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Old 02-16-2014, 02:33 AM   #1
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Am I missing something about travel trailers

Went to the Indy RV show today, and really got to look at some travel trailers.
I was very impressed with them overall, and found them comparable to 5th wheel unit, but significantly less $$$$$$, and less steps, for what seems like very similar unit.
I am curious what I am missing in the comparison that makes a 5th wheel worth more money.
Our big interest seems to be in the 28 foot and up units.

I noticed many of them do not require such large trucks to pull them, but either way I will have to get a truck, as my old truck is not capable of pulling any of them, except for maybe the 24ft

Any enlightening would be appreciated.

I talked to a guy buying a TT at the show, and he had owned both 5th wheels, and travel trailer, and he said he did not mind pulling either one any more than the other
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Old 02-16-2014, 05:16 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IamJerryP View Post
Went to the Indy RV show today, and really got to look at some travel trailers.
I was very impressed with them overall, and found them comparable to 5th wheel unit, but significantly less $$$$$$, and less steps, for what seems like very similar unit.
I am curious what I am missing in the comparison that makes a 5th wheel worth more money.
Our big interest seems to be in the 28 foot and up units.

I noticed many of them do not require such large trucks to pull them, but either way I will have to get a truck, as my old truck is not capable of pulling any of them, except for maybe the 24ft

Any enlightening would be appreciated.
Fifth wheels tow better and have a higher hitch weight so they usually require more truck than a TT. The mid range fifth wheels are built much better and heavier for more frequent use. These fifth wheels will start to have extra amenities more comparable to a class A MH. They also have a lot more storage.

Having said all that the rest of the differences are debatable.The fifth wheel seems to be surrounded by a lot of hype. A lot of folks would have you believe that TT's are virtually untowable NOT TRUE. Having pulled both there is a big difference but not enough to write off the value you get for your money in a TT. For the 200mi weekend trips and a week or two a year the TT is hard to beat if cost is a factor. If you take away the extra storage and extra head room parked in a campground there is no difference. People in TTs have all the same basic amenities as the in Fifth wheels
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:28 AM   #3
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I am getting my second TT next month and have not had a 5er so I can't give any opinions about one or the other. However, I can say that with a TT you do not need a special receiver on the truck - just a tow package with electric brake installed, then you can use the bed to haul things like gravel or mulch when you're not towing without making any modifications.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:06 AM   #4
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I had a TT, but wanted more room and a bunk house. I ended up with a 5er because for me to get the same space in a TT, it would have been too long for me to turn around and back into the carport I have in my back yard. I also found that the tanks on 5th wheels are generally larger than on TTs. That was a big consideration for me because we do a lot of dry camping at race tracks.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:16 AM   #5
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I've had both. Both have their upsides and downsides.

I found that the 5th wheel has better manners on the road generally. But as said above, they are heavier on the truck, so you need a bigger truck to deal with it. Hookup is much easier, as you don't need to deal with weight distributing hitch, etc.

5vers are more costly because you are getting a bigger trailer, foot for foot. They are taller and more volumous. Also, at a certain level, they are competing with motorhomes, so the materials might be nicer, better appliances, bigger and more air conditioners, furnace, etc. That all comes at a price.

Travel trailers can be a tremendous value. I found though, that when you get really big, that it becomes not worth the hassles compare to the ease in towing a 5ver. I think there is a sweet spot around 25' though, that makes them easy to tow, and relatively cheap. If you keep the equipment list within reason.

Deciding which way to go is a long list of considerations and how you intend to use it. So think carefully.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:35 AM   #6
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for us the differences came down to 3 things

1) a larger master bedroom or we can have enough room to get dressed in private
2) 50 amp electric service, I'm tired of blowing breakers w/30 amp service
3) washer and dryer connections

that said we're on the right side of the cost curve--we have a 10k lbs 35 foot travel trailer.

As far as tow vehicles go I don't think there's much difference in the over 30 foot club. Assuming you want 2 slides, over 30 feet length you will want a 3/4 quarter ton pickup.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:05 PM   #7
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for us the differences came down to 3 things

1) a larger master bedroom or we can have enough room to get dressed in private
2) 50 amp electric service, I'm tired of blowing breakers w/30 amp service
3) washer and dryer connections

that said we're on the right side of the cost curve--we have a 10k lbs 35 foot travel trailer.

As far as tow vehicles go I don't think there's much difference in the over 30 foot club. Assuming you want 2 slides, over 30 feet length you will want a 3/4 quarter ton pickup.
Totally Agree if its over 30ft you need a horse to pull it. I think most of the people who have towing issues don't have enough truck. a 3/4ton with 10PR tires and good shock should be enough for any TT a Dually should just flat out drag any TT. I didn't know you could get 50amp standard in a TT nice.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:40 PM   #8
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Oh, didn't mean to confuse anyone, we would like to get a 5er for the 3 reasons stated but have settled for a TT since we are unwilling to pay with the $$
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Old 02-16-2014, 02:20 PM   #9
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From our shopping over the years, the big difference has always been size. To get the same sq. footage from a 5er required a Travel Trailer that was almost a Park Style model.

There used to be a big difference in amenities, but just like the old gas vs. Diesel motohome split, the mfgts are reducing that gap with very nice interiors and floor plans.

Then there is a big difference in the way they tow. Some swear by the 5th wheel design (and it is what commercial rigs use) BUT some folks do not like the 5th wheel set-up and prefer a convention bumper pull set-up.

Finally there are issues about the truck bed. Some folks cannot give up the space in the bed or they tow with a SUV or van...for them, a 5er won't work.

Lucky for everyone, both types are readily available...so get what works for you!

Best luck
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:03 PM   #10
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From our shopping over the years, the big difference has always been size. To get the same sq. footage from a 5er required a Travel Trailer that was almost a Park Style model.
Scarab,
I think I may be misunderstanding your line, above. Are you saying a 5er feels bigger or a TT?

It seems like a square foot is a square foot. All of these about 8'6" wide X whatever length box you buy. 5ers have a bunch of that length eaten up inside by stairs, while TTs have a couple feet of hitch/propane out front.
I've always found that a TT has a much more efficient use of space, but I will say a 5er with taller roof feels a little more roomy.

As to stability, I have towed my TT with an SUV and a long 2500, both with electronic sway control. Neither has any harware other than the hitch and they are both fine, so ease of hooking up/setting up is a non-issue. I just got back from a 700 mile round trip and had the cruise control set to 70-75mph the whole way. No problem.

The cost savings on the TT is massive (30-50%) and the storage in the basement of a 5er is tiny compared to my TT's passthrough AND available truck bed for the regular stuff PLUS 4 bikes or even a golf cart if desired. We also travel with dogs which is perfect with an SUV or truck with a cap.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:22 PM   #11
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TDI...

In my opening line I wasn't talking about feel, I was talking about actual sq. footage...Park Style models are typically around 40' long, which is similar to the overall length of many 5ers.
5th wheel rigs just have all that length/space over the truck bed which TT's don't have.

I read that the OP wondered about why 5ers cost so much more...these were the differences I was expounding upon.

And my point that 5ers, despite being more expensive, might not be better for everyone is perfectly illustrated by your desire to tow with a SUV.

Safe travels
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:09 AM   #12
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I think the cost difference between 5ers and TTs is in the frame and complexity of the build. A flat frame with a box sitting on top is going to be easier, and less costly than a frame with a zig-zag in it. That zig is going to have to be reinforced and then there's the goose-neck type hitch to throw in extra cost. I haven't been RVing very long... but I'll probably stick to TTs because of the cost factor involved with a fifth wheel, and the added cost of the required diesel truck. I know there are folks out there pulling 5ers with 1/2 tons, but I won't be one of them.

I was just offered a very nice truck/trailer combo for a song, but it's just too much rig for what I want. My brother-in-law and sister are now beyond their camping years and offered me a fairly new dually Ford and a newer 38' 5er for $35K... but I had to turn it down. He'll easily get $50 - $60K selling them separately.

The newer TTs are very nice. Many are coming out with solid surface counters and layouts that enhance room and comfort. If I ever trade up, it will be to a TT with opposing slides to make the living area bigger and more serviceable. I kind of like the Element by Evergreen. It has a bunch of stuff I like...

Happy trails...
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:42 AM   #13
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There is only one trailer that I feel can compare to the upper end 5ers. The Excel Winslow is not cheap and it is heavy.

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Old 02-21-2014, 11:13 AM   #14
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I started with popup, then went to small 5th, then larger 5th, then larger truck to tow the larger 5th then went to Class A Diesel Pusher, then Nothing. Started over with rPod, sold that and now have a 26' Jayco.

The 5th was 26' and it took a Duramax 2500 to handle the bed load and tow it. Now, my Jayco tows with my Nissan Pathfinder. The Jayco is well behaved on the road. Most of the load is balanced on the two axels. The 5er was over 1500 pounds on the hitch. This created a lot of porpoising on any highway that had expansion joints.

The thing that caused me to sell my 5th and get a Class A DP was need for a generator. They were going to install a generator and gas tank in my huge front compartment. This was right beneath my master queen bed. I was very very nervous about sleeping over all this fuel. I could not put the the generator in the truck bed because the hitch takes up the middle of the whole bed. Not much room on the side for little more than a rake or shovel.

I currently do not like carrying my generator in my Pathfinder, but when I hit the road again, I will have a PU truck as TV. But, with the Jayco Feather, I can pull it with a 1500 truck which will save me $20K or so. It is very easy and nice to put a pair of Honda Inverter Gens in the back of the PU. (Side note, Honda has a fuel pump and you can connect outboard motor fuel tank). Fumes will not be in cab.

Now, lets look at mileage while towing. Contrary to popular urban legend it is not weight that impacts MPG, it is wind drag. The lower the RV the lower the drag. My 5th was like looking up at a skyscraper with that big front bulb in the wind.

So, overall, if you can get the goodies you want in a TT. You are better off in the TT. If you can afford a big diesel pusher, you will enjoy the ride and be at the top of the mountain a half hour ahead of me and my TT.

Just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.
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