Choosing Between a Fifth Wheel and a Travel Trailer: Which RV Is Right for You?

By viola wallace | May 3, 2018

Decisions decisions. There are lots of them to be made as spring rolls around and we start gearing up for long days summer filled with travel camping and general enjoyment. One question that inevitably comes up when it comes to RVing is which option would be best for you: fifth wheel or travel trailer?

If you’re working on a limited budget you’re probably tempted to ditch the fifth wheel idea the minute you discover the difference in cost between the two. While it’s true that fifth wheels are usually more expensive there are factors other than price to take into consideration including space and suitability resale value and the cost of gas. To help you make the best decision let’s start with the difference between the two.

What is a fifth wheel?

A fifth wheel also known as a gooseneck is a type of RV with a “fifth wheel” configuration. Huh? The “fifth wheel” refers to how the RV is attached to a towing vehicle via a hitch installed into the bed of a truck. Similar to the attachment system on tractor trailers the hitch contains a U-shaped plate underlined with metal rails that attach to the truck’s frame.  The hitch part of the camper reaches into the truck’s bed between the cab and rear axle and locks the hitch to the “kingpin.” This allows the RV to pivot well on turns and allows you to tow larger RVs with less hassle. These units are often larger and more luxurious.

What is a travel trailer?

travel trailer  on the other hand attaches to the ball hitch mounted on the back of the tow vehicle.  It comes in many sizes and styles. There are also sub-categories like tent trailers and hybrids (a travel trailer with tent trailer-like extendables).

So which is better fifth wheel or travel trailer?

There is no right answer. It all depends on your needs and budget. Here are a few things to consider:


Fifth wheels are generally larger than travel trailers. They have more floor space which means more storage and privacy making them ideal for larger families or groups. The ceilings are higher too making bunks and taller people more comfortable. On the flip side because they are hitched to the truck bed the space available in the truck is limited. With a travel trailer you’ll have your truck bed’s space available in case you want to move things like ATVs and bikes.

As travel trailers are generally smaller than fifth wheels they’ll have less storage space.  You can get a larger travel trailer to add space of course just remember that they tend to sway more while you’re driving because of their lightweight construction.


Fifth wheels are better when it comes to backing up and towing because of the kingpin hitch.  The maneuverability of a travel trailer will depend on the size of the trailer. Generally the longer they are the more unwieldy they are.

Flexibility of Use

Travel trailers have better portability. There is less worry about height restrictions and depending on the size you don’t need a big truck to pull one. Their smaller size also makes them more portable on rougher terrain and you can fit them into tighter spaces. Fifth wheels tend to be larger and longer so may have more difficulty with size restrictions and fitting into to certain spaces (remember that some RV parks have length limits). They also require a certain size of truck due to their hitch and weight.


In this aspect travel trailers generally win. According to GoRVing Canada  new travel trailers range in price from $18000 – $120000 while fifth wheels start at $35000 and go p to $160000. Of course used units will vary in price. Why the price difference? The size and quality of finish mostly.

Whichever RV you choose make sure it’s adequately protected with RV insurance . Relying on your car or home insurance usually means your coverage will be limited when it comes to replacing your RV and its contents. Talk to one of our brokers to find out more.