Lucinda Belden is the Program Director for MyRVRadio and a travel writer and advisor who has lived the RV lifestyle since 2019. She specializes in topics such as fulltime RVing, working full-time while traveling, traveling with toys, and unique location experiences.
Fifth wheels are getting better all the time. But your must have fifth wheel features may be different than mine or your RV neighbors. To answer this question, you first need to know why people opt for a fifth wheel in the first place.
Thinking of Buying a Fifth Wheel?
The reasons why people choose fifth wheel RVs over travel trailers can be as varied as the RV owner. But here are a few of the top reasons someone invests in a fifth wheel camper:
- Storage capacity
- Stable towing
- You don’t need a “toad” (vehicle you pull behind the RV)
- Easier to maintain one motor in the truck you tow with, than a motor in the RV and the toad.
Where Will You Camp with a Fifth Wheel?
You need to know how you plan to use the fifth wheel. Did you know that most fifth wheels are long? The average fifth wheel length is 35 feet. When attached to the tow vehicle, the entire RV is much longer. This impacts where you can take your fifth wheel.
For example, the primary campground options for fifth wheels might not be in national or state parks. This is due to length limitations in many public campgrounds, where many campsites are limited to RVs less than 30-feet long.
Once you identify the main reasons you want to buy a fifth wheel, you still need to consider one more layer of RVing to identify your must have fifth wheel features.
The Type of RVer You Are Determines the Best Fifth Wheel Features
Your comfort preferences also impact must have features in a fifth wheel. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will you primarily be camping: dry camping (boondocking) or with campground hookups?
- What seasons will you be RVing: what weather changes do you need to be prepared for?
- How often and how long will you camp: long-term seasonal, just on weekends, or as a full-time RVer?
Let’s look at different camping preferences and styles to determine your fifth wheel requirements.
If you love dry camping with out hookups, here are some of the top must have fifth wheel features you might consider for boondocking. Remember that the longer your boondocking stays, the more you will require a back-up or a larger supply of these features:
- Solar power connection / solar panels
- Good size battery storage compartment
- Large RV holding tanks
Campground & Resort Campers
If you are staying mainly in resorts and campgrounds, you will have access to full hookups. You may need less energy backups and more features found in a traditional home. Here are some fifth wheel features that may be of more importance to you:
- Extra storage
- Residential-size appliances
- Comfortable living area with places to relax
- Outdoor patio features (like kitchenette, awnings, etc.)
It depends on how often you move around, but as a full-time RVer you carry most everything you own wherever you go. So, there will be features that become more important if you are on the road a lot. All the items listed above will be important to you too, so you will need to prioritize your list to focus on top must have fifth wheel needs. Additional features that will also be critical to you while traveling from one campsite to the next include:
- Good RV frame
- Functional living space with the slides closed
- Strong axels and suspension
- Large cargo carrying capacity
Weekend Warriors and Seasonal RVers
As a weekend warrior or someone who RVs only seasonally, you can scale these lists back. Ranking-wise, all the bullet points here can be top features most fifth wheel owners prefer. As a part-time RVer, you want a good RV like full-timers, of course. But you can scale back on some of the features and still have a well-featured fifth wheel RV for your part-time camping needs. Prioritize them by deciding what features will most affect your length of stay.
The Must Have Fifth Wheel Features for Every RVer
No matter what kind of RVer you are, there is one thing that affects your choice as a top feature in your fifth wheel: WEATHER!
We all need to be protected in the cold winter or hot summer months. One fifth wheel feature to consider is the manufacturer’s insulation package. Four Season travel trailers and fifth wheel RVs are usually better insulated than others. As a result, you may want to include this feature if you will be RVing in extremely cold or extremely warm temperatures.
If you spend most of your time in mild climates, you may still want four season insultation, but it will not be critical for your long-term comfort. Weather protection features in a fifth wheel you might want to consider include:
- A four-season insulation package
- Dual pane windows
- Large propane tanks
- Robust heating and cooling units
Your Fifth Wheel Requirements are Unique
Remember when looking for the top must have features in a fifth wheel, you shouldn’t be looking at someone else’s ‘Top Ten Feature List.’ The top fifth wheel requirements are the things you need based on how, when and where you will use your RV.
I hope you found several helpful ideas here. Have fun putting together your top wants and needs for your fifth wheel adventures!