Is it better to tow a fifth wheel with a flatbed or regular bed?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Is it better to tow a fifth wheel with a flatbed or regular bed? We will explain the advantages of towing a fifth-wheel trailer with a flatbed instead of a regular bed. We will also tell you how to connect your trailer to a flatbed and how to secure the fifth wheel hitch as well. 

Is it better to tow a fifth wheel with a flatbed or regular bed?

There are many advantages and it is better to tow a fifth wheel with a flatbed than a regular bed:

  1. With a flatbed, whilst towing a fifth-wheel you have more and easier access to the trailer. If you have a traditional truck bed with the sides you have your fifth wheel plate in the middle, thus a part of your trailer will be overhanging the bed. 

With the flatbed, you can access all of that space from the sides forward of your fifth wheel trailer or from the sides and the rear underneath the portion of the fifth wheel that overhangs the bed. 

  1. When towing a fifth wheel trailer on a flatbed you can also use all the extra space below and on the front of the fifth wheel portion of the trailer using lockable tool boxes. If  you’re gonna be on the road for a longer period of time, if you have a larger family or a smaller trailer, a flatbed truck would allow you to take advantage of totally outweighing anything you could do with a regular bed truck. 
  1. Towing a fifth wheel trailer with a flatbed truck is easier and safer. Also, you’re less likely to hit the bed of your pick-up truck since there is no tailgate or bed sides. With a regular bed truck there is always a risk of damage to your pick-up!

How to tow a fifth-wheel trailer with a flatbed truck?

Fifth wheels attach to a specially designed flat hitch located above the axle in the bed of your truck. The towing and hitch take up a significant amount of space within the truck bed, so the type and size of items that can be carried in bed are limited while a fifth-wheel trailer is attached to its truck. However, that does not mean that you cannot continue to use your van to carry some items.

Here’s how you tow a 5th wheel with a flatbed truck:

  • Attach your trailer to the truck. Make sure the trailer is properly and firmly attached to the hitch.
  • Decide what items to place on the truck bed, keeping in mind that these items should be small enough and not interfere with the trailer or compact hitch. Items must be shorter than the top of the trailer when it comes to the tailgate of the truck so that they will not interfere with the ability to turn or manoeuvre the trailer.
  • Place the items on the bed of the truck. Place as close to the sides and as far away from the hitch as possible. Secure to the sides of the bed with string or using bungee cord ties. Trucks have an assortment of different loop-holes and bed locations for cargo securing, so you just have to select one and loop through the closest one. This will prevent items from falling into the hitch.

Note: There are specially designed truck bed toolboxes that are made for use while pulling a fifth-wheel trailer.

Can you put a 5th wheel hitch on a flatbed truck?

Yes, you can put a 5th wheel hitch on a flatbed truck. It would be a custom install, however, and we recommend that a qualified professional help you with the installation process. 

Fifth wheel trailer hitches use a centre pivot receiver and pin mounted on the bed of a heavy-duty pickup. These hitches are similar to diesel tractor-trailer drill rig combinations.  Fifth wheels and goosenecks offer better weight distribution. They are better than bumper hitches for heavy or large trailers because they offer a more level ride, improve braking control and minimize sway. 

What is the best truck to tow a fifth-wheel trailer?

When choosing a truck to tow your fifth-wheel trailer, take into consideration the following key criteria:

  1. Towing and suspension capacity: Full-size trucks are classified based on their capacity: half-ton, three-quarter-ton, or one-ton. This indicates the weight that the suspension and frame of the truck can support in the bed. This also affects towing capacity along with engine size. The higher the towing capacity and bed capacity, the more you can safely transport and load the truck. 

However, as capacity rises, the economy is sacrificed. If you use a one-ton pickup to pull a small light trailer, the economy will be much poorer than a half-ton pickup pulling the same trailer.

  1. Power and torque: The truck’s engine is rated on horsepower and torque. The more torque, the better the low final power has, especially for braking and exciting situations. The more horsepower, the better the top end or passing power the truck will have on the open road. 

A good balance of torque and adequate power for the weight you are towing is most desirable. Diesel engines will get the most out of both, but the more horsepower and torque an engine has, the more fuel it requires. Therefore, the economy sacrifices itself for power.

  1. Fifth wheel hitches: Not all vehicles are designed to have a fifth wheel hitch installed, especially some light half-ton pickups. There are different types of hitches, and some are designed for installation on some vehicles. 

Evaluate the weight of the trailer you are towing and the type of hitch you need, and check with a local garage or dealer service department to make sure the hitch you need will fit the truck you want to buy. Don’t take the word of a salesperson on this issue. Always double-check with a store first.

Conclusions

Towing a 5th wheel trailer is not an easy task, no matter the type of engine you have. Of course, it is going to be easier with a diesel engine, you will manage to save fuel and perhaps have a better driving experience overall. Still, remember that gas engines can do a great job as well. Just follow our tips for a safer journey! 

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know. 

FAQ on Is it better to tow a fifth wheel with a flatbed or regular bed?

How much of a fifth wheel is over the truck?

As a general rule, you must have at least 6 inches of clearance from the bottom of your fifth-wheel trailer to the top of the truck. Fifth-wheel trailers connect to trucks with a device called a gooseneck hitch, which mounts inside the truck 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. 

How does the fifth wheel hitch work?

A fifth wheel hitch l works by locking a kingpin in the lockjaw. The kingpin is similar to a hitch coupler and is attached to the semi-trailer, while the locking jaw acts as the receiver for the hitch.

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