Choosing the Right Truck to Tow Your RV

red pickup truck with trailer hitched at the end

The truck you choose is essential if you want to tow a Recreational Vehicle (RV) trailer. You need one that can handle the extra weight and has the power to pull your RV. You need to consider a few things when making your decision, like the weight of your RV and the type of terrain you’ll be traveling on. This blog post will discuss the factors you need to consider when choosing a truck capable of towing your RV.

What factors should you consider when choosing a truck to tow your RV?

When deciding on a truck to tow your RV, you have several factors to consider. The first is the weight of your RV. You’ll need to make sure that the truck you choose can handle the weight of your RV, both when it’s empty and when it’s fully loaded. Another important point is the type of hitch you’ll need. Some RVs require a fifth-wheel hitch, while others can be towed with a standard trailer hitch. Be sure to check the hitch requirements for your specific RV before purchasing.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the towing capacity of the truck you’re considering. Make sure that it can handle the weight of your RV and any additional cargo you might be carrying. By taking all of these factors into account, you can be sure to choose a truck that will safely and efficiently tow your RV.

RV with double wheels hitched to truck

Types of towable RVs

Depending on the type of trailerable RV you have or are looking at getting, there will be specific things to look for in a truck. If you don’t yet have an RV but are planning on getting one, there are some factors you will also want to consider before purchasing. Like how often you will use it, will you haul it for long distances, and do you have a place to store your RV when it’s not in use?

Here’s a breakdown of which types of trailerable RVs require what kind of truck.

Teardrop Trailer

Teardrop trailers are probably the lightest type of RV to tow. They weigh between 500 – 2,500 lbs meaning that any mid-size truck will have no problem pulling them. Towing them uses a standard weight distributing hitch, which is as convenient as it gets.

If you think a Teardrop Trailer might be right for you, one thing we love about them is the simplicity. You can park them nearly anywhere, climb in the back and fall asleep comfortably. Think of them like a tent on wheels. They’re also easy to store when not in use. We recommend getting a cover and placing it on the side of your house or in the driveway.

Folding Pop-Up Trailer

A Folding Pop-Up Trailer is another lightweight towable RV, ranging 800 – 3,800 lbs. Most mid-size trucks can safely tow up to 3,500 lbs, so you will be fine with a mid-size truck unless you have one of the larger Pop-Up Trailers. If you have a Pop-Up Trailer over 3,500 lbs, it would be better to get a mid-size truck rated for higher towing capacity or opt for any full-size truck, as all full-size trucks will have no problem towing them. Most Pop-Up trailers also use a standard weight distributing hitch, making them easy to attach and detach.

If you are deciding if a Folding Pop-Up Trailer is right for you, we find the best part about these is their ability to Pop-Up and give you more space. Storing them is similar to a Teardrop Trailer; you can put a cover on them and back it into a corner of your driveway or yard. They aren’t demanding on space like Travel Trailers or a 5th Wheel Trailer.

RV trailer in a wooded campground

Travel Trailer

Travel Trailers have a wide range of weights. The small ones are similar to Pop-Up Trailers, but the big ones are closer to 5th Wheel Trailers. The weight range for a Travel Trailer is between 1,250 – 8,500 lbs. If you have a Travel Trailer under 3,500 lbs, you will be fine with a mid-size pickup truck. Most Travel Trailers fall in the 4,000 lbs range, so you need a Full-Size Pickup truck to tow them safely.

If you have a Travel Trailer weighing close to the 8,500 lbs mark, you will need to pay attention to your truck’s towing capacity. Many standard Full-Size trucks max out around 8,000 lbs. You won’t want to push a standard truck, so it’s better to look at a truck with advanced towing abilities. For example, the standard F150 maxes out at 8,200 lbs. But as soon as you get a nonstandard addition like the SuperDuty, the towing capacity goes over 10,000 lbs.

Any heavy-duty truck like an F250 with a standard capacity of 16,000 + will have no problem towing any Travel Trailer. Travel Trailers generally use weight distributing hitches to be hauled around, making them much easier to attach and detach than a 5th Wheel Trailer.

If you are debating getting a Travel Trailer or a 5th Wheel, one of the benefits of a Travel Trailer is the ability to use a regular trailer hitch to tow them. This will allow you to keep your truck instead of modifying it to haul your RV. The downside of having a bigger RV like a Travel Trailer or a 5th Wheel Trailer is storing them. They are generally quite big, so many people have to pay for a storage place to keep them. If you are lucky and have space to store your RV at your home, we recommend getting a good cover for your Travel Trailer, as they will make getting ready for your next adventure much faster since you won’t need to clean them before getting on the road.

5th Wheel Trailer

5th Wheel Trailers are another RV type with a wide range of weights. The lightest 5th Wheel Trailer weighs in at 2,400 lbs. The heaviest weighs around 20,000 lbs. But we found the most common fall between 12,000 – 15,000 lbs.

If you want to tow a 5th wheel weighing 15,000 lbs, you must check what trucks can haul that load. Some F250 SuperDuties, Silverado 2500HDs, and some Sierra 2500HDs will be able to tow them, but not all.

If you are closer to 20,000 lbs, you will want to look at even bigger trucks like an F350 or F450. These trucks shouldn’t have any problem towing a big 5th Wheel Trailer, but their fuel mileage will be poor even when not trailering a vehicle.

A 5th Wheel Trailer doesn’t use a regular weight distributing hitch. You will need to get a 5th wheel attachment plate and have it installed in the bed of your truck. These jobs cost between $1,500 and $3,000 for the parts and labor at any dealership or body shop.

5th Wheel Trailers have an advantage over the other options listed since they have more space and features. A 5th Wheel Trailer is essentially a Class A RV, but you can tow it. This is nice because you can unhitch your 5th Wheel and then use your truck as usual, saving you gas money since you’re leaving the extra weight behind. Storing a 5th Wheel is similar to a Travel Trailer or a Class A RV. Most people get a cover and pay a local storage place to keep their trailer parked there. Of course, if you have space at your home, that is the easiest option.

long RV trailer camper

RV Weight Breakdown by Trailer

  • Teardrop Campers – Between 500 – 2,500 lbs
    • Mid-Size truck or bigger to safely tow
  • Folding Pop-Up Trailers – Between 800 – 3,800 lbs
    • Mid-Size truck or bigger to safely tow
  • Travel Trailers – Between 1,250 – 8,500 lbs
    • Mid-Size trucks can safely tow low-weight Travel Trailers. Mid to heavy trailers require larger trucks similar to an F150 SuperDuty or bigger.
  • 5th Wheel Trailers – Between 2,400 – 20,000 lbs
    • Heavy duty trucks only. The average 5th Wheel Trailer weighs between 12,000 – 15,000, requiring a truck similar to an F250 SuperDuty or bigger.

RV trailer hitch connected by chain

What are the different types of hitches available for towing an RV?

There are two main types of hitches to tow an RV: the weight-distributing hitch and the fifth-wheel hitch. While the gooseneck hitch is also a viable option, it’s less popular and therefore not as common as the other two. Regardless of which one you have, it’s always a good idea to keep a corrosion inhibitor handy in your truck to ward off rust.

The weight-distributing hitch is the most common type used for towing an RV. This is the regular hitch you are accustomed to seeing for towing RVs and boats. It distributes the weight of the RV evenly between the tow vehicle and the trailer, making it easier to control and maneuver.

The fifth-wheel hitch is typically used for larger RVs, such as fifth-wheel trailers. It attaches to a special plate in the bed of a pickup truck and provides a more secure connection than a weight-distributing hitch.

The gooseneck hitch isn’t very popular for RVs, but it is similar to a fifth-wheel hitch. The only difference is it attaches to a gooseneck ball rather than a special plate. It’s often used for oversized RVs that require a fifth-wheel hitch. When choosing a hitch for your RV, consult your owner’s manual or a knowledgeable salesperson to ensure you’re selecting the best option for your tow vehicle and trailer.

red pickup truck at fuel pump

Which trucks offer the best fuel economy when towing an RV?

Towing an RV impacts fuel economy, which happens for several reasons. The size and weight of the RV, terrain, and weather conditions all play a role in how much fuel you’re burning up.

Nonetheless, some trucks are more fuel-efficient than others when towing an RV. For example, the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offer excellent fuel economy when towing excess weight. Both trucks also come with various features that make towing more manageable and fuel efficient. Trailer sway control and Hill-start assist are two quick examples. As a result, these trucks are among the best options for those who want the most fuel-efficient option.

Of course, these trucks are too small to pull a heavy Travel Trailer or a 5th Wheel Trailer. When towing these trailers, diesel trucks are typically the most efficient option, and you can make one trip to the fuel pump last with the right additive. For example, the 2019 Ram 2500 HD gets an EPA-estimated 17 mpg when towing a 5th wheel trailer. That’s significantly better than the gas-powered Ford F-250, which only gets 13 mpg. If you’re looking for an even more efficient option, consider the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax. This truck gets an impressive 23 mpg when towing a 5th wheel trailer. So whether you’re planning a cross-country road trip or want to save some money at the pump, consider fuel economy.

What are the pros and cons of owning a truck that can tow an RV?

Owning a truck that can tow an RV has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it allows the owner to take their home on the road with them. It also offers the ability to tow other large objects like boats. However, there are downsides to owning a truck capable of towing RVs, like the finances necessary for routine maintenance. Additionally, it can be challenging to find parking spots for a vehicle that size, and it may not fit in some garage spaces or car washes. Another con is the fuel price for a truck that can tow a big RV.

Overall, owning a truck that can tow an RV is a decision that comes with both benefits and drawbacks. The only question is, “Do you have the resources and passion necessary to go RVing?” Because you now have all the knowledge required to choose the right truck to tow all types of RVs!

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