What is the Best Fifth Wheel Hitch? (Reviews) – 2018 Edition
Your truck is a powerful workhorse designed to handle the toughest jobs. But even the strongest trucks have limits on how much weight they can pull. This isn’t due to a lack of engine power but instead due to the limitations of the ball hitch.
Using the ball hitch on the bumper of your truck to pull a heavy load can cause a lot of problems. The truck can jackknife, the load can pull against the truck, the load can come loose and other calamities can occur.
However, there is a solution: a fifth-wheel hitch. This is a special type of hitch designed to carry heavy-duty loads such as a larger trailer or tractor trailer.
We’ve rounded up the best fifth wheel hitches for 2018. Plus, our complete buyer’s guide has all the info you need to know, and is suitable for both beginners and pros:
Our #1 Pick – Curt 16245 5th Wheel Hitch
Dependable, durable and easy-to-attach, this 5th Wheel Hitch is a great choice if maneuverability is a must-have feature.
- Spherical axial bearing for smooth head movement
- Pulls up to 24,000 pounds
- Easy coupling with three-position indicator
- Simple packaging can result in dings and scratches during shipping
Capable of pulling up to 24,000 pounds, this hitch is definitely strong. But where it really shines is maneuverability. A spherical axial bearing allows the hitch head to tilt in any direction. The ride remains smooth and quiet at all times.
Dual jaws allow for 360-degree kingpin contact, which keeps the trailer under control and securely attached. Additionally, the secure fit keeps clunking and banging noises to a minimum.
All Q-Series hitches have self-aligning heads to allow for easy coupling. Plus, the three-position coupling indicator is easy to read through the back window of your vehicle. Overall, this hitch is a great choice if you frequently need to back your vehicle up at awkward angles in order to reach the trailer.
Our #2 Pick – Anderson Hitches 3320 (Gooseneck Version)
This lightweight aluminum fifth wheel hitch is incredibly easy to install and use. Great if a hitch is only needed occasionally.
- Can be installed and removed in just five minutes
- Lightweight and easy to store when not needed
- Easy to use by just one person
- Company can be difficult to reach
At just 25 pounds, this is one of the lightest hitches we’ve ever used. Plus, installation and removal can be completed in just five minutes. The 3320 version has an all-new ball-funnel for easy coupling up to three inches off ball center. One person can hook and unhook a trailer usually with no problem.
Versatility is another major feature here. The 3320 is designed for short, standard and long bed trucks. Compatible with major gooseneck hitch brands.
Don’t let the small size fool you. This hitch pulls up to 24,000 pounds with a tongue weight of 4,500 pounds. Additionally, height can be adjusted from 16-3/4, 17-7/8 and 19-1/8 inches.
Our #3 Pick – Patriot 18K Slider from B&W Trailer Hitches
The Patriot 18K is a heavy-duty (and extremely heavy) rail-mounted trailer hitch proudly made in the U.S.A.
- Rail-mounted, heavy-duty hitch suitable for big hauls
- Articulated head allows for a smooth ride
- Easy trailer release even on uneven ground
- Proudly made in the U.S.A.
- One of the heaviest hitches available
- Requires two people for installation
This rail-mounted fifth wheel hitch has a smooth, easy-to-use slide mechanism which reduces stress on both the trailer and the truck. Slide includes multi-directional automatic latching. Additionally, a fully articulated head lets the hitch pivot in any direction as appropriate.
Operation is easy. A positive engagement system provides easy reassurance the trailer is securely locked in. Plus, a Cam Action Handle allows for easy release even if you’re parked on a hill or other uneven terrain.
Durability is off-the-charts as this hitch is built like a tank. Perfect for heavy-duty jobs. However, this durability does have a slight downside: the hitch is very heavy. Installation is most likely a two-person job.
Our #4 Pick – Reese Towpower 30047 16K Fifth Wheel Hitch
A reliable, high-quality fifth wheel hitch with a secure and easy-to-use two-jaw locking system.
- Durable and strong
- Two-jaw locking system is easy to use
- Hitch is stable and well-made
- Jaws can be difficult to see in low light
- Not a rail system
Not every fifth wheel hitch needs to be packed with special features. What the 30047 from Reese lacks in frills it more than makes up for with craftsmanship and reliability. This is a strong, solid hitch rated to tow up to an impressive 16,000 pounds with a 4,000-pound pin weight capacity.
Coupling is usually pretty simple. The two-jaw locking system is operating by a handle. When backing your vehicle up to the trailer, you can hear when the jaws have locked into place. Additionally, the one-piece legs have a wide stance for extra stability, even on uneven terrain.
Every hitch is thoroughly tested by the manufacturer for quality and durability. Plus, the hitch includes a five-year warranty. Manufacturer Reese Towpower is generally considered easy to reach.
Our #5 Pick – Curt 16055 Bent Plate 5th Wheel Rail Gooseneck Hitch
This unique hitch allows pickup trucks equipped with fifth wheel rails to also tow gooseneck trailers. Cheaper than a traditional adapter but made from the high-quality you’d expect from Curt.
- Trust Curt brand name
- Allows fifth wheel rails to tow gooseneck trailers
- Affordable and safe
- Setup can be complicated
Expand your vehicle’s towing capabilities without spending a fortune or sacrificing safety. This hitch from Curt allows any pickup with fifth wheel rails to haul gooseneck trailers, too. Easily mounts to all industry-standard fifth wheel rails using four-pin installation.
Hitch features a welded two and 5/6-inch trailer ball with a three-inch rearward offset. Also includes built-in safety chain attachment slots. While you can spend more to buy a direct gooseneck adapter, this plate work just as well (and as safely) for a fraction of the cost:
Our #6 Pick – WiFi Magnetic Hitch Camera
A wireless, waterproof camera which displays a real-time rear view to help you easily guide your vehicle into proper coupling position with a trailer or other haul.
- Durable, waterproof rear-view camera
- Magnetic backing allows for plenty of placement options
- Superimposed yellow lines help vehicle navigation
- Images can only be displayed on one smart device at a time
- Multiple cameras can’t be networked together
Maneuvering your truck into the correct position to attach a trailer can be extremely frustrating. But this tiny camera can make a big difference. By providing a wireless video signal to your phone or other smart device, you can easily line your truck up for quick trailer coupling.
With an IP68 waterproof rating, camera works great in practically any weather conditions. Plus, six infra-red lights provide up to 30 feet of night vision even in total darkness. Great for providing coupling aid in less-than-ideal situations.
Attaching the camera is easy with a high-powered magnet. Simply stick the camera to any magnetic service and view the footage in real-time on any smart device you choose. Plug the camera into any USB port for quick charging.
Frequently Asked Questions About 5th Wheel Trailer Hitches
How Does It Work?
The fifth wheel hitch is a large, flat, metal plate which is housed in the bed of the truck. Metal rails running underneath the hitch attach to the frame of the pickup truck. The hitch itself is horseshoe-shaped.
When a trailer or similar is attached, the weight of the load presses down between the truck’s cab and rear axle. This provides more support and better weight distribution – especially when compared to a ball hitch. Your entire truck can help support the load, not just the bumper. Pretty much any standard pickup truck can be equipped with a fifth-wheel hitch.
How Does It Connect to a Trailer?
Coupling is usually pretty simple. The trailer and hitch connect with a special downward-facing pin called a kingpin. Additionally, a plate is set on top of the fifth wheel hitch plate.
Once the kingpin is locked into position, the trailer remains securely connected but can also pivot as the vehicle turns. The two flat plates (one from the trailer, the other from the hitch) slide one another constantly during travel. Both must remain well-lubricated.
The front of the trailer extends over the rear bumper beyond the rear axle. It connects to the access point in the middle of the truck bed. Large campers or trailers will look like they’re hovering over the truck bed.
What’s Driving with a Fifth Wheel Hitch Like?
Generally, you’ll feel much more in control when pulling a heavy trailer using a fifth wheel hitch than when pulling much lighter loads with a ball joint on the bumper.
The fifth wheel hitch allows the load to move with the truck. All fifth wheel hitches pivot both towards the front and back of the truck bed. This helps limit the stress placed on the kingpin when the vehicle is both going up or down a hill.
What’s a Floating Hitch?
But quality hitches go a step further. You’ll probably want a hitch with “four-way pivot.” In addition to moving forward and backward, this hitch also moves left and right in the truck bed. The trailer will remain hitched even if its leaning.
Also called floating hitches, these four-way pivots are well-suited for hauling across uneven terrain. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean four-wheeling through off-road conditions. Even streets which are flat and simple for cars can be complicated for a large truck hauling a trailer. Floating hitches are often just as useful in the city as they are in the country.
Are There Different Types of Fifth Wheel Hitches?
There are three different types, each with pluses and minuses:
Single Jaw Hitches
This is a popular, reliable type of hitch. As the name implies, the locking jaw is just one piece. Basically, it acts as a wedge, connecting the trailer to the truck.
Although it’s the simplest type of hitch, it also provides the maximum amount of contact between the jaw and kingpin. This makes it very safe and reliable. Plus, the snug connection minimizes noise and jostling from the trailer, making for a quieter ride in the truck.
The double jaw surrounds the kingpin. When the kingpin hits the rear of the jaw, both jaws then snap closed. This securely locks the kingpin inside the fifth wheel.
Double jaws lock automatically when the kingpin is in the correct position. This makes attachment easy, especially in poor weather and light conditions. You can hear and feel that the connection is secure even if you can’t see the hitch very clearly.
Sliding Bar Jaw
This is usually the least secure and powerful type of hitch. A locking bar creates a barrier to contain the kingpin. With a sliding bar hitch, you’ll hear lots of knocking noises when driving. Generally, most people will have a much better experience with either a single or double jaw type.
What Safety Info Do I Need to Know?
Not every hitch is appropriate for every truck. Before buying any fifth wheel hitch, make sure it’s safe to use on your specific vehicle. Otherwise, your truck, trailer and even your life can be at risk.
Here are the three major ratings you’ll need to know:
Towing Capacity for Your Vehicle
Your owner’s manual will list your vehicle’s specific towing capacity. This is the most weight your vehicle can safely haul. Unfortunately, that’s a hard limit. Even if your fifth wheel hitch is capable of hauling more weight, your vehicle will seriously damaged (at the very least) if you try.
Gross Trailer Weight
This is the total weight of the trailer. It’s not just the weight of the trailer itself but also the additional weight of everything stored within. Gross Trailer Weight is also called True Weight.
Towing Capacity for Hitch
Each hitch will have a maximum towing capacity, with double jaw hitches typically able to handle more weight than single ones. This rating should be more than the True Weight of your trailer.
However, the hitch’s maximum towing capabilities shouldn’t exceed your vehicle’s total towing capacity. Of course, you can still safely use a hitch to tow less than its full capacity. But having such a hitch on your vehicle can result in you accidentally trying to pull more than your vehicle is capable of, which can result in serious damage.
A fifth wheel hitch is the easiest and safest way to haul trailers and other large loads. Plus, they can be fitted into almost any type of pick-up. If you’re looking for the best hitch for your vehicle, our complete guide will help hook you up!