Why we chose a 5th Wheel

Why we chose a 5th Wheel

One of the issues we faced when making the decision to start this new adventure was which type of Recreation Vehicle (RV) to get.  Right away we were able to narrow the choices down to a motorhome or a 5th wheel.  And it didn’t take long for us to eliminate a motorhome.

Deciding which RV to get is a personal matter.  It should be something that fits the occupants desires and lifestyle.  What works for us might not work for others.  There is a variety of choices available including class A/B/C motorhomes, 5th wheels, pull trailers, tiny houses, vans, and campers.  None of these are one model fits all. We enjoy seeing the diversity of RVs that others make their homes.

The following are some considerations that went into our decision.

Home Sweet Home (Not Home Sweet Vehicle)

One of our main factors in choosing a 5th wheel, especially for Susan, was that we didn’t want to feel like we were living in a vehicle.  Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with living in a vehicle. We simply wanted something that felt more like a home than an automobile.

Vehicular Monogamy

Maintaining a single motor vehicle, one motor and transmission, was another factor that drove us toward a 5th wheel. With a motorhome we would need a second tow vehicle (and trailer or dolly). One vehicle means less vehicle maintenance (i.e. less cost and hassle). If a motorhome goes into the shop for living space *or* vehicle repairs, the entire home and belongings go with it.  In theory, less mechanical problems are likely with a 5th wheel’s living space in comparison to a living space that also has an engine, transmission, and other motor vehicle components combined.

Back that Thing Up

With a 5th wheel there’s no need to disconnect a tow vehicle before backing into a “camp” spot.  This is a minor detail for which I’m sure many motorhome owner’s have developed a routine.  But it’s one less thing that I have to do before I back in to a site.  Yes, I still have to unhitch the 5th wheel, but I don’t have to also manage a tow trailer or dolly.

Stuffing Our Stuff

Beyond our typical household and personal items, we needed ample storage space for our adventure gear.  Our 5th wheel has a substantial amount of interior and exterior storage compartments.  We found other RV options to lack in this area – particularly in the price range we were targeting.

Downsizing Dollars

We were able to get a 3500 diesel truck and a 40′ 5th wheel with 4 slides and substantial features for far less money than a comparable diesel motorhome.  Of course, as with our aforementioned reasons, this might not be the case for others.  Granted, our other reasons were enough for us to go with a 5th wheel, but significantly less cost was our icing on the cake.

Miscellany

Having a full-sized, 4-wheel drive truck offers great utility.  It can be used in an emergency as a means of generating income by hauling or towing for others.  A pickup truck can also carry equipment and supplies for a variety of small business ventures.

We’ve had a motorhome in the past and used to feel like it was nice for the non-driver to be able to access the bathroom or engage in other activities (e.g. cooking) without having to pull off the roadway.  However, we’ve since found that periodic stops help us to take a break from the road to stretch and perhaps do some exploring.  Those with small children might also find it safer in a 5th wheel setup, wherein the littles one are in car seats rather than moving about the coach.

We are very pleased with our 5th wheel’s high ceilings which provide a more open feel.  A motorhome’s ceiling is usually lower – producing a more closed in feeling.  There are certainly luxury motorhomes that are humongous – as are their price tags.

We enjoy going places with friends and family. Our setup provides us with lots of passenger space for excursions with others.  We would have likely opted for a much smaller (tow) vehicle, if we had a motorhome.

Because some of the 5th wheel extends over the truck, it provides us with an upstairs bedroom that offers a cozy, private separation from the rest of the living space.

A 5th wheel was the best choice for us.  Its features and benefits help us to be Wild on the Go.

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About Bernie

Bernie is a general preparedness writer, speaker, instructor, and consultant. He’s passionate about sharing his ideas and experiences with others. He enjoys hiking, photography, travel, and spending time with family and friends.

4 Comments

  • Jim Byrne says:

    Hi Bernie,
    We enjoy your videos and blogs. We are 70 and have made the decision to go full-time rving.
    Like you we decided to go with a 5th wheel for many of the same reason you mentioned.
    Some say we should definitely have a one ton dually, what’s your thoughts?
    Really like the Montana.

    • Bernie says:

      Congratulations on your decision. We, personally, did not feel a need for a dually. It’s all about the specs – the weight and size you are carrying/towing. For us, a dually would cost us more in fuel and potentially more maintenance issues. Ask around to those pulling the type of 5th wheel you’re interested in, and consult with professionals at the truck/trailer dealerships. Let us know what you end up with and how things go. Subscribe to our WildOnTheGo YouTube channel to keep in touch. Safe travels.

  • Jim Niemann says:

    I’ve come to the same conclusion about a 5th wheel. We are downsizing now in preparation for selling our home in the spring. I’m looking at used trucks. How do you like your Dodge? Did you get and automatic or a manual tranny? Thanks for any advice.

    • Bernie says:

      Hi Jim. Congratulations on your decision. Our 2015 RAM (Dodge trucks ended in 2010) has been performing good. It’s an automatic. Please keep us posted on your progress. Subscribe to our WildOnTheGo channel on Youtube to keep in touch. Let us know if you have any more questions along the way.

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