5th Wheel vs Travel Trailers (Full and Detailed Comparison)

Deciding on whether to buy a fifth wheel or a travel trailer is a challenging task, and it requires you to think about various other aspects before buying one. This post will elaborate on all the things that you want to know about the 5th wheel vs travel trailer. I sincerely believe that you’ll gain sufficient knowledge that will help you make a perfect choice when investing by the end of this post.

Towable travel trailers come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from pop-up campers to enormous fifth-wheels. We all love these towable vehicles, and the biggest reason behind their popularity is they can be easily unhitched at a campsite, which allows you to drive your tow vehicle anywhere you want.

However, the most luxurious with generous space towable vehicles are travel trailers and fifth-wheels. Both of these vehicles offer almost all the luxury living amenities when you are traveling or camping, including kitchen, toilets, showers, and more, making them a second home away from your home.

Most people think that both of these vehicles are the same and don’t have any difference, which is not valid.

Both of these towable vehicles have some significant differences, and I’m here today to discuss just that. Below, I’ll discuss their pros and cons, how to decide between a fifth-wheel vs. travel trailer, and what will be best for you.

Fifth Wheel vs Travel Trailer

So, let’s get started!

Similarities Between Fifth Wheel vs Travel Trailer

Before proceeding further, let’s explore what is similar between a fifth-wheel vs travel trailer. Both of these vehicles have something in common that distinguishes them apart from motorized RVs.

1. Affordability

Unlike motorized RVs with the built-in driving component into them, fifth-wheels and travel trailers don’t have that, which means you will be required to have a separate tow vehicle. This is the biggest reason that makes fifth-wheels and travel trailers a more affordable pick than motorized RVs.

2. Easy Unhitching

Easy Unhitching

The second similarity is common in both Fifth-wheels and Travel trailers are that they can be easily unhitched from towing vehicles. It means you can unhitch your fifth-wheel or travel trailer and leave them at a campsite. The most significant benefit of easy unhitching is you can explore all the surroundings where a motorized RV cannot go.

Moreover, you will also be able to detach your fifth-wheel or travel trailer any time to leave it at a campground and take your towing vehicle with you wherever you go.

3. Family Friendly

Another similarity between a fifth-wheel and travel trailer is that both of these towable vehicles offer ample room and living space, making them a perfect option for families. However, your family’s size is critical in determining what fifth-wheel or travel trailer you should buy to perfectly accommodate your travel requirements.

Differences Between 5th Wheel vs Travel Trailer

1. Pricing

The main difference when comparing travel trailers vs. 5th-wheels is their prices. With spacious living and storage space, impressive and on-board amenities, and luxurious features, 5th-wheels have quite an expensive price tag that runs between $20,000 to $50,000 with up to $35,000 of average cost.

While on the other end, a brand new travel trailer has a price tag running between $10,000 to $35,000, with an average cost of up to $20,000.

However, these are the approximate prices for brand new 5th wheel and trailers. And if you find these prices are out of your budget, you can look for a used one to save a ton of money.

2. Length

Travel Trailer Length

The most significant difference that sets apart both of these towable vehicles from each other is the length. Depending on what floorplan you want to buy, you’ll find a range of variation for both of these vehicles.

Fifth wheels are slightly larger than travel trailers and generally have a length between 24 to 45 feet. It means they offer a bit more living space than a travel trailer, making you feel like you are living in a nicely-sized apartment rather than a trailer. Although it is excellent for larger families or a large group of travelers while also maintaining privacy, don’t forget their cost and added weight.

On the other hand, they are smaller than fifth-wheel and generally have a length between 12 to 35 feet. They are a great pick if you want a fuel-efficient towable vehicle and traveling with a smaller family.

3. Weight

Another critical aspect to take into account while comparing a travel trailer vs fifth-wheel is the weight. Fifth wheels are far greater than travel trailers in almost all instances. For instance, if you compare the 5th wheel vs travel trailer, and both of these have the same length of 20 feet, you will find the 5th wheel heavier than the trailer.

The reason why a 5th-wheel is heavier than a trailer is its in-built features and amenities, such as an on-board plumbing system, slides, a full kitchen, etc. that usually cannot be found in a travel trailer.

The weight of fifth-wheels entirely depends on the model you choose. However, the average weight of the 5th wheels runs from 10,000 to 16,000 lbs.

On the other end, travel trailers also have most of the in-built amenities similar to a 5th-wheel, but you might find them not as spacious as in a 5th-wheel, which makes trailers lighter. A travel trailer’s average weight runs between 1,000 to 9,000 lbs, which means there is quite a large difference between these two towable vehicles’ weight.

Since both of these vehicles are towable, and you will need a tow vehicle, weight is a critical component to consider before buying one of them. Here are some points that you should ask yourself before investing in either of these vehicles,

  • Does your current vehicle have the capacity to tow a fifth-wheel or a travel trailer?
  • Do you have the budget to purchase a large tow vehicle if you purchase a fifth-wheel or a trailer?
  • How much can your budget afford in terms of fuel consumption?

4. Ease of Towing

Towing

In terms of towing stability, 5th wheels are better than travel trailers, and the reason is they put the weight on the axle’s center of the towing vehicle while pushing the mass-forward on the vehicle that is being towed. However, again, fifth-wheels requires you to have a heavy-duty truck as your tow vehicle, which means you don’t have one; you have to spend dollars to get one.

While on the other hand, shorter travel trailers are light, so they can be pulled by a small vehicle, which you might be currently driving. Shorter travel trailers are an excellent option for smaller families who love the outdoors.

5. Space

Yet another critical aspect while comparing a 5th-wheel vs. trailer is the living and storage space. Since 5th-wheel are more extensive and taller than the trailers, they offer more living and storage space. As compared to other enormous RVs with a steep price tag, 5th-wheels are capable of offering the same space but at an affordable cost.

They also offer generous storage space than trailers, and since the majority of 5th-wheel are built with a two-level layout, you will have the underneath the bedroom storage to store your stuff. Moreover, they are also having the capacity to store more water than trailers, which is great if you are camping or on a road trip for an extended period of time. Fifth wheels are great for larger families who want to bring all of their outdoor equipment with them while on the road. However, you will find their price tags more expensive than trailers.

On the other end, if you have a smaller family and looking to buy a towable vehicle that can easily accommodate three to four people with a bit of storage space, a travel trailer is an excellent pick. As compared to a fifth-wheel, a medium travel trailer offers small living and storage space, but it will be less expensive with less overall weight. The biggest benefit of a smaller trailer is they can easily be fit into smaller spaces.

6. Privacy

Another important factor when deciding to buy between the 5th wheel vs travel trailer is privacy. Most of the travel trailers have a layout with open living space. It means if you are traveling as a couple with other travelers or your kids, you might have privacy issues. So, a travel trailer is not a good option for families looking to maintain their privacy while traveling.

On the other hand, the 5th wheels offer a multi-level layout to maintain the privacy of each room. Most of the 5th wheels have the master bedroom above the hitch, which ensures that you maintain the privacy you want in your bedroom.

7. Comfort

When comparing 5th wheels vs travel trailers, an average 5th wheel is more flexible and offers more comfort than the other one. However, all of it depends on the model of your 5th wheel that you want to have & the size of your family you are going to travel with.

All in all, 5th wheels offer more comfort and flexibility than travel trailers but at an expensive cost than trailers.

Fifth Wheel vs Travel Trailer: Amenities and Features

After discussing the differences between 5th-wheels vs. travel trailers, let’s move forward to compare their amenities and features. This will deliver you a clearer idea of what they have to offer and want you to want.

1. Interior

While comparing travel trailers vs fifth wheels, if you prefer having a luxury living with eye-popping amenities while traveling or camping, you should go for a fifth wheel. Due to their larger size and spacious living and storage space, they are more spacious and armed with better appliances than travel trailers. Moreover, they also have on-board amenities that you will not have in trailers.

Travel trailers, due to their smaller size and the short length does have appliances, bathroom, kitchen, etc. but they aren’t as spacious as in a fifth wheel. However, if you are short on a tight budget and want to travel with your small family while also want to get better fuel mileage, you should go for a travel trailer.

2. Bathroom

Toilets

Another aspect where fifth wheels are better when comparing travel trailers vs fifth-wheels is they have spacious bathrooms. Besides their bathroom’s spaciousness, most of the 5th-wheels come with at least one and a half or two bathrooms. Again, this means it is great to have 2 or 1.5 bathrooms when traveling with family.

However, on the other end, it doesn’t mean that travel trailers don’t have two bathrooms. They do, but those trailers are rare. Moreover, if there are two bathrooms in a trailer, it means they have cut off the space of either the kitchen or the living area.

3. Slideouts

When comparing fifth wheels vs travel trailers slide outs, you will see about three to four slide-outs in a 5th-wheel that is great to maximize the living space. However, it also depends on what floorplan you are going to have.

Travel trailers, on the other hand, generally have two slide outs. The purpose of having fewer slide outs in a travel trailer is to improve its overall weight to maintain its lightweight. However, it is great if you have a small tow vehicle, and it can easily tow a lightweight trailer.

4. Heating/Cooling

Since 5th-wheels are larger in size and are built on using multi-level design, they often cause temperature issues. It is hard to even the cooling all inside the 5th-wheel, which, as a result, affects the A/C performance causing more power usage.

For instance, the majority of fifth-wheel owners often complain that the rest of the RV is cool except the master bedroom located higher than the rest of the RV.

When comparing fifth wheels vs travel trailers, this is not the issue with trailers as they are built on one-level. They give you complete control to balance heating and cooling all inside the trailer without any trouble.

5. In-Built Generator

Another aspect where the 5th wheels beat the travel trailers when compared is their onboard generator, which cannot be found in a trailer. However, if you still go with a travel trailer rather than having a fifth-wheel, you will have the option to buy the generator separately by paying extra dollars.

However, for a 5th-wheel, it is important to double-check the generator’s capacity to determine whether it is capable of handling the usage that you have defined for it or not.

Fifth-Wheel vs. Travel Trailer: Towing Vehicle Capacity Towing Comparison

Knowing your tow vehicle’s pulling capacity is yet another huge aspect that you must consider while deciding between the fifth wheel versus travel trailer to have. If you want to invest in a fifth-wheel, you are required to have a larger truck if you don’t already have one. Moreover, you will have to install a special hitch as well so that you can tow your fifth-wheel anywhere you want.

It means you will have no options other than investing in buying a larger truck. However, if you’ve got a larger family to travel with you and aren’t following a strict budget, you should go for a fifth-wheel.

On the other hand, in another scenario, while comparing travel trailers versus fifth-wheels, trailers are lightweight and offer various towing options. You can easily and safely pull them with a number of vehicles, such as SUVs, light-duty trucks, cars, etc.

However, it doesn’t mean that you start pulling your 40 feet trailer with your SUV just because it is armed with a hitch. You still have to ensure that your vehicle can pull your trailer and has a hitch on it.

Moreover, they are easy to tow on open highways and off-road because of their lightweight and small size. They’re also fuel-efficient and gives you a better fuel mileage than 5th wheels.

Fifth Wheel vs Travel Trailer: Pros and Cons

After all of the above discussion about travel trailers vs. fifth-wheels, it’s time to discuss their pros and cons to clear your concept and to give my post a final touch.

Fifth Wheel

Pros
  • They have multi-level floorplans and offer more luxurious and spacious living and storage than trailers.
  • They’re family-friendly and maintain privacy while you’re traveling as a couple with other travelers or your kids.
  • They are less sway, easy to tow, and offer a stable and towing experience.
  • They have onboard amenities, that is something you cannot have in a travel trailer.
  • They are able to double-tow additional trailers.
  • They have more amenities, spacious appliances, and a spacious bathroom and kitchen areas.
Cons
  • Since they are more luxurious, larger, and spacious than trailers, they have a steep price tag that is not affordable for everyone.
  • Besides their easy towing, they are not fuel-efficient and consume more fuel.
  • They are heavy, huge in size, and cannot be towed with smaller vehicles. If you don’t have a large truck as your tow vehicle, you will have to spend dollars to get one in order to tow your fifth-wheel.
  • Keeping them at their peak condition requires you to spend on their maintenance, which will cost you a lot.
  • Because of their huge size, they cannot be parked on tighter parking spots.

Travel Trailers

Pros
  • They are compact, small, and lightweight, which makes them perfect for smaller families.
  • When comparing travel trailers vs. fifth wheels, they are less expensive, and almost everyone can afford them.
  • Thanks to their compact and small size, they can be parked almost anywhere and at any place.
  • They are easy to tow, fuel-efficient, and offer better fuel mileage.
  • You don’t have to buy a brand new vehicle just to two of your trailer, as they can be towed by SUVs or light-duty trucks.
  • It is easy to keep the balance of both heating and cooling inside the trailer.
Cons
  • When comparing fifth-wheels versus travel trailers, trailers are small in size and offer less living and storage space.
  • They don’t have many amenities when comparing travel trailers vs. fifth-wheels.
  • They don’t provide stability when being towed and might cause sway when the water tank is filled.
  • Comparing travel trailers vs 5th wheels, they have less spacious amenities and aren’t meant for larger families.

Wrapping Up

I sincerely hope that now you have developed a clear understanding of travel trailers vs fifth wheels. Both of these towable vehicles have their own features, amenities, and pros/cons. I’ve also listed some of the components where they both come close to each other, as well as the differences that distinguish them apart from each other. Whatever you pick, make sure to consider the above points before making an investment.

FAQs

Why a fifth-wheel is better than a travel trailer?

There are quite some advantages when comparing fifth-wheels vs. trailers, including more stable towing, more spacious, luxurious amenities, and a lot of living and storage space.

Why trailers are less expensive as compared to 5th-wheels?

When comparing fifth-wheels vs. trailers, travel trailers have an affordable price because they are small, lightweight, have fewer amenities, and less living and storage space.

What is safer between travel trailers vs 5th wheels?

When comparing fifth-wheels vs. travel trailers, 5th-wheels have easy maneuver and offer towing stability.

5th-wheels vs. travel trailers, what would be better for a family of three?

If you want to get better fuel mileage, travel trailers are great. They can easily accommodate up to three while also offer enough storage space.

About Ted Mosby

My Name is Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.