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Old 09-22-2016, 02:18 PM   #1
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Travel Trailers vs 5th Wheel Trailers

I am shopping for a RV and am at the point I would like some constructive input in helping me make a decision. After visiting a few RV dealers I have limited my search to Grand Design RV, they make both the TT and 5th Wheel trailers. They make the model I like most in both types of trailers with very similar floor plans. I would like to know the advantages and disadvantages of both types.
The models are Reflections, the 5th wheel is a Model 303RLS and the TT is Model 297RSTS.
And if anyone has any first hand information on the manufacture Grand Design.

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Old 09-22-2016, 02:32 PM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2016
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Have looked at the Grand Design units and they seem to be fine outfits.
Our first RV was a travel trailer. We wanted a bit more room so upgraded to the Cougar 5'r. Hard to compare the two since the new Cougar is bigger by 3 feet and larger slide. Both were rear kitchen, front bedroom floor plan. But, we find the 5th wheel much more livable. More counter space and storage, larger bathroom and the storage in the basement doesn't even compare with the TT.
IMHO I'd recommend buying your second trailer first. Go with the 5th wheel.
Happy Camping!
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:49 PM   #3
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We been looking at both and find 5th wheel offer more for us. One plus to a TT is they are lighter both in total weight and tongue (pin for 5er) weight. Other than weight we find the 5er offer more for us.

First thing my wife noticed is TT don't have as high of "R" rating as to a 5er. Usually R 7 to 9 in TT and more than double that in 5er. The "R" rating is a big help in keeping the RV cool or warm depending on the season you are camping. The Grand Design TT do have the highest "R" factor of all the TT we have looked at so far but still not as high as the Grand Design 5er's. Also the appliances in most TT are 17" oven (not real useful), small micro wave and only 6 or 8 cubic foot frig.

Those are just some of the thing we noticed different between TT and 5er.
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:33 PM   #4
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I would look at how/where your going to use it. When we bought ours at 23ft it was one of the smaller ones available. It would have been easy to go bigger but where we camp we are typically one of the bigger trailers. Any longer or taller and we would have trouble. Don't see a lot of fivers because of that. On the other hand we are not full timers and couldn't imagine trying to live in our trailer, would really need more storage.
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Old 09-22-2016, 07:54 PM   #5
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My dad owned just about every type of RV under the sun at one point or another including a 28ft Jayco TT and a 34ft Jayco 5th wheel.
His favorite of all of them was always the travel trailer. Something about it made it much easier to setup, teardown, and hit the road at a moments notice where the 5th wheel was a hassle unless you were planning on staying parked for more than 2-3 nights (most of that was likely due to the 3 slides the 5th wheel had...)
Proponents of 5th wheels claim pulling is much more stable, however with a quality and well setup weight distribution hitch there is no problem with the dreaded sway 5vers always talk about. In fact, 5th wheels are not immune to ALL sway, just most.
Also, hooking up a fifth wheel seems easier in theory (just back up the truck until it the hitch clicks), but with a little practice under my belt I can hook up my travel trailer in about the same time. You still have to get the pin level with the hitch like you do a tongue with a travel trailer which is what takes the most time with either. Hooking up the stabilizer bars takes maybe 30 seconds (at least with my Equalizer), safety chains 10 seconds, and 5 seconds to slip the hitch latch down.
5th wheels definitely beat TTs in the space and load capacity arena typically. However that comes at a cost in size (especially height) and weight.
With my TT I rarely have to give thought to it's height as it's no taller than a typical UPS truck so I know at least those have usually taken out the all low hanging branches, wires not up to code, and whatever else looking to snag on my camper. With a 5th wheel clearance issues are a real and common problem to run into (literally).
As Sparechange said above, it all depends how you will use it.
If I was full timing (or "most timing") and planning on staying in developed campgrounds mostly I'd definitely convert to a 5th wheel for the room and storage.
I am mostly a weekender (with a few week or so long trips throughout the year) and I like to camp at state parks and facilities not designed to handle a 45ft motorcoach so a travel trailer is easier to maneuver in these often more forested and tight areas. Also, it doesn't require me upgrading my daily driver to a 1-ton diesel.
Both probably have the same number pros/cons as the other, but it depends which pros or cons make the biggest difference to you.
Now time to sit back and watch the 5ver vs TT wars...
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Old 09-23-2016, 08:03 AM   #6
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Current Grand Design owner of 5th wheel. Previous owner of TT and traveled all over the East Coast with it.

Pros of 5th wheel: Hands down, a 5th wheel is more stable towing irregardless of TT set up. With a travel trailer, your pivot point is at the rear and with the 5th wheel it is directly over the axle. There is a reason tractor trailers use the 5th wheel set up. Handles more weight and travels easily without the worry of sway. Hooking up the 5th wheel is faster than a TT as well. No weight distribution bars and safety chains to worry about. Tighter turning radius is also a characteristic of the 5th wheel. Typically you have more interior and storage space with the 5th wheel as well. Even with a longer unit, overall length can still be around the same or shorter because part of length is in the bed of the truck.

CONS of the 5th wheel:. Height can be a pain as tree branches are not always trimmed up to the 13 and half foot height to clear the height of many 5th wheels. Heavier pin weight that can impact your payload availability to haul people, fuel, pets, etc. in the tow vehicle. Typically cost more than TT too. As others have stated, size can limit access to some state/national parks. Typically requires larger truck (especially if you want to have an increased comfort level in towing - many folks like me prefer to tow with a dually). Finally, you loose most of the bed of your truck while towing (you can still haul things in front of and around he hitch, but can't haul bicycles and such with the 5th wheel set up and was the main reason we choose a toy hauler model).

Grand Design:. Happy with ours so far (purchased new in April). If you look underneath the units and inside cabinets, etc. you will begin to see some of the differences in quality and build. There are many things that Grand Design is doing that raises the bar on the unit within the price category you are looking at.

Good luck on your decision.
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:55 AM   #7
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I've had two TT's and now a 5th wheel. Hands down the 5th wheel is easier to use. More storage in the 5th wheel. Bigger basements. More cabinets. Far better towing unless you spend $2000+ for a Pro Pride or Hensley Arrow hitch. One nice thing about a 5th wheel that no one mentions is that after the truck and trailer are hitched up you can walk between them. Can't do that with a TT. You either need to step over the tongue or walk around the TT or truck to get to the other side.

Downside to a 5th wheel is the extra steps to the bedroom, more heat in the bedroom and taller roof.

We've had our current 5th wheel for 4 seasons and not sure if we could go back to a TT. It takes a longer TT to get the same living space a 5th wheel. The OAL is longer also.
The TT you're looking at is 33'11" long. The 5er is 32'5" long. Just for the sake of speculation lets say you have a CC LB truck @22' long. That puts the TT and truck at 56' OAL. With the 5er you'll be about 50'5'. Roughly 5.5' shorter. That could mean that with the TT you won't get the spot in the CG you want. Not that big of a deal to some. I know with our SOB 5er that if we're in a short spot I can back the truck back under the 5er front over hang to gain more room. In a narrow spot you won't be able to back the truck more because the TT tongue is in the way.

We also have most everything that was in the truck when we had the TT now stored in the basement on our 5th wheel. Makes it nice when you're back home s you don't have to unload the truck. Everything stays in the 5th wheel. We only put a 4' ladder, some fire wood and a couple extra water jugs in the truck bed.

As far as what someone mentioned about R values being lower on TT's. That's not true. It depends on the specific unit you're looking at. Both the units you're looking at are the same.

FWIW both those trailers are great floor plans. Grand Design is coming up with some new ideas which is great.
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:07 AM   #8
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How are you planning to use it?
Lots of looking highway trips and then stay put for a while or short weekends at the local campgrounds and parks?
The first usually points to a 5er, the latter to a TT.

My opinion, after towing about 20k miles in the last 3 years is that a TT with the right setup and truck can't be beat... then there is the price. If you think they are very similar, why pay 50% more and need a bigger truck?
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:38 AM   #9
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This question has popped up quite a few times in the 6 years I've been reading RV threads. The real answer is.... It depends.... It depends mostly on the person and his/her needs. It depends on their financial situation at the time. It depends on their intended usage. It depends on their family size. It depends on their ability to be able to set things up correctly (like the WDH). It just depends on so many variables that there's no real black-and-white answer.

For us it's a travel trailer. I have enough truck for a 5er that would match the size of our new TT, but my hobbies demand a clear, covered truck bed. I've towed both, 5ers and TTs. With a "properly set-up" WDH, there's not much difference. I worked for several hours getting my WDH correct. The TT tows straight and true with no anti-sway contraptions. I spent the time and effort and have already towed the new (Aug 3rd) TT about a thousand miles. In the next few months we'll probably do another 4,000, as I retire in 28 days.

Good luck with your decision. I looked at the Grand Design trailers and they were on my short list, for sure. I hope you have many years of trouble-free service out of whatever you get.
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Old 09-23-2016, 12:52 PM   #10
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The reason I picked TT over 5th wheel is the use of the pickup truck bed space for hauling and storing stuff.

I full time. I like to take a bunch of stuff with me. I have two generators, gas cans, fishing gear, firewood, etc., and I won't haul that stuff in my trailer, and 21 foot ORV 19B. So I have a truck topper camper shell and store those things in there along with some other stuff.

You don't lose the pickup bed with a 5th wheel, but you lose options for somewhat secure storage, the amount you can store, and what kinds of things you can store in there. There will be folks that say "I have no trouble carrying X, Y, and Z back there with my fifth wheel", but having it covered and secured (keeping honest folks honest, really) is what works for me.
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Old 10-03-2016, 05:47 PM   #11
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Aye yup! Depends. OP are things clear now? Probably not. You didn't mention what you have for a TV. I have a F150 super crew with the short box. Didn't want a F250 for a daily driver. Not much available in a 5th wheel in a half ton towable plus I use the box for my motorcycle (290 lbs). Wanted a bunkhouse set up and not a toy hauler. Wifey wasn't interested in an upper level bed due to old Arthur Itis. I have towed 5th wheel implement trailers and in that use I much preferred them for ease of hook up even though I had to drop the tail gate back part way in and close it. It was just easier to see the alignment pre rear view camera days.

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