Fifth-wheel trailers are a popular way of RVing for both full-time and part-time RVers.
18 percent of all towable RVs shipped in 2017 were 5th-wheel travel trailers, which means there was an increase of 16.9 percent from the previous year.
Fifth-wheel RVs have become such a popular option for a number of reasons. Practicality may be the strongest one. When you finally arrive at your destination, you can simply unhook your fifth-wheel travel trailer and use your tow vehicle for trips into the wilderness and/or for Walmart store visits.
An important question you need to ask yourself before purchasing a 5th-wheel camper is: “Can my truck handle it?”
From the lighter models at about 2,400 pounds to the super heavyweight ones at 20,000 pounds, there are many “average” weights.
Let’s take a close look at the various classes of 5th-wheel recreational vehicles with some examples of their weights.
Table of Contents
- The Different Weight Classes of 5th Wheel Trailers
- What Do the Different Weights Mean?
The Different Weight Classes of 5th Wheel Trailers
If all fifth-wheel travel trailers were the same size and offered the same facilities, guessing the average fifth wheel weight would be easy.
Like all types of RVs, though, this task becomes more difficult as a result of the different classes of fifth-wheel travel trailers you can buy.
There’s no official classification system, but most manufacturers break down 5th-wheel travel trailers into the following four categories:
The main benefit of a lightweight 5th-wheel RV will be the fuel cost savings you will make compared to motorized RVs.
Towing a lighter vehicle will allow you to travel further or stay longer at your eventual destination.
You can even save some money on the truck you use as lightweight 5th-wheel campers only need a half-ton pickup truck to tow.
Lightweight doesn’t have to mean tiny and cramped.
Although light 5th-wheel RVs may be more compact as opposed to the other three categories, a range of floor plans can still offer spacious accommodations. A 5th-wheel trailer classified as “lightweight” can be up to 30 feet long with a maximum weight of 9,000 pounds.
A prime example of luxury in an ultra-light fifth-wheel trailer is the Scamp 19’ Deluxe.
The largest of the Scamp range, this 5th-wheel RV provides a queen-size loft bed and extra sleeping space for up to six people.
With a wetroom, kitchen facilities, and plenty of storage space, the approximate weight of the trailer is 2,400-2,900 pounds, whereas the hitch weight is 400 pounds. This is one of the lightest fifth-wheel campers we’ve ever come across.
Here are a few more examples of lightweight fifth-wheel RVs that can be towed by a half-ton truck:
- Length: 27 feet
- UVW (unloaded vehicle weight): 6,300 pounds
- GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating): 8,500 pounds
- Dry weight (hitch): 1,350 pounds
- Length: 21 feet 2 inches
- Unloaded weight: 3,910 pounds
- GVWR: 5,500 pounds
- Dry weight (hitch): 646 pounds
- Length: 29 feet 5 inches
- Unloaded weight: 7,460 pounds
- GVWR: 9,950 pounds
- Dry weight (hitch): 1,340 pounds
Mid-Size Fifth Wheel Trailers
For those who want more space, a mid-size 5th-wheel RV can provide from 30 to 40 feet of length.
Of course, they will also weigh more, at 9,000 to 14,000 pounds, and need a vehicle with at least a ¾-ton towing capacity.
Using a 1-ton truck to tow a mid-size wheel should provide the driver with more control and a smoother ride.
A mid-size 5th-wheel camper is more likely to feature slide-outs for extra space, full-sized refrigerators, and professional countertops.
Upgraded furniture, larger water tanks (including freshwater ones), and a king-size bed will all add to the higher length and greater total weight.
The Grand Design Reflection 337RLS is a typical mid-size RV, with a total length of 35 feet 6 inches and a total (unloaded) weight of 10,697 pounds.
Looking like a Class A motorhome on the inside, the Grand Design Reflection 337RLS features two slide-outs to the rear for extra space.
On the bottom level of this RV, you will find a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, a dinette, central work surfaces with a sink, and a home entertainment area.
Mid-size trailers, like the one mentioned above, often place the bathroom on the upper level, like an ensuite next to the main sleeping area.
The extra space allows for a proper shower cubicle rather than a wetroom, and additional sink facilities.
There’s even room for a dresser and a wardrobe storage area in the loft-style bedroom.
Some of the most reputable manufacturers of mid-size trailers are Keystone, Heartland, and, of course, Highland Ridge.
We selected one top-rated mid-size RV model from each of these manufacturers and compared their weights.
- Length: 35 feet
- Unloaded weight: 11,999 pounds
- Cargo weight: 4,351 pounds
- Length: 38 feet 8 inches
- Unloaded weight: 11,205 pounds
- Carrying capacity: 2,247 pounds
- Length: 40 feet 6 inches
- Unloaded weight: 12,300 pounds
- Cargo weight: 4,170 pounds
Luxury or Full-Size Fifth Wheels
RVers who enjoy “glamping” (also known as “glamorous camping”) will appreciate the full-size or luxury style of fifth-wheel recreational vehicles.
The weight of luxury fifth-wheel recreational vehicles can vary — from the 11,000-pound trailers to the heaviest RVs weighing around 20,000 pounds.
The length can often stretch all the way up to 45 feet.
The extra space these luxury trailers provide allows for additional features, like residential appliances and immersive entertainment options.
The high ceilings, upgraded insulation, larger master bedroom, and quality bathroom facilities can make you forget you are in an RV.
One of the heaviest luxury fifth-wheel models we came across is the DRV Elite Suites 44 Nashville with an unloaded weight of 20,600 pounds and a total length of 44 feet 2 inches.
The extra space above the bed of your truck can be used as an indoor theater, with seating solutions for up to eight people.
You can find a large bathroom with a bath and the master bedroom at the back of this trailer. The middle section features the kitchen as well as dinette facilities with slide outs. Don’t worry if this particular floor plan doesn’t tick all your boxes — there are four similar ones.
Other amazing luxury or full-size wheels are:
- Length: 41 feet 11 inches
- Unloaded weight: 12,210 pounds
- Length: 40 feet 4 inches
- Unloaded weight: 13,350 pounds
- Length: 42 feet 8 inches
- Unloaded weight: 13,685 pounds
Toy Hauler Fifth Wheels
Sometimes you want to take your “toys” on the road with you to make the most of your outdoor experience.
These could be motorbikes, ATVs, golf carts, or kayaks, all of which can add to your holiday fun. A garage at the back of your fifth wheel with a ramp-style door makes it easier to load and unload these items.
Toy hauler fifth wheels have become a class of their own, ranging in length from 33 to 45 feet (these trailers come with a garage at the back).
They will normally have a dry/unloaded weight of around 10,000 to 16,500 pounds, but it’s important to remember that they will be significantly heavier when loaded with motorbikes or other heavy-duty vehicles.
Heartland RVs features a whole range of toy haulers, including the impressive Cyclone series.
The Cyclone 4005 boasts a 13-foot garage, sleeps 9+ people, and has an unloaded weight of 16,730 pounds.
With an overall length of 45 feet 9 inches, this RV features three sliding compartments and a ramp door at the back for easy loading and unloading of your cargo.
There’s even an extra loft space above the garage which can be used as a seating or sleeping area (it’s large enough for a queen-size bed).
Other fantastic toy hauler fifth-wheel RVs are:
- Length: 39 feet
- Unloaded weight: 13,563 pounds
- Length: 39 feet 10 inches
- Unloaded weight: 10,133 pounds
- Length: 39 feet 9 inches
- Unloaded weight: 11,943 pounds
You Might Also Read – Trailer or fifth wheel?
What Do the Different Weights Mean?
To tow a fifth wheel safely, you’ll need to check the tow rating of your truck as well as the hitch-weight capability.
You need to ensure the hitch can cope with the load placed on the suspension of your truck. You won’t benefit from taking a separate vehicle if it ends up being overpowered by your fifth wheel on the way to the campsite. If you and/or your loved ones don’t pack light, you might want to consider buying a gooseneck hitch (these allow for large towing capacities and include a standard ball mount installed just in front of the recreational vehicle’s rear axle).
Unless we stated otherwise, all the weights we mentioned above are the dry or unloaded weight of the RVs in question.
This is the weight your recreational vehicle arrives with from the dealer or manufacturer, and includes the fifth wheel hitch and axle weight.
Other important weights you must consider when choosing a fifth wheel include:
- Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
The maximum amount of weight of passengers, cargo, fresh water, food, gas, and other accessories and equipment that can be carried by the unit (CCC ≤ GVWR – UVW).
- Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
The maximum permissible weight that can be supported by each of the trailer’s axles (the RV manufacturer determines this figure).
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
This figure includes the weight of the hitch and the overall weight of the trailer’s capacity, including any cargo, pets, or passengers in the back (GVWR ≥ UVW + CCC).
- Hitch/Tongue/Pin Weight
This figure shows the weight or force a fully loaded RV puts down on the hitch ball of your tow vehicle (it should be from 10-15% of the gross trailer weight). When it comes to fifth wheels, hitch weight, tongue weight, and pin weight mean the same thing.
The following short YouTube video goes into more detail on how you can determine if your truck has enough grunt.
It would be a complete downer to set your heart on a fifth wheel only to find your truck isn’t powerful enough to tow it.
We hope you enjoyed our attempt to lay out the approximate weight of a fifth wheel.
We didn’t mean to bamboozle you with so many figures, it’s just that there are a number of various fifth wheels on the market.
If we absolutely must do it, we would have to say the approximate weight of a fifth wheel is between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds.
This would include trailers in both the mid-size and the luxury classes and a few of the toy haulers too.
If you’re looking for a more agile class of RVs, consider going with a pop-up camper (these are much lighter).
Whether you like the feel of a tiny home or prefer a larger living space, you can find all your home comforts in a fifth-wheel recreational vehicle. If you have any tips or stories to add, or just want to ask more questions, don’t hesitate to reach us via the comment section below.