Can You Tow a Fifth-Wheel RV With a Half-Ton Pickup Truck? 15040

Fifth-wheel RVs offer many advantages in a unique towable design. The fifth-wheel design provides RVers with many options for floorplans, amenities, overall length, and much more. With that said, there is one glaring problem with fifth-wheel RVs—most require a heavy-duty pickup truck.

Heavy-duty pickup trucks are very large and powerful machines. They’re also expensive. This dissuades many potential fifth-wheel owners from buying one. They simply didn’t want to or can’t afford to buy a heavy-duty truck such as a Ford F-350 or a Chevrolet Silverado 3500 as well as a fifth-wheel RV.

There are fifth-wheel options out there marketed as towable with half-ton pickups. Many people already own half-ton trucks, so these options are attractive to potential buyers. However, not all half-ton trucks can or should tow those models.

Only the trim levels with high enough towing and payload ratings have the ability to do so. With that in mind, let’s look at half-ton fifth-wheels and the trucks that pull them.

The Half-Ton Payload Problem

Dog on black pick up truck back view

There’s an issue with half-ton pickup trucks that heavy-duty trucks don’t have when it comes to towing fifth-wheel RVs, and it isn’t usually towing capacity, it’s payload capacity.

Simply put, payload capacity is how much the truck can carry. This usually 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 weight or pin weight of a fifth-wheel RV. This is true even with many of the fifth-wheels marketed as half-ton models.

When purchasing a fifth-wheel, you need to think about the weight at the hitch, or how much weight the fifth wheel will exert where it connects to your truck (in the bed). Manufacturers disclose this in their specifications for the model. For example, the Jayco Eagle Half-Ton 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.

A brand new 2019 Ford F-150 pickup truck has a payload capacity ranging from about 1,300 pounds to over 2,300 pounds, depending on the trim level, packages, and other equipment. Chevrolet’s 2019 Silverado 1500 has a payload capacity between about 1,700 pounds and 2,500 pounds, depending on the trim level, packages, and other equipment. Other trucks offer similar but often slightly less-impressive numbers. Keep in mind, these payload ratings are for brand new trucks. An older model will not have as high of payload capacity. 

If you have a brand new, top-of-the-line model with a payload capacity that far exceeds the hitch weight, then you should be fine to tow the fifth-wheel as long as the tow rating is also inline with the trailer’s weight. However, if the fifth-wheel RV hitch weight is right at the truck’s payload capacity or not that far under it, you shouldn’t.

When you operate your truck at or near the max payload capacity for long periods of time you put excessive strain on the drivetrain, suspension, brakes, and essentially all other areas of the truck. You’re asking for problems down the road.

Also, it’s important to note that 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 in terms of the hitch weight of the RV and the payload of your truck, you’re going to be over once you, your passengers, and your gear get into the vehicle.

You need the payload of your pickup to far exceed the hitch weight of the RV so you don’t unnecessarily strain your truck, which can lead to excessive wear and mechanical issues down the line.

What About Half-Ton Truck Fifth-Wheel Towing?

2019 Keystone cougar half-ton

It’s important to know modern half-ton trucks can usually tow somewhere around 9,000 to 10,000 pounds. Not all of them will be able to do that but man can when equipped for serious towing duties. Many well-equipped half-tons can tow 10,000 pounds or more.

For example, a 2019 Ford F-150’s max towing when properly equipped is a class-leading 13,200 pounds. Mind you, that’s the max towing when the truck is properly equipped with the right engine, tow package, and other equipment. Chevrolet and Ram half-ton trucks aren’t far behind.

Before you head out and buy just any fifth-wheel that says it’s designed for half-ton pickup trucks, keep in mind that the vehicle’s tow rating must higher than the RV’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

The Jayco Eagle Half-Ton 27.5RLTS Fifth-Wheel model we mentioned above 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, say, 2,000 pounds, you could technically tow this Jayco Eagle model with your truck.

However, we again come to the fact that you don’t want to run your truck at or near full capacity all the time. 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?

half-ton Truck With Custom Grill

The short answer is yes, but we’d caution you about it. Half-ton pickup trucks are great. Fifth-wheel RVs are also great, but in many cases, they don’t go together. There are exceptions where a half-ton pickup truck’s payload and towing capacities can easily handle tow vehicle duties for some of the lightweight fifth-wheel models, but the majority of half-ton trucks will be better off towing a different RV type.  There’s 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 to get a heavy-duty like a Ford F-250 or F-350; a Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD or 3500HD; or a comparable model, then you’d likely be better off with a travel trailer RV. Travel trailers are lighter weight and will more appropriately align with the towing and payload capacities of half-ton pickup trucks.


What kind of truck do you tow your RV with? Leave a comment below!

21 Comments

  1. I tow a 295RL grand design with my 2019 ram 1500 4 x 4 crew cab and it performs perfectly. I am very close to its cargo capacity so I am careful to not load anything into the bed or truck when towing.

    1. I tow a Lakoto 3horse slant load with 8′ short wall living quarters. 9800 curb weight 14,000 GGVW. I tow with a Chevy HD3500 dually with the Duramax. The truck is licenced combination weight 23,500 at a registration fee of over $500.00 per year.

  2. You can haul a Scamp 19 5th wheel with a small pickup that is less than a real 1/2 ton. 19 feet 2300 lbs and a tongue weight of less than 450. I have towed mine with a Ranger & a Dakota.

  3. I tow a Cougar 29RLI Xlite with a Sierra 1500 with the Max Trailering package. The door sticker says I can load 2122 pounds and the GVW for the truck is 7,600 pounds. I took it to CAT scales and found out that I was 300 pounds overweight. The pin weight was 1740 pounds.

    My neighbor’s diesel Ram 2,500 has a load rating of about 2,050 pounds. 2,050 minus 1,740 equals 310 pounds so that means either my wife or I have to stay home if we had the Ram.

    Having said all that, pay attention to the sticker on the door jam. I’ll bet there are hundreds of 2,500’s and 3,500’s over their weight limit.

  4. 38’ Forest River Quad Slide 13,500lbs towing with a 2007 F350 6.0 with a lot of work done to it. However I used to tow with a 96 F350 7.3 that was for the most part factory and it did great! Prior to trading campers last year my other camper weighed in at 17000lbs and I pulled it with the 7.3.

  5. I pull a 40 foot flat bed gooseneck trailer with a mgvw of 25,000 lbs with a 2015 f-350 with the 6.7 diesel! Does an excellent job. Electric over hydraulic brakes!!!

  6. I have a f150 eco boost with towing package. I have a 2018 wildcat with a dry weigh of 9200 lbs. The hitch weigh is 1500 lbs. my load capacity is around 2700 lbs. I feel like I may be pushing it a little on. Hitch weight.

  7. If your vehicle says half ton or 1500 , that means light duty!!! Why do you thing larger trucks say 3500 or heavy duty?? The new half ton trucks ratings give you a false sense of capability stretching the limits of the vehicle. Manufactures sugar coat the top end of these trucks because 75% of trucks are half ton . R.v. Manufactures are taking advantage of the maxed out ratings of the light duty trucks so they can sell more trailers.

  8. I have a k1500 HD CREWCAB with a 6.0 it came with 3/4 ton axles I’m getting ready to buy a 28′ – 31′ 5th wheel will this be enough truck?

    1. Jerry, I’m not sure what the towing ratings are for that particular truck. I’d check the owner’s manual. If you can’t find it there, go and speak with a dealer to find the specific numbers for your particular truck. Then you can start looking at a fifth-wheel.

  9. I going with a half ton max tow Chevy . Pin weight on unit is 1270 . My sticker on my truck say 1897. Total gross is 16700. The unit weighs 8270 with total weight on fifth wheel at 9995 lbs I just don’t get the nay sayers on this combo. Don’t forget on half tons two occupants and trailering equipment is figured in! Some of you guys need to catch up with the latest information on newer units! Grand design 150 series with under 1300 pin and 8300 unit weight with 1000 lbs of cargo tows easy! Way under 167000 total gross and hundreds under pin max!

    1. How does you truck do pulling your trailer? I have a check 1500 2017 and want a 5th just not sure how it will tow.

  10. I overbought my Dodge 3500 it rides like crap gets bad fuel mileage and I wish I could get a half ton gas instead of the diesel I overbought my Dodge 3500 it rides like crap gets bad fuel mileage and I wish I could get a half ton gas instead of the diesel says:

    I overbought my Dodge 3500 it rides like crap gets bad fuel mileage and I wish I could get a half ton gas instead of the diesel

  11. When I traded my Tahoe in on a diesel, I was looking for an LTZ package. The dealer only had one diesel with the LTZ package, it was a 3500HD. I bought it thinking that if I ever wanted to upgrade to a larger trailer I could get just about anything I wanted. Now that I have driven this truck for almost four years I have come to realize that it’s not just the powerful diesel engine or the massive towing capacity, it’s also the transmission. That Allison transmission has spoiled me. It not only does thinking going up the canyons but also a lot safer coming back down.

    1. Hey Mike, yep the diesel is nice, but the transmission is arguably more important. Getting in the right gear at the right time lets the truck utilize the engine’s power. Without a good transmission, the engine wouldn’t be able to do its job well.

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