So you are looking for a Fifth wheel because you want to get out and go camping with your family, or maybe looking for a trailer just to haul things around? You wanna go play, take out your ATVs, dirt bikes, RZRs, or whatever it may be. One big problem. You NEED a truck!!! Yeah I guess that you may be able to get around pulling something small with your little 4 cylinder pickup truck, but when it comes to making it up that hill or taking out your big 35 foot+ fifth wheel, it just is not gonna happen. It time to get that truck you have always wanted but never had the need for till now.
First of all we need to know what you are wanting to pull. You could be pulling a little utility trailer, or a small bumper pull type trailer. Maybe pulling a medium length fifth wheel or enclosed toy hauler. Or you are pulling the top of the line, super long fifth wheel, or massive toy hauler for all of your toys at the same time!! For each of these different trailers you are gonna need something a little bit different. Every trailer is going to have a different weight or pulling type.
The smaller trailers are usually whats called bumper or tongue pulled. These trailers put the majority of the weight on on your ball hitch at the back of your truck. These allow you to use your bed as storage space, or leave it empty. The larger trailers are going to be mounted to a hitch located in the bed of the truck. This is because they are heavier and putting the weight of the trailer over your trucks rear axle allows you to not only tow more but have more a a comfortable ride.The reason we do this is because of leverage. As we put more and more weight at the most rearward part of the truck it will actually start to lift the front end or cause the rear end to sag. When this happens you actually start to lose steering ability and stability driving down the road. So by moving the weight further towards the front of the truck we start to more evenly distribute the weight, which in turn helps keep the front end of the truck planted giving us more stability and control of our steering.
Now to the different types of trucks.
First we have the suspension classification. Most trucks will come with a classification on the side; such as Ram 1500, Ram 2500, Ram 3500. This number is the classification for how much a truck can haul weight wise. So the Ram 1500 can haul about 1500 or so pounds payload, which means weight in the bed. Ram 2500 about 2500 lbs, and 3500 about 3500 pounds. As we get newer and newer trucks they are usually rated for more than that though. A 2016 Ram 3500 can actually haul 4100 lbs payload.
Second we have the tire/axle combo. The smaller trucks will tend to have smaller axles/tire combo because the were not designed to haul as much weight. The heavier duty trucks usually come with bigger axles and higher pressure rated tires, or even dual tires on each side of truck for more weight capacity. For example one could buy a Chevrolet Heavy Duty 3500 truck with a single rear wheel and the pay load would be 4300 lbs. Or you could buy the Heavy Duty 3500 with dual rear wheels and the payload is then increased to 5600 lbs. These numbers are also related to total towing capacity.
Third is the engine used in the truck. Along with the bigger suspension and axle/tire combo, you also get the option for the bigger engine. Most trucks will come with either a gasoline or a diesel option to choose from. For more towing capacity the diesel is the one to choose. The reason for this is because diesels produce almost if not more than twice the torque a gasoline engine produces. What torque does for you is allows you to make it up those hills easier, get moving from a stop easier, just overall make the towing a lot easier. But diesels also cost more in maintenance, usually louder, in some places fuel is more expensive, and new ones require the use of DEF or diesel exhaust fluid to help with emissions. Gasoline engines, are usually cheaper to buy as well as to maintain, but cant handle as much weight as a diesel could.
Fourth is bed length.
The smaller the truck you will usually have a smaller bed. they can range from 4.5 feet to some even as large as 12 feet. The more room you have in your bed means the more you can put back there. Also when you start looking at fifth wheel trailers it is better to get the longer bed which is usually 8 feet. The reason for this is turning radius. When you have the short bed it places the nose of the trailer closer to the rear window/cab of the truck. the issue with this is that as soon as you try to make that sharp turn the trailer can come in contact with the back of the cab which can break windows, dent your truck, destroy your trailer, just overall a bad day. Getting the longer bed pushes the nose of the trailer a little farther back so that clearance becomes less of an issue.
All of these things are in the name of wanting to pull more. So by all means if you are only going to pull smaller trailers that are light then buy the smaller truck. There is no need to to buy the biggest baddest most expensive truck you can just so you can pull a little 24 foot travel trailer. If you plan to pull your massive 45 foot toy hauler that holds 2 RZRs and sleeps 6, then yes buy the truck that is going to be able to handle that massive investment behind you. But make sure you always know the limits of you truck. It can get very dangerous or even ruin your truck if you haul more weight than it is rated for. Now get out there and find the truck for you!!!