Fifth wheel RVs offer many advantages thanks to their unique towable design. The fifth wheel hitch provides RVers with additional floorplans, amenities, overall length, and much more. But there is one glaring barrier to entry with fifth wheel RVs — most require a heavy-duty pickup truck.
Heavy-duty pickups are large and powerful machines. They’re also expensive, which dissuades many potential fifth wheel owners. Many buyers simply can’t afford to buy a heavy-duty truck, such as a Ford F-350 or a Chevrolet Silverado 3500, in addition to the cost of a fifth wheel (even if you buy a used fifth wheel).
Can You Tow a Fifth Wheel RV With a Half-Ton Truck?
Fortunately, there are fifth wheels designed to be towed by certain light-duty half-ton pickups, like an F-150 or a Toyota Tundra. If you already own a half-ton truck, you don’t have to settle for a traditional travel trailer if you’re set on a fifth wheel floor plan.
That said, not all half-ton trucks can or should tow all fifth wheel models. Use a tool like Camping World’s Towing Guide to calculate your truck’s towing and payload capacities. Understanding weight ratings is vital to selecting the right travel trailer or fifth wheel your truck can tow safely.
A base-level half-ton pickup may not be able to tow all fifth wheels. But half-ton trucks with high enough towing and payload ratings have the ability to tow many. With that in mind, let’s look at half-ton fifth wheels and the trucks that pull them.
The Half-Ton Payload Problem
Regarding fifth wheel towing, half-ton pickup trucks have limitations that heavy-duty trucks don’t have. It usually isn’t usually towing capacity — it’s payload capacity.
Simply put, payload capacity is how much the truck can carry. This refers to the amount of weight the cab and bed of the truck can handle. In terms of fifth wheel RVs, many half-ton trucks can’t or can just barely handle the hitch or pin weight of a fifth wheel RV.
This is true even with many of the fifth wheels marketed as half-ton models. Always check your vehicle’s tow ratings. We’ve made this easy with an instant Towing Guide Calculator.
Common Half-Ton Payload Capacities
Exact specifications will vary depending on trim level, packages, and other equipment. But these are some payload ranges for common half-ton pickup trucks:
- 2022 Ford F-150: 1,310 to 2,238 pounds
- 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: 2,235 pounds on standard range models.
- 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500: 1,480 to 2,300 pounds
- 2022 Toyota Tundra: 1,575 to 1,940 pounds
- 2022 RAM 1500: 1,225 to 2,325 pounds
- 2022 GMC Sierra 1500: 1,360 to 2,270 pounds
- 2022 Nissan Titan: 1,311 to 1,711 pounds
Keep in mind that these payload ratings are for newer trucks. An older model may not have as high of payload capacity.
When purchasing a fifth wheel, you need to think about the hitch weight — how much weight the fifth wheel will exert on your vehicle’s frame where it connects to your truck (in the bed). Manufacturers disclose this in their specifications for the model.
For example, the Jayco Eagle 27.5RLTS Fifth-Wheel has a hitch weight of 1,560 pounds, according to the company website. This is one of the lightest fifth wheel models out there.
If your truck’s payload far exceeds the hitch weight, then you should be fine to tow the fifth wheel. Remember to ensure the tow rating is also in line with the trailer’s weight. However, if the fifth wheel RV hitch weight is right at the truck’s payload capacity or barely under, you shouldn’t push it right up to the capacity limit.
When you operate your truck at or near the max payload capacity for long periods, you put excessive strain on the drivetrain, suspension, brakes, and all other truck areas. You’re asking for problems over time.
Pro Tip: The weight of yourself and your passengers and cargo within the truck needs to be factored into payload capacity. If you only have 200 pounds to spare between hitch weight and payload capacity, you will go over once everyone piles in the vehicle.
What About Half-Ton Truck Fifth-Wheel Towing?
Modern half-ton trucks can usually tow somewhere around 9,000 to 10,000 pounds. Not all of them can do that, but many come equipped for serious towing duties.
Here are the listed towing capacities for common half-ton trucks. Always check your specific make, model, and year in our Towing Guide Calculator to be sure:
- 2022 Ford F-150: 5,000 to 11,300 pounds
- 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: 7,700 pounds on standard range models.
- 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 8,900 to 11,000 pounds
- 2022 Toyota Tundra: 8,300 to 12,000 pounds
- 2022 RAM 1500: 6,120 to 8,280 pounds
- 2022 GMC Sierra 1500: 8,800 to 9,400 pounds
- 2022 Nissan Titan: 9,040 to 9,320 pounds
Again, the exact towing capacity of your truck may vary based on the engine, tow package, and whether or not you’ve installed aftermarket equipment.
Before you head out and buy just any fifth wheel that says it’s designed for half-ton pickup trucks, remember that the vehicle’s tow rating must be higher than the RV’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
The Jayco Eagle 27.5RLTS fifth wheel has a GVWR of 9,995 pounds. That means if you have a half-ton truck with a towing capacity of 12,000 pounds and a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds, you could technically tow this Jayco Eagle model with your truck.
However, we can’t overstate the importance of avoiding towing at or very near your truck’s max towing and payload capacities. Going that close to the line will put a lot of stress on your tow vehicle and likely leave you with expensive repairs down the road.
So, Can a Half-Ton Tow a Fifth-Wheel RV?
The short answer is yes, but with the proper amount of caution and research. Sometimes, a fifth wheel and half-ton pickup truck may not go together.
There are exceptions where a half-ton pickup truck’s payload and towing capacities can easily handle tow vehicle duties for lightweight fifth wheel models, but most half-ton trucks will be better off towing a different RV type. There are plenty of RV towing accessories that will outfit your vehicle as needed.
If you only have a half-ton truck and can’t or don’t want a heavy-duty full-size pickup (like a Ford F-250 or F-350, a Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD or 3500HD), then you are likely better off with a travel trailer RV. Some of the most lightweight travel trailers can even be towed by small trucks and SUVs.
A lighter trailer may be the perfect RV for you because it puts less stress on your truck, your truck will last longer, and it’ll haul your RV safely across great distances.
Lightweight Fifth Wheel RVs
Here are a few lighter fifth wheels that your truck may be able to tow. Again, check the specs for your truck and the specific model you’re interested in and consult our Towing Guide to ensure you can tow your fifth wheel of choice safely.
- Dry Weight: 8,610 pounds
- Hitch Weight: 1,520 pounds
- Length: 31’7″
- Dry Weight: 7,773 pounds
- Hitch Weight: 1,325 pounds
- Length: 30’7″
- Dry Weight: 7,110 pounds
- Hitch Weight: 1,090 pounds
- Length: 26’9″
Which fifth wheel RV are you considering, and what truck do you plan to tow it with? Leave a comment below!