Bed Length for a 5th Wheel

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Well-known member
May 19, 2006
Houston, Tx
Hey All,

I just found y'alls website yesterday and have enjoyed reading various posts.

I am currently looking into buying my first RV trailer, I?ve never pulled a trailer, I guess I?m about as green as one gets. Hence I?m full of dumb questions?lol

The current plan is to get a Chevy Silverado 4 door crew cab 2500 Diesel and a 5th wheel, 26 ? 32 feet, still looking at the various trailer layouts that are out there. I?m open to any suggestions regarding Brands or any options that really are not options. I plan to buy used, 2000 or newer.

I?ve been told by a SALESMAN that I need to have the extended bed in order to be able to properly pull and turn with a 5th wheel. Is this true? I have my doubts, but don?t know.

My primary purpose for the RV is to Camp at the Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR races, after that I expect to use it for short trips to local fishing areas, Gulf Coast fishing and maybe a few state parks. And most likely a few races around the country now and then.

Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated. I don?t intend to replace it for many years and hope to get lots of good use out of it.

Hi Eddie,

Welcome to the forum. The first rule of thumb is NEVER believe what a salesman tells you!! You do not need an extended bed to pull a 5th wheel. There are hitches that allow a short bed truck to pull a 5er. The hitch adjusts when in a manuevering situation. It they cannot provide the info, let me know. I'll find out which hitch will work for your situation.
The short answer is you definitely don?t need a full size pickup box to tow a 5th wheel RV. Short boxes work just fine and many folks don?t ever run into a problem. Issues only arise when you are backing up and jackknife the camper; at some point you can hit your cab with the RV. Of course that point depends on your camper and your king pin placement. There are 5th wheel hitches out there that can slide back; either manually or automatically to move your camper back and allow the camper to turn more. This situation only arises when backing up and not when moving forward.
I prefer a full size pickup box, but I have towed with friends with short boxes and have never seen them get in situations where they needed the slider option on a hitch. Also, with the short box truck they many times can maneuver into tight spots that take me a little more work with a full sized four door pickup.
As others will certainly tell you; the most important issue on your vehicle will be that it?s engine and transmission are matched to your load; and your suspension can handle the load.
MTRancher is right on. I've towed with both short (6.5 ft) and long (8 ft)  beds, and no sliding hitch on the short beds either.  But don't try the mini-bed on pseudo-trucks like the Explorer Sport-trac - they are just too short for any fifth wheel.

Yes, it is conceivable that some trailers could hit the truck cab in some "jack knife" situations when backing up, but you probaly ought not to ever get yourself that situation. If you get anywhere near that sharp a turn, you ar ebetter off pulling forward and re-adjusting your approach.  Here and there may be a forest service campground or similar tight site that actually needs such sharp turns, but they are rare and most of us wouldn't even attempt them anyway.

But a long bed does indeed eliminate the possibility and it also provides quite a bit more space in the bed to carry useful stuff - a cargo box plus  some firewood,  a generator or maybe the grand kid's bicycle.
I have a 2005 Silverado Crew, 6.0 gasser, shortbed (6.5feet) 4.10 rearend and a 2006 Jayco 245RBS (25 foot 5'er).  The salesman talked me into a Reese 16K with slider because of the shortbed that I had.  It turns out that I likely didn't need the slider because of the forward location of the kingpin on the 5'er and it cost me about $500 additional for an installed slider.  I haven't had to use the slider even though I've gotten into some tight places.  At this point I don't know if I regret buying the slider but it's there if I need it so I will perform routine maintenance on it and keep it in good condition in any case.

The key point with a short bed is to be aware of the potential problem and actually fit your 5th wheel to your 5'er correctly.

Good luck.  ;)
Thanks all for the input. We just bought a 36' New Vision Ultra w/3 slides, it was in unbelievably great shape, inside and out. Tomorrow we're off to find a truck, the plan is a Chevy Silverado 2500 4x4 Heavy Duty Diesel with a regular bed, not long bed. After hearing what y'all had to say I think we'll be good to go.  Only other concern is if I'll have enough space for a generator between the cab and hitch.
Only other concern is if I'll have enough space for a generator between the cab and hitch.

There should be adequate room, as long as you don't plan to install a cargo box too.

You might need a 3500 to handle the pin weight of that 36 footer. Make sure you know the loaded pin weight of the trailer (not the dry pin weight - it is substantialy less!).  Estimate it is probably 15% of the trailer GVWR and possibly as much as 20%.
Something I found out the hard way is to check the clearance between the truck bed rails and underside of fifth wheel- if there isn't much clearance you can and will damage the truck and fifth wheel when you go off road !
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