I think that's a great question but there's no real easy answer for it. I'm perfectly content to stay in the 30-foot travel trailer, we have a Keystone Sprinter 26rb Which has one slide out has an outside kitchen and to me, it's perfectly comfortable. Its dry weight is only 6900 pounds. Fully Loaded takes us up to about 8,500 lb. It's an easy pull for my 3500 gas pickup truck. We are currently living in ours full-time. But the trailer being only 30 feet long, we can still get into most of the national parks and it's not very difficult to find places to camp otherwise. You start getting closer to 35 ft the amount of available campsites decreases. The plan is to use the travel trailer for a year to see how things go and then maybe move up to a fifth wheel. Why would we do that? Well, the floor plans of the fifth wheels tend to be nicer. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of a fifth wheel versus a travel trailer.
Pros for the fifth wheel
More stable to tow. Part of the trailer weight is placed over the rear axles of the truck. This makes it more maneuverable and easier to backup, so it’s much less prone to sway. The floor plans tend to be nicer. The bedroom typically is isolated from the rest of the trailer like a real bedroom. That has a lot of appeal to my wife. Fifth wheels tend to feel more like an apartment rather than a trailer, giving it a more homey feeling. Also, the fifth wheel when hooked up to a tow vehicle is not as long for the same length trailer as a travel trailer because part of the trailer is over into the pickup bed. That shortens the overall length of the whole rig. So with the travel trailer being 30 ft long, and the truck being 20 ft long, the overall length of the rig is 50ft. Whereas with a fifth wheel, five or six feet of the trailer resides over the pickup bed so the overall length then becomes 45 feet for the rig making it a little easier to manage when towing and maneuver. Beware of 5th wheels that are labeled half ton towable. I think with a lot of the fifth wheels you'd be hard-pressed to tow them with a half-ton pickup truck. Fifth wheels do tend to have a lot more basement space. that's an important factor to consider if you're going to live in your trailer full time.
Cons of a 5th wheel
Fifth wheels are a lot taller than a travel trailer. It gives you the feeling of openness because of the high ceilings. Also, with such high ceilings, that tends to put more things out of reach. So that can be an issue if you're a little bit on the shorter side or vertically challenged. I think with such high ceiling it's it's a waste of space that you're trying to either heat or cool. But it also creates a lot more wind drag when towing worsening your fuel economy. you also have to be more mindful of low bridges and. Most fifth wheels are over 13 feet tall where is travel trailers tend to be about 10 to 11 ft tall.The height of the trailer can become a hindrance when trying to travel down Forest roads. There is a lot of overhanging trees that could cause a problem. A few years back I saw an older gentleman with a fifth wheel at Glacier National Park campground. He was driving through the campground loop when a branch from a tree that spanned over the road punctured a hole right in his roof. I can imagine that put a damper on their vacation. It also May limit you as to what gas stations you can pull into if they have low roofs. Fifth wheels also tend to be a lot more expensive than travel trailers. Travel trailers can give you a lot of bang for the buck.The fifth wheel equipment in the back of the pickup truck tends to make a lot of rattling noises when you're driving down the road so that might be an issue for some people. You also have to consider your tow vehicle.The 5th wheels tend to be heavier and I would definitely recommend going to a heavy-duty truck if you going to get a 5th wheel.There are quite a few 5th wheels out there that are labeled half ton towable but it is really stretching the imagination. A combination of half ton truck with the 5th wheel is marginal at best with a lot of these.To me, a 5th wheel that's 9000 or 9500 pounds dry weight is not Half ton towable.
So to answer the question how much space does two people really need and if you're going to live full-time in it or not. To me 30 feet is plenty but the wife would like something bigger. Bigger means more stuff course. But she could change her mind in the future after we've been doing this for a while, only time will tell. So if your budget is tight then a travel trailer may very well be the way to go. Personally, I like the fact that I can park this trailer almost anywhere. I think the 30-foot size fifth wheels are more or less just a waste of money. You start to see a real advantage with the fifth wheels when you get into the 30 ft plus.
Hope this at least gets you thinking about your actual needs and wants. Until next time, happy camping!
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