New guy here. Been doing a little reading and I'm wondering if there is any real difference between a trailer rv and a 5th wheel, besides how they attach to the tow vehicle? What are the advantages and disadvantages of one over the other? Are prices about the same for comparably sized trailer/5thwheels?
There are real differences between travel trailers, TTs, and fivers:
1. Tow vehicles: Fivers require a pickup truck preferrably long bed, or, in extreme cases a medium duty trailer tractor. TTs can be towed by pickups, vans, SUVs, most anything with a frame to attach a hitch to.
2. Steering: Fivers tend to cut inside of a turn and thus require that a sharp, right-angle turn be taken wide, just like semi-trailers do. TTs track the tow vehicle exactly.
3. Stability: A TT requires a weight distributiing (WD) hitch with anti-sway provision but when provided with them is stable in cross winds and the shock waves of passing vehicles. A fiver is inherently stable with respect to these hazards. That said, the hitch systems of both cost the same with the economy nod going to TTs.
4. Hitch weight: Fivers have significant hitch weights (15-20% of trailer weight) which must be borne within the gross rear axle rating of the tow vehicle -- this is why dual rear wheel trucks are so common with big fivers. The hitch weight of the TT which is between 10 and 15% of trailer weight is evenly distributed between tow vehicle front and rear axles by the WD hitch.
5. Frontal and longitudinal X-section: The fiver, length for length has a larger, higher, frontal and longitudiinal x-sections than a TT. The TT sits lower. This affects wind resistance and overhead problems in campgrounds.
6. Floor plan: TTs have a flat floor plan and more living space per unit length. Fivers have more storage areas and often a basement for them. TTs sit lower to the ground at their doors.
7. Size: Because of their combined characteristics TTs dominate the short length and light weight trailers; fivers dominate the long lengths and heavy weights. They overlap in the 26 to 30 foot lengths.
Ya pays yer money an ya takes yer cherce.