This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.
The most important accessory for 5th wheel owners is the hitch that keeps the RV securely attached to your tow vehicle. But, how do you know what hitch is the right solution for your truck and camper?
In this guide to the best 5th wheel hitches, we share how to select a 5th wheel hitch and our picks for the best 5th wheel hitches.
- 1 What are 5th Wheel Hitches?
- 2 Factors to Consider when Selecting a 5th Wheel Hitch
- 3 The Best 5th Wheel Hitches
- 4 Other Great 5th Wheel Hitches
- 5 Fifth Wheel Hitch Maintenance
What are 5th Wheel Hitches?
Fifth wheel or 5th wheel RVs are a special type of travel trailer. Instead of connecting to the bumper hitch, fifth wheels connect to a hitch located in the bed of a pickup truck.
Therefore, in order to tow a fifth wheel a special hitch has to be installed in the center of your truck’s bed. There are several different kinds of fifth wheel hitches, so it can be hard to know which is best for your towing needs.
In this article we will share factors to consider when selecting a 5th wheel hitch and our picks for the best 5th wheel hitches on the market.
Factors to Consider when Selecting a 5th Wheel Hitch
5th Wheel Weight
The most important consideration when selecting the best 5th wheel hitch is the weight of your RV. There are two weight ratings to consider when purchasing a 5th wheel hitch: the gross towed weight rating and the tongue weight.
The gross towed weight rating, also known as the GTWR, is the total towing capacity of a hitch or vehicle. The GTWR of the hitch needs to be higher than the total weight of your fifth wheel and any cargo it is carrying.
To determine your maximum total weight, locate the federal certification / VIN sticker on the front half of your 5th wheel (it’s usually on the left side). This sticker will include the 5th wheel’s GVWR or gross vehicle weight rating.
The total weight of your 5th wheel with cargo should never exceed the GVWR, therefore if your hitch’s GTWR is greater than the GVWR it should have sufficient towing capacity. Before you hit the road, weigh your packed 5th wheel on a truck scale to verify the weight is under the GVWR.
Tongue weight (also referred to as hitch weight or pin weight) is the amount of weight your trailer puts on your tow vehicle through the hitch. To get an accurate tongue weight the trailer must be weighed on a scale, which likely isn’t possible before you purchase a hitch.
As a general rule of thumb, the tongue weight is approximately 20% of the total trailer or fifth wheel weight. When purchasing a 5th wheel hitch, make sure the tongue weight rating is higher than 20 percent of your camper’s GVWR.
Truck Bed Length
The length of your pickup truck’s bed is another important consideration when selecting the best 5th wheel hitch. The shorter the truck bed, the less clearance between the truck and the trailer.
The less clearance there is, the more likely you are to have contact between the truck and the 5th wheel, especially when negotiating tight turns. Therefore, 5th wheel owners with a short truck bed, should consider a sliding hitch.
Sliding hitches can be manually or automatically adjusted when making tight turns to provide additional clearance and prevent damage to your truck. For a step-by-step guide on determining if you need a slider hitch, see this guide from the RV Part Shop.
5th Wheel and Truck Usage
The final consideration when selecting a 5th wheel hitch is your usage of your pickup truck and RV. Some 5th wheel hitches are removable, while others are permanently installed in the bed.
If you are an infrequent camper or regularly use your pickup truck to haul other cargo, you definitely want a removable hitch. On the other hand, if you are a full time RVer who doesn’t have other hauling needs, a permanently installed hitch may be a good option.
The Best 5th Wheel Hitches
Andersen hitches are the best 5th wheel hitches because they have a high towing capacity, but are lightweight and easy to remove from the truck bed when not in use.
When we first purchased our 5th wheel RV, we researched all the hitches on the market. We quickly determined the Andersen Rail Mount 5th Wheel Hitch was the best option for a variety of reasons.
First of all, the hitch’s 20,000 pound GTWR and 4,500 pound tongue weight is plenty of towing capacity for all but the largest 5th wheels. For reference, our 34-foot long 5th wheel has a GVWR of 13,995 pounds.
The hitch height can also be adjusted to make sure your 5th wheel is level when towing. The height can be adjusted to three different positions.
Our favorite thing about the Andersen 5th wheel hitch is the ability to take it in and out of the truck in minutes. Weighing just 40 pounds, one person can easily remove or re-install the hitch when the pickup bed is needed for other tasks.
Another great feature of Andersen hitches is the greaseless coupler. Since no grease is required, you won’t have to get filthy hooking up your fifth wheel.
The rail mount Andersen hitch is easily installed in any brand of truck with standard industry rails. All Andersen hitches are made in the USA and come with a money back warranty.
The Andersen Ultimate Connection Gooseneck Mount Hitch has all the benefits of the brand’s rail mount hitch, but is installed using a different method.
Instead of installing the hitch onto the rails, the Ultimate Connection hitch fits over any standard gooseneck hitch. Plus, this version is even lighter at just 35 pounds.
Another 35 pound hitch from Andersen with all the same great features, this version is specifically designed for trucks with a toolbox. The toolbox model hitch also has a higher GTWR at 24,000 pounds.
Other Great 5th Wheel Hitches
If the Andersen hitches do not meet your needs, check out our runners-up for the best 5th wheel hitches.
Another great 5th wheel hitch option is the B&W Companion Hitch. Like the Andersen hitches, the B&W has a 20,000 total towing capacity. However, at 70 pounds this hitch is heavier and harder to maneuver in and out of the truck bed.
One of the main benefits of the B&W Companion Hitch is the fully articulating coupler head that allows front to back and side to side pivoting. This feature makes for a smoother ride, especially on uneven roads.
If you need a sliding 5th wheel hitch, the B&W Companion Slider is one of the best 5th wheel hitches available. Like the standard B&W hitch, the slider has a 20,000 pound towing capacity and a fully articulating head.
The downside of the sliding hitch is the weight. The hitch weighs a whopping 287 pounds, so it will require significant effort to install and remove from the truck bed.
Priced at less than $350, the CURT E16 5th wheel hitch is one of the best value hitches available.
The hitch is rated for 16,000 total pounds and a 4,000 pound hitch weight. The hitch itself weighs 95 pounds, and can be installed on any industry standard 5th wheel base rails.
One great feature of the CURT hitch is a dual-pivot head with up to 10 degrees of lateral movement to promote smooth, stable towing. The hitch also features automatic locking on the coupler and an anti-rattle skid plate.
Fifth Wheel Hitch Maintenance
Like most RV parts and accessories, 5th wheel hitches should be visually inspected on a regular basis. Check the hitch for damage or rust, and replace any damaged parts.
Many fifth wheel hitches also require regular lubrication of moving parts. Refer to your 5th wheel hitch’s owner’s manual to see exactly where lubrication is required and what type of grease should be used.
Thanks for reading our complete guide to the best 5th wheel hitches. We hope you found the perfect hitch to tow your 5th wheel RV.
If you are still shopping for the perfect 5th wheel, check out some of our favorite options:
- Best Front Living 5th Wheels
- Best Front Kitchen 5th Wheels
- Best Small 5th Wheels
- Best 5th Wheels with Sleeping Lofts