“Fifth wheel” can allude to something other than the annoying friend who keeps crashing your double dates. In the world of mobile homes, it refers to a type of RV that gives you the same benefits of a larger model without being a full-blown house on wheels. If you’re thinking of going in this direction — and have the right towing vehicle like a pickup truck — a fifth wheel might be the perfect fit.
Why is it a fifth wheel?
Simply put, a fifth wheel is a hitch that allows the driver to connect a cargo attachment to the back of a large vehicle, like a tractor or truck. If you’ve seen a transport on the highway, then that’s a prime example of the fifth wheel design. Today, the fifth wheel refers to the “U” shaped coupling component found on the back of the towing vehicle, be it a large transport, pickup truck or tractor, for instance.
The fifth wheel got its name from its original design. They were initially invented for horse-drawn carriages in the mid 1850s. Manufacturers (who at the time built the components by hand) placed a horizontal wheel on the cargo frame or “truck” that allowed the front axle to pivot on its own. This worked wonders for stability and maneuverability.
In the early 1900s, a version was created for motor vehicles and the name itself simply carried forward.
Is a Fifth Wheel Right for You?
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your comfort level, personal needs and budget. If you’re still on the fence, consider the following:
1.Hitches are Handy
Fifth wheel hitches are handy because they facilitate turning, allowing you to drive normally with the attachment automatically following suit. Fifth wheels therefore eliminate the cumbersome maneuvering of their truck-like counterparts — a tremendous advantage if you’re more comfortable driving a regular vehicle.
2. Safety First
The fifth wheel mechanism is sturdier and safer, regardless of travel speed. After all, this is why people invented it in the 1850s. If you’re bringing children or other passengers, fifth wheel is definitely the way to go for peace of mind.
3. Less gas used
If you’re already the outdoorsy type — or happen to own a heavy-duty vehicle like a pickup truck — then you’re pretty much set to go. All you need to do is either buy or rent the “U” shaped attachment along with the trailer. Alternately, you can always rent a large truck and a fifth wheel compatible trailer separately, rather than an RV with it’s larger gas costs. Obviously, your vehicle will work harder and therefore go through fuel faster, but not nearly at the same rate of a diesel-powered motor home.
4. Great for groups
These RVs are great for large groups. Despite the fact that they give up a small amount of space to accommodate the hitch, these RVs can still be quite large, ranging between 20 and 40 feet. This allows you to accommodate up to six people — perfect for families who are newbies and veterans alike. All you need is the fifth wheel attachment and enough horsepower to pull the RV.
Finally, these are equally great for solo travelers or sportspeople, with even the smaller models having plenty of space for storing equipment and other supplies. Typically, fifth wheelers have two levels, with one large storage area located under the bathroom, making it easy to bring everything you need.
Investigate the fifth wheel lifestyle today! If you buy one, we know the perfect place you can rent it out.