Can you pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can you pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed? We will explain whether towing a fifth-wheel camper with a short bed is a good idea, and how you can do it step-by-step. 

Can you pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed?

Yes, you can pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed truck, but it will take some work.  Fifth-wheel trailers connect to trucks with a device called a gooseneck hitch, which mounts inside the truck bed. 

A short bed truck (less than 8 feet long) can tow a fifth wheel, provided a slider hitch is installed. This type of hitch prevents the trailer from hitting the back of the truck cab when manoeuvring. To compensate for the reduced swing clearance of a short bed truck, an extended bed peg is also recommended. Without this equipment, the trailer will sit too close to the cab of the truck, hitting it in sharp turns.

How do you pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed?

If you plan on pulling a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed, thus a short bed, follow our instructions and tips thoroughly. 

  1. Select the slider hitch that suits your budget, and understand how it works. There are two types of hitch that allow a short flatbed truck to tow a fifth wheel: manual or automatic slide hitches. A manual slide hitch locks the trailer in place between the cab and the rear axle for on-road towing. 

However, before navigating sharp turns or backing up at a campground, the driver must manually stop the vehicle. Next, the driver should get out, unlock the hitch, and pull the vehicle forward so that the kingpin is closer to the rear door and further from the cab. 

The last step is to lock the hitch in place and keep driving. An automatic slide hitch does not require these steps as it is designed with channels that automatically force the bonnet to slide back on sharp turns.

  1. Research your route ahead of time to avoid areas that are too difficult to navigate and pay attention to your surroundings when towing your fifth wheel. When navigating tight turns or backing up, compensate for the minimum turning radius of a short bed truck and fifth wheel trailer by giving yourself ample headroom. 

Know when your trailer is getting too close to the cab of your truck, especially if you have a manual slip hitch. If you notice that your trailer is too close to your truck, it probably is.

  1. Become familiar with the operation of your truck, hitch and trailer. Learn how to back up your fifth-wheel trailer before you travel, by taking your truck and fifth wheel out of a large empty parking lot. When backing up, remember that a trailer will swerve in the opposite direction the steering wheel is turning. 

Test this concept by placing one or the other hand on the bottom of the wheel, and pointing to your thumb. As you turn, the trailer will steer in the direction of your thumb.

  1. Simulate real-world parking lot conditions by creating traffic cones and other obstacles to navigate around. Remember to take wide turns around curves and corners, and practice slowing down, avoiding sudden stops, which can cause the truck and trailer to jackknife.

More tips for towing a fifth wheel with a short bed:

  1. Never allow anyone to ride the fifth wheel while it is moving.
  2. Avoid excess wear and tear on your vehicle and avoid accidents by knowing your gross combined vehicle weight rating (GWR). This is the maximum weight your tow vehicle can pull more than fuel, cargo, passengers and its own weight. Check that every time you reload the fifth-wheel trailer.

Other questions you may be interested in

Do fifth wheels have a generator?

Do 5th wheels need safety chains?

Do 5th wheels have seat belts?

How to connect the fifth wheel to the 5.5-footbed?

To connect the fifth wheel to the 5.5-footbed you will need a slider hitch. Many commercial travel and trailers are equipped with a fifth-wheel box peg. These trailers are towed by connecting the fifth wheel pin to a hitch installed in the bed or rear frame of a truck. 

Fifth wheel hitches allow towing loads greater than a standard hitch and provide additional stability while towing. There is no other equipment necessary to tow a fifth-wheel trailer if your truck has a hitch installed. Hitching up a trailer will only take a few minutes.

Here’s how to connect the fifth-wheel camper to a sliding hitch:

  1. Lower the tailgate on your truck. Grease the kingpin and hitch receiver jaws and skid plate with white lithium grease.
  1. Release the locking hitch pin or clip. Pull the hitch release arm to confirm the hitch is working properly. Chock a wheel on the trailer with wheel chocks.
  1. Back up your truck slowly until the king trailer pin is just behind the skid hitch plate. Raise or lower the trailer landing gear until the kingpin will slide on the skid plate without lifting the trailer. Back up your truck again until you see the hitch release handle close to indicate the hitch jaws are closed.
  1. Look at the back of the hitch and confirm the hitch jaws are fully closed. If not, pull the truck forward and raise or lower the landing gear and reconnect the trailer until the hitch fully engages the kingpin.
  1. Raise the trailer skids just off the ground then put the truck in drive gear and give the attached trailer a short hitch with the truck. If the hitch is not fully engaged the trailer can disconnect. If this happens, repeat the connection procedure.
  1. Put the hitch arm locking pin or clip in place to prevent the arm from opening and releasing the trailer. Connect the trailer lights. Raise the trailer skids. Remove the tires. Close the back door of the truck. Use the controller’s manual override brake to test the trailer brakes.

Conclusions

As you can see, it is possible to tow a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed truck. Still, keep in mind that if not connected properly, your camper may jackknife or even turn over. Towing a 5th wheel with a short bed is not always indicated, but if you do it for a short distance and take all the necessary precautions, you may be just fine.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Can you pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed?

Can you tow a 5th wheel with a short bed?

Yes, you can tow a 5th wheel with a short bed, but you will have to use either a slider hitch or a sidewinder hitch. You must be careful though, if you do not secure the camper properly, it may turn over. 

What is the minimum bed length for a fifth wheel?

The minimum bed length for a fifth wheel should be 8 feet. 

Can a 1/2 ton truck pull a 5th wheel camper?

Yes, a ½ ton truck could pull a 5th wheel camper, but for this type of motorhome, we would suggest going higher. 

Can a Toyota Tundra pull a 5th wheel camper?

Yes, the Toyota Tundra can pull a 5th wheel camper. Steering and handling are excellent in the Toyota Tundra. The steering is firm and precise. The pick-up has a good turning radius that makes manoeuvring easier. Acceleration is pretty good, and braking is firm and strong.

Can a Ford F150 pull a 5th wheel camper?

The Ford F150 most definitely can pull a 5th wheel camper.  The F-150 is the most popular version of the F-Series pickup line, which Ford has been selling in the United States since 1948.

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