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Choosing Between 5th Wheel and Class A DP


Randyg

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I've read several articles about the pros and cons of each. I like the convenience of a class A and the ease of setting up and moving on. I also like the value a Fifth Wheel offers. The great living space and the extra room.

 

We are new to the RV world. We've had some experience traveling around New Zealand in a 28' motor home and enjoyed it very much. Our plan is do take several years and full-time throughout the US. I think we would stay in areas several weeks at a time and then move on.

 

We were thinking Class A Diesel Pusher. But it just seems like a Fifth Wheel would depreciate much less. And there would be less money tied up in a depreciating asset. A pick up is always in demand and would be easier to sell should that day happen.

 

The fear is driving a 5th wheel. We would take professional lessons. Would we become confident after that? Right now it seems so daunting - towing a 38' monster is terrifying sounding. Common sense, however, says others do it so we can too!

 

We would really love to hear opinions and thoughts.

 

Another plus of the 5th wheel - we could afford to buy a brand new one. That is a big plus to us.

 

Help!!

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Towng a 5th wheel is not difficult and in many ways easier to control than a MH( we've had both)

You seem concerned about depreciation and well you should be

My advice is to not buy either one new, but rather purchase a higher end used unit. There are inspectors available to help you evaluate a unit

 

If you are seeking a large 5th wheel then please make sure you have the appropriate size truck to pull it

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Having owned and driven both, I will offer my experience with them.

We owned a 40' 5er and towed it with a dually pickup for 8 years. We were both quite happy with our rig for all those years. The room inside, storage inside, and living comfort were great. The only downside was, we didn't have automatic levelers. That wore us out during our Alaska trip because we were continually moving around.

When we returned home we traded the 5er for our current MH-see sig. Our age has slowed us down and robbed us of our energy and stamina. The MH is very easy to prepare for moving, and to setup for parking, whether it be for one night or a month. The downside for us is reduced room inside, less storage space inside.

For your intended use, and if it were my wife and I, I would choose a 5er and suitable truck for towing our choice. Sure our dually was inconvenient to drive in cities at times, and we had to hunt for a parking place sometimes, but that was the price of driving a suitable match for the 5er's weight.

I suggest keeping this fifth wheel weight calculator bookmarked for future use when matching a 5er to a truck for towing. IMO, the preferred method of buying is to first buy the 5er then a truck properly matched to safely and properly tow the weight. I did it backwards and had to buy a 2nd truck after buying the 5er.

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Only you can decide what type RV fits you best. Just please consider that when looking at larger 5th wheels, my feeling is that a heavy duty pickup truck (ie, 450 /4500 or 550/5500) should also be considered at a minimum and maybe even a medium duty or heavy duty tow rig depending on the size and GVWR of the rig. This will mean that you will be using a truck wider than a standard pickup because of the dual rear wheels involved. As long as you are comfortable with that and still willing to learn how to handle the rig, then you will probably find a 5th wheel to your liking.



As for opinions and thoughts, some other things we feel makes a 5th desirable to us are:


1. 5th wheel is very easy to hitch and unhitch.


2. 5th wheels can be backed up without disconnecting anything unless you are tandem towing a toad or other trailer.


3. 5th wheels have more leveling capability from front to back on sloped sites without the need for blocks.


4. When equipped with one of the automatic leveling systems that are now available on newer 5th wheels, they can be set up and leveled just as easy as any motor home.


5. By being able to pivot tighter in turns, 5th wheels can maneuver in and out of tighter places than an equivalent length motor home.


6. 5th wheels have a higher ground clearance so will not bottom out as quickly.


7. 5th wheels feel more like a home since there is no dash or windshield in your living area and the floor plan can be sectioned out better to provide less of a "straight through" feel.


8. 5th wheels seem to have more storage than most (not all) Class A motor homes.



Overall, the only advantage we have seen with a motor home is the ease with which you can tow a smaller vehicle to use daily. That being said, with only 2 years of full timing under our belts, we have never missed going some place because we were in our dual wheel crew cab truck but we may have had to walk further.


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I've read several articles about the pros and cons of each. I like the convenience of a class A and the ease of setting up and moving on. I also like the value a Fifth Wheel offers. The great living space and the extra room.

 

We are new to the RV world. We've had some experience traveling around New Zealand in a 28' motor home and enjoyed it very much. Our plan is do take several years and full-time throughout the US. I think we would stay in areas several weeks at a time and then move on.

 

This is a coin flip here!...Staying several weeks at a time!

 

We were thinking Class A Diesel Pusher. But it just seems like a Fifth Wheel would depreciate much less. And there would be less money tied up in a depreciating asset. A pick up is always in demand and would be easier to sell should that day happen.

 

There are some GREAT used DP's out there for sale!. :D ..I'm partial to Beaver, Holiday Rambler, and Monaco, (Navigator, Thunder, and Imperial to name a couple) would luv a Prevost but I just haven't hit them winning numbers yet! :lol:

 

The fear is driving a 5th wheel. We would take professional lessons. Would we become confident after that? Right now it seems so daunting - towing a 38' monster is terrifying sounding. Common sense, however, says others do it so we can too!

 

You would lose that fear within minutes with the proper truck!... And I'm talking an MDT or HDT!. :D ..A pick-up! Forget it! And please, Don't do what others do! ... :lol: ...Unless they roll an M or HDT! :D

 

We would really love to hear opinions and thoughts.

 

Another plus of the 5th wheel - we could afford to buy a brand new one. That is a big plus to us.

 

Help!!

 

We're on our first big trip/shake down run with our first 5th wheel...We've been full timing for 12 plus years in our "sig line" DP.... 1000 miles into it, 2 rv parks, and backed into our friends place on the river for a week, here's a few things I have to say about that! :)

 

1. Backing a 5th wheel of this size can be a challenge!

2. There is NO comparison in ride comfort between the two!... MH hands down!

3. Un-hitching toad rig (mh), Parking, leveling, and set-up.. comparing the two!.. takes MUCH longer with the 5th wheel! ... And I'm no rookie! :lol:

4. Our MDT has the same foot print as a crewcab long bed and will fit standard parking spots, (I park in handicap all the time) and, I drive it everywhere! ... Heading to the coast tomorrow!... Having said that!... What I pull behind the DP is much more enjoyable to drive, all terrain, and very easy to hook & un-hook.

5. I need an Air-Ride hitch! ... If stuff isn't put away, counter cleared, and the dogs ball finds it's way behind the molding of the slide that's in!..Well!.. it makes a hell of a pop when the slide goes out! :o

 

I'll say this though!... If I could do it all over again!... and do what you are planing! :D I'd do it in a DP!... triple or Quad slides residential fridge, tag axle, 500 Plus HP, a real jake brake, and pulling a Stacker Trailer!! :D

 

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We would really love to hear opinions and thoughts.

We all have our personal opinions and preferences on this subject. It really comes down to what best suits your personal preferences. I have both a 38 ft class A diesel motorhome and a 39 ft 5th wheel. I use them both throughout the year depending on the type of trip.

I agree for your short term plan, the truck + 5th wheel, probably makes more financial sense. I would also urge you to look for late model used rather than new, and an appropriate sized truck.

As far as the driving, neither one is difficult after a few days practice. For me, backing up the long 5th wheel was the most difficult to master.

I disagree with some of the above opinions, so I'll state mine. But I'll also say that none of these matter enough to sway your decision, they're all just minor differences, not big enough reasons to choose one over the other.

Both are easy to hitch/unhitch but the MH & toad are easier & faster (if you're doing it all alone)

Motorhomes all come with builtin auto leveling and in most sites its a matter of pushing a button, no blocks needed. Most 5th wheels require an after market system addition for auto leveling.

Its easier to maneuver the same size motorhome through tight city turns and crowded parking lots.

Ground clearance is irrelevant unless you're going off road, which isn't recommended for either

A MH has more total outside storage bin space; a 5'er has more inside storage space (in general)

Motorhomes allow access to the entire unit for short break stops along the way; some 5'ers block access to portions of the unit, unless you open the slides.

 

You'll have fun exploring in whichever you choose. Plan to spend lots of time out here in our Rocky Mountain states

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I'll not repeat everything but having had both a 5th wheel and a motorhome, our preference is a motorhome. One of the main reasons we switched was because of that big truck and having to drive it around all the time for errands and siteseeing. We also discovered Jeeping and the enjoyment it offered us so that was our chosen towed vehicle.

 

We drove the motorhome off pavement quite often because we enjoyed boondocking. A gravel road is no problem. However, we disconnected the Jeep when we did this so rocks wouldn't be thrown at it and the Jeep led the way, finding us our parking spot. You don't take any RV down rough pothole-filled roads or over boulders unless it's made for the outback!

 

In ten years we never had to consider backing up with the Jeep attached. It just isn't necessary. Unless it was for a quick overnight which was rare and for that we used a WalMart, our choice of sites was a backin which typically in public parks (our favorites) gave us more space and privacy. So for a backin site we just unhooked the car at the office or we took a couple minutes before we got to our site and did it there. No problem.

 

Between the two we definitely had more storage in and outside in the motorhome.

 

Driving both was equally easy for us and we both drove. You'll have a big mass behind you whichever you choose. It shouldn't be considered a problem. We didn't have lessons.

 

Since your plans are to have the RV for only a couple years of touring a DP is not necessary. A gas unit would get you where you want to go so you could save some money there. It just won't be as peppy but you'll get there. I will say a DP is sturdier on the highway - no wind effect for us. If you do go with a DP, definitely consider a used one. With any RV, 5th wheel or motorhome, the kinks will have, hopefully, been worked out. All new ones will have some things to be adjusted or fixed. They don't produce a perfect one off the line. Have a professional examine the unit thoroughly and test every system before buying. A private party would be our choice. You can then see the owner in his own surroundings and can better judge how the RV was cared for. If getting a motorhome, make sure you get all the paperwork to go with it - repairs, maintenance.

 

It's not an easy process. Good luck!

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Thanks all for the comments and links to other posts and weight info. All very helpful. There is no RIGHT answer, but it's helpful to hear what more experienced people have done.

 

I do have a silly question that I think I know the common sense answer to, but I'll ask anyways. Does it make a big difference in the driving experience of the length of a fifth wheel? Is there a night and day difference between a 35' and 42'? Or is it more about the weight? If a fifth wheel has self-leveling does that make a big difference in set-up times (like eliminate much of the difference in a MH and 5er)?

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....

I do have a silly question that I think I know the common sense answer to, but I'll ask anyways. Does it make a big difference in the driving experience of the length of a fifth wheel? Is there a night and day difference between a 35' and 42'? Or is it more about the weight? If a fifth wheel has self-leveling does that make a big difference in set-up times (like eliminate much of the difference in a MH and 5er)?

 

Just opinion again, I don't have any 42 footers, but comparing my 39 ft Teton which I pull with a big HDT vs my 35 ft Toy Hauler that I pull with a pickup; The weight matters when selecting the proper tow vehicle. The length matters when driving it through tight city streets and crowded parking lots. The length also is a major factor when backing into campsites and sometimes limits you from using many campsites, especially state parks and national forest. Going down the Interstate neither the weight or length are noticeable, assuming you have the proper sized truck.

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