Last Updated on March 26, 2020 by Team TRA
Nearly 10 million American households own some type of recreational vehicle. Of those, 80,400 are 5th wheels (a.k.a. “fivers”). One of the main driving factors when it comes to 5th wheel popularity? The ability to unhitch the camper and leave it parked at a campground while you head out to explore in your pickup truck. But there’s one major sticking point to all of this: finding the best 5th wheel hitch.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
Fifth wheels feature comfy residential furniture and spacious layouts. Finally, maintenance costs prove cheaper than those of Class A RVs. Read on for the best 5th wheel hitch reviews of 2020.
Tips for Finding the Best Fifth Wheel Hitch
Just like understanding the fundamentals when it comes to changing your oil or repairing a broken headlight, you need a basic understanding of how 5th wheel hitches function before hitting the road. Fifth wheel hitches are designed to carry a very heavy load with the trailer’s front hitch extending over the rear bumper.
While you can’t go wrong by purchasing an extra beefy hitch, it’s easy (and dangerous) to purchase one that’s too light for the job.
That said, a heavy-duty (and just plain heavy) hitch means harder assembly and reassembly. As a result, it will limit how you use your truck bed even when not pulling your fifth wheel.
When installed to specs, a 5th wheel trailer hitch should rest the weight of a trailer between the rear axle and the cab of your pickup. That way you can safely haul your belongings-filled trailer just about anywhere.
Three Things You Need to Know Before Buying
Your average 5th wheel weighs tens of thousands of pounds. That’s a lot of weight to pull behind a pickup. When it comes to safety, your first and best line of defense remains to select the best 5th wheel hitch for your truck and trailer.
An inadequate hitch puts your life and the lives of others at risk. This proves especially true on curving, steep, or rugged terrain. A hitch also impacts the smoothness of your ride, so consider your purchase an investment in the future.
Every vehicle owner should have a basic understanding of the components of an automobile before hitting the open road. The same goes for 5th wheel haulers when it comes to how specific hitches work.
Factors to Consider
There are three basic factors that determine which type of 5th wheel your truck can haul:
- Intended use of your truck bed
- Length of your truck bed
- Trailer weights (both gross trailer weight and max king pin weight)
Let’s take a closer look at how each of these factors affects the type of hitch you choose.
1. The Intended Use of Your Truck Bed
A 5th wheel hitch can impact your ability to utilize your truck bed. So, if you plan on needing it on a regular basis for other activities, then go with a “gooseneck” setup.
A gooseneck hitch with an under-mount means that all that sticks up into your truck bed is a ball hitch. And you can even remove that, too. With a standard 5th wheel, you have to disassemble the hitch before using the bed. Even then, you’ll have mounting rails to contend with.
2. The Length of Your Truck Bed
If your bed measures less than six-and-a-half feet, then you’ll need a “sliding hitch.” It looks just like any other 5th wheel hitch but offers the capability of manually releasing the hitch and sliding it backward.
This sliding ability helps with tight turns and when backing up. Otherwise, you risk having the cab of your truck comes in contact with the nose of your trailer, especially when backing up.
That said, don’t drive around with the hitch constantly in the back position. Why? Because this position means poorly distributed weight.
3. Trailer Weights: Gross Trailer Weight
When it comes to gross trailer weight (GTW) you may see it referred to as a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW). In other words, the combined weight of the trailer when fully packed.
Fifth wheel manufacturers will supply you with this number. But because lighter trailers sell better, manufacturers lowball GTW, which could lead to a dangerous scenario on the road.
So, how do you get at the real GTW? After you’ve purchased your 5th wheel and loaded it up for travel, visit a public scale to have it weighed.
Trailer Weights: Max King Pin Weight
The other weight you should factor in is max king pin weight also referred to as max tongue weight (usually when talking about trailers other than 5th wheels.)
This number refers to the amount of weight that presses down on the hitch vertically once the trailer gets loaded, usually 25 percent of your trailer’s GTW. Your 5th wheel manufacturer should provide you with this calculation.
Of course, because manufacturers tend to underestimate GTW, this skews the max king pin weight, too. Yet another reason to load up that trailer and get it weighed.
Why Does it Matter?
Why do you need the max king pin weight at all? Because this number keeps you from overloading your rear axle.
10 Best 5th Wheel Hitch Options of 2020
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how hitches work and what to look for based on your truck’s specifications, let’s explore some of the best fiver hitches of the year. We haven’t put them in any particular order but instead have highlighted each hitch for what they do best.
Best Auto Sliding 5th Wheel Hitch
Rated for a haul of up to 16,000 pounds, the Pullrite Superglide 2700 represents the best auto sliding hitch on the market. Made to fit existing rails, this hitch proves a cinch to install.
Capable of sliding up to 14 inches, it allows for fore and aft adjustment, which proves essential when centering axle installation. It also boasts a gear-driven rotary latch and a dual articulating head for ease of turning.
For Tight Turns Without Trouble
The Reese 30218 Pro Series makes tight turns with a trailer look easy. How? It features a state-of-the-art slider designed specifically for short beds and extended beds. This means plenty of clearance and no damage to your cab or trailer.
The hitch height proves easy to adjust and it can tow up to 15,000 pounds. Because of its innovative four-way pivoting head, this hitch makes for a less jerky and less noisy ride.
Heavy-Duty for a Light Price
The CURT 16049 Q25 5th Wheel Hitch can haul up to 25,000 pounds, yet it proves affordable. Fifth wheel hitches range in price from $500 to $3,000, but this model comes in around a cool $1,000.
Its cutting edge locking dual jaw system with indicators takes the guesswork out of hitching up. What’s more, the dual system eases worries about a wobbly connection. Its spherical axial bearings make maneuvering easy, and it tows smoothly and quietly.
Make Adjustments Easy
The B&W RVK3270 rail-mounted 5th wheel hitch comes with a head that’s fully articulated. This allows for pivoting both front to back and side to side. As a result, making tight turns proves a cinch.
The hitch allows for three common adjustments in height rendering it compatible with a wide variety of trailers and pickups. It also comes with a slide of 12 inches for short-bed trucks. Finally, its automatic latching system guarantees a tight fit.
Capable of Handling Your Heavy Jobs
The Pro Series 20K 5th wheel hitch works well with all truck bed lengths. It can haul up to 20,000 pounds and offers ride stability you’ll appreciate. Like the Reese 30218, it features a four-way pivoting head for maneuverability.
The hitch also boasts a clamshell-like locking system that makes for a secure latch. This locking system proves easy to unlock with a release handle. Finally, it provides a smooth ride and the sense that the trailer and vehicle drive as one entity.
While you’re getting your truck road trip ready, why not read more about the eight best tires for Ford F-150 trucks?
Best 5th Wheel Hitch for a Quiet Ride
The Pulliam 2500 Superglide proves fully automatic. That makes hook up to your 5th wheel as easy as it gets. It also features an automatically-locking latch that’s gear-driven.
The result? A safer, quieter towing experience. If you loving hauling a 5th wheel but hate the noise, bumps, and safety concerns, the Pulliam 2500 will put your mind at ease.
Best 5th Wheel Hitch for the Money
The B&W RVK3500 boasts a fully articulating head. This permits pivoting from side to side and front to back. Its polyurethane bushings deliver noise and rattle-free towing experience. The B&W cam action latching handle makes hitching and releasing simple, even on uneven surfaces. Finally, it can handle up to 20,000 pounds of GTW.
Best 5th Wheel Hitch for Short Bed Trucks
The B&W RVK3405 with a gooseneck adapter provides 12 inches of maneuvering space for shorter trucks. Relying on the B&W Turnover ball under-bed mounting system means you have more truck bed to work with when not hitched up.
That said, you’ll pay extra for the gooseneck adapter, making this product pricy.
Best Cheap 5th Wheel Hitch
This affordably priced little wonder comes with a 16,000 GTW capacity. It boasts a six-inch side pivot for easier hookups on uneven ground. And it has a two-jaw locking system for extra security on the road. Because of the wide stance of the one-piece legs on the Reese 30047, the hitch enjoys increased stability, too.
Easiest 5th Wheel Hitch
This CURT 16265 can hold up to 25,000 pounds GTW and look good while doing it. It enjoys unimpeded head movement and smooth, noise-free towing because of its spherical axial bearing setup. Its dual jaws equate to 360-degrees worth of kingpin contact. What’s more, the self-aligning head will make you wonder why you ever thought coupling was so complicated.