How to choose the right 5th wheel hitch…

Considering the issues we recently had towing, we felt this subject should be addressed. Our issue while towing was not the actual hitch in the bed of the truck but we felt it was time to talk about hitches. After doing a ton of research, I hope the information below will help you when choosing your hitch. But always, do you own research as well.

A fifth wheel trailer hooks up to the tow vehicle by fitting a pin into a hitch receiver, then clamping it in place. The receiver mounts so that the pin of the trailer carries the weight forward of the center line of the rear axle. This placement makes fifth wheel trailers stable and allows a fifth wheel trailer to haul more weight than a standard tongue hitch trailer, when you equip the tow vehicle with the correct hitch.

Things to consider to tow a fifth wheel, a pickup truck must be equipped with a fifth wheel hitch. These hitches have their own weight rating known as the Gross Trailer Weight Rating, or GTWR. The hitch you purchase must be able to handle the overall weight of your fifth wheel, including all the equipment and furniture inside it. The hitch must be mounted in such a way that your RV’s pin will end up just an inch away from the center of your truck’s rear axle. The hitch also comes standard with mounting pieces that includes several bolts and brackets that directly connect to the frame of your truck and not to the cargo bed. We have what is called the Puck System. The Puck System is mounted posts that install into the truck bed hard points (pucks). Some brands have their mounting posts in fixed positions on the hitch base. We like this system because it’s very easy to remove the hitch when not in use, so we can have access to the full bed. Plus the hitch comes out in 2 pieces making it easier for Ed and I to remove.

Similar to our puck system hitch

Step 1

Determine the heaviest weight of the trailer being towed. The trailer weight should not exceed its gross vehicle weight rating. You can find the gross weight rating in the trailer’s owner’s manual, or on plate or sticker mounted to the side of the trailer. To calculate the needed hitch size, figure that the trailer will weigh its gross vehicle rated weight when you are towing it.

Step 2

Calculate the hitch weight of the trailer. The owner’s manual may give a dry hitch weight, which is the hitch, or pin weight with an empty trailer. The loaded hitch weight of the trailer can be quite a bit higher. A rule of thumb with a fifth wheel trailer is to figure 20% of the total maximum weight of the trailer for the hitch weight.

Step 3

Decide what type of hitch you need for your tow vehicle. If you have a long bed truck, generally eight feet, you can use a fixed fifth wheel hitch. If you have a shorter bed truck, you will probably want to use a sliding fifth wheel hitch to minimize the risk of damage on sharp turns. The sliding hitch allows the trailer to slide back, and give more room to the front of the truck for tight turns. But do your research because there are hitches out there that makes it a breeze to tow with a short bed.

Select a hitch that is higher in capacity than the gross vehicle weight rating of the trailer. The total hitch rating allows 20% of its rated weight for pin weight. If you know that your trailer has a higher pin weight than this 20% of the total hitch weight rating, then select the next higher weight capacity hitch.

Types of 5th Wheel Hitches

We suggest that you look at each brand and pick one hitch in each brand. Then compare those hitches between each other. At the end of the day they all do a good job and you could spend hours/days reading posts of people’s opinions, getting nowhere. For example: personally we like the Puck System that came with our Ford truck but that may not be the best fit for you.

Choosing a hitch for a 5th wheel trailer is dictated by the kind of truck that will be pulling the trailer. Towing a 5th wheel is made more comfortable with the proper hitch. Each manufacturer has its own system and style, but some basic considerations need to be addressed when choosing the kind of hitch best designed for your situation.