If you’re considering taking to the roads full time with a fifth-wheel trailer, we know that it takes a lot of careful planning and it can be a thrilling yet daunting experience. It’s not uncommon amongst full-timers to feel like it’s impossible to make the right decision, either leading to incorrect purchases or buyers regret. When my wife and I took the plunge, we ended up replacing our original fifth wheel after a year of use. Our second purchase met our needs much better and it was worth the small financial hit we took to get something we really wanted.
Even now many years later, we love looking around RV dealerships. I’m personally of the opinion that the gross vehicle weight rating, unloaded vehicle weight, and the cargo carrying capacity is the three most important specs for any RV. What your vehicle of choice can safely tow has a huge impact on the size of trailer you can have as well as how much of your gear and possessions you can take with you on your adventure.
Most full-time travelers will want to ensure they have at least the following:
- Summer and winter appropriate clothing
- Shoes, boots and summer footwear
- Jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves
- Plenty of bedding and blankets
- Household appliances
- Pans, pots, and dishes
- Tinned, dried and fresh food
- Spare parts, a range of tools and cleaning materials
- Toiletries, soaps, shampoos and related items
- Barbecue equipment
- Recreational items such as bikes, hiking gear etc
- A generator as well as fuel
The weight of all of these items quickly mounts up and it doesn’t take into account the numerous optional items that you might want to consider taking such as washer/dryers, spare batteries, solar-powered chargers or gear. Not to mention the LP-Gas and spare cylinders and water holding tanks.
If you’re staying at a fully equipped RV campsite, then you can probably hook into the mains water supply. However, it’s always a good idea to keep your freshwater tanks topped up and the wastewater tanks empty. If you end up staying at a dry camp, then you’re all set to stay there for a few days without any additional planning.
Even though our 36-foot camper has what seems like a ton of storage capacity (3,500 pounds), it’s extremely to max this out once the water tanks are full. That’s even with half-empty shelves and very little in the way of excessive gear. We’d love to have an extra 1,000 pounds to play with.
Given all the factors details above, we’re now planning to upgrade our fifth wheel trailer again. We’ve carried out a ton of research, looked at dozens of RVs in person and we know from experience exactly what we’re looking for in a fifth wheel trailer. Our requirements might not be the same as yours, but we’ve tried to cover all the bases and we’re confident that there’s something in our list of the best 5th wheel trailers for full time living to suit everyone.
The Best Fifth Wheels for Full-Time Living:
Coachmen Chaparral Fifth Wheel
The Coachmen Chaparral Fifth Wheel offers unparalleled flexibility when it comes to the layout of your RV. With an impressive array of 11 floor plans to choose from, there’s little doubt in our mind that you’ll be able to find a plan to meet your needs.
If your truck has a limited towing capacity and you need to keep the weight to a minimum, then the Chaparral 298RLS is a great option. It maxes out an impressive 9,575 pounds dry weight, which is decent given the dimensions and the room offered by the RV.
If you can afford to tow something a bit heavier and you need a ton of room to accommodate all your friend and family, then the Chaparral 371MBRB will meet those requirements. Spanning a massive 41 feet and managing to comfortably sleep 11 people, the Chaparral 371MBRB is big enough for most people.
In-between those two extremes there are loads of other floor plan options, so as we’ve already said, the Coachmen Chaparral Fifth Wheel range is flexible.
To ensure it feels like a home away from home when you’re on the road full time, Coachman has added lots of features and storage options. For example, a state of the art HD entertainment system, motion activated lighting, numerous USB charging points, a massive refrigerator, a high powered large microwave, a fast heating oven as well as a ducted furnace. If all of this is not enough for you, there are more than a few optional luxury upgrades that will make sure your RV rivals that of many apartments.
- 11 distinct floor plans to choose from
- A rear-mounted camera for increased visibility
- Sliding fascia crafted from solid hardwood
- Attractive cabinets made from solid lumber
- Ample storage capacity including under bed storage
- Heat-retaining dual pane windows
Jayco North Point Fifth Wheel
We’ve long been a fan of Jayco RVs, and the Jayco North Point Fifth Wheel is no exception. The North Point series does an excellent job of meeting the requirements of full-time travelers due to their increased dimensions and ample storage and accommodation. Typically, the trailers will range between 12,000 and 14,000 pounds dry weight.
As with most Jayco RVs, you can expect a seriously well made, sturdy and reliable trailer which should see you through all weather and road conditions. Depending on the floor plan, you can expect to comfortably sleep between 4 and 9 adults. Trailers range from 38 feet all the way up to 43 feet, which is the North Point 315RLTS and North Point 387RDFS respectively.
Due to the insulated design, impressive furnace and more than capable AC unit, you’ll find this RV is at home in the sunny south as well as the colder North. Whatever the outside temperature is doing, you can be assured that the interior will be kept at a comfortable level.
Once you’ve set up your camp spot, you can keep yourself or any guests entertained with the addition of outdoor speakers, a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, awning to provide shelter and optionally an outdoor barbecue and grill.
We’re confident that you’ll be more than happy with your purchase if you decide to go with a Jayco North Point. Not only is it a solidly built RV, but it excels at keeping you comfortable, relaxed and entertained. It’s a great option for anyone looking for the best 5th wheel for a full-time living.
- 9 distinct and capable floor plans to choose from
- Stable and easily deployed front landing gear
- Weather resistant high-grade external speakers
- Well-equipped dining area with standalone table and chairs
- Roomy and sturdy glass surround shower
Heartland Sundance Fifth Wheel
If you’re in the market for a lightweight yet spacious fifth wheel trailer which is well suited for couples or solo travelers, then the Heartland Sundance 269TS might just be the RV for you. This trailer weighs in at a diminutive 8,307 pounds and measures in at just over 30 feet in length, making it ideally suited for couples looking to hit the road full time. However, if you have your heart set on something a bit bigger, then there are floorplans such as the Sundance 3710MB or Sundance 3700RLB that offer more room and can quite easily sleep a large family.
If you appreciate your modern home comforts and require comfortable surroundings, then the Sundance delivers that in spades. Every floor plan offers a minimum of 3 slideouts, which directly translates into tons of space to store your gear and supplies. In addition, the Heartland range comes with slam latch doors, powerful and capable air conditioning and a refrigerator which can rival many domestic models. If you so choose many of these fittings can be upgraded, such as 15,000 BTU furnace/air con unit as well as n upgraded fridge freezer option.
Given the range of options, the size, and durability, as well as the proven track record, the Heartland Sundance Fifth Wheel trailers are an amazing option looking to RV on a full-time basis.
- 11 impressive and distinct floor plans to choose from
- Low power LED lighting
- Comfortable tri-fold sofa bed
- Rear mounted reversing camera
- Powerful ducted Air conditioning
- Sturdy fiberglass design
Jayco Eagle Fifth Wheel
The Jayco Eagle Fifth Wheel offers many of the benefits, design features and build qualities of the other trailers on our list, however, it’s often much cheaper. The MSRP price of Jayco’s is often comparable to most other trailer manufacturers, the big difference is that it’s often possible to secure substantial discounts or free upgrades during the bargaining process. If you’re looking for a fifth wheel trailer for full-time living, and budget is a concern, then you need to take a close look at the Jayco Eagle.
Jayco Eagle’s are available in a range of floor plans, for example, measuring in at 35 feet and topping out at 10,310 pounds is the Eagle 293RKDS. Or if you need additional room, look at the Eagle 347BHOK, which measures 40 feet and weighs 12,300 pounds. Both are sturdily built and offer more than a few luxury fittings.
In terms of fittings and features, the Eagle fits in a ton of great equipment. The near silent 15,000 BTU AC unit will keep you comfortable no matter the weather, while the powered awning and external LED lighting will make sure you can enjoy the outdoors day and night. By default, this fifth wheel trailer comes fitted with the luxury package, which amongst others, provides a sound bar, solid maple wood fittings, and insulated frameless windows. If you really want to take things up a level, then you can choose any number of upgrades and optional upgrades.
The Jayco Eagle is very competitively priced fifth wheel trailer that provides everything you could want for full-time living.
- 9 versatile floor plans to choose from
- Powered awning and power efficient LED lighting
- Insulated frameless windows
- Weather-resistant high-quality external speakers
- Intelligent command center which offers real-time tank monitoring
Forest River Wildcat Fifth Wheel
If you have your sights set on something spacious yet incredibly light, then the Forest River Wildcat Fifth Wheel should be at the top of your shopping list. It beats even the Sundance trailer above in terms of dry weight, maxing out at very small 7,466 pounds, which is impressive given its 31 feet length. If lightweight is not what you’re looking for, then be assured that there are other floor plans that offer beefier and roomier designs such as the Wildcat 35WB. At this point, you should be interested in what the wildcat has to offer, but if you need more convincing then you check out its impressive features.
The Wildcat provides some pretty decent kit as standard, ranging from marine rated external speakers, all the way through to flexible seating dinette area. All of these are present as standard across all floor plans without any need to upgrade. If you’d like to splash out and get some additional features, then you can pick from a range of optional extras and upgrades. Including, an additional 13,500 BTU AC unit or a luxury king sized bed with memory foam mattress.
- Massive range of 23 floor plans to choose from
- Inbuilt residential style chrome drawers and doors
- Robust and hard wearing hardwearing slide out fascia
- Powerful 15,000 BTU air conditioning unit
- Warming 4,600 BTU fireplace
- Residential brushed chrome door and drawer hardware
- Adaptable home entertainment with Bluetooth connectivity
When you’re looking to buy your 5th Wheel Trailer for Full-time living, then there a few additional things you should consider. Many features such as entertainment systems can be added later, or even upgraded if you find your current options lacking. However, features such as finish and insulation are trickier to upgrade, so it’s worth getting this right the first time around.
Full-body paint is one of the most durable finishes and is easily maintained, while a gel coat finish can look stunning when buffed to a shine. Fiberglass roofs will last through many years of use, while rubber is more prone to damage from weather and wear and tear.
If your RV is fitted with skylights that don’t open, without shades, or if the trailer is lacking in insulation, then controlling the internal temperature during hot and cold periods can be tricky.
Disc brakes are a must-have feature in our opinion as they offer far superior braking ability, this can make a massive difference in an emergency. If your manufacturer of choice doesn’t give you the option of disk brakes, then seriously consider them as an aftermarket upgrade from a third party. It could be the smartest decision you make. You may also wish to upgrade the shocks and tire ratings. Considering you’ll be spending so much time on the road, these are all sensible options.
Always opt for more towing capacity if you can, it’s better to be under your max tow weight rather than maxing out every time you set off. But most of all, make sure you’re comfortable and happy with your planned purchase. Hire one for a week before taking the plunge and get out on the road to try things out in person.