One type of RV that many folks find appealing is the lightweight fifth wheel. They’re easier to tow, have better amenities than travel trailers, and are affordable. These entry level fifth wheels also appeal to the downsized lifestyle.
According to U.S. economists, gas prices are currently considered at a lower than average level based on inflation and historical data. For the RV community, fuel is one of the big factors that determine our vacation budgets. It’s also a major variable when it comes to the type of RV we decide to purchase.
Our discussion will walk us through some examples of what’s on the market in 2020. We’ll also see what consumers are saying about them. These popular RVs are worth looking at, but there are some benefits and burdens that owners have found in isolated cases.
A Note on Consumer Reviews
Throughout this article, we’ll be discussing consumer reviews, specifically what they like and didn’t like about specific coaches. Please know that this information is coming from various online boards like RV forums, Facebook, and other review media. We don’t have access to the manufacturers, dealers, or other representatives that were on the other side of the situation.
Be aware that it’s also easier to find consumer complaints on this type of media than compliments. We are treating these complaints as isolated incidents and want to remind you that we don’t have all of the facts. We’re reporting them as situations that have happened.
When you purchase your RV, we recommend that you take your time on the walkthrough process. You may be filled with excitement to hit the road, but once you leave the lot, getting something fixed becomes more difficult if you missed something. Make sure you are very familiar with your warranty guidelines.
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Picking a Light Weight Fifth Wheel out of the Crowd
A lightweight fifth wheel is between 25-30 feet in length. Their unloaded vehicle weight (UVW) is under 9,000 pounds. The coach has one main bedroom with a fold-out sofa and a dinette.
A great advantage of an RV this light is the ability to tow the unit with a half-ton truck. According to U.S. News and World Report, the following trucks have towing capacities that meet the requirements:
- Toyota Tundra: 10,200 pounds
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 12,500 pounds
- GMC Sierra 1500: 12,500 pounds
- Dodge Ram 1500: 12,750 pounds
- Ford F 150: 13,200 pounds
Please note that these towing capacities assume you have the tow package installed. They also assume that you have the biggest engine and transmission. Speak to your automotive service provider or check your owner’s manual to find out the specifics on your vehicle.
Flair Side Truck Beds
Before you run out to get your fifth wheel hitch installed in your truck bed, we want to caution those that have flair side beds. Flair sides are more narrow than full-size beds. Dealers avoid installing hitches inside flair sides.
Fifth wheel hitches slide around while you are towing. Since the flair side is so narrow, the hitch, bed, and the fifth wheel can be damaged. If you are in the market to buy a pickup truck, keep this in mind before you purchase one.
Consumer Recommended Light Weight Fifth Wheels
- 19 feet in length
- 2,200- 2,800 pounds UVW
- Sleeps up to 4 people
Scamp’s fifth wheel comes in a standard or two deluxe floorplans that you order direct from the factory. Once you’ve chosen the upgrades and options you want, and the factory gets to work on your RV, you can pick it up at the factory within 8-10 weeks. After your walkthrough, you get to camp your first night at their facility in case you find any issues or find you have any last-minute questions.
The front loft area of the fifth wheel is a queen-sized bed. The rear area is a dinette for four, that folds down for additional sleeping for two. Since there isn’t any exterior storage, there is a big closet and under dinette seat storage for everything you need.
There are many true believers of the Scamp products. Some have owned multiple coaches in their lifetimes. They are built very well and hold a good resale value. Those that have bought new ones did so just to take advantage of the newer technologies.
Others have held on to their Scamps for decades. Many Scamp owners enjoy the fact that they can tow their RV with quarter-ton trucks. With the round edges, the aerodynamics make it easy to tow.
There were some isolated incidences that did come up. Some people had problems with their new coach. They had electrical, seal, and appliance problems. Each one called to use their warranty service protection plan and had difficulty navigating through it.
- 27.10 feet in length
- 8,310 pounds UVW
- Sleeps up to 6 people
- $41,000- $55,067
The Northwood Fox Mountain comes standard with an off-road chassis and thick aluminum fram
e, so you can make your own path. Even without the all-weather Arctic Fox package, the thick block foam insulation can handle some of the highest and lowest temperatures. The Cathedral arch ceiling design gives added headroom and still keeps it strong enough to walk on.
People that bought this RV found that it’s great for shorter trips. Interior storage isn’t suited for longer trips. Some replaced the factory-installed dinette and couch for aftermarket pieces. Another person with a bad back changed out the mattress for a better one.
After those changes, no one could say anything bad about the unit itself. Its aluminum welded frame and exterior storage are very strong selling points. These same reviewers had their coaches for many years and put thousands of miles on their fifth wheels.
- 26.9 feet in length
- 5,640 pounds UVW
- Sleeps up to 4 people
- $26,890- $42,839
The Micro Minnie 2405RL is excellent to tow and maneuvers well according to consumers. Online reviews talk about a lower sway issue when driving the coach. Others wish that the walls and interiors were stepped up a bit.
Winnebago builds its trailers and fifth wheels narrower than most other RV makers. They slim them down to 7 feet. The advantage is to cut wind resistance while driving and giving the driver a better view around the trailer.
The double-axle also helps with maneuvering the coach into position. Owners found that they have better control in positioning their RV into campsites and parking spaces. One couple who downsized from a motorhome was surprised at how well they adjusted to the towable lifestyle with their Minnie fifth wheel on this point.
There are many hardcore fans of Winnebago products. Yet, there are some that have spoken up about the thin walls not being properly insulated. Temperature retention is a concern for those that don’t purchase the optional all-weather upgrade.
Others mention more thought could’ve been put into the countertops. Only the Minnie Plus has one-piece counters. People have found it difficult to clean within the seams. The seams also create valleys that channel liquids making puddles on the floor.
Overall opinions of the fifth wheel are overwhelmingly positive. Winnie thoroughly thought out the logistics of a staircase on both sides of the RV to the bedroom. This gives better traffic flow through the unit.
Their placement of the furniture and feature aligns the fifth wheel perfectly. You have function and space in a lightweight coach. Adding the outside kitchen utilizes the outdoor space as well.
- 28.1 feet in length
- 6,948 pounds UVW
- Sleeps up to 4 people
- $24,925- 34,000
The Cruiser Aire CR24RL is another half-ton fifth wheel with great features. Many enjoy its layout with a standard king-size bed. Unlike most in this class, when you fold out the rear sofa, you can still walk around it and get through the entry door.
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Customer reviews talk about how they found loose nails and wiring in the coach. One post tells about how one buyer came to his walkthrough with a checklist of things to look at on his Cruiser Aire before he pulled out. He did this for every RV he ever bought.
The whole process took over four hours. He only found a couple of things that needed adjustment on his particular unit. After six months of having his RV, he never had a problem.
As far as the major components of this RV, it’s a solid product. People enjoy the all-weather aspect of it, taking it into all types of climates. They also find it easy to pull. There is plenty of storage space, including the 11 cubic foot refrigerator.
Charles Joseph is one of the original authors of Camper Smarts from when it first started.
Product data was last updated on 2023-02-04 at 20:09.