Types of Fifth Wheel Hitch

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A fifth wheel hitch is a heavy-duty type of trailer hitch that attaches to the bed of a truck. The weight and size make it a little more complicated than other types of hitches, but if you’re looking for something that will keep your camper or boat in place as you drive over bumpy roads, it’s worth taking the time to learn about all your options. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this special type of hitch, read on! We’ll take an in-depth look at some different kinds and explain what each one does best. And we won’t leave out any important details so that when it comes time to shop, you can be confident knowing exactly what kind of hitch is right for your needs. 

They are a great way to tow your fifth-wheel trailer and attach it to the truck bed, allowing you to hook up your RV without having a heavy connection between the two vehicles. 

However, there’s more than one type of fifth wheel hitch on the market today, so it can be hard for consumers to understand which is right for them. That’s why we’ve put together this guide! 

We’ll cover all of the most common types of the fifth wheel hitches out there today and explain the pros and cons of each to help you determine which one is best for your next adventure. 

What is a Fifth Wheel Hitch? 

Types of fifth wheel hitch
Source: Demco

A fifth wheel hitch is a large metal frame that bolts into the bed of your truck. It can then be hooked up to your fifth-wheel trailer and will hold it securely as you’re driving down the road. 

It is a unique type of trailer hitch because it attaches to the bed of your truck rather than the rear end. These hitches require a sturdy frame to do their job properly, so they’re often made from high-quality steel. In some cases, that material may not be completely visible once it’s installed. 

When you’re shopping for a new fifth wheel hitch, there are two main factors that you’ll need to consider: the height and weight rating. The height will determine how far above your truck bed the tow bar can sit while still being able to pull your camper or boat. The weight rating will let you know how much weight this special tow bar can handle without causing damage to either vehicle. 

Since the fifth wheel hitch attaches to your truck bed, it can provide a very secure connection. The downside is that this leaves less space for you to work with when storing other items in your truck bed.

Different Types of Fifth Wheel Hitch

Trailer image1 types of fifth wheel hitch
Source: RV Obsession

There are many different types of fifth wheel hitches on the market today. Knowing what distinguishes each one can help you determine which would be best for your particular needs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common kinds:

a) 2-way Pivot Head

The most popular towbar is the 2-way pivot head. It pivots forward and backward. The shape enables the tow car to ascend a slope before the fifth wheel reaches it, eliminating any additional strain on the hitch. This also helps you maneuver around tight spots.

This type allows for both vertical and horizontal adjustments to help ensure your truck bed is perfectly even with the hitch platform. It is equipped with spring-loaded locks that are easy to engage and disengage when moving parts into place or performing maintenance on them. 


They are some of the most widely compatible hitches because they work on bare beds, tonneau covers, spray-in liners, canopy tops, toolboxes, stake pockets—pretty much any truck bed accessory you can think of.


They are not compatible with most gooseneck trailer hitches, so they can’t be used in combination with that type of towing. Also, the weight capacity is best suited for lighter loads. If you have a heavy fifth wheel or need to tow more than 5,000 pounds, it’s best to choose another variety.

b) 4-way Pivot Head

The benefits of a 2-way pivot head are combined in the 4-way pivot head, which can also move from side to side. This design makes traveling on uneven and unpredictable surfaces easier and more pleasant.

The main benefit of this type is its extended range. It can move up, down, forward, backward, left, and right over a large area to ensure you have the ability to maneuver your truck around tight spots or hilly terrain.


They are extremely versatile—they fit on bare beds, tonneau covers, toolboxes, spray-in liners/bedcovers—and they are compatible with gooseneck trailers as well as fifth wheel hitches.


These may require professional installation because their unique shape can cause compatibility issues if not installed correctly. If that’s the case for you, make sure you know what to look for in an experienced installer.

c) Gooseneck Hitch

It’s a hitch that allows you to tow gooseneck trailers. This may be installed to the truck’s frame via the existing setup, which you can then remove. Or, it may be a replacement for your current fifth wheel, in which case you can transfer most of your existing equipment to make the transition easier.

This hitch has a vertical and horizontal pivot range that allows it to move freely in tight spaces or on uneven terrain. Like most other types, it is equipped with spring-loaded locks that quickly engage and disengage when needed. 


It will provide more stability than your standard fifth wheel because weight is distributed across two supports rather than just one—the truck bed itself. Plus, if you’re transporting heavy loads consistently, this type may be worth considering because of its superior weight capacity.


Installation can be very costly depending on your specific needs and what kind of setup you currently have. For example, if you don’t already have the frameset up to hold the hitch, you’ll need someone who knows what to do to install it and that costs more than just dropping it into your truck bed.

d) Fifth Wheel Hitch with Universal Rails

It can be installed on any trailer, as the name implies. It’s very simple to put together since you won’t have to drill holes in the truck’s frame.

This type is adjustable for height and features a vertical pivot head to move with your truck bed. It’s also equipped with an overload protection system, which works by automatically disengaging the kingpin if you exceed the capacity of the hitch.


It requires no drilling into your truck frame, so installation can be done quickly and without any fuss, you just need to get it on the rails already in there. Also, since it attaches directly to a trailer rather than a truck bed, you gain more weight capacity while reducing wear and tear on both parts.


They don’t work well in ice or snow because they sit too high above the ground. You’d have to shovel all that extra material away before using them on those surfaces, which is a frustrating and potentially dangerous inconvenience.

e) Fifth Wheel Hitch with Custom Rails

A set of rails is included with this hitch and already has existing drilled holes. It also allows fair room for customization, as the term implies.

It comes in different heights: a full, three-quarter, and low profile that can be adjusted to fit your truck. The low-profile option is the most expensive because it requires cutting into your truck’s frame, but they are available without that feature as well.


Installation doesn’t require any drilling in the truck bed, this type is compatible with almost anything, and you can adjust its height for whatever you need.


Their main con is similar to goosenecks; if you don’t already have a set of rails drilled into your frame (or if yours don’t line up with these rails), the installation will probably cost more than just getting the Pivot Head Hitch because someone else has to drill you a whole new set.

e) Single Jaw

There’s a single jaw option that employs just one grab jaw, making for a simple connection. It’s also the most secure of the hitches.


The single jaw can handle more weight than the Pivot Head Hitch because it has fewer parts. It provides a stronger connection between truck and trailer, which is convenient if you’re pulling heavy loads on uneven terrain (it’ll be less likely to slip).


There’s no support for the truck bed like the fifth wheel type does, so you’ll need supports underneath to prevent damage. Since it doesn’t pivot vertically or horizontally, this hitch requires more road space when turning. And it can only turn in one direction at any given time. This may work better with smaller trucks that don’t require as much maneuvering on tight roads.

e) Double Jaw

A double jaw model has twice the power of a single jaw design. It can handle even more weight than the fifth wheel type.


It provides a stronger connection between truck and trailer, which is convenient if you’re pulling heavy loads on uneven terrain (it’ll be less likely to slip).


There’s no support for the truck bed like the fifth wheel type does, so you’ll need supports underneath to prevent damage. Since it doesn’t pivot vertically or horizontally, this hitch requires more road space when turning. And it can only turn in one direction at any given time. This may work better with smaller trucks that don’t require as much maneuvering on tight roads.

What is the difference between a 5th wheel and a gooseneck?

Gooseneck vs fifth wheel types of fifth wheel hitch
Source: Camper Life

5th wheel hitches attach near the rear axle, creating an entirely different weight distribution. With goosenecks, the kingpin attaches to a plate under your truck bed (or possibly inside it), so there’s no extra weight being supported by your rear axle, which can cause problems on bumpy roads or when towing through hilly terrain.

All of these types have their own pros and cons that you’ll probably want to take into consideration before deciding on one type over another. That said, once you do decide on a specific model, it’s best to get the installation done for you because any screw-ups are likely going to be costly ones – especially if they affect the safety of yourself or anybody else who will be using your truck. That’s not a chance you’ll want to take!

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the best size 5th wheel?

Answer: Measure the length and width of your truck bed; you’ll want a fifth wheel that corresponds to these measurements.

The best size for this hitch is typically 1/2 ton – 3/4 ton (in between 8 feet and 7 feet tall) because it’s designed for trucks with heavier carrying capacities. You should also take into consideration how often you’ll be using the hitch; similarly, if you’re buying one for commercial use, you may want to invest in a bigger model than someone who only needs it occasionally.

Why do they call it the fifth wheel?

Answer: The term was originally used to describe the axle underneath a horse-drawn carriage that made it possible for 4 horses to pull a heavy wagon. This spoke had its own set of wheels and became known as the fifth wheel, making this type of hitch one of the earliest forms of tractor-trailers we still use today.

What is a gooseneck?

Answer: A gooseneck attaches near the front of your truck or at the rear and has 2 pins or “jaws” where you attach your trailer’s ball and socket coupler (the thing you connect when you back up).

Do 5th wheels hold their value?

Answer: Like most things, it really depends on the age, mileage, and condition of your vehicle. If you have a model that has less than 50K miles or one that’s about 10 years old or newer, the resale value will likely be higher.

On average, 5th wheel hitches hold their value better than other types of trailer hitches because they are often used to tow heavy trailers with high capacities. They are also more durable due to their design, which is why it makes sense to invest in these types for commercial applications.


As you can see, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when trying to figure out which type of hitch is best for your truck. If possible, take some time before making your purchase to test out different models or speak with someone who has experience using each one. And remember that the most important thing is that you’re happy with whatever you choose!

That said, it’s always a good idea to invest in high-quality equipment because not only do they last longer but they’re also generally safer and more reliable. You’ll save money in the long run by avoiding the added cost of repairs and having to make additional purchases down the road.

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