How Tall Are Fifth-Wheel Campers?
The average RV height of a 5th wheel camper is between 8 - 10 feet from the roof to the ground. While the exact dimensions may differ based on the type of camper that RV manufacturers produce, it is illegal for any camper to be over 13 feet 6 inches tall in many states. (The reason is that most Interstate and highway overpasses are built with 14-16 feet of ground clearance).
Another reason that 5th wheel campers are not any taller than they are is because of the wind forces that can push a trailer while towing. Since a taller and longer trailer is more susceptible to trailer sway, many states restrict the use of units that will contribute to accidents and injury. (A taller camper can roll over more quickly).
How Do You Measure The Height Of A Fifth-Wheel Camper?
It is a reasonably easy measurement, as all you will need is a standard tape measure to do the job. The height of a unit is from the highest point of the roof (this might be a vent or antenna) to the point where the tire meets the ground. Ensure your trailer is on level ground before measuring so your numbers are not skewed. (It is a good idea to have your trailer hooked to its tow vehicle as sometimes the hitch can raise the RVs height). Have someone hold the end of the tape measure to the ground while you climb a ladder and measure. (You may have to eyeball it if a vent is located in the center of the roof).
Generally, a fifth wheel height isn’t the issue, although it can be if you intend to explore areas with low overhangs. If you have satellite antennas that might be installed on top of the roof, you could scrape them off when traveling down the road. So, if you are thinking about traversing an area with tunnels, low overhanging limbs, or utility lines, you might want to uninstall any equipment that could prove to be a difficulty.
In addition to knowing your RV height, It is always a good idea to be aware of
your state’s height restrictions to know what you can add to the RV’s roof.
Are There Other Restrictions For Fifth Wheel Campers?
Most 5th-wheel campers are 8 - 8.5 feet wide and up to 40 feet long. Most states have regulations regulating the width, length, height, and weight of fifth-wheel campers.
(Owners should always be familiar with state laws regarding these dimensions to ensure that there are no surprises as they travel).
Since the industry standard for fifth-wheel campers is 8 feet, most states set the limit at 8’ - 6 “. When you think that many state highways have only ten-foot wide lanes, you can understand the need for these restrictions. (Remember that the width of a unit is from the outside of the driver’s tow mirror to the outside of the passenger mirror. You should also be cautious when pulling into RV parks.)
The maximum length that a fifth-wheel unit can be is 40 feet. (Some states allow for triple towing and extend the total length limit to 60 feet). It is essential to know the exact regulations of each state as you travel through them (not all states allow triple towing). The last thing you want is to be pulled over by a local sheriff’s deputy because they deem your fifth wheel a menace on the road.
If you are traveling, it is always best to learn about potential campgrounds and RV parks that you might be staying at. Many state parks do not have adequate facilities or gravel beds to accommodate longer RV trailers. Pay particular attention to signage or get advice from the local ranger if you need help.
The average 5th-wheel camper weighs between 12k and 15k lbs. When fully loaded, the GVWR (truck, cargo, occupants, and trailer) can push up to 20,000 lbs. If your gross weight is at most 10,000 lbs, you will not need to stop at a weigh station in most states. Most states only weigh commercial vehicles that are over that limit, so the chances are you won’t have to pull off the road even if your GVWR is greater, but it is best to know the laws before you travel. For example, the Florida total vehicle length is 40 feet.
Be extra cautious if traveling in the following states, as they have some “unique” RV laws.
- Pennsylvania - RV trailers and fifth wheels must stop to be weighed.
- Delaware - Any trailer and tow vehicle over 46 feet must stop at weigh stations.
- New Jersey - any vehicle over 10,000 lbs (commercial or recreational) must stop.
- Missouri - any recreational vehicle over 18,000 lbs must stop.
- Colorado - any recreational vehicle over 26,000 lbs must stop.
What Are The Different Sizes Of Fifth Wheel Campers?
Fifth-wheel campers come in all shapes and sizes, but generally fall into the Class C category.
While Class A motorhomes are the ones with the most amenities and luxury items and are the most expensive to purchase. Many celebrities travel in these kinds of RVs since they tend to be loaded with many creature comforts.
Class B vehicles are the smallest units (think campervans). They are equipped with basic frills (may or may not have a bathroom). If all you need is the basics, this might be the way to go.
Class B+ and C classifications offer a hybrid between the smaller RV units and the largest Class A campers. Most fifth-wheel campers range from 20’ to 31’ (although there are exceptions to every rule). An owner should determine what amenities they require before making a purchase. Rent an RV you are considering purchasing to see how good a fit it is for you and your family.
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