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Practical Fifth Wheel Weights & Dimensions You Need to Know


Your RV’s size determines more than just how comfortable you are inside. For fifth wheels, the weight and dimensions can dictate which campsites you fit in, how big of a tow vehicle you’ll need, certain routes you can drive, and overall maneuverability. Understanding fifth wheel weight will help you narrow down your choices – or determine if your dream fifth wheel is worth a tow vehicle upgrade. 

If you’re in the market for a new fifth wheel, these questions will help you better understand the impacts a fifth wheel’s weight and dimensions can have on your travel plans. 

How Much Does A Fifth Wheel Weigh? 

A tall East to West Tandara fifth wheel RV camped in a field.
Image by Camping World

Typically, fifth wheels are larger than travel trailers, but there are exceptions. You can find a selection of lightweight fifth wheels starting at around 5,500-6,000 pounds. The largest fifth wheels weigh upwards of 15,000 pounds. 

Fifth wheel weight is an important RV buying consideration. You are either limited to what your truck can tow, or you will need to purchase a tow vehicle with a larger tow capacity. Fifth wheel owners must also account for more than just towing capacity. Because a fifth wheel hitch sits in the bed of the truck, fifth wheel owners must factor in the payload of the truck.

Payload capacity is how much weight the truck can carry. To be safely towable, the fifth wheel’s pin weight must be less than your truck’s payload capacity. The lightest fifth wheel pin weight comes in at around 1,200 pounds, while the heaviest could be upwards of 3,500 pounds. 

Browse fifth wheels, and you will see spec sheets that list several different weight ratings. We recommend familiarizing yourself with these weight capacity terms to ensure you know how much a fifth wheel can carry, how much strain it will put on your truck, and when you need a larger tow vehicle. 

How Tall Is A Fifth Wheel Camper? 

Overhead image of the solar panels and air conditioners on top of an RV being towed in the country.
Image by Camping World

Fifth wheel heights depend on the make and model. The typical height of a fifth wheel is between 11’6” to 13’5”, while the maximum height of any fifth wheel is 13’6” due to most federal highway regulations. The inclusion of roof-mounted accessories like air conditioners, solar panels, and cell signal boosters increase a fifth wheel’s height, but many manufacturers list ‘Exterior Height’ and ‘Exterior Height (with A/C)’ as separate specifications, with the latter being the maximum height of that model.

Luxury RVs like the Keystone Montana come as close as possible to the 13’6” cutoff height. Mid-sized and half-ton fifth wheels are often shorter. 

While manufacturers always list their fifth wheel’s exterior height,l owners should always manually measure their camper’s height when connected to the tow vehicle to determine its actual clearance requirements. Measure where the truck connects to the fifth wheel, as “nose high” setups can increase your overall height (and are generally not recommended). 

Learn more about hooking up a fifth wheel hitch correctly to avoid “nose high” setups.

Be sure to measure the A/C heights and any additional attachments, too. Knowing your total driving height is imperative to choosing safe travel routes. You will need to determine a route to your destination that avoids any bridges or overpasses that are under or close to your height clearance. Some GPS systems provide a setting that allows you to determine your route based on clearance heights. 

Check out our guide to RV height clearances to learn more. 

Other Fifth Wheel Dimensions 

A large Fuel fifth wheel is being towed on a gravel road.
Image by Camping World

When it comes to where you can park and how comfortable you are inside the fifth wheel, a fifth wheel’s length and width are equally as important as height and weight. Consider these dimensions when shopping for a fifth wheel.  

Length 

Fifth wheel lengths range from under 20 feet to as long as 49 feet. But even on longer units, fifth wheels have an advantage due to their towing design. Because fifth wheels connect inside the truck bed, they have a shorter total length compared to travel trailers. For example, a 35-foot fifth wheel connected to a pickup truck will have a shorter overall length than a 35-foot travel trailer connected to the rear hitch of that same pickup truck. 

The fifth wheel towing design also improves the turn radius, allowing you to make sharper turns and making it easier to park in certain campgrounds. With a shorter fifth wheel, the turn radius provides easier maneuverability than certain travel trailers. Many RVers also believe this towing design contributes to smoother towing with less impact on the tow vehicle. 

Width 

Fifth wheel widths are fairly standard, so you really only have to choose between a standard 96” width or a 101-102” wide-body design – more common among larger luxury fifth wheels. Of course, slide-outs make fifth wheels significantly wider at the campsite. 

When towing any fifth wheel, there’s a learning curve to adjust to your limited visibility. With a fifth wheel nose taking up your rearview mirror, you must rely on your side mirrors to make lane adjustments, spot turns, and watch for other vehicles. A wide-body 5th wheel can further limit your visibility. 

To combat this issue, some RVers use side mirror extensions. Others opt to install backup and side marker cameras connected to a dash-mounted display if their fifth wheel didn’t come equipped with these as standard features. Exploring options for increasing visibility allows you to tow a wide-body fifth wheel more safely.  

Check out these additional recommendations when towing a fifth wheel

What Fifth Wheel Length Is Best? 

An East to West Tandara parked in a field.
Image by Camping World

Considering your needs for sleeping capacity, layout, ease of towing, campground accessibility, fuel costs, and your tow vehicle’s capability will help you choose your ideal fifth wheel length. There’s no one-size-fits-all fifth wheel size. In fact, many families who once owned large, extra-long fifth wheels downgrade once their children grow and no longer travel with them. 

Choose the fifth wheel length that meets your livability needs, then narrow your search based on your tow vehicle’s capability. 

What Size Truck To Pull A Fifth Wheel?

Like the chicken or the egg argument, you either shop for a fifth wheel to match your tow vehicle or buy a new tow vehicle that can tow your dream fifth wheel. Whichever your perspective, pairing a fifth wheel with a tow vehicle is the critical first step when buying this type of RV. You must consider many factors, most importantly weight. 

I appreciate how this article details the top recommendations for pairing a fifth wheel with a tow vehicle. 

The bottom line is that it’s better to play it safe and leave room for a margin of error regarding the strain you put on your tow vehicle. One of our favorite rules is to keep the loaded weight of your towable under 75-80% of your vehicle’s rated towing capacity. That includes all your water weight and the gear you and your family pack. If you find yourself crunching the numbers to make your weight work, it may be time to upgrade your tow vehicle or reconsider the fifth wheel. 

What Is The Shortest Fifth Wheel Camper? 

Short RV parked by a river with family setting up camp.
Image by Camping World

Some of the shortest fifth wheels measure less than 20 feet. These novelty towables can be towed by mid-sized trucks like Rangers, Tacomas, and F-150s. Consider that you keep your tight turn radius and have a shorter overall length than you would with a travel trailer of that same size. Scamp is renowned for making some of the shortest fifth wheels available. 

For those who plan to visit national parks in their fifth wheel, many parks maintain length restrictions on their campgrounds, with the average trailer limit at 27 feet. Here are some of our favorite fifth wheels under 30 feet to give you some options. 

You can also explore our collection of national park camping guides to find the size restrictions for the specific parks you want to visit.


Do you own a fifth wheel? What other size, weight, and dimension recommendations would you have for someone considering a fifth wheel for the first time? Let us know in the comments below. 




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