror stories you hear about travel trailers being bad on the road are poor hitch set ups, poorly balanced trailers and tow vehicles not properly sized for the job.

A 5er is generally more tolerant to towing mistakes, but you can have issues with them as well. Again, the primary thing is to have a properly sized tow vehicle.

I really get put out at the self-acclaimed "experts" throwing out generalized statements with no back up or no experience.

Ken
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Old 06-30-2013, 09:16 PM   #13
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I don;t know where this comes from. There are plenty of lower end 5ers and some mid line ones that have frame issues.

If a TT fits your needs, by all means look at them.

Ken
20 years of towing and owning a fifth wheel trailer and comparing same lines of trailers the TT has always been the parked model. A 5th usualy was build on same specs but designed shorter and less flexible. There are cheap lines of 5th wheels but they are based on compititive construction.
In years past we valued fifth wheels has build for the road. It may not apply for some but Fleetwood was one that did in the past. Have you sean a tag along transports. They usualy are only used for equipment hauling using a dump truck. also are there any 16k pounds TTs. A 15k 5th to me, pulls much better and safer then any 8k TT I have pulled with my truck. Besides a TT without a truck cap is a bear to tow and my 5th basement has as mush room in the box storage of my friends truck with cap. And when unhooked I have an empty box in 5 minutes
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:05 PM   #14
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If one has to purchase a $3,000.00 WD hitch to make a TT tow as well then something's wrong.
You are not considering the total package cost.

A 5er without a hitch costs more than the same size/quality TT without a hitch. (Same size means same interior length and width). The ProPride hitch for the TT costs more than a good 5er hitch. So total package costs are roughly equal.

ProPride TT hitch = $2,345 full retail price
Trailer Sway Control Hitch Guaranteed to Eliminate Trailer Sway - ProPride 3P

Reese 16k Select Series 4-way tilt for a tow vehicle with an 8' bed = $649.95 for the hitch plus $124.95 for the universal install kit (bed rails) = $774.90 discounted internet price

Fifth Wheel by Reese for 2013 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty - RP30866

So the ProPride hitch costs about $1,570 more than a good 5er hitch. But a 5er can easily cost $1,570 more than a comparable size and quality TT.

With the ProPride hitch, the TT is going to tow just as good as the 5er, so it's a push. But the 5er will have more hitch weight than the comparable TT, so the 5er might require more truck to tow it with. In that case, the 5er with hitch and tow vehicle is probably going to cost more than the TT with a ProPride hitch and tow vehicle.
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