Published Date: February 15, 2023
Last Updated on August 10, 2023 by Camper Front
Are you thinking about buying a fifth wheel? This can be exciting, as it opens up a world of adventure for you and your family. Of course, you have quite a few things to consider when you are in the market for a travel trailer. One of the most important—and one that a lot of people don’t think about initially—is whether your vehicle can tow a fifth wheel. You need to think about the towing capacity of your truck when making your choice. Otherwise, you could make an expensive mistake.
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How Will Your Toyota Tundra Fare?
The Toyota Tundra is the largest truck offered by Toyota, and it is a very capable vehicle. However, it’s not the largest pickup truck on the market. Therefore, you need to make sure you know the towing capacity of the truck to ensure it can tow a fifth wheel.
The Toyota Tundra has a towing capacity that ranges from 8,800 lbs. to 10,200 lbs. depending on the model. Let’s look at a breakdown of the models.
· Toyota Tundra SR: Towing capacity of 8,800 lbs.
· Toyota Tundra SR5: Towing capacity of 8,800 lbs.
· Toyota Tundra Limited: Towing capacity of 10,200 lbs.
· Toyota Tundra Platinum: Towing capacity of 9,400 lbs.
· Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition: Towing capacity of 9,400 lbs.
· Toyota Tundra TRD Pro: Towing capacity of 9,200 lbs.
Keep in mind that with newer or older models, the towing capacity can vary substantially. Always take the time to look up your specific model when you are trying to determine whether your truck will be capable of handling the weight of towing the fifth wheel you have in mind.
Now that you see the towing capacities above, you might be tempted to run out and buy a fifth wheel that’s close to or at the upper limit. This is a mistake. It’s not quite as simple as that. You have to think about all of the other weight that your vehicle is carrying, including gear, passengers, etc.
The best way to know how much you should be towing is to follow the 80% rule. This simply means that you are never towing more than 80% of the manufacturer’s recommended towing weight. Therefore, if you have a Toyota Tundra that can tow 8,800 lbs., you never want to have a fifth wheel or travel trailer that is more than 7,040 lbs. If you have a truck that can tow 10,200 lbs., never tow more than 8,160 lbs.
Also, keep in mind the weight of any gear that you may have stored in the trailer, not just your truck. Keep the weight you are carrying as close to 80% or lower. This will reduce the risk of damage to your Toyota Tundra. Again, never go over the weight limit.
Going above the 80% rule will often cause more wear and tear on the brakes, suspension, and drivetrain. This will end up causing major problems with your truck. Less weight means less stress on your vehicle.
Are Fifth Wheels Still Too Heavy?
As you start to explore the fifth wheel models on the market, you will find that many of them are going to be above that weight capacity. This means that there are unfortunately a lot of options that will not work with your truck. However, there are still some great lightweight fifth wheel RVs and travel trailer options available that could easily suit your needs. We will discuss some of these models later.
Understand the Weight Specifications of Fifth Wheels
You need to understand the towing and payload capacity of your truck before you start shopping for a fifth wheel. It will ensure you don’t start looking at and falling in love with models your Toyota Tundra will never be able to tow. It will also help to narrow your selection and make the shopping process a lot easier.
Below are some of the most important things you will want to know when you are making your choice.
Unladen Vehicle Weight
Unladen Vehicle Weight (UVW) is the weight of the fifth wheel when it is entirely empty. This means empty of gear, fuel, water, and all other cargo. You could consider this the curb weight. This base weight is important to know, as it will let you know quickly whether it will be in the tow range of your Toyota Tundra or not.
Keep in mind your truck’s maximum towing capacity along with the 80% rule. If you see numbers that are approaching, equal to, or higher than your capacity, you won’t be able to choose that fifth wheel. Even if it is below that number, consider the amount of cargo that you will be adding to it. This needs to be factored into the overall weight when it comes time to tow.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) will let you know how much the fifth wheel is capable of holding safely. This cargo capacity refers to all of the gear that you are going to put into the fifth wheel. This might include things like batteries, cargo, luggage, and fuel, for example. This is going to vary from one person to another, of course. However, it is something you have to consider when you are buying a 5th wheel.
You will want to err on the side of caution when you are calculating this part of the vehicle weight. Consider how much weight you will likely be adding as cargo and then add about 15% to 20% to that to be safe. As always, keep in mind the 80% rule. It can help to save you from disaster.
When you combine the UVW and the GVWR, you will get a better picture of the overall weight of the 5th wheel. If it adds up to more than your towing capacity for the Toyota Tundra, you will need a smaller trailer or you need to have less cargo.
Never overlook these numbers when you are choosing your fifth wheel. Not paying attention to them could lead to dangerous driving situations, particularly if you are on hills or slippery roads.
Consider the Hitch Weight
When choosing a fifth wheel, you also need to think about the hitch weight. This is the weight that the fifth wheel is going to exert on your truck’s frame where it connects with the truck. Check the manufacturer’s information to get this information. If your truck’s payload is greater than the hitch weight, then you shouldn’t have any trouble towing the fifth wheel. This is something you need to check in addition to the tow rating, not in place of it. Make sure the truck has the overall capacity to tow the fifth wheel.
Something else to consider is the type of hitch. A gooseneck hitch can work well in some cases but are not compatible with all fifth wheels. You need to check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if it will work with your Toyota Tundra or not.
A good Toyota Tundra gooseneck hitch will require a 2-5/16” diameter ball. This hitch has a gross towing capacity of 30,000 lbs. and 7,500 lb. tongue weight. This is the vertical load limit. Just keep in mind that even though the gooseneck hitch might have a capacity of 30,000 lbs., it doesn’t mean your Toyota Tundra can safely tow that weight.
5th Wheels That Could Work with a Toyota Tundra
Below, we will be looking at a few options for 5th wheels that might work for a Toyota Tundra. Of course, you still need to keep in mind all of the numbers discussed above including max towing capacity and weight to make sure your Toyota Tundra can tow it without issue.
Flagstaff Super Lite 524LWS
This 5th wheel has a gross weight of 9,165 lbs. and a UVW of just 7,149 lbs. The hitch weight is 1,165 lbs. It features a slide-out with a dinette and wraparound benches, as well as a master bedroom, a living area, a bathroom, and a substantial amount of storage space.
Rockwood Ultra Lite 2441WS
This option has a gross vehicle weight rating of 9,165 lbs. and a UVW of 7,149 lbs., as well. The hitch weight is also 1,165 lbs. It has a large open area for a nice living space while you are out camping, as well as a kitchen that doesn’t take up too much space.
This 5th wheel even has two TVs. One can be angled to face the sofa, while the other one is in the bedroom facing the queen bed. There are also some options available with the 5th wheel, including a countertop extension and a larger refrigerator.
Durango Half Ton D250RES
The GVWR is 9,000 lbs. and the UVW is 7,260 lbs., while the hitch weight is 1,380 lbs. This can work well for small groups and couples. It has an open living space with a couch bed, slide-outs, and a kitchen counter. There is a dinette, pantry, and refrigerator. It even has an entertainment center and fireplace on the back wall. This 5th wheel is all about comfort and entertainment. Of course, it also features a bathroom like all of the other 5th wheels, and a queen bed.
Reflection 150 230RL
This 5th wheel has a GVWR of 9,495 lbs. with a UVW of 6,945 lbs. The hitch weight is 1,195 lbs. You will find a lot of open space with this design even though it is a lightweight fifth wheel. It has a lot of windows for natural light, as well as skylights. There is a pair of theater seats near the back of the trailer, which face the entertainment center.
The 5th wheel has a bathroom with a skylight and vanity, as well as a large, carpeted bedroom with a queen bed. It also has plenty of storage space.
Palomino Puma 255RKS
The Palomino Puma 255RKS is a smaller option with a GVWR of 8,800 lbs. and a UVW of 6,754 lbs. Its hitch weight is 1,102 lbs. This 5th wheel has a classic design and is smaller than some of the other options, as you can see from the weight. However, that doesn’t mean it skimps on all of the things that you will want from a fifth wheel.
You will find a kitchen in the rear of the trailer, a refrigerator and appliance, and overhead cabinets. It has a sofa that is opposite the slide-out dinette. The bathroom has the standard amenities of a shower, toilet, and sink. The bedroom has a queen bed, overhead cabinets, and small closets.
Some of these could be a good option for a 5th wheel if you have a Toyota Tundra that has a large enough towing capacity. Just look for the lightest fifth wheels. However, you should also look into the option of other travel trailers.
What About Travel Trailers?
Toyota Tundras might not be capable of large 5th wheel towing, but there are always other options you can consider. Smaller campers and travel trailers could be just what you need for your Toyota Tundra
Fifth wheels are usually larger. They may range from 25’ to 45’, which naturally means they are going to be heavier and more difficult to tow. Travel trailers are generally smaller. They range from just 12’ to 35’. They can still feel roomy when they are designed well, but they don’t have the same space you will get from a fifth wheel.
Of course, one of the biggest benefits of choosing these smaller trailers is the lower weight. They are going to be easier for you to tow. This doesn’t always mean that they are going to be more maneuverable, though. This is because of the location of the hitch point on the travel trailers. They often have a lower hitch point, which means that they are going to require a larger turning radius. It could also mean more problems if you are towing when it is windy.
One of the main advantages of travel trailers will be the cost. Since they are smaller and do not always have the same bells and whistles as 5th wheels, they are less expensive. You will also find a larger range of options, which means more competition and thus, lower prices.
What If You Want to Tow a Larger Fifth Wheel?
You might find that your needs can’t be met with one of the lightweight models. If that’s the case, instead of risking your safety and your vehicle, it might be time to opt for a bigger truck. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to get another half-ton truck like a standard Chevrolet Silverado, as the towing capacities will be about the same. You will want to upgrade to a larger Silverado or a Ford F-350, for example.
Getting a larger truck than a Toyota Tundra that has the capacity to tow more may be the best option for you. If that’s the case, you can sell your old vehicle and get something else. Toyota Tundras tend to have a good resale value. Just check the tow weight to make sure it can tow a fifth wheel the size you need even when fully loaded.
Tips for Safe Driving with 5th Wheels and Travel Trailers
Whether you are going to be choosing a 5th wheel or a smaller trailer, you will want to make sure you know how to drive with one hitched to your Toyota Tundra. There are no licensing requirements when it comes to towing a large trailer, and this can leave many people feeling nervous about their drive. Whether you are going a short distance to camp or you are traveling thousands of miles across the country, you need to know how to do so safely. The tips below will help.
Remember the Weight Limit
We’re mentioning this again because it is the main point of the article and because it is so important to ensure safety for you and your vehicle. Check the maximum towing capacity weight limit you can tow and the weight of the 5th wheel when it is fully laden with cargo. Never exceed this limit no matter how confident you feel in your truck’s capabilities. It’s not worth the risk.
Practice and Learn to Use Your Mirrors
Before you head out on your inaugural trip, you need to get more accustomed to how it feels to drive with a trailer. Therefore, you should make it a point to practice. The best place is going to be an empty parking lot. Go to a mall or a similar location near your home early in the morning before the lot starts to fill up.
Practice the basics, just as you did when you were learning to drive a car. Learn how to turn and back up with the 5th wheel attached. Learn how to use the mirrors to your advantage. You may find that getting mirror extensions is helpful. It might take a few practice sessions before you start to feel more comfortable, and that’s okay.
Prepare for Altitude Changes
This is something not a lot of people know, but the altitude can affect your truck’s engine. For every 1,000 feet in altitude you rise, your truck’s engine will lose between 2% and 3% of its power. This can make it even more difficult to tow, which is another reason to keep the weight down and follow the 80% rule.
Make Sure to Give Yourself Room
You will need to have quite a bit more room for braking when you are towing anything with a high weight. Make sure you consider this when you are on the roads. Stay further back from the vehicles ahead of you.
Stay Wide with the Turns
Try to stay as wide with your turns as you can while still staying safe and not veering into other lanes. If you take a corner too tightly, there is a chance that the trailer’s wheels could catch the curb.
Avoid High Winds
Even though you might have a powerful truck, towing in high winds will cause problems. It can offset the balance of the hitched fifth wheel, and having winds hit the side of the trailer can make it more difficult to control your vehicle.
Get Out and Look Before Unhitching
Even after you feel comfortable driving, you should make sure that you get out and look before you park. You need to be in a good spot that is level and that has room for the slides and stairs before you unhitch. You don’t want to unhitch and then realize you need to make adjustments.
Check Your Tires
Before you head out on each trip, check the tire pressure for the 5th wheel and your truck. Even though the tires are durable, you need to be sure they are in good shape before heading out. You don’t want to have to deal with a blowout or other issues.
It might take you a little time to become accustomed to driving with a 5th wheel or a smaller trailer, but you will become a pro in no time.
What’s Best for You? Travel Trailers or 5th Wheels?
As the owner of a Toyota Tundra, you can see that you have options when it comes to 5th wheels, as long as you triple-check the weight and your towing capacity. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to opt for a 5th wheel. There are also travel trailers that may have a weight limit that is more in line with what you can tow. So, how do you determine which one you should choose?
Ultimately, it’s about the towing capacity. However, there are plenty of other factors to consider aside from towing capacity, including the price, as well as the amount of space you are going to need. If you are just traveling with one other person, you won’t need as large of a trailer as you would if you were taking your entire family.
Think about how and where you will be traveling, along with the amount of cargo you need to take with you. Then, you can start to narrow your selection and find fifth wheel towing options and those that can provide you with the features and space you require.