What Are Some Factors To Consider With Fifth Wheels?
Several factors need to be considered when purchasing a fifth-wheel camper. While the RV lifestyle may sound appealing, it can also have its share of challenges.
Length of Use
It is one thing to purchase a camper that you will use on vacation two or three times a year and a completely different thing to purchase a home you will be living out of for retirement. While luxury fifth wheels offer many home amenities, they do not have the space a regular home does, which means the space will become cramped after a while (if you live in them daily). If you plan on spending your golden years in an RV camper, get one with the space you need for the time you intend to use it.
Tow Vehicle Capacity
Many fifth wheels need a heavy-duty truck to pull with. If you do not have a three-quarter or full-ton truck, you must purchase a fifth wheel that meets your current truck’s capacities for towing and payload. Since a fifth-wheel hitch mounts into the middle of your cargo bed, you must ensure you are not purchasing a trailer that your truck cannot tow. Never exceed the GVWR limits of your tow vehicle.
Payload and Towing capacity is of prime importance to any fifth-wheel owner. Fifth-wheel hitches are often heavy in the bed and add to the tongue weight of the camper. Be sure to calculate a fully loaded trailer and truck when figuring out weight limits.
Most Fifth wheels have either steel or aluminum alloy framing with fiberglass insulation in the roof, walls, and subflooring. Generally speaking, fiberglass exterior siding holds up better, has a neater appearance, and is easier to keep clean than aluminum siding. (The only downside is that fiberglass is heavier and more expensive).
Many luxury 5th-wheel trailers are double-axle, so you need to look for an RV with electronic braking systems and anti-sway capabilities. Every rv manufacturer offers a structural warranty (the industry standard is three years), but only some offer warranties on the other stuff. Study the company warranty before purchasing so that there are no surprises afterward when an issue arises.
The primary thing is to find a fifth wheel made with a quality build so that you don’t find it leaking or siding coming off shortly after you’ve purchased it.
While the idea of a telescoping television and an expansive king bed with a roaring fireplace is beautiful, you may or may not truly need them. (You need to list the specific luxury items that are must-haves and leave the others as lovely dreams). Remember that RV manufacturers make their best money selling you luxury items you don’t necessarily need, and the more amenities that they can get you to add, the more profit they will make.
You want to consider your budget, but remember that there is more than just the price you pay for the fifth wheel. You may need to factor in estimated insurance, registration and tag fees, yearly maintenance, storage, and fuel costs. (Don’t be the family that parks their new fifth wheel in their drive because it costs too much to take it out on the road). The cost for fifth-wheel campers doesn’t end once you’ve shaken the salesperson’s hand.
What Are the Best Fifth Wheel Brands?
There are many factors to consider when purchasing a fifth-wheel camper. Recreational vehicles are a significant investment for most families, so you want to purchase a trailer that meets your family’s needs, lasts a long time, and doesn’t require a second mortgage. We have listed some of the best brands below and included information on each.
Forest River is one of the most popular fifth-wheel brands on the market. Forest River RV was founded in 1996, and the company sold to Berkshire-Hathaway in 2005, but they continue to produce some of the best recreational vehicles, pontoons, and trailers anywhere. The company offers 38 models of fifth-wheel trailers, including the award-winning Artic Wolf, Cardinal Luxury, XLR Nitro, Wildcat One, and Riverstone models.
Based in Elkhart, Indiana, the company offers various floorplans, lengths, weights, and amenities. Customers can choose the kind of floorplan they prefer with options as they see fit.
The Cherokee Artic Wolf is the best new model for 2023 (RV Pro), topping many best RV fifth wheel lists. There are ten different Artic Wolf lengths, ranging from 30.7’ to 43.4 ‘ and up to 14,110 GVWR. The trailers are known for their ease of tow, with many reviews indicating that the trailer is a solid-quality build. The company offers a one-year warranty, has excellent customer service, and sells nationwide through a series of dealers.
- A choice of bed styles (queen or king)
- Separate bunk bed sleeping quarters
- Oversized bedroom dresser and closet (including washer and dryer prep)
- Smart Kitchen with oversized sink
- Smart Monitor Panel with Bluetooth
- Large pantry
- 4-person dinette
- Center kitchen island with storage
- Theatre seats with massage, sofa sleeper,
- 30k BTU air conditioner
- Dedicated WiFi with built-in router
- LED television
- Roof-mounted solar panels for electrical power
- Ambient lighting (both outside and inside).
- An Artic Wolf Fifth Wheel camper starts around $59,000 for a 291RL and can extend as high as $80 - 100,000 depending on the amenities and size.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV is the number one manufacturer of RV trailers in North America and has been a leader in RV construction since 1996. The brand is known for quality workmanship, nice amenities, and excellent customer service. The company offers six brand types and over 64 floorplans with various trailer sizes and weights. (From the smaller 2100RK (only 26 feet with a small bedroom and basic kitchen) to the 3793RD (with a secluded upper den and multiple slideouts).
Keystone operates two manufacturing centers in Goshen, Indiana, and Pendleton, Oregon. The company employs over 5,000 workers between the two locations and specializes in helping new enthusiasts acclimate to RV life. They offer countless tutorials, online videos about every aspect of RVing, and friendly customer care associates who are only a phone call away.
The Keystone Montana is one of the most popular brands that Keystone offers. With exquisite attention to detail and state-of-the-art amenities, it is setting the standard for luxury RVs. There are 14 different floorplans for this brand alone, and sizes range from 35’ - 42.7 and can sleep 4 - 8 people.
- King-sized bed with closet and storage
- Upscale slideout kitchen
- Slideout four-person dinette
- Rear Den with two slide-out hide-a-bed sofas.
- Full refrigerator
- Floor-to-ceiling pantry
- 17 - 20’ awning
- Washer/Dryer Prep
- Abundant storage space
- Large screen LD TV
- Solar Roof-top panels
- 2 Air Conditioners
- Recessed Office
- This luxury unit ranges from $122k - 137k, depending on the floorplan and amenities.
Jayco has been in the luxury RV business since 1968, when the owner, Lloyd Bontrager, developed a lift system for pop-up campers. In 1972, the company began producing fifth-wheel campers for public use. Jayco offers a wide variety of fifth-wheel trailers, from more basic models like the Eagle HT to the Pinnacle, their top luxury model. The 2023 Jayco Northpoint 380RKGS received the High-End Fifth Wheel of the Year award given by RV News. In addition, Jayco has won numerous other awards for other models over the years and is considered one of the best RV companies in the market.
Jayco offers a 2-year limited warranty and a 3-year structural integrity warranty. The fifth wheels have aluminum and fiberglass walls with vacuum bonding to hold the joints and seals together. The company is out of Middlebury, Indiana, owned by Thor (parent company) since 2016.
While Jayco offers many standard features listed below, please bear in mind that features may differ based on the model selected. The Northpoint model referenced above started at
- Climate-shield underbody protection
- Walk-in shower
- Full sofa bed couches
- Large king-sized beds with under-frame storage
- Full-sized refrigerators
- Full closets with washer and dryer prep.
- Center kitchen/dining area
- Solid surface countertops
- Entertainment center
- 360 security monitor
- 8k lb axle w/ hydraulic disc brakes
- On-Demand water heater
- Luxury Package
- The prices for Jayco fifth-wheel trailers vary from $61,325 to $139,000 (base price before options).
- The Northpoint 380KRGS mentioned above starts at $121,650, sleeps eight, is 43 feet long, and has a trailer weight of 13,940 lbs.
Crossroads Recreational Vehicles came on the scene in 1996, and while they may not be the biggest seller of 5th wheels on the planet, they are making a name for themselves. Based in Topeka, Indiana, they have five manufacturing facilities, employ 600 workers, and work hard to make a quality fifth-wheel trailer.
The company has had success with several models (most notably the Redwood RD and Cameo series). The Redwood RV camper line started in 2010 and is one of their ultimate luxury brands. These travel trailers have solid foundations, lovely amenities and are backed by 2,000 service centers nationwide. Amenities include a custom shower with a teak sitting bench, a full-sized kitchen with a center island and workstation, a tilt king-size bed, added storage linen cabinets, and much more.
Crossroads offers a 2-year limited warranty and a 3-year warranty on structure. The warranty is transferable should you sell your RV fifth wheel.
- Theater seating with entertainment center
- Full-sized kitchen
- Master Bath
- King-sized bed
- 22 cu ft residential refrigerator
- 3 - 5 slide-out areas for expanded space
- Dinette/office areas
- Solid steel frame
- Tri-fold sofa
- Ample living space
- Triple insulated floor
- Enclosed underbelly
- Tilt base for a king-sized bed
- 2nd television in Master Bedroom
- Stacked washer/dryer
- Oversized water tank
- Wifi router
- Walk-in closet space
- 170-watt solar panel
- High-efficiency dishwasher
The Redwood RW4001LK has an MSRP of $192,000 well equipped. The company offers various exterior paint schemes and three different interior choices.
Heartland RV is owned by Thor Industries (a leading supplier of RV equipment), but this company does an excellent job of making a quality-driven luxury fifth wheel. The company, founded in 2003, had unprecedented growth in the initial years and was scooped up by Thor in 2010. Based out of Elkhart, Indiana, they continue to produce some of the best luxury fifth wheels on the market.
The company offers three camper makes with multiple floorplans. These are double axle trailers ranging in length from 36 - 43 feet and all weighing 12k - 17k lbs depending on features. The Heartland BigHorn is one of their more popular models, made with an aluminum frame filled with polystyrene triple insulation and a fiberglass exterior to reduce weight. The axles have electronic disc brakes, 4k leaf springs, and anti-sway enhancements.
One of the best features of this fifth wheel is the additional basement storage that can be accessed from inside the cabin or from a door on either exterior wall. A great feature is the detractable outer power cord. The slide-outs provide ample space, and their Bighorn unit can comfortably sleep 4 - 6.
The company offers a one-year limited warranty, along with a three-year structural warranty that is transferable.
- Washer Dryer Prep area
- Entertainment center
- Additional bedroom loft
- Dinette table
- Theater seats
- King bed
- Fiberglass siding
- Electric fireplace
- Roto-flex pin box
- Gateway wifi router built-in
- Solar panels
- Wireless charging pad on theater seats
- Heated/reclining theater seats
- Electronic rising television
- Oversized fireplace
- The BigHorn 3910FB has an MSRP of $123,000, but many dealers offer discounts to win your business.
Grand Design RV
Grand Design Recreational Vehicles may be one of the new luxury RV players on the market, having only existed since 2012, but that hasn’t stopped them from a passion for the RV lifestyle. The company is based out of Middlebury, Indiana, and is owned by parent company Winnebago (one of the most recognized RV companies in the world).
Their campers have excellent build quality and are made with triple-insulated flooring and a rail-tite underbelly seal. The roof is constructed with fiberglass insulation and radiant foil to help keep the cabin warm during the cold and cool in the heat.
One of their more popular models is the Grand Design Solitude, which offers a standard queen bed with a master bath in the rear and an entertainment room in the front with dual tri-fold sofas and theater-style seating. There is a telescoping television sitting over an oversized fireplace. The kitchen features an island with anti-bacterial counters, plenty of storage, a dishwasher, and a packed fridge.
The Grand Design Solitude is not as long as other luxury fifth wheels at only 34 feet, but it makes up for this by being wider (101”). Another advantage is it is not the most expensive either, starting at $116,000. It comes with a 5-year warranty on the tires and a 3-year structural warranty on the structure.
- Dual axle with heavy-duty tires
- Radiant foil and fiberglass insulation
- Oversize front-loading storage compartment
- Tri-fold sofas
- Theater seating
- Reinforced interior doors
- Crown molding
- Solid countertops
- Easy access
- King mattress in the main bedroom
- Rear Storage
- Three USB charging stations
- Free standing dinette
- The Grand Design Solitude starts at $116,000 and moves up depending on the optional amenities added.
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane