Betty E. Tucker


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.

5th Wheel Hitch Attachment
5th Wheel Hitch Attachment

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

How I Prepare For Emergencies Before An RV Trip

While preparations for your next RV trip can be an exciting exercise, many (like myself), feel somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of planning out stays and activities for a family of five in a home on wheels.

My mind seems to always go to the worst-case scenarios (which drive my husband and kids absolutely bonkers) as I admittedly have an inherent need for a thorough plan in place for every scenario.

Eventually, thankfully, I get through it, and once the planning process is over, I can focus on having actual FUN!

The benefit for you – fellow reader – is that I’ve come up with the bones of a good emergency preparedness for RVer that you can use on your next RV adventure.

Step1:  Roadside Assistance

The first step we take as a family is plot the time and trajectory of our trip, which for me – this is the most fun part of the planning process.

The end result is a list of places and dates we’ll be staying.

To state the obvious:  this is important information for not only campground reservations and event planning, it also lays the groundwork for the roadside assistance number I need to look up just in case our RV gets a flat, engine blows, or battery dies (among other things).

In a notebook I Google the date and destination, and jot-down the best rated towing service or roadside service companies in the area for quick reference.

(If you’re ever in the Dallas Fort Worth area, I can vouch for Premio Towing Service – they’ve helped us here recently when our Starcraft RV wouldn’t get out of the driveway!)

While this may seem like overkill, I’ve actually used the list two times in as many years for a flat tire and dead battery, once where the service had to tow the RV to an auto repair location.

Step 2:  Vehicle Maintenance

Closely related to emergency roadside assistance is proper vehicle maintenance.

The idea is:  if you properly maintain the RV, you can avoid preventable vehicle issues.

Just like any gas or diesel-powered piece of machinery, your RV needs to be properly serviced on regular intervals.

So before you leave ensure that your RV has had it’s…

  • Oil changed
  • Transmission fluids filled
  • Coolant fluids topped off
  • Windshield wiper fluid topped off
  • Hydraulic Brakes – check pads . rotors/ drums / linings checked (! Super Important if you’re driving in the mountains)
  • Air Brakes – check / replace filters (I like to have one on hand in case of failure)
  • Battery tested
  • Belts checked / replaced
  • Tires – aligned and checked for wear
  • Spare tire – properly inflated

Also note, I keep a log of the PM items we’ve completed with dates in the glove department so I can reference it later.

Step 3.  Pack An Emergency Kit

Every vehicle should have a proper emergency kit in case of an emergency roadside need.  Prior to the trip I make sure to check the integrity of the kit items as many of the items can expire.  Here’s what we pack before every trip

  • 3 Gallons of drinking water
  • Jumper cables
  • Multi-purpose utility tool
  • Reflective road triangles
  • Reflective vests for the family
  • Compass
  • First Aid kit (make sure it has a snake bit kit!)
  • High, non-expiring dry foods, bars, fruit, and / or candy. Enough for 2 days.
  • Portable cell phone charger / power banks (ensure that it is charged prior to departure
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Rain ponchos
  • Warm blankets or sleeping bags, one for every family member
  • Shovel
  • Cash
  • Hiking shoes
  • Warm Clothes
  • Spare tire jack
  • Sewing Kit
  • Bug Spray
  • Emergency toolbox (wrenches, screwdriver, rope, ratchet straps, duct tape)
  • Paper map of areas visiting

Step 4:  Pre-Launch Checklist

A few days before we leave I like to go over a checklist of RV-specific items that should be prepped prior to the trip.  These include:

  • RV Jacks: Test before leaving and make sure they are up prior to pulling out of the driveway
  • Water Heater / Filters
  • RV Generator: Empty old gas, top-off with new and run generator prior to leaving.  Make sure you have all necessary wires and cable stowed.
  • Carbon Monoxide / Smoke Detectors Check
  • Sideout Check: If you have a sideout, ensure that the hydraulic work smoothly
  • Exterior / Interior Lights: Ensure all lights turn on and function.  Have spare bulbs on hand
  • A/C Check


And there you have it.

Hopefully this comprehensive list above has helped take some of the worry out of planning for emergencies so you can concentrate on looking forward to planning the fun adventures on your next RV Roadtrip.

If you anything like us, the late summer heat make us think of the cool autumn night and changing leaves.

And of course, another RV Road trip.

Problem – is:  so is everyone else!  If you’re trying to find the right place to visit with reduced crowds, and you’re not sure where you should go, check out some of the most overlooked destinations for roadtrips in the US during fall.

Any of these five spots would be great to visit during the fall.

Traveling with kids can a really good memory for any family, but the close quarters, unfamiliar terrain, and long hours in the RV, can fray the nerves of even the most patient parents and kids.

While there’s ups and down to all extended trips, there are certain things that you can do as a parent which will allow you to have the time of your life in order to create those awesome memories that last a lifetime.