New to RV Forum Community w/ a question: 5th wheel or travel trailer?

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6cymans

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I am new to the RV Forum Community. Last year my wife and I purchased an travel trailer to take our 4 daughters (11, 8, 6, and 16 months ;D) out camping like we did when we were kids.? We purchased a Nomad 180T Lite travel trailer which is being towed by the '04 Ford Expedition with 5.4 liter engine.? We took it out on our first long trip a couple of weeks ago and the Expedition struggled some going up and over Mammoth. Because we live in Southern California and we have family in Northern Nevada and I have trips planned to Oregon and beyond I starting to look into other opinions. The trailer size is getting small for us and because the kids are only going to get better, I am going to need something larger.? I am sold on the travel trailer or 5th wheel idea because of price and ease of un-hooking and still using the vehicle.?

So here is my question ???:? Because of my family size, I am looking for recommendations on our next unit.? I considering purchasing a diesel engine crew cab truck to pull a 5th wheel, because I have heard you can be in the 5th wheel while in motion and the overall length would be shorter then a larger SUV with a larger travel trailer, plus the diesel engine has more power.
 

Tom

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Welcome to the friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing.

I'll let some of our trailer/5th wheel folks discuss the choice of what to buy. But I wanted to correct an apparent misunderstanding. AFAIK riding in the 5th wheel while travelling is illegal in most, if not all, states.
 

DonJordan

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Hi and welcome to the RV Forum.? We're happy to see you here and hope you stick around and participate on a regular basis.

I hate to say it but I'm pretty sure that Tom is right that most (all??) states prohibit pasengers in a 5th wheel trailer while under way.? I'm not a 5th wheel expert so I'll leave it to some of our other members who are as far as suggestions.

You are on the right track thinking diesel for pulling power on hills plus most have larger radiators and cooling systems than their gas powered equivalents so you should have less problems with overheating.? When you speak of struggiling going up and over Mamoth I presume you are speaking of the grades on US-395 north of Bishop?? There are a couple of pretty tough ones that can be a chlenge for many vehicles.? I have been that way many times and always feel sorry for the vehicles pulled over to the side of the road steaming like a locomotive.? Part of negotiating a grade of this sort is realizing that you aren't in a race and down-shifting to a lower more powerful gear BEFORE your rpms drop too much? and before your radiator heat gets away from you.? Don't be embarassed if you are down into first gear and others are passing you.? You may be passing them farther up the hill when THEY overheat? ;D.? If you are going to buy a diesel powered crew cab truck be sure to specify? a heavy duty cooling system which may or may not come with any towing package.

Hope this helps.
 

Ron

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Welcome to the RV Forum.  We are glad you found us.

As for passengers riding in any trailer I believe Tom & Don are correct.  Aside from that I would never enven consider letting anyone ride in a trailer of anykind while in motion.  To many things could happen that might cause serious injury.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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You are asking a lot of your Expedition, equipped as it is and hauling a big family plus a trailer.  No wonder it struggled a bit over those highways.

I think you will likely find that travel trailers offer floor plans better suited to large families than do fifth wheels. You are more likely to find the number of beds you need in a TT.  And as the others have said, placing your family in any trailer while underway is too dangerous to consider, whether legal or not.

I would suggest a large van or SUV - or 4 door truck - with a diesel or large V8 gas engine. In either case, you need one with a rear axle designed for towing power rather than fuel economy, to give you the power to get over those big hills.  An axle ratio in the 3.90- 4.11 range is good.
 

Colette

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<< most (all??) states prohibit pasengers in a 5th wheel trailer while under way.>>

Unless the rules have changed (always a possibility) it is legal in some states, but you must have communication between the trailer and the tow vehicle, easily accomplished with an FRS radio. However, even if it is legal, it ain't comfy. <G> We have tried it, admittedly with our old Kit fiver which didn't have shocks, but lying on the bed while underway was a bit like using a trampoline which didn't require any effort by the jumper. <G>

Colette
 

stretch1

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In California you can ride in the fifth wheel but you need to have wired, no wireless, communication with the driver of the tow vehicle. A walkie talkie does not satisfy the vehicle code. Radio Shack stocks this type of unit.

Yours,

Neal
 

Carl L

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In California it is illegal to ride in a travel trailer period.? ?One can ride in a 5th trailer providing that:? ?

1.? ?The trailer is equipped with safety glass;

2.? ?It has an exit door that can be opened both from the inside and outside.

3.? ?There is a audible or visual device with which the passenger can contact the driver.

However, and in the opinion of most oldtimers around here,? passengers riding in trailers is a bad idea.? ?For one thing, where are the properly mounted seats and seatbelts in a trailer.? ?For another trailers are as crashworthy as cracker boxes.

With your herd of kids, I fear you are going to want a van and that dictates a travel trailer.? ?The bigger vans can haul fair
sized trailers.? ?For instance, the big Ford E350 with the 6.0L Turbo Diesel has a tow rating of 10,000# and a GCVWR of 20,000#.? ?Given that you are towing in the mountain west, keep your trailer to 8500# and down and you should be fine.? ?You can get a lot of travel trailer for 8500# and on down.? ?My liddle 23 footer comes in loaded at 4650# as weighed on a scale.
 

Herm J

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Perhaps, as someone stated, there are travel trailer floor plans which will be more suitable for a family than the floor plans that are available in a 5th wheel.  That said, I would never go back to a travel trailer.  We had two travel trailers and we now have our second 5th wheel.  The towing characteristics of a 5th wheel are, in my opinion, far superior to those of a travel trailer.  I think that is a factor worth thinking about.
Herm
 

edjunior

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But then again, it's a lot easier to haul my motorcycle in the back of my truck with my travel trailer.  I couldn't do that with a 5th wheel.  And my wife doesn't like the toy haulers.  We'll see how it plays out in the years to come.
 

Lowell

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I'm not sure I pasted in the above comment correctly.  How are the towing characteristics different.  I've only towed a TT and frankly, it tows very easy.  The ride in the truck isn't that much different between towing and not towing except for the difference in acceleration. And it is very easy to back into a parking spot. I also like the fact that when I get home, I don't have to do anything to my truck bed to convert it back to everyday use.  On occasion, such as deer/elk hunting camping, I will load an ATV in the bed of the truck and still tow the TT.  I don't know how I would handle that with a 5'er. 

I got a TT with bunks because I wanted a more familly oriented RV.  One that I could take my grandkids along  or I could let my son's family  of 5 borrow. I sort of suspect that 5ers might be more into full time, a couple traveling together, and looking for a bit more creature conforts.  I can certainly see the benefits of both types or motorhomes for that matter.  I may opt for something else in the future too.  Tastes and needs change with time.  But getting back to my first question, I am interested is how towing a 5er and a TT differ.  What are the pluses and minius of each.  Thanks
Jake

 

Herm J

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The thing I like about towing a 5th wheel is the fact that the hitch point is located slightly ahead of the rear axle.  This takes away the mechanical advantage a travel trailer has in trying to move the truck around when you encounter gusts of wind, meet a big 18 wheeler, etc.  The farther from the rear axle the hitch point is, the more leverage the trailer has, thus the less stability.  There are at least a couple of trailer hitches on the market that move the hitch point much nearer the axle, but I understand they are much more expensive and require modification of the towing vehicle in some cases.

I also like the fact that I don't have to mess around with load distribution bars and an anti-sway device.
On the other hand, I don't like having the hitch in my truck when I go to Home Depot to pick up some plywood!
Herm
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Herm has accurately summed up the advantages of a 5W. They also generally have more external storage space, i.e. a big (huge in some models) compartment up front.

The drawback to a 5W is it is less maneuverable while backing up. The hitch placement (ahead of the axle) that makes it great going forward has the opposite effect when backing and you have to make exaggerated movements with tow tow vehicle to get the trailer to turn much at all.  Mostly it is just a difference in technique, but in some circumstances a 5W might require a lot more effort/skill than a TT would.  And you've already mentioned the effort to remove the hitch from the truck bed and the amount of bed space available for use while towing.  A modern 5W hitch is easily removed and leaves the bed pretty much flat, but it's never quite as easy as a TT hitch.

A TT also offers more flexablity in floor plans because the entire length can be configured almost anyway you like. That makes them more adaptable to "bunk house" or two bedroom styles.
 

Carl L

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A TT also offers more flexablity in floor plans because the entire length can be configured almost anyway you like. That makes them more adaptable to "bunk house" or two bedroom styles.

I might make a point here:  A travel trailer set up with a proper weight distribution and anti-sway system is  stable on the highway both from passing vehicle shockwaves and crosswinds.  Just like with a 5er, the cost of the hitch system is part of the cost of the trailer.   

The advantage of the TT here is in the tow vehicle.  The Cymans have 6 people to transport -- a couple and four young daughters.  In my view that dictates the choice of a van -  a big van -- or a huge SUV.  They were wondering about transporting passengers in the trailer, most here have agreed that is just plain unsafe. 

A TT is the only trailer one can hitch to a van or SUV.  5ers require a pickup, or medium duty truck with an unobstructed bed. 
 

Okotoks Camper

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Although we tow a fiver, we used to have a trailer and there are definite advantages to the TT such as lower height, tracks better, easier to back in, full height all the way, etc.

One major disadvantage mentioned in earlier posts, but not really delved into is the swaying experienced when driving in windy weather or passing big commercial vehicles. It really can be frightening. Someone mentioned an anti sway hitch earlier and I am a big fan of the Hensley Arrow hitch. It absolutely eliminates sway because it makes the TT act like its connect to the truck at the real axle so tows like a fiver hitch. It's expensive but can be moved from unit to unit as you change trailers. You buy it directly from Hensley at www.hensleymfg.com.
 

Carl L

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Someone mentioned an anti sway hitch earlier and I am a big fan of the Hensley Arrow hitch.

A worthy hitching system that does as advertised.  I am a personal fan of the Reese Dual Cam system having used one for some 15 years on three different rigs -- the same unit.    But that is the point, it is important to realize that one must use a good hitching system and they are not free.  (But then neither are hitching systems of 5ers.)  As such they need to be figured into the budget of a trailer purchase.  Once so figured tho, the things seem to be eternal in life span.
 

PennyPA

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I agree that with a family this size, one would want a good sized SUV or heavy duty van.? However, the larger (quad or crew cab) pickups can also accommodate 4 people in the back seat.? If you DO choose to go with a fiver, here's one with 4 bunks and 1 1/2 (or 2) baths.? I like the fiver 'cause I don't even know it's back there when I'm towing.? Big trucks have passed me going hell-bent-for-election and my fiver doesn't even budge.? Love that non-feeling!? And what's neat with this brand fiver is that, for this one in particular, you get 41' of trailer but are only towing 36' of those feet behind you.

http://www.glendalerv.com/2006/Titanium/36e41.html

 
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