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Old 06-19-2006, 11:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

I'm getting ready to purchase another travel trailer. In the past, I have just owned bumper pulls using equalizer hitches. Thinking about a 5th wheel this time. My only concern is giving up my bed space. I know a lot of this will be replaced with the increased basement storage that a 5th wheel has over a bumper pull. It is just me and my wife, and we only use it on weekends and the occasional week or two vacations; looking for about a 25'. Couple of questions:

1. Are there any other drawbacks I need to be concerned about with the 5th Wheel?

2. Can my dog still ride in the truck bed with a 5th wheel?

3. Help me with dimensions. My understanding is that a 25' bumper pull is 25' of total living space and is actually about 30' long, all of it behind your truck. A 25' 5th wheel is 25' of living space plus the portion that extends over the hitch equaling about 30' of living space and it only extends about 25' behind the truck. Is this right?

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

I find it nice to have the fifth wheel due to having room to store things under the bunks in the back and like you said there is less of it behind the truck. Ours has a second door that opens and a bunk that folds up and allows for ALOT of storage. In the bed (mine is a LB) I can put firewood, keep my tool box in, and other miscellaneous things also. If you have a smart enough dog to dodge the front of the 5`er while you are turning I would say it would be fine..
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Old 06-19-2006, 01:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

If you do not already have a 5`er hitch and you have a long bed you may consider the B&W turnover with the companion.

Just a thought
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Old 06-19-2006, 01:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

Travel Trailer is measured from bumber to the front of the tongue for it's lenth. So a 25ft TT has about 21ft of living space.
A fifth wheel is measured from the bumper to the pin. A little more accurate as to usable living space.
There are pros and cons to each. The biggest pro that most people cite is the superior towing of the 5th wheel, but they do normally cost more than a comparable TT. If you go with either a Hensley Arrow hitch, or the Pull-Rite system, the TT will pull as good as the fifth wheel. They do this by moving the pivot point forward to around the rear axle, like a fifth wheel. And yes, I have towed both...
Weigh your options with each, find the floor plan you like, and don't skimp on a hitch. The right one, either trailer or fifth wheel, will make towing much more relaxing and safer.

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Old 06-19-2006, 03:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

I have never pulled with a Hensley Arrow hitch, or the Pull-Rite system, but I can't imagine it pulling as good as a 5th wheel. I have a short box, so I installed a slider hitch. I tried to pull my 15K lb trailer with the hitch in the back position (thought why not?) and the difference in ride quality was amazing. In the back position (4" behind the axle) my truck bucked like a heavy bumper hitch without equalizers. I slid it back up (8" infront of the axle) and it rides like a car. I was amazed at the difference. Now, my pin weight is at about 2300#, so this is not a light 5er. It pulls great and I am very pleased, but any hitch point behind the axle is less than optimum in my opinion.
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Old 06-19-2006, 04:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

westpsd, couldn't agree more, and yes, a dog who rides in the bed will be fine back there with the trailer hitched up.
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Old 06-19-2006, 10:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

I'd go for a bumper pull, if I were you. A good used Airstream will hold it's value much better than any 5th wheel. The 5th wheel hitch alone is around $900 and then even when you remove the hitch, you'll have the rails to contend with. Your doggy might do OK with a 5er, but no problem with a bumper pull. If you're just a weekender, a bumper is the way to go.
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Old 06-20-2006, 03:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

One consideration that decided for us to get rid of out travel trailer and start hunting for a 5th wheel is the ease of hitching and unhitching.

Travel trailers generally have all manualjacks and leveling and those weight distribution hitch setups weigh a ton.
5th wheels generally have electric front jacks and are easier to get under. most of the hitching duties can be accomplished without a bunch of lifting, crouching or crawling.

I'm about half crippled these days so I have to think about cutting back on the gear that needs to be manhandled.

---------Robert
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Old 06-20-2006, 01:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

Hello ScottZ...

Prefer the 5vr myself both for the ease & ride and the extra space. As to the dog...yes,there is room ,but with that important break away strap in there and a stray foot or such , [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img] it could prove far too exciting if activated.
We had a aluminum dual dog kennel built under a tool box that works great [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img] , but a cheaper method may just be a plastic travelling kennel tied into the front of the box.
As others have already said, be safe and do not get skimpy with the hitch system you choose.

Good Luck ! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smokin.gif[/img]
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

Agree with the comment they're pros and cons to each but for what you stated I think the TT is a better cost-effective choice for you.

BTW, my TT toyhauler has huge storage space under the front bedroom (extends all the way through the entire width of the trailer, with no obstructions). I also think the TT towing concerns are a little overblown. I've been on over 50 round trips with the 2 I've owned and never had a sway related issue. They're designed great nowadays and unless you load them totally wrong they tow fine. I've also driven some of my friends 5vers so I know what they're like to pull as well.

I get the itch to convert to a 5ver now and then but giving up 8' of useable space where I currently put a quad and a dirtbike is hard to make up in the back of a 5ver toybox; I'd have to get a HUGE 5ver to make up the loss of that 8' of bed space.

Enjoy camping either way you go!
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Old 06-21-2006, 11:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

Rich807 sums it up well. There are many floor plans in each trailer type and that will be your main deciding factor. To lose the 8 foot bed may or may not be of concern , but if you have additional 'toys' this will prove to be important.
It took a '32 5vr to settle our needs... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img]

Again , good luck ! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:14 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

Thanks for all the tips.
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:28 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

Fifth wheel! I've owned both and I'll never go back to a bumper pull.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:26 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

I'll jump in here.....well over 50+ years of camping and traveling. The 5th wheeler seems to be a nifty choice for the "more mature" set these days, and I do believe it is "ease" of hookup, towing, and use, etc.

For OUR particular needs, we choose the TT version, because we have ATV's, and we did not want a ToyHauler. So, we have a kewl rack that fits the bed of the truck, hauls 2 ATVs, hitch up the TT, and we are off. (Our dogs are spoiled, and ride inside the truck! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif[/img])

Find what fits YOUR needs, and you will be one happy camper!! And, just wave at all the rest of us as you glide on down the road, having made your best choice!! Either way, 5th or TT, you will LOVE what you have because it fits your needs!!

Happy Camping!!
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Old 06-23-2006, 07:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Help me decide: 5th Wheel or Bumper Hitch

I'm on my 7th rig...been camping in one sort or another rig since '66. My last rig is a 5'ver. It's so much easier to set up for me compared to a TT, and it pulls MUCH better. I've always used Reese set-ups on my TT's, so I can't speak about the special TT hitches. But, length for length, you get a lot more room with a 5'ver.

Until we retired, though, we pulled a TT ('70 Avion 26' with God-knows-how-many-miles-on-it!) As long as we were week-ending and vacationing in it, it was fine. Our camping buddy had a 28' '72 Avion and we caravanned all over the southeast US.

The first year I retired we were on a two-month trip, Momma told me to take her to the nearest airport...she was going home. I could come later when I wanted. She was not going to stay in that TT. That winter, I bought the 5'ver and Momma and I stay out 4-7 months a year and it's comfortable.

The rig you need will become apparent by the way you use it. When we were very young, the motorcyle and pup tent we used in Europe was fine. When 30, our Jayco pop-up was fine. But, alas, we are now bore-sighted into our 60's and the 5'ver suits us fine.

Don't get hung up on the idea that you will keep your rig forever. You will find things you don't like and change rigs. For that reason, you might be better off buying a used rig 'cause you will figure out later what you really want and make a change.

The one thing you need to watch for on a 5'ver is backing/turning too tight if you have a SWB truck. I pulled my 5'ver for 5 years with a SWB and never hit the cab, but I watched what I was doing. You'll get a little bit lower MPG with a 'big-headed' 5'ver, but they make low-profile 5'vers and they don't cause an MPG penalty. It just means crawling into the front bed.

IMO, the 5'ver are safer when (and you WILL) you have to make drastic maneuvers to avoid some addle-brained driver who is trying to kill you. I've had three episodes of this since retiring in Jan 2000 and you will have the same experience if, God willing, you live long enough to wear out several sets of bearing.

Good luck and happy camping.

Florida Ed
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