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Old 07-06-2022, 08:06 PM   #1
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TT vs 5th wheel towing

Forgive me if this topic has been done to death but I'm new to the forum and wanted to get opinions from people that have experience towing TT's and maybe those that have had experience towing both TT's and 5th wheels.

My wife and I are considering going full time for a year or two after we sell our house. We figured it would be a good time to take a break from the norm and put off buying another house for a bit.

I have been trying to do research and narrowing down motorhome vs TT vs 5th wheel. I'm trying to keep it as budget friendly as possible and it seems like a TT is the easiest on the budget and there are some floor plans I like a lot. I have a 1999 Ford F-250 Super Duty with a V-10 that has a max trailer weight of 10,000 lbs or 5th wheel of 14,000 pounds. It looks like I can find both trailers and 5th wheels within that weight limit that we could be comfortable in. Motorhomes are nice, but again, I'm trying to keep this budget conscious and use the truck I already have.

So, here is my question from those with experience. How much better is the experience of towing long distances with a 5th wheel vs a long travel trailer? It makes sense to me that the weight of the 5th wheel right over the rear axle would tow way better but I have watched some YouTube videos where people said that they don't mind towing TT's and feel they have a pretty decent ride - even comparable to a 5th wheel.

My only experience is towing my little KZ Escape single axle 18 footer. I can feel it back there and it's only like 4500 pounds or something, loaded up. Seems like a big one would be a beast.

We will be towing and moving quite a bit - not just like, driving to a campsite on some weekends. I work a job where I work 5 long days and then have 9 days off and we plan to go on long trips pretty much every time I'm off so we'll be putting the miles in. Mostly we'll be sticking to the Western States with California as our base but you know how that goes - mountains - so that would be a factor too.

Thanks for any insight!
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Old 07-06-2022, 08:42 PM   #2
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I doubt if your F250 can tow a 14,000# 5th wheel due the trucks GVWR and rear axle GAWR. A 14,000 LB 5er will have a pin weight of 2800 LB or more once loaded for full-time use. This is a major shortcoming of 3/4-ton trucks.

You will feel any trailer behind the F250, V-10 truck.

A 5er is easier to handle, generally has more storage than a travel trailer and gets more of a residential feel.

We have had travel trailers, 5er, class C and Class A motorhomes and decided for our full-time adventure, we went 5th wheel.

The big advantage of a trailer over a motorhome is that you will eventually have an issue with the drive train (engine, transmission, brakes, suspension, etc.) and with a motorhome you home goes to the shop whereas with a trailer, y our home can be towed to a campground and the truck goes to the shop and you can rent a car for a few days. We had an engine failure due to road debris and the truck was in the shop for 3 weeks. We (the trailer) were towed to an RV park until the truck was repaired.

There are some that will have nothing but a motorhome, but that is their choice. What is right for me may not be right for you. But with the 3/4-ton truck, i feel you need to stay with a travel trailer.

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Old 07-06-2022, 09:02 PM   #3
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According to the VIN decoder, I can tow a 14,000 lb 5th wheel with a 3500 lb tongue weight, if I'm reading things correctly. But, would it be a comfortable tow? Not so sure about that. No experience towing a fifth wheel - or a trailer that's close to the max capacity weight of the truck. I have seen some 5th wheels that look comfortable for us that are, "half ton towable" and have an unloaded weight of less than 10,000 lbs and a max cargo capacity of close to 2000 lbs. That seems like it could be a potential with my truck. But I've also seen some bigger TT's that look like they have a layout we would love. I'm just concerned how a trailer would handle doing regular, long drives between our three home bases we plan to have in Texas, Washington and here in California.

I have pretty much thrown out the motorhome idea due to budget, and also the reason you mention, I like the idea of a separate drive train and living space for when things go wrong. So now I just need to decide between a 5th wheel and TT. TT seems like a better option for us, but I'm also concerned about towing a long TT. That's pretty much the only downside I can see for us, personally. I'm determined to start out with my truck for the same reason - budget. Now if I find I really want a bigger truck later on then of course my budget will be blown...
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Old 07-07-2022, 03:38 AM   #4
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So I guess to narrow down and focus my question - for those that have experience towing a long travel trailer, like over 30 feet and maybe closer to 40, what is your ride like? Would you suggest I avoid it and go 5th wheel if I'm going to be doing a lot of moving around? Or do you think towing a long TT is not as bad as people say?

I found a floor plan on a TT my wife really likes, but it's 36 feet long! I'm concerned about towing a TT that long on a regular basis and for long distances.
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Old 07-07-2022, 06:51 AM   #5
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I towed a 37' 5th wheel and a 29' travel trailer with a F-450. The travel trailer was a little more bouncy but not bad. The 5th wheel was more behaved and actually made the truck ride better.

I like 5th wheels because of the bedroom separation. You can find a 3 slide short 5th wheel which opens up the living area with opposing slides.

I would recommend a shorter 5th wheel with opposing slides in the living area plus a wardrobe slide in the bedroom. These can usually be towed with a 350/3500 Single Rear Wheel truck.
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:50 AM   #6
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Instead of depending on what that truck can supposedly tow, look at your pay load number.
That will determine what trailer you can tow.
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:54 AM   #7
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Lots of good advice posted above.

It is the actual weight that matters. Unloaded or Dry Weight is wishful thinking.

VIN look up is a good way to get maximum weight limits for your individual tow vehicle. Individual vehicles of the same make, model, and year can have significant differences in capacity.

The closer you get the the maximum capacity, the more you will feel the 5th or TT behind you. Many people with experience suggest towing at 80% of capacity for a good experience.

Different combinations of tow vehicle and trailer can behave differently. Towing more than 80% is OK. Just be consciousness of weather conditions and traffic conditions. Slow down before getting into tight situations.

If you are concentrating on the "going", a smaller trailer is better. If you are concentrating on the "staying" a larger trailer is better.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:25 AM   #8
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How much better is the experience of towing long distances with a 5th wheel vs a long travel trailer? Fifth wheel trailers track far smoother without any risk of sway compared to travel trailers PLUS they have a lot more room and storage AND hook up and easier and disconnect faster.

Just buy one that is a safe margin UNDER your tow vehicle's towing capacity.
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:40 AM   #9
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The 3500# is a theoretical maximum. To know exactly what load you can carry in the bed of the truck, you need to load the truck with passengers, cargo, hitch, etc. and head to the local truck scales and get actual reading for the rear and front axles on the truck loaded. Look on the sticker on the driver's door jamb and you will have a listing for rear axle GAWR and the trucks GVWR.

Take the rear axle GAWR and subtract the actual rear axle weight, this is the absolute maximum load you can add without overloading the truck. Additionally, add your two actual axle weights and subtract this total from the trucks GVWR. That is the maximum load you can ad to the truck on the 4 wheels. If no 5er hitch, add 100 to 300# to the rear axle weight to allow for the hitch.

As noted, ignore the brochure dry weights as most trailers when delivered with options are at least 500# over the dry weight, then you add batteries and propane, and it is higher. Remember that a typical 5er will have a loaded pin weight around 20% of the trailers GVWR. Ours is 21% and we know some folks are 22%. A bumper pull will typically have a tongue weight around 12% of the trailer GVWR.

A 3/4 ton truck will be able to pull more bumper pull due to the limited load capacity of the truck. As for a long trailer, we have towed a 3 axle 35 FT travel trailer and with a good hitch and proper weight distribution, it will tow fine.

Two excellent hitches for a travel trailer are ProPride and Hensley Arrow. They are expensive, but they are heads above the typical $500 hitch. A less expensive hitch is the old r Reese Dual Cam Straight Line hitch that combines weight distribution and sway control. We used the Dual Cam and the trailer was not bothered by wind or passing trucks.

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Old 07-07-2022, 08:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camp CA View Post
How much better is the experience of towing long distances with a 5th wheel vs a long travel trailer? Fifth wheel trailers track far smoother without any risk of sway compared to travel trailers PLUS they have a lot more room and storage AND hook up and easier and disconnect faster.

Just buy one that is a safe margin UNDER your tow vehicle's towing capacity.
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:48 AM   #11
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I went from a 35í(tongue to bumper) travel trailer to a 35í(pin to bumper) fifth wheel.

The TT was finicky to load. I had to be careful about weight distribution or mess with the WD bars. That part drove me nuts. Even after having the WDH set perfectly according to the scales, it didnít behave as well on the road as the fiver does. Though recently Iíve found out I only traded sway for less occasionally chucking.

The same length on them results in the overall package being shorter when hitched up to the fifth wheel. I have been able to get into some spaces in tight campgrounds that would have been impossible with the travel trailer. It makes maneuvering fuel stations a bit easier.

The fiver is much taller, so we have to watch overhead clearance closer. We lost our antennae in our neighborhood on our 3rd trip. I didnít notice a low hanging branch, and it plucked it right off. I sealed it with eternabond, and still havenít replaced it. Weíre not TV watchers.

My mileage went down with the fifth wheel. Even with comparable weights, the big front cap displaces more air. I could routinely get 10-12 with the travel trailer with the cruise set on 65. I keep the fiver at 62, and rarely see double digits. On a windy day, itís more like 7-8.

You loose most of your bed with a fifth wheel, and even when you donít there isnít much axle/capacity left to use. Weíre a toy hauler, so I didnít have to work too hard to relocate the bicycles and firewood, but that could be a real problem for some. Get something with a retrofit puck or under mount system, so you can get your bed back when not towing.

You can get an onboard generator for many more fivers that trailers. That is essential for our kind of camping. Maybe not for you.

BackingÖ itís different. A travel trailer responds more quickly to steering input. It can get you in trouble with the trailer fast. A fifth wheel is slower to respond, which can get you in trouble with the truck at a bad angle. Further, Iíve been backing the fiver and had my view completely obstructed by the front cap in tight places. GOAL and a trustworthy spotter are very important.
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:57 AM   #12
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1) your trucks REAL payload is the GVWR (8800lbs) minus whatever it weighs on a scale

2) always go by the trailer's GVWR, never the dry weight....they lie.

3) 5th wheels are a much better towing rig and at lengths over 30', I'd definitely lean that way though they are taller, you lose the ability to haul much in the bed and box clearance becomes an issue sometimes. You will be challenged to find an appropriate sized 5th wheel without exceeding your F250's payload
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:58 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Matthew B View Post
According to the VIN decoder, I can tow a 14,000 lb 5th wheel with a 3500 lb tongue weight, if I'm reading things correctly. But, would it be a comfortable tow? Not so sure about that. No experience towing a fifth wheel - or a trailer that's close to the max capacity weight of the truck. I have seen some 5th wheels that look comfortable for us that are, "half ton towable" and have an unloaded weight of less than 10,000 lbs and a max cargo capacity of close to 2000 lbs. That seems like it could be a potential with my truck. But I've also seen some bigger TT's that look like they have a layout we would love. I'm just concerned how a trailer would handle doing regular, long drives between our three home bases we plan to have in Texas, Washington and here in California.

I have pretty much thrown out the motorhome idea due to budget, and also the reason you mention, I like the idea of a separate drive train and living space for when things go wrong. So now I just need to decide between a 5th wheel and TT. TT seems like a better option for us, but I'm also concerned about towing a long TT. That's pretty much the only downside I can see for us, personally. I'm determined to start out with my truck for the same reason - budget. Now if I find I really want a bigger truck later on then of course my budget will be blown...
As mentioned, look at the payload sticker on the driver's side B pillar. That will tell you your payload as it came from the factory. It won't be 3,500 lbs. Better yet, got to the scales and weigh the truck. Then you know for sure.

If I went by my VIN to determine what I could tow, I would be severely overloaded.
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Old 07-07-2022, 05:34 PM   #14
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Thanks all. Sounds like I need to take a little field trip to the scales! Yeah, here are the numbers I have from the VIN look-up and the door jamb sticker. But doing calculations based on the scale numbers sounds like a good place to start to get true numbers.

Just to get an idea of what I can get in my weight range, I'm looking at trailers with a GVWR of 7500 lbs or less and 5th wheels that are GVWR of 10,000 lbs or less. Like I said, I would PREFER not to have to buy a new truck. The cheapest way I can see to get into this is to buy a trailer or 5th wheel I can tow and have a budget of 25 - $40,000. If I have to buy a used heavier duty truck, my budget would have to be twice that number. And at that point, I could start looking at motorhomes again!

But, this would be our house on wheels for the next year and a half to two years so I want to make sure my wife is as comfortable as possible in the choice I make. If it was up to me, we'd just convert our minivan and live in that! She is not overly excited about the idea of RV life in general, but she is willing to do it because it's my dream and it's for a specific amount of time before we buy our next house.

This trailer has EVERYTHING she could want... but it's 37 feet long and GVWR of over 11,000 lbs. Seems like it would be a beast to tow all over the U.S.



If I could find a 5th wheel with a GVWR of 10k or less with washer/dryer hook ups, a king sized bed, a large fridge, plenty of counter space in the bathroom and a large shower, I'd be in business... but not sure if that exists... Tall order...
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