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5th Wheel vs Gooseneck: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

A hitch connects your trailer to your towing vehicle. The hitch you choose for pulling your RV trailer can make a whole lot of difference on your driving experience and the weight that your vehicle can tow . Different hitches suit different purposes so you have to know which one best fits your travel needs.

Read on as we find out more about two of the most popular and common hitches used for towing trailers – the fifth wheel and gooseneck towing systems. Let’s see how they’re alike and how they’re different and which one is better between the two.

 

What is a fifth wheel hitch?

A fifth wheel hitch, like the Companion B and W RVK3300, is connected onto the back of a large vehicle such as a pickup truck, semi truck, or tractor for you to be able to tow a trailer.

In case you’re wondering why it’s called the fifth wheel, here’s a little bit of history for you. Fifth wheels were originally invented in the mid-1850s to be used for horse-drawn carriages.

They placed a horizontal wheel across the cargo frame or the “bed of the truck” component of the carriage so that it could pivot on its own. It proved to be very useful in providing stability and better maneuverability for the carriage.

Then, in the early 1900s, they created another version of this to be used for motor vehicles and they still called it the the fifth wheel until it’s carried on over time.

Today, the term itself refers to that coupling component that’s shaped like the letter U found at the back of the vehicle towing the cargo or trailer.

 

What is a gooseneck hitch?

A gooseneck hitch is a ball hitch installed within the bed of a truck. It is mounted or welded on a rail.

It is so named because the pipe fitting resembles the bend in a goose’s neck. This is more commonly used in pulling horse and industrial trailers.

 

How are they alike?

The fifth wheel and gooseneck are both used as towing systems. They are similar in the following ways.

Both can only be installed in trucks. They should not be used for other vehicles. The truck bed’s flat, stable, and large surface is a crucial component in how it performs its function.

They are both installed into the frame of the truck. There are permanent structures that you must place on the truck bed to be able to hitch your vehicle using either a fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch.

Same Location. They are both installed in the same location on the truck bed which is found on top of the main axle of the truck. This location is crucial as it provides the strongest foundation and it is the most stable part of the towing vehicle.

Easy to Connect to. These hitches are popular for a reason. They are easy to use and do not require extra equipment when you need to hitch your trailer to your vehicle. You simply need to position your vehicle underneath the trailer so that you can connect them.

Improved Maneuverability. Both the fifth wheel hitch and gooseneck hitch make it easier for the towing vehicle or truck to make tight turns and back up. This is due to the gooseneck’s ball hitch that allows for smooth gliding and the swiveling function of the fifth wheel hitch. This is why they improve your driving experience while on the road.

What is difference between 5th wheel and gooseneck?

The main difference between the 5th wheel and gooseneck is in the hitch system.

The fifth wheel hitch connects to the trailer through a king pin plate while the gooseneck hitch connects via the ball and coupler system. If your trailer comes with a king pin plate, it is called a fifth wheel trailer but if it comes with a coupler, you have a gooseneck trailer.

They are also used for different purposes. Gooseneck is more commonly used for towing industrial trailers while the fifth wheel is what’s usually used for recreational vehicles.

Which is better: 5th wheel or gooseneck?

To help us decide which between the fifth wheel and gooseneck hitch is better, let’s discuss the pros and cons of each one.

Advantages of a 5th wheel

First of all, the fifth wheel hitch is the main hitch used when you have a fifth wheel camper. It says so in the name, right? You can be sure about their compatibility.

Plus, this type of hitch provides a smoother and more stable ride for your fifth wheel trailer. This will enhance your driving experience as there’s less swaying and it’s quieter than the gooseneck hitch.

There is better weight displacement when using a fifth wheel hitch since it is directly installed at the cargo box of your pickup truck. It offers a more secure connection as the trailer’s kingpin is firmly fastened to the structural frame of the towing vehicle.

Disadvantages of a 5th wheel

Its main strength may also be its downfall for some as the fifth wheel hitch can only be use to connect to… (you guessed it right) the fifth wheel trailers! They were created and designed for that sole purpose.

Fifth wheel hitches are also difficult to remove from the bed of the truck. Consider it a permanent structure on your truck bed which takes up a rather large space that you might want to use for something else.

Advantages of a gooseneck hitch

On the other hand, a gooseneck hitch is a small addition in your truck bed. It is unobtrusive and does not take up too much space. There are even some models of gooseneck hitches that can be flipped over so that you can have a smooth truck bed.

Another strength of this type of hitch is that it is versatile. You can use it to connect to other vehicles that have a ball hitch attachment.

The gooseneck hitch is also capable of towing larger vehicles weighing 25,000 to 30,000 lbs! That’s a lot of weight. This is why it is used for hauling industrial trailers.

Disadvantages of gooseneck hitch

The main disadvantage of gooseneck hitches that we can see is that they are less common in the market. You also need to have them custom installed into your vehicle. You would need to hire a professional to do this so that they can drill into the bed of your truck to install it properly.

When it comes to a smooth riding experience, you can’t get it with a gooseneck hitch. Expect a noisier ride and more swaying as you go on the road.

Another disadvantage of a gooseneck hitch is that it can be tricky sometimes to mount your trailer onto it. You have to perfectly position your trailer over the ball mount.

Our Verdict

Now, that we know the pros and cons of each hitch type, we are in a better position to say which one is better. As we said at the start of this article, the better hitch type is the one that suits its purpose.

So, if it’s RV traveling that you’re after, the fifth wheel hitch is better. It will allow you to enjoy a smooth riding experience while on the road and it is designed specifically for RV trailer traveling.

But if you’re after versatility and the ability to carry more weight, you should go for the gooseneck hitch as the fifth wheel hitch can only take on light to mid-size travel campers.

 

Can You Pull A 5th Wheel Trailer With A Gooseneck?

We’ve said earlier that a fifth wheel trailer needs a fifth wheel hitch since they’re specifically made to fit each other. But it is also possible to use a gooseneck hitch with your fifth wheel trailer as long as it is within your towing vehicle’s payload capacity.

There are some people who do this but it’s usually just for a trip or two. This is not meant to be a permanent solution. There can be some issues at the contact point which would make it a rougher ride and put a lot of stress on both the trailer and towing vehicle.

You would need an adapter, like the Curt 16055 Bent Plate 5th Wheel to Gooseneck Adapter, along with some other components, to be able to accomplish this task.

The gooseneck adapter is attached to the gooseneck ball so that you can use it to connect with the trailer. You can also use an adapter for the rails of the fifth wheel hitch in the cargo box of your pickup truck.

The adapter is a very handy tool as it allows you to use both types of connections without the need for major modifications on your pickup truck.

However, if it’s the other way around, meaning you plan to use a fifth wheel hitch to tow a gooseneck trailer, it is not really recommended. Gooseneck trailers have a higher payload capacity and weigh more than travel trailers.

Using a fifth wheel hitch can cause too much strain and stress on your tow vehicle as well as on the gooseneck trailer itself that could cause structural issues and you’d end up spending more for repairs.

So while an adapter can allow you to use either hitch system, you just have to use it when really needed to help preserve your trailers and towing vehicles.

 

Can you tow more with a gooseneck hitch?

Yes, you can tow more using a gooseneck hitch. It is capable of hauling trailers weighing 25,000 to 30,000 lbs.

This is why industrial trailers, horse trailers, and other agricultural trailers use a gooseneck hitch to allow them to carry heavy loads as needed.

Wrap Up

The fifth wheel and gooseneck hitches are two of the most common types of hitch systems for towing trailers using your truck. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one but in the end, you choose the type of hitch that best suits your purpose.

If it’s for RV traveling, the fifth wheel hitch is more advisable as it makes for a smoother and more stable ride. But if it’s for commercial purposes, the gooseneck hitch is better because it allows you to take on heavier loads when traveling making it a practical choice.

Some use an adapter to be able to use their fifth wheel trailers with a towing vehicle that has a gooseneck hitch. While it is a handy tool, it is just a short-term solution and should be used sparingly so as not to cause too much strain on both the trailer and towing vehicle and avoid structural issues.

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