Towing a 5th wheel camper can seem a bit intimidating, especially if it’s your first time.
Some trailers can reach as much as 53 feet in length. You may be thinking that such a massive vehicle is bound to outweigh the towing truck, and you’d be right because it can.
With that said, you can successfully maneuver a 5th wheeler if you do it properly. So here’s everything you need to know as an RVer about 5th wheel towing.
Getting the weights right
The first thing you need to know is the weight of the 5th wheeler. This means the weight of the vehicle when empty, but also its weight when attached to the truck.
This will help you make sure you don’t exceed the weight limit when you want to match your truck to the trailer.
The manufacturer will usually provide you with information regarding the 5th wheeler’s weight -you can check their website or the user’s manual if you have one. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can always use an industrial scale to double-check.
Connecting the 5th wheel hitch
Hitching a 5th wheel to a truck isn’t the easiest tow. With that said, once you have that rear hitch mounted, that is after installation, it becomes more manageable. To begin the installation, make sure that you have properly matched the power of your truck to the right weight in the 5th wheel.
If the 5th wheel is large enough that it requires a hitch to be mounted on the bed of the truck, you need to make sure that the truck has enough power to handle this process. With the right size and sufficient room to accommodate the 5th wheel, you’re ready for installation.
Towing the 5th wheel
Now comes the crucial part, which is moving that giant trailer around. If you’ve closely followed the previous steps, then you should have a 5th wheel of the right weight fixed to a vehicle that can handle it. Keep in mind that the overhang of the trailer shouldn’t be too close to avoid it bumping into your truck when you’re making a turn.
First, make sure the connections of your hitch are locked shut and the kingpin fits into the hitch cradle before you start driving.
Next, secure the emergency breakaway line so that it’s connected to the hitch. Raise the jacks so the truck is supporting the trailer. And finally, ease out onto the road and make sure you use your mirrors.
On The Road
Big mirrors that are far out from the truck are your best friend!
They will allow you to see the trailer walls as well as the tires. This way, you will be able to see whether the 5th wheel is running low -or worse if it’s completely blown.
When making a turn, go slow and use your mirror to check if the 5th wheel is clearing the corner. Also, note that the rear of the trailer will turn wider than the truck path, so make sure you allow enough space for this.
Don’t forget to check your tires for pressure and the torque on lug nuts to avoid any blowouts.
Next up: How I prep for my RV trips…