Top 8 Best 5th Wheel Hitches
Buyer’s Guide, Comparison and Advice
Buying a new trailer hitch is great news, usually because it means you’ve just purchased a new toy. From boats to RVs, a lot of truly heavy loads require the use of a fifth-wheel trailer hitch. But there is a small problem – which hitch should you choose?
Trailer hitches aren’t necessarily a dime a dozen, but there are certainly a lot of them. Which one is best for you? Beyond that, what even is a fifth-wheel hitch, anyways?
We’ll cover the definition of a fifth-wheel hitch, how they work, and then cover the pros and cons of our favorite fifth-wheel trailer hitches in this article. And out of all of them, we’ll tell you our favorite.
What is a fifth-wheel hitch ?
First of all – there’s no actual “wheel” in a fifth-wheel hitch. Disappointing, right?! The term “fifth wheel” is a definite misnomer, but there is some method to the madness. Let’s explore how it all works:
- Fifth-wheel trailers
Fifth-wheel trailers pull big loads. Tractor-trailers, semis, and large over-the-road loads all use heavy-duty versions of fifth-wheel trailers and hitches. Why is that?
The heavier the load, the more points of contact you need to help distribute the weight of the load. That’s why much of North America still refers to semis as “eighteen-wheelers”; those big loads require lots of extra support.
Rather than just throwing a hitch on the back of a pickup and dragging all the weight behind, a fifth-wheel trailer uses a kingpin to connect to a point on the bed of the towing vehicle. This gives an extra point of contact, typically above the axles of the towing vehicle; a “fifth wheel” that helps to distribute the weight of the load.
- The kingpin
What is the kingpin? This “pin” is a solid connection reaching from the neck of the trailer, and into the hitch itself.
- Fifth-wheel hitch
The fifth-wheel hitch itself takes different forms, but in its basic shape, the fifth-wheel hitch is a U-shaped collar, fixed on the bed of the towing vehicle between the front and back axles. The collar itself does somewhat resemble a wheel, giving another possible source for the name.
- Fifth-wheel or gooseneck?
What’s the difference between a fifth-wheel hitch and a gooseneck? A gooseneck hitch drops down from the “neck” of the trailer and connects to a special hitch, with a more typical hitch “ball” instead of a kingpin.
common uses for a fifth-wheel hitch
Commercially, fifth-wheel hitches are the domain of the heaviest of heavy loads – tractor-trailers, semis, etc. A fifth-wheel hitch delivers a high-strength connection between towing vehicle and trailer, and the option to “reinforce” the point of contact, as eighteen-wheelers do, with extra axles, etc.
On the consumer level, fifth-wheel hitches are most commonly found on heavy RVs and caravans. Don’t confuse a fifth-wheel with a gooseneck, but both hitches are ways of towing heavier loads.
# 1. Andersen 3220
Andersen outdoes themselves with this unusual 5th wheel hitch. There are actually two parts to this hitch – the aluminum frame and ball which works with any gooseneck hitch, and the adaptor that turns the ball into a proper 5th-wheel receiver for a kingpin. Sound a bit strange? It is, but what’s even stranger is that the entire system works, and works well. It’s even rated for 24,000 lbs GTW! And to top things off, the entire system is designed to be installed or removed by one person; since it’s aluminum, it only weighs about 50 pounds.
- Solid aluminium
- Unusual construction
- Fits both gooseneck and 5th-wheel style trailers
- Tight turning radius
- Some question about the long-term durability of the solid aluminum construction
- Does require an adaptor (included) to fit a true fifth-wheel trailer
It’s funky, but almost everyone says it works. The Andersen 3220 provides a high towing capacity and an extremely tight turn radius of almost 90 degrees from an admittedly outlandish design. Nevertheless, it works – and most people agree that it works well. It’s certainly got our seal of approval!
# 2. B&W Companion RVK3500
Now we’re getting serious: this B&W hitch can handle up to 20,000 lbs, with multiple vertical and horizontal positions to adjust the fully articulating head. This is a hitch for the serious loads – heavy toy haulers, trailers, whatever you need.
- Cam-action latching handle for quick release
- 20,000 lbs Gross Tow Weight (GTW), 5,000 lbs Vertical Tow Weight (VTW)
- 1-inch thick jaws for a tight grip on the kingpin
- Higher price point
The B&W Companion 5th Wheel hitch is one of the best-reviewed hitches out there. Near-universally loved, with extra marks for being American-made to the highest standard. From welds to casting, this is a solid, well-crafted piece of machinery – a must-have for anyone needing a fifth-wheel hitch.
# 3. CURT 16120 A16
Another quality hitch at a good price point. A cast steel body, fully articulating head, and a handy coupling indicator to let you know when your trailer is ready to go.
- Easy installation
- Quiet with reduced “noise” from the trailer
- Not on par with more professional models
- Some complaints about road noise.
This A-series hitch from Curt is certainly a quality option, with well-made components and some innovative features. The coupling indicator is a handy feature, although not completely necessary, and overall the hitch holds up well over even rough terrain. If you need a quality hitch at a tight price point, the Curt 16120 is a good option.
# 4. reese 30047 16K
The Reese 30047 Fifth wheel hitch uses a two-jaw locking system, offers a 6-inch pivot on the head for easier coupling on uneven ground (and better control while towing), and can handle up to 16,000 lbs GTW. In short, this is a serious fifth-wheel hitch from a respected manufacturer.
- Two height adjustments – 14.5”, 18”
- Two-jaw locking system
- Somewhat limited adjustments horizontally and vertically
Reese holds a good reputation when it comes to trailer hitches in general: the Reese 30047 Fifth Wheel hitch is no exception. Despite a few reports of missing legs on the hitch, the 30047 comes with a five-year warranty, is constructed from high-quality components, and receives high marks for the two-jaw locking system. This is a well-made, easy-to-use hitch that won’t disappoint.
# 5. PullRite 2400 ISR series superlight 20K
This is solid steel construction. It is a pure fifth-wheel design, not a gooseneck that requires an adaptor. The PullRite markets itself as an easy to use hitch; it can be installed or removed by one person, and it bills itself as being one of the easiest hitches to couple or uncouple in the entire industry.
- Unusual design for increased ease of use
- Tight turn radius
- High load weight (24,000 lbs GTW)
- Doesn’t offer the versatility of the Andersen aluminum hitch
- Difficult to adjust the height of the hitch
If you like the more unusual hitches, then the PullRite is a worthy competitor to the Andersen Aluminum Ultimate. Ease of use is one of PullRite’s biggest marketing pushes with this hitch – and reviews tend to agree that PullRite achieved their goal. The hitch is lightweight, can be removed or installed by one person, and provides a similarly tight turning radius to the Andersen hitch.
# 6. Reese fith wheel hitch
This is the cheapest of the Reese 5th-wheel hitches. Still, it’s a Reese – and that means high-quality construction and reliable performance. It is easily installed and removed, features 4-way tilt, and this kit comes with everything needed for installation except the bed rails.
- 5-inch side-to-side pivot on the skid plate for easier hookup on uneven surfaces
- Full line of “pro” features in an economy hitch
- 15,000 lbs load
- Limited adjustment and range of pivot
- Some issues with durability
If you’re looking for a semi-professional hitch on an economy budget, you could do a lot worse than this Reese fifth-wheel hitch. It’s got the full degree of pivot and a decent amount of side-to-side movement on the skid plate. Be aware though that this is still an economy hitch; if you’re hauling heavy loads on a daily basis, you might want some more durable.
# 7. pro series 20K
It doesn’t adjust. It can’t be raised or lowered, it doesn’t pivot from side to side. It doesn’t have a cam-action locking system.
What does the Pro Series 20k do, then? It pulls heavy fifth-wheel trailers. This is a serious but no-frills hitch. Because there aren’t a lot of extras with it, Pro Series can offer a serious hitch at a much lower precise point.
- Competitive price point
- Simple, no-frills construction
- 20k GTW
- No adjustments possible
- No “jaw” locking system
The Pro Series hitch will appeal to a certain kind of customer: someone who likes to keep things simple. If that’s you – if you’d rather purchase something that fits on easily, works simply, and does its job well, then this Pro Series hitch is for you.
# 8. CURT 16265 Q25
Here’s a hitch from CURT that can handle 25,000 lbs GTW, with just over 6,000 lbs VTW. Translation? One heavy-duty hitch. Add in a standardized leg width to fit a large number of available rails and you’ve got a quality offering for anyone looking to pull the largest of loads.
- Single, short-pull handle – lockable for added security!
- 3-position coupling indicator
- 25,000 GTW
- Limited horizontal/vertical adjustment
Got a super-heavy load for your 5th wheel? This Curt hitch might be just the one for you. Easy to install, easy to couple with your trailer, easy towing. For the truly heavy hitters, there are few hitches that can handle more weight at this price point.