Shopping for a second-hand caravan can be a time-consuming endeavour for many, primarily because there are so many makes, models and configurations of caravan on offer. However, one of the more outlandish caravan designs is often overlooked, yet it offers distinct advantages that few other caravan types can match—the fifth-wheel caravan.
What are fifth-wheel caravans?
Conventional caravans are attached to their towing vehicles by simple ball-and-socket connections, consisting of a towball attached to the vehicle and a compatible hitch attached to the caravan. Fifth-wheel caravans, however, attach to their towing vehicles by means of a large, flat kingpin—this kingpin slots into a horseshoe-shaped hitch, which is installed in the flatbed of a pickup truck. Because this kingpin rotates as the vehicle rounds corners, it is sometimes referred to as a 'fifth wheel'.
What are the advantages of choosing a fifth-wheel caravan over a conventional caravan?
You may have seen fifth=wheel caravans for sale before, only to be put off by their higher prices compared to conventional towed caravans. However, fifth-wheel caravans possess numerous advantages that conventional caravans cannot hope to match, which makes them well worth the investment in the right circumstances:
The unique way in which a fifth-wheel caravan is connected to its tow vehicle means that a large proportion of its weight is positioned over the rear axle of the tow vehicle. Because this weight is distributed closer to the vehicle than a conventional caravan's weight, a fifth wheel caravan offers more stability and maneuverability on roads, and often has a considerably tighter turning circle compared to a conventional caravan of similar size.
More space for your buck
Fifth-wheel caravans often offer considerably more internal space than conventional caravans of similar dimensions, and are particularly prized for the large amount of headroom they offer. Because the space over the fifth-wheel hitch provides valuable extra sleeping space, fifth wheels are particularly well suited for accommodating larger groups of travellers, and they usually offer additional storage space.
Many fifth-wheel caravans have an additional way to create even more interior space, using walls and/or ceilings that slide out once the caravan is parked and stationary. These extra compartments need not be used during short stays of a few days, but they can make your fifth wheel an even more comfortable and spacious place to be during longer holidays.
Increased fuel economy
Fifth-wheel caravans can be a little heavier than conventional caravans, but they are also much more aerodynamic due to their positioning directly over the bed of your tow vehicle. Towing a fifth wheeler can therefore be considerably cheaper than towing a conventional caravan.
Increased road safety
Because fifth-wheel caravans are linked to their vehicles with a large, robust kingpin rather than a smaller towball, the vehicle and caravan as a whole are much more resistant to lateral forces, such as crosswinds and the 'snaking' caused by towing caravans at high speed. This makes fifth-wheel caravans much safer to tow during windy weather and makes them far less likely to overturn in the event of an accident or collision.