Once you’ve decided on a new travel trailer or fifth wheel for your future RV journeys consider a list of must have features before closing the deal. Making sure your new recreational vehicle has all your must have features before you buy saves a lot of frustration down the road.
Settling on a towable rather than a motorized RV is a commitment to towing and having the right features for a safe and carefree towing and set up experience is critical. Inside the RV, know what features are “must-haves” for your lifestyle.
Hauling or Towing
If you’re planning on taking outdoor toys along with you, a rear hitch or garage are must have features for your travel trailer or fifth wheel. Toy Haulers, travel trailers or fifth wheels with living quarters and garage areas to tote motorized toys, canoes, or bikes are available in bumper towed trailers and fifth wheels. Fifth Wheels, with their added stability and weight are often up to the task of carrying heftier motorized toys as well as providing comfortable living quarters. If a toy hauler isn’t for you, consider a stout fifth wheel with a sturdy hitch for towing a utility trailer or attaching a rack to hold bikes or kayaks.
When you decide to tow, whether a fifth wheel or bumper towed RV, trailer weight may be the most important feature to consider. Consider the capabilities of your towing vehicle and the type of RVing you’ll be doing in a new towable RV. While there are plenty of “ultra lite” towables on the market, be aware of what your new rig will weigh when it’s fully loaded – from tanks to toys. Check the Combined Gross Vehicle Weight for your towing vehicle – the fully loaded weight of your vehicle and trailer — before making any purchase. Also consider the cargo carrying capabilities of any unit under consideration. While there may be plenty of storage space, if you’re planning on full-timing or long treks – your supplies may add more weight to the trailer than it’s built to handle.
Once you’ve settled the weighty issues of choosing a travel trailer or fifth wheel, consider design features that can make towing easier and improve gas mileage. Look for a travel trailer or fifth wheel with an aerodynamic front-end cap that will cut through the wind and improve gas mileage by reducing wind drag. An end cap that partially recreates the tear drop shape is most effective and will result in a more aerodynamic trailer and possibly a slight reduction in sway. New end cap designs may incorporate windows or storage space.
Towable RV Leveling Systems
Almost all towables – except the most modest of units or folding camping trailers – will have an automatic leveling system. The highest end fifth wheels may come equipped with a hydraulic leveling system while other models will have an electric system. Small, modest campers and pop-ups may be equipped with a manual leveling system that’s operated by hand and supplemented with leveling blocks. Electric leveling takes the cranking out of the equation, but may still require a little help from blocks for the final leveling. Except for the most extreme cases, hydraulic leveling jacks do most, or all, the leveling with the push of a button. However, if you get the worst site at the campground, it may still be necessary to add something under the wheels to bring the RV to level. If hands-off leveling is for you, look for a towable with a hydraulic system or ask if the leveling system on the trailer of your dreams can be upgraded to hydraulic.
Fifth Wheel and Travel Trailer Floor Plan
Assess your physical abilities and travel plans to know what kind of features the interior of your towable needs. Fifth wheels will be in multiple levels with steps up to the bath and bedroom. That means going up and down a few steps multiple times a day will be unavoidable. Bumper towed travel trailers will be laid out on a single level, if mobility is an issue. Depending on the model and the “profile” of the fifth wheel, you may enjoy soaring ceilings in the living areas, but the bedroom may not feature full-height ceilings, which may be an issue for tall RVers. Look carefully at the bedroom area; if stretching, bending and reaching are an issue, a bed that has room to walk all around it will be easier to change and make.