Just recently, I have this thought on my mind to change my trailer. All the research and thinking got me down to two options: fifth wheel trailer or class A motorhomes.
Buying a trailer, especially when you already have one and want to change things up is a very difficult decision. It takes time and precision.
Me personally, I approach the topic with upmost responsibility. Therefore, my thoughts got me to the biggest research in a very long time.
I am happy to present the results of my research. You are about to read all the pros and cons between a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes.
Also, make sure to check out my article on RV camping tips.
- 1 Living area comparison between a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 2 Sleeping area comparison between a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 3 General setup of a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 4 Storage compartments in a 5th wheel trailer and a class A motorhome
- 5 Fueling with a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 6 General conditions of travelling by a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 7 Scouting process with a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 8 Kitchen area in a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 9 Generator facilities in a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 10 Turning capacity, radium of a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 11 Maneuvering with a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 12 Depreciation of a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 13 View from a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 14 Height of the ceiling on a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 15 Steps for entering a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 16 Toad and towing of motorhomes and fifth wheels
- 17 Security facilities of a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 18 Floor layout of a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 19 Fuel economy with a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
- 20 Conclusion on the comparison of a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
Living area comparison between a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
Let’s start with the class A motorhomes and the driving area. Class A motorhomes have a definite advantage with its big windshield. You always get wonderful views when driving class A motorhomes.
However, when we forget about the aesthetics for a moment and think practical, it becomes many times harder to make sure you have the desired temperature inside the vehicle.
Nonetheless, you can get a custom shade layer for the windshield. It will help a little, but during a hot day, you will still feel the presence of the problem.
Additionally, when you have big chairs for the driver and the passenger, the whole frontal space is occupied by those. Of course, you may say that they spin around and can be used as part of the other side of the travel trailer.
However, it never helped with the problem in all cases that I am familiar with. After a long road nobody wants to remain in the same seat they were during the whole trip.
Finally, the models of the class A motorhomes edition all have the same interior design and layout. It is hard to find options and rearrange according to our desire.
Now, let’s proceed with the 5th wheel trailer. The same thing goes for the fifth wheel trailer layout. In the case of a 40 feet fifth wheel trailer, you will be left with an empty back area of the trailer.
Therefore, we always try to end up with a 5th wheel trailer, which is 35 feet long. This way we have two bedrooms, which are on the opposite ends of the vehicle.
Moreover, the layout is working nice for the bathroom as well. The split bathroom of class A motorhomes is not that comfortable than the one in a 5th wheel trailer.
Sleeping area comparison between a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
Class A motorhomes is the ideal option for two people. There are, of course, options with bunk beds. However, bunk bed class A motorhomes will make you tiptoe to the bathroom, since it is too far away.
Shortly saying, me and my family did not like anything about the sleeping arrangements of class A motorhomes.
Meanwhile, a 5th wheel trailer will suggest a bunk bed with an additional couch, which turns into a bed. I would not lie and say that three people would sleep there comfortably.
However, the presence of the bunk bed was a real help. I loved that improvement.
Moreover, the size of the main bed is pretty huge. It is a queen size bed. Additionally with the dinette, folding down and becoming another queen size bed, the sleeping arrangements of a fifth wheel trailer definitely win class A motorhomes.
Just make sure to have a look at these amazing options of small campers with bathrooms.
General setup of a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
If at any point in your life you have owned class A motorhomes, you should be familiar with the exhausting problems with the leveling.
Leveling jacks have limited capacity and you need to spend much time on having the perfect leveling position on your camper.
Moreover, when you are not on a concrete and having to deal with a ground, the trailer and the jacks sink, so you have to redo everything.
One more annoying problem with the setup is the setup itself. I mean when you arrive at the campsite you have to prepare the whole thing from scratch: the jacks, the leveling process, etc.
Moreover, after you leave the place, everything has to be packed. Unless you are extremely careful with the packing, important items may damage the vehicle while braking abruptly.
Fifth wheel trailer has electrical jacks. They are not automatic, but they are electrical. Therefore, the most part of the work is easily done by the mechanism itself.
However, the problem with a fifth wheel trailer leveling is that it takes time to make sure the side by side jacks are exactly at the same position.
Finally, another annoying aspect with a 5th wheel trailer is the work process with the tripod. It goes beneath the king pin and helps with the movement reduction inside the trailer.
Storage compartments in a 5th wheel trailer and a class A motorhome
The one advantage, which is extremely useful with class A motorhomes is that the storage place is almost just as long as the camper itself.
This is convenient when you need to store long items. I had no problems with keeping a huge camping stove with all its components and a big propane tank altogether in one storage compartment.
Moreover, class A motorhomes have their extra storage spaces with comfortable doors, which do not bother you. With a fifth wheel trailer I do some extreme yoga for getting inside the storage.
With the case of 5th wheel trailer the main storage is pretty enormous. However, it is not that plentiful. Therefore, it is hard to resign a space to each item.
Moreover, fifth wheel trailer has a very comfortable storage are behind the bunk beds. Mostly, this area is used for the tools storage.
Fueling with a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
The biggest problem with class A motorhomes is the size and the inconvenience when fueling. Nonetheless, the tank capacity is huge, so it is possible to go camping twice with one full tank.
Problems with fueling are so inconvenient that sometimes you may be obliged to take off the toad and only after that be able to position the vehicle comfortably.
You may think that propane would be a solution. However, it is not. There are other problems with propane. With class A motorhomes the tanks are huge.
Therefore, the only way to fill the propane is by going to a truck stop. Most of the time there is a necessity to take off the toad and only then to fill the propane.
This makes the beginning of the camping already very annoying. It takes too long. My advice is to avoid getting fueled with your children travelling with you.
Check out my article on camping with teenagers.
Moving to the fifth wheel trailer fueling. Instead of having one huge tank, the manufacturers have decided to put two smaller ones. I greatly appreciate their decision.
These smaller tanks are easily removable. Therefore, it is simpler to refill them whenever you want to. For me personally, being able to fill the propane tanks a day before the trip is a huge advantage.
I can put the tanks in my own car and take them to the closest Costco, where they have great price on fuel.
General conditions of travelling by a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
I have mentioned the windshield of class A motorhomes earlier in this article. It is just amazing. The view that it provides cannot be switched with anything.
However, the size of the class A motorhomes is too big. Therefore, it causes some problems from time to time.
For instance, when you are driving uphill, the underpowered engine and the all in all capacity of the vehicle is struggling.
Besides uphill, driving on uneven roads will also cause troubles. Bans, jolts and swaying are unavoidable. In short, motorhomes are very heavy and have a higher gravity center than the fifth wheels.
Let’s proceed to a 5th wheel trailer travelling. It is very quiet during the ride. The bumps and jolts are a rarity for any fifth wheel trailer.
The rides are definitely smoother. Whenever there is a strong wind, class A motorhomes will let you know about it with all the possible noises. It is not the case with a fifth wheel trailer.
The fact that you are using a towing vehicle makes your life easier. Going downhill is smooth and unproblematic. The power of the torque will allow you to have a smooth ride uphill as well.
Moreover, you will not hear the complaining the voices of your family that they have to go somewhere uphill on foot.
Scouting process with a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
With motorhomes the detaching process is times easier. Whenever you go a campsite or even boondocking, it is interesting to see what is out there.
Therefore, the ability to leave the toad and detach the towing vehicle for going exploring is very comfortable. The motorhome itself moves separately, just in case there is a need.
In case of a fifth wheel trailer, you could, of course, do the same: detach the trailer and drive off by the towing vehicle.
However, I have never encountered anyone doing so. Frankly saying, it sounds super uncomfortable.
Most of the time when you go to unknown places for camping, mostly boondoking, the fear that you will not be able to back up in case there is a narrow forest path ahead of you, is always there.
Driving a fifth wheel is always fun, however, the parking problems are with no other camper. This one is the most difficult of them all.
Kitchen area in a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
Most models of fifth wheels have kitchen islands as part of the original layout. This makes the cooking process more pleasant. If you are a fan of the cooking process and enjoy your time at the kitchen, then a fifth wheel kitchen layout is exactly what you should be looking at.
I honestly cannot recall seeing any class A with an island. This may be a good thing for some people. Of course, the island provides a nice place for cooking, but it takes too much space.
Whenever you decide to take the slide outs out, you will see that the area becomes very limited.
Generator facilities in a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
Most of the time class A motorhomes are equipped with generators on board. Meanwhile, an average fifth wheel trailer will not have that option.
To solve this issue you can always add one and put it on yourself. However, the systems and mechanisms might sometimes be poorly prepared.
Make sure to check out my article on Champion generators.
Nonetheless, you always have the choice of going with a portable one. If you are comfortable with this idea, go ahead. For me, personally, having to pack it up each time I go camping is a deal breaker.
Turning capacity, radium of a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
No matter what I say and what anyone says, no matter how experienced they are, turning and backing up, as well as parking any kind of travel trailer is a real challenge.
These vehicles are huge and they have their own tricks, which you learn on the go. In the case of class A motorhomes, for instance, the size of the windshield allows you to see very clearly whatever you have in front of you as an obstacle for turning.
This way there is very little chance you will hit the vehicle because of not seeing an obstacle.
Nonetheless, if you are talking solely about the radius, a 5th wheel trailer of any model will always have a bigger radius. The point of the pivot is at the towing vehicle’s back axle. This makes the turn to be sharp.
Therefore, if you are thinking of driving you camper on narrow streets, the fifth wheel will suit easily. Nonetheless, in terms of the view and the ease of the turning itself, class A motorhomes are more preferable.
Maneuvering with a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
If you are reading this article, I am sure you have already been at a campsite at least once in your life. This allows me to assume that you have definitely witnessed a fifth wheel owner killing themselves over parking their vehicle at the right spot.
It is extremely hard to control the vehicle, while maneuvering. The size and the view are a real challenge.
However, when you are dealing with the same process buy by a motorhome, everything becomes times easier. Unlike a fifth wheel, a motorhome parking is very similar to regular car parking.
The difference, of course, lies in the sizes of the vehicles.
Depreciation of a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
Quite honestly, I think that all campers have the same depreciation percentages. I even did a research and wrote an article on RV depreciation.
The general decrease in value is 20 percent for the first year. The percentage increases every year and it also depends on the condition you keep your camper at.
Nonetheless, any motorhome costs more. You can have options of a fifth wheel trailer and a class A motorhome at the same condition, manufactured on the same year.
A fifth wheel will cost no more than 80K dollars, while a motorhome can easily reach up to 250K and even more. Therefore, doing simple math, you can see that the same percentage for an expensive motorhome is hugely different that the one of a fifth wheel.
View from a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
One of the main and the most common motivation for people to go on camping is the nice views they will get during their trip.
Since the road takes not such an insignificant time, the view from the RV itself on the road is just as important. On this matter, there is one clear winner and it is the motorhome.
The enormous size of the windshield of class A motorhomes deserves respect on its own. It gives you the chance to see absolutely everything on the way.
Nonetheless, I have mentioned it before, this windshield has an as big of a disadvantage. During a hot day, it lets all the warmth inside and it becomes harder to control the temperature inside the RV.
While a fifth wheel trailer may not have such a huge windshield, but it has big windows on the sides. Moreover, the back windshield is as big as the front one of a motorhome. Si this kind of makes up the loss.
Height of the ceiling on a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
I personally prefer high spaces. I do not like being cramped up. It makes me feel dizzy and nervous. For this matter, a 5th wheel trailer is the ideal option for me.
Many motorhome manufacturers have made countless models with high ceilings. Nonetheless, fifth wheel still takes the winning position.
However, every good thing has another side to it. A fifth wheel’s layout has the main bedroom a little upward than the rest of the living area.
Therefore, when you to the bedroom, the ceiling becomes almost twice as low as at the rest of the camper.
Steps for entering a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
If you are a senior or you are travelling with your older family members, there is only one option to go with. It is class A motorhomes.
Class A motorhomes have a flat layout. There are no stairs going up or down inside the RV. Moreover, the steps to enter are the most 3.
Meanwhile, a 5th wheel trailer would have 4 steps without any railing. It makes the getting in process harder for those who have difficulties.
Moreover, the interior of the camper has several “floors”. It means you go up and down and reach the main bedroom. You go down a few steps and get to the storage.
However, certain people appreciate the presence of these steps. They serve as barriers and create separate areas for the travelers.
Toad and towing of motorhomes and fifth wheels
To me it is a very important factor to take into consideration. At one point I was extremely tired of towing a camper and I wanted to find a way out of that situation.
So, I have decided to try a fifth wheel. However, here some other problems occurred. No matter if you drive the camper or the towing vehicle, you would still want to have a regular car with you.
This is a necessity you would understand after going camping for two to three times. The need to drive off the campsite and go explore the surroundings or for a quick ride to the closest store.
There is no way you would use the camper for such purposes. You would need to have a normal car with you.
Let me just tell you that towing a regular car is the worst nightmare. First of all, it is smaller than the camper, so you cannot always see it in the rear view mirror.
Secondly, forget about backing up when you are towing a car using your camper as the towing vehicle.
Security facilities of a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
When you are thinking about the security, there is no doubt that you should be looking at class A motorhomes. The thing is that whenever there is something coming or going on, you always have the option to just take off.
Moreover, if someone’s interested in stealing your camper, they will have far less difficulties with a fifth wheel than with a motorhome.
It would not be difficult to hook another car to the fifth wheel and simply drive off. However, you can always take the extra time and effort and lock the camper.
Additionally, besides stealing the camper itself, there are many other components to the camper that can easily be a subject of theft.
For instance, very few fifth wheels come with a built in generator. This means that you would always need to carry a portable on. Simply leave your camper’s sight and you might be left with no generator.
Floor layout of a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
There is no doubt that anyone who prefers the motorhomes over fifth wheels would have wanted those motorhomes to have a fifth wheel layout.
It is just amazing how the manufacturers managed to maximize the given space by playing around with the floor plans.
The difference is that a motorhome has all the front area equipped with the driving facilities and just a simple large windshield. There is not much room for creativity.
Do not get me wrong! I in no way mean that all the models of class A motorhomes are the same in terms of their layout. It’s just any fifth wheel model is different with its approach to the layout.
Fuel economy with a 5th wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
I can honestly say nothing good about either of the two options. Everyone says that the camper they own is better at fuel economy. However, it really does depend in the person who maintains the RV.
There are number of factors. For instance, are you towing a vehicle behind, are you taking off too abruptly, are you driving uphill much or downhill.
All you need to do is to just keep in mind the fact that your camper is needed to solely get to the campsite. The rest of the driving around is done by your regular car. It can be either a toad or your towing vehicle.
Letting the RV sit at the campsite is a good way to save some millage.
Conclusion on the comparison of a fifth wheel trailer and class A motorhomes
As you may have noticed, I did not favor any specific model in my article. This is because each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
The main and probably the only factor you should consider is the factor of your own convenience and personality. Also make sure to count in the preferences of your family members who travel and go camping with you.
Everyone has different taste and preferences. One may value the safety of the vehicle, another one may want to sacrifice the safety for a convenient floor plan.
Therefore, it all depends on you. My personal advice is to rent the models of the campers you are considering to buy.
There is no way you would make a responsible decision in a few days. Give it some time. Go camping every weekend for two or three months.
This will give you the chance to try out from 8 to 12 different models of RVs before you are really able to make a final decision.