How Much Does A Fifth Wheel Weigh?
The average weight of a 5th-wheel camper is around 13,000 lbs when not loaded. While some smaller units can be as light as 5,000 lbs, and the heaviest units push 20,000 lbs, most are somewhere in between. (Remember that every tow vehicle has maximum tow and payload capacities, so you want to ensure that your total GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is below your truck’s limits.
While RV accidents are much lower than automobile accidents, reports indicate that nearly 75 - 80,000 occur annually, and many are caused by weight limits being exceeded.
What Do You Need To Know About Weight When Towing a Fifth Wheel?
A couple of pieces of information are essential to understand when dealing with the weight of a towed camper. Maximum weight limits should never be exceeded.
Towing Capacity Vs Payload Capacity Vs GWVR
Weight has a great deal to do with determining towing and payload capacities. Towing capacity is the amount of weight that a tow vehicle can pull. Manufacturers determine the maximum weight limits suitable for each model’s engine, suspension, and frame. For example, many half-ton trucks are not made for hauling heavier fifth-wheel campers since the RV’s weight exceeds the limits that the manufacturer has set. (towing capacity).
The kingpin box of a fifth wheel is centered directly over the pickup bed, with about 20 - 25% of the trailer weight located over your truck’s cargo bed. Some fifth wheels have a hitch weight exceeding 2000 lbs, so the weight on the truck’s cargo bed is also vital. Again, manufacturers determine what the maximum limits are and publicize them. A truck may have a good towing capacity, but due to the weight of the hitch and kingpin assembly, its payload capacity is exceeded. An owner must be armed with this information to ensure that the tow vehicle’s rear suspension and frame are not experiencing more stress than they need to handle.
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio) is the amount of weight when the fifth-wheel trailer and tow vehicle are loaded with all their cargo and passengers. Every truck has a maximum GVWR that should never be exceeded, and many owners forget that a fifth-wheel camper that may be under the empty limits will be way over the limit when loaded with passengers and cargo.
What Factors Contribute To The Weight Of A Fifth Wheel Camper?
Several factors can contribute to the amount of weight a fifth-wheel camper has.
Dimensions of the Camper
While most fifth-wheel campers range in size from 20 - 31 feet in length and are 8 - 12 feet tall. The longer and taller an RV unit is, the more weight will be added. (Remember that the more surface area a camper has, the more susceptible it will be to crosswinds during towing). Many states have strict regulations concerning the dimensions.
In most states, if your GVWR is less than 10,000 lbs, you will not have to stop at weigh stations. (Many states laws indicate that only commercial vehicles over the 10k mark must stop).
The higher your tastes and the more comforts of home you want to travel with you, the heavier your fifth wheel will be. Some amenities, like marble countertops, dishwashers, or heavy water tanks, can significantly add to a camper’s weight. It is always a good idea to make a list of needs before you purchase to keep the weight of your camper down.
Aluminum is a lighter material than steel and is more corrosion-resistant. The problem is that aluminum costs more. While you never want your fifth-wheel camper made of shoddy materials, it can make a difference in the weight you tow.
What Kind Of Truck Do You Need to Pull A Fifth Wheel Camper?
While some smaller fifth-wheel campers can be pulled by half-ton trucks, not all are light enough to be towed by an F150 or 1500 pickup. If you are considering the purchase of an average 5th-wheel camper (25 feet and around 13k lbs), you will need a three-quarter-ton truck or higher to be able to tow safely.
Half Ton Truck Towing And Payload Capacities
Here is a listing of the most popular half-ton and three-quarter-ton trucks and their maximum towing capacities.
Three Quarter Ton Truck Towing And Payload Capacities
Here is a listing of the most While no owner should tow more than their towing vehicles capacities,
What Happens If Weight Limits Are Exceeded?
Trucks forced to haul heavier loads than they should are susceptible to increased breakdowns, tire blowouts, and excessive wear and tear. If you prefer to pay extra money to replace a truck before it’s time, tow away.
There is another issue here that should be considered. An overextended trailer is more likely to be involved in an accident, and that accident is more likely to be worse than it needs to be. The increased risk to yourself, your truck, your family, and everyone else on the road is not worth the shortcut.
Many states prohibit hauling over a truck’s GVWR, so if you are caught doing so, you are likely to receive a ticket. (If you are in an accident and your insurance company finds out, they have all the reasons they need not to pay a dime in claims. That could be a very costly mistake to make).
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