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Fifth-wheel trailers are a very popular option for long-term and full-time RVers. These larger trailers offer extra space and additional comfort. However, 5th wheel truck bed storage can be an issue.
If you have a 5th wheel trailer you may want some solutions to increase your storage space. Your truck bed storage with a 5th wheel hitch can be optimized with the right tools. In this article, we will show different ways to increase truck bed storage for 5th-wheel trailer needs.
What Is A 5th Wheel Trailer?
Fifth-wheel trailers are a popular option for RVers who are looking for a larger option but are also interested in a more stable trailer.
Many people confuse the 5th wheel with a gooseneck trailer, so before we jump into how to increase truck bed storage with a 5th wheel trailer, you should know a bit about these trailers.
Fifth-wheel trailers connect to your truck using a special hitch in the bed of the truck. The trailer connection to the hitch is called a kingpin. This special connector is designed to lock into the jaws of the hitch.
The 5th wheel hitch is a secure connection and provides additional stability and maneuverability for your trailer.
The 5th wheel configuration is ideal for large trailers or for hauling heavy loads. You will frequently find the 5th wheel hitch and kingpin used for large horse trailers, travel trailers, and trailers for hauling equipment.
Why Is It Called A 5th Wheel?
The 5th wheel concept has been around since the times of the horse-drawn carriage. The original use of the 5th wheel was to help improve turning for carriages and trailers drawn by horses. At this time, the 5th wheel was actually a wheel, not just a hitch type.
For horse-drawn trailers and carriages, a fifth wheel was added on the frame horizontally, instead of vertically. This wheel allowed the front axle to turn independently from the rest of the carriage or trailer.
The addition of this fifth “turning” wheel made it possible for drivers to maneuver more precisely and make tighter turns.
When we started applying this theory to trucks and trailers, the hitch in the bed of the truck became the “5th wheel”. When you attach your trailer kingpin to the hitch, you gain more steering control around the hitch.
The 5th wheel trailer and hitch were originally designed to provide more support and control for large horse trailers. As RVs and campers started to get larger and heavier, the 5th wheel set-up became more popular.
Besides providing increased maneuverability, the 5th wheel hitch configuration also provides a more balanced load distribution. The weight of the trailer is moved closer to the center of the tow vehicle, near the rear axle.
Placing the weight centered over the axle allows the truck to support the front of the trailer without dropping the rear of the truck.
5 Simple 5th Wheel Truck Bed Storage Options
One of the common concerns about moving from a bumper-mounted trailer to a 5th-wheel RV is the loss of storage space in the bed of the truck. The hitch takes up a lot of space, so you need to be creative with how you load the bed of your truck.
One of the best ways to increase the available truck bed storage with 5th-wheel hitches is to use storage boxes or containers. Below, we will offer five products that allow you to fully utilize the space around your 5th wheel hitch in the bed of your truck.
1. Plastic Storage Totes
Plastic storage totes are an affordable and highly accessible option. You can pick up storage bins from spots like Walmart, Costco, Target, and other big box stores. Often you can find options that have locking lids for better security.
Make sure that you carefully measure the space that you have available with your 5th wheel hitch so that you don’t purchase totes that are too big for the space.
2. Custom Truck Bed Tool Boxes For The Rear
If you want a storage option that is perfectly designed for your truck and hitch configuration, you can have toolboxes or storage boxes custom-made for your truck bed. The great thing about having custom storage is that the options are endless.
We are fond of the low-profile unit with drawers instead of a flip-up lid. This option allows you to easily see what is in each drawer. You can also set items on top of the box if needed.
Other options include boxes that sit over the wheel wells or between the hitch and the front of the truck. Knowing what you want to store in your custom toolboxes will give you a good idea of what to ask when having them made.
3. Over The Wheel Storage
If you just need a bit of extra storage for things like jumper cables, a jack for your truck, or a set of tools, consider over-the-wheel storage containers. These handy containers tuck into the space between the tailgate and the wheel well. What we like about these is that they take advantage of a space in the truck bed that is often not utilized.
If you are shopping for this sort of storage, look for boxes that can be secured to the side or floor of your truck. That way you do not have to worry about someone stealing the box. You should also make sure that your box has some way to lock the lid. Again, you do not want someone to walk off with your stuff.
4. 5th Wheel Tail Gates
This product is not a storage item, but it is handy for 5th-wheel trailers. A cut-out tailgate allows for easier hook-up of your trailer, as well as less confined movement of the tongue of your trailer. Vented tailgates also reduce air resistance between the truck and the trailer. This can be very helpful for improving the gas mileage of your truck.
5. Front Tool Boxes
This is the typical type of truck bed toolbox you will see in pick-up beds. These toolboxes provide a lockable place to store small items such as tools, jumper cables, jacks, and other necessary items for travel.
Many truck owners prefer these types of toolboxes as they are heavy-duty and typically not easy to remove. Most have some sort of lock as well, so you should not have to worry about bad guys stealing your gear.
There are plenty of great storage options that work in your truck bed with a 5th wheel hitch. One thing you do need to keep in mind when considering truck bed storage containers is their height.
Storage or toolboxes should not extend over the top of the truck bed. This may hinder your ability to properly turn or maneuver your trailer.
What Are The Advantages Of Fifth Wheels?
Let’s take a look at why you might want to invest in a 5th-wheel trailer and hitch. First, if you are looking for a trailer that is really easy to travel with, a 5th wheel is a good option. Besides the tight turning radius and easy maneuvering, 5th-wheel trailers are a lot smoother to pull than bumper-mounted trailers.
The 5th wheel hitch in your truck is also designed to support a heavier load. The hitch also makes traveling with a longer trailer easier. Because a portion of your trailer will be just over the bed of the truck, you can invest in a longer travel trailer but still have the same footprint as the longer bumper-mounted trailer.
Although not all 5th wheels are longer than all travel trailers, due to their maneuverability and the extra weight the hitches can handle, you see more large 5th wheels.
But it’s not just the length, 5th wheel trailers are also taller allowing for higher ceilings. This gives the interiors a more roomy feel.
Can 5th Wheel Trailer Hitches Be Removed Between Trips?
Most people who own 5th-wheel travel trailers use their trucks for other purposes. So being able to remove the hitch can be very helpful. Most 5th wheel hitches are designed to sit on rails in your truck bed, this makes it easy to remove the hitch when you are not using it.
The rails will remain attached to the bed of your truck. This usually is not an inconvenience and because the rails are heavy-duty, there is not an issue with stacking items over the rails.
Final Thoughts About 5th Wheel Truck Bed Storage Ideas
Fifth-wheel trailers are quickly becoming one of the most popular RV options. These larger travel trailers offer many of the conveniences of a full-size RV. However, they offer one convenience that a motorhome of class A RV does not – a removable vehicle.
However, when it comes to 5th-wheel truck bed storage, you can really limit what you can carry.
Many 5th-wheel owners get around this problem by finding creative truck bed storage options. Depending on the items that you intend to store in your truck bed, there is a perfect option.
Just remember that whatever you choose, it shouldn’t interfere with the maneuverability of the trailer or your ability to access the hitch.
Jason Gass – Author and Part Time RVer
Jason Gass is a full-time freelance writer and part-time RVer whose goal is to share great stories around a campfire with good friends.
When he’s not working, he spends most of his time camping, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.