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5thwheel vs class A or class C, what did you choose and why?


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It just all a matter of preference.  There is no correct answer.  

Do you already have a truck that would pull the size of 5th wheel you're considering?  That may make your decision easier.  Trucks are expensive so if you'd have to buy one then weigh that into your decision.

Depending on the size of Class A or C you're considering, it might be best to tow a car behind for siteseeing.  Is your present car towable?  If you'd have to use a dolly for it that's another issue. It's not as convenient as flat towing.

Are you a two-week vacationer or are you planning longer monthly trips.  Class C's and travel trailers typically don't have a lot of storage space.  5th wheels and Class A's have huge 'basements'.

We've had everything over the years from a tent, tent camper, small travel trailer, 5th wheel, rented a Class C for a western family trip and a Class A.  We full-timed for 8 yr. in a 33' 5th wheel and 8 yr in a 40' motorhome.  We loved them both.  Our decision to go with a motorhome was because friends got us hooked on 4-wheeling and we wanted to tow a Jeep.

As you can see.... it's a personal choice.  Good luck!

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I believe a MH and a towed vechile will get you in many more parks. Especially if you need separate vechiles. Our problem is we need a heavy duty truck due to camper we have. Wife wants her vechile and I need mine for work. 3 vechiles poses problems getting in parks. We manage but in our case  a MH would be 2 vechiles. Now if you get a lighter camper and are comfortable with a dually for commute.

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I suggest that you also consider some of the smaller class A motorhomes as well. We have owned 2 popup trailers, 2 travel trailers, and 2 motorhomes but no fifth wheels and both motorhomes were class A. I think that you will find that there is not a lot of cost difference between the class A and class C. The fifth wheel also has it's advantages but because my wife has difficulty in doing stairs, we have opted for travel trailers and class A rigs to stay with a flat floor. If you have no prior RV experience, I strongly suggest that you visit a large RV show and walk through some of each type of RV as it is amazing just what is available in each of them. The best RV is whatever type that the people living in it find to be most comfortable to live and travel in. 

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Our last trailer was a tent trailer back in the 1970's. I prefer a motorhome so I never have to go outside if the weather is bad. Plus I like having everything with us all the time so we mostly bought small ones so we wouldn't have to tow a car. When we broke that rule it changed our style of traveling so much that Dave decided he was done traveling at all. It truly does depend on you and what suits your style of travel best.

Linda Sand

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It is all a matter of personal preference.  We have had a Pop up, small motorhome, larger class A, Class C, bumper pull and 5ers.  We lived for a year in a 34 ft class A and also 6 months in a 5er.  When we were going full time, we opted for a 5er and a 1 ton diesel truck.  The 5er in general has more storage and is residential than a class A in our opinion.

But the more recent 5ers cutting back on the cabinets and storage in favor of cheaper blank walls.  

You need to rent a class C or an A and try it for a week to see how it does for you.

Ken

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We chose a Class A , mid 30s for length , fits almost anywhere . Completely self contained . When there's no power or water from a hookup or boon-docking , we have it covered . Very comfortable for the two of us . Over 10 years without a wish for something else . 

Beside all the above , I can be set up or packed up in a matter of a few minutes ... 

That opposed to the seemingly lengthy times and duties involved with 'other' type units .

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What you want to do with an RV can make a big decision on what you should get.  I started considering an RV for occasional weekends and week-long vacations, I owned a house and was working.  I had absolutely no interest in selling the house and going full-time, or even necessarily taking trips that would last months.  I’m also single so my needs are different than a couple or a growing family.

I decided to get a trailer because I couldn’t see having to maintain a second engine that would only be used occasionally.  A trailer has no engine and a truck can be used for all sorts of things.  This line of reasoning wouldn’t apply to someone who is planning on going full-time and traveling a lot.

I have no regrets about that decision I made 6 years ago.  My needs have changed significantly since then - instead of short trips I found myself taking long trips and finally selling the house and going full-time.  If I had bought the smaller Class C I would have started out with, I would have had to upgrade it as my needs changed.  Instead, I’m living in the same trailer I bought 6 years ago but have upgraded my TV twice.  That’s expensive but not as expensive as upgrading a Class C or Class A.

If I were starting out to full-time then perhaps I would have bought a big Class A.  Or a big 5er and then hated towing it (I know someone who did that - posted lots of photos on Facebook about the trailer, setting. It up and leaving on their first trip.  Then crickets.  I asked her later about it and she said she hated camping and her husband hated towing the trailer - they sold it after the first trip).

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I don't hate my HDT. It is the safest way to tow a camper.  And if I didn't still work, it would be fine since we won't need two vehicles. Having said this though, a 30' MH towing a small car is sweet set up. Like said it fits anywhere.

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As others have said it is a highly variable question.  What do you want it to do?  What type of places do you want to stay?  How much will you be using it?  How much do you want to spend both upfront and on maintenance?

For what we do Class C really does not fit us.  I love the idea of a Class A but cost and layout do not work for me.  If you are in a Class A or C will you be towing anything?

I am very happy with a 5th.  More living space in the same foot print compared to Class A or C.  They are just as easy to set up now with auto leveling but you do have to go outside.  

 

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1 hour ago, Nwcid said:

As others have said it is a highly variable question.  What do you want it to do?  What type of places do you want to stay?  How much will you be using it?  How much do you want to spend both upfront and on maintenance?

For what we do Class C really does not fit us.  I love the idea of a Class A but cost and layout do not work for me.  If you are in a Class A or C will you be towing anything?

I am very happy with a 5th.  More living space in the same foot print compared to Class A or C.  They are just as easy to set up now with auto leveling but you do have to go outside.  

 

And you must have have a heavy fuel sucking truck for everyday use. I must admit I save a lot of money with the HDT. 

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For the Full-timer, my observation, either a Fifth wheel or Class A will work best. My wife observation is the Class A has the smaller Kitchens plus the actual storage is less in the upper area. As mentioned in an earlier post the Class A has lots of basement space but some under low extended slides.  Go for ever works, Test what feels comfort by spending an hour walking through your daily chores.

Clay

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5 hours ago, northwest323 said:

My wife and I are going back and forth on this topic. I'm wondering if others had this same discussion and what did you choose and why. Any regrets on your decision?

Thanks in advance

Before we can recommend, how about giving us a starting point.  Have you ever RV'ed before and in what  type of unit did you RV?  Are you weekenders are looking for something longer term.   How many people and what animals will you have with you.  

All of these factors will be important in recommending where to start.   If you haven't done any RVing, go rent a Class C for a week and go to a city/county/state park not far away for a week where you can see what daily life in an RV is like.

 

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Thanks for the responses. I threw the question here quickly at lunch time. I already have a 3/4 ton RAM cummins. Wife likes the motor-home, but I am the  one that would be maintaining the engines. We are planning for retirement and at least a year of full time RV living/traveling. My point of view is with a motor home, I have to maintain 2 engines and if it is a diesel pusher, I hear costs if its a major issue can be costly plus if engine work is needed, we need to find a hotel vs. a 5thwheel. If we go motor home, I would at least like a class C diesel because the engine is much easier to access.

Any comments based on this info?

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I have heard a lot of theories about who likes motorhomes versus who likes fifth wheels or travel trailers. In my experience, none of them apply that much of the time. Most of those we have known find a preference for one or the other, partly based on their own priorities and partly on just emotions. We have had more trailers than motorhomes, yet we really prever a class A, if there are no higher priorities to push us otherwise. Wile I could give you a long list of the reasons that we prefer a class A, those who prefer a fifth wheel can list just as many for their choice. I do believe that your manner of travel plays a part. We love to travel in the house and being able to stop in any convenient location and take a nap, or eat lunch, or just get off of the road to kill time while traffic clears. A motorhome is always at a comfortable temperature, but a fifth wheel has more living space.

It is true that you have two engines with a motorhome towing something, but in our 12 years on the road, we put over 200,000 miles on two different towed cars and in the same period put only 80,000 miles on the motorhome. The tow car used far less fuel than a truck capable of towing a similar sized trailer and the maintenance was significantly less. As far as maintenance, in all of those miles my tow car had very little other than routine oil changes. 

While it is popular on these forums to imply that one must have a diesel pusher to live fulltime, that has not been the case for us. There is nothing like the air ride of a quality pusher, but when you live in the RV you sit still more than you travel and so you pay dearly for that nicer ride. 

Edited by Kirk W
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I just went through that decision myself.  I kept my choice to under 35 feet because I wanted to be able to park in more places and national parks.  I like the fifth wheels from a livability perspective, but what I did not like is that I'd need a large truck to pull it.  Once parked I wanted a more nimble vehicle to go exploring.  Two months ago I purchase a 35 foot motorhome and then a month ago I purchased a Jeep Grand Cherokee to flat tow.

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57 minutes ago, GR "Scott" Cundiff said:

We fulltimed in a 5th wheel for 6 years before trading for a diesel pusher.  Honestly, there are plusses and minuses to both.  Here's a longer article I wrote about our experience to date: http://pastorscott.com/travel/comparing-a-5th-wheel-and-a-diesel-pusher-motorhome/

Your article was very informative. Thanks!

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My wife and I went thru this decision process eight years ago, prior to our going fulltime.    What tilted our decision towards a Class A rather than 5th Wheel, was to have the ability to easily tow a car "4-wheels-down" for 'roaming' purposes... rather than roaming in a more costly large Truck.   We had never RV'd in our life... so we were starting fresh, buying what we needed.  We ended up with a low-mileage 2007 National RV Dolphin, 36' ft, and a low-mileage 2008 Honda CRV, using a US Gear Unified towing package.   We still have both, and both have worked splendidly for us.   As we slow down (getting older), a 5th Wheel is not out of the realm of possibility, or a Park Model.   We shall see. 

Edited by Jim & Alice
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1 hour ago, northwest323 said:

Thanks for the responses. I threw the question here quickly at lunch time. I already have a 3/4 ton RAM cummins. Wife likes the motor-home, but I am the  one that would be maintaining the engines. We are planning for retirement and at least a year of full time RV living/traveling. My point of view is with a motor home, I have to maintain 2 engines and if it is a diesel pusher, I hear costs if its a major issue can be costly plus if engine work is needed, we need to find a hotel vs. a 5thwheel. If we go motor home, I would at least like a class C diesel because the engine is much easier to access.

Any comments based on this info?

Most Pushers have a Cummins in them, very stable engines.  Yes, there will occasionally be a problem, but most of the time the facility will be able to work on it during the day and push it out for you to use at night.    Some even have it set up so you are plugged in to at least 30 amp power, and you might spend a day or too in the customer lounge.  

Our first car that we pulled we had for 14 years, got ~30 mpg gallon when running  around, now our hybrid gets ~50mpg.  Just routine maintenance on each.

When we started, our final determination was made by the cats.  We had 2 cars and knew it would be easier not moving them between vehicles.  Plus we are always at a comfortable temperature when we arrive, and it just works for us.   Love the big window and seeing everything ahead of me.  I drive at least 50% of the time any more. 

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If you've got a Ram you can likely meet weight limits for GCVWR if you're careful. We pulled with a Ram 1 ton diesel dually long bed. We pulled a 36 foot HitchHiker and for seven years did everything West of the Mississippi and from Mexico up to and including a season in Alaska. While you are shopping check out the price of windshield wipers, motor home size tires, oil changes, and then find the fuel mileage for a motor home 5-7 mpg versus 11-13 mpg realistically pulling a load for the Ram. What year and engine is your Ram? We had a Sunnybrook 28.5 fiver that we could easily have fulltimed in for our seven years before we came off the road to care for aging. And remember Class A slab sided motor homes are not crash tested to protect the occupants. in a wreck the fiver drivers are safe in their truck, not in a flying debris field of cabinets, TVs, anything in the closets. Read a lot here:  Motor home crashworthiness https://rv.org/blogs/news/about-reliability-and-structural-integrity

If you are budgeting the cost differences and having proven passenger and driver steel protection all around the holds together as long as you are belted in is important to us. 

As well if the fiver has to be repaired you can stay with it. But if the truck needs service or overnight repairs the fiver can be parked without breaking camp.

While you can back a MH with a toad but not far and damage likely. If I made a wrong turn I could back out immediately. I drove that long diesel to work my last year active duty. My 5'1" wife loved driving it too. When we came off the road after 7 years she drove it as her work truck flipping houses and doing interior trim on new construction. I had a long bed 2500 Ram diesel too for my use and towing our part time fivers.

That is my favorite type and my reasons why. YMMV

Safe Travels!

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We were lucky in that with 8 yr. of full-timing with our Cummins diesel motorhome all we had done was regular maintenance - nothing had to be done on the engine.  For that we'd set up an appt. in the direction we were traveling. We arrived by noon and they either started on it then and we spent the night on the premises - often with electric or they began the next morning and if done early we'd leave or else spend the night.  We never had to stay in a motel.  While they worked on it we'd pack what was needed and did shopping, errands, siteseeing etc. and they'd call when finished.  It was super easy.  Our Jeep was sold with 160,000 miles on it - bought new and again, just regular maintenance done.  The Jeep gave us many, many hours of fun roaming the backcountry and meeting up with other Jeepers. Towing - you didn't know it was behind.

When we had the 5th wheel we disliked driving the big diesel truck for our siteseeing.  We couldn't even sneak down a forest road quietly thereby scaring the critters.  The Jeep hardly made a sound so we saw a lot of critters... bears, moose, etc. as we were driving.

Again... pros and cons with every type.

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