Camping can range from tents to motor homes to accommodations that are towed behind vehicles. One of the more popular types of towed camping vehicles is the fifth wheel. A fifth wheel is identified by the gooseneck hitch that mounts to the bed of a heavy-duty truck. This type of rig has better balance and stability on the road and is often preferred because of the lack of swaying and swerving experienced by other campers. The fifth wheel provides several advantages for travel and following a few tips can make this type of camping even better.
Check Vehicle Towing Capacity
Make sure that the vehicle you choose to mount the fifth wheel to is properly equipped to handle the load. Know the weight of the fifth wheel unit you are using and check the towing capacity of the vehicle before setting out on a camping trip. Both fifth wheels and heavy-duty trucks are expensive items, and using too heavy of a fifth wheel and exceeding the recommended maximum towing capacity of the truck can cause major damage that will cost even more money to repair. The transmission may be damaged if these guidelines are not followed.
Towing a fifth wheel will make the towing vehicle use a lot of fuel on the way to the camping site. Keep the tank full of fuel when possible. A good rule of thumb is to think of a gas gauge showing a quarter of a tank as closer to empty. Do not run your towing vehicle with less than this amount showing on the gauge. A traffic jam on the way to your destination could put unnecessary stress on you as the constant starts and stops drink the fuel at a rapid pace. A truck with less than a quarter of a tank in this situation may not make it to the next available gas station.
Dry Camping Conservation
Some camping sites do not offer full electrical hookups for recreational vehicles. This is known as dry camping. If there is an option to get a site with electrical service, by all means take it. However, when the option is unavailable, remember to conserve energy wherever you can when running off of battery power. Turn off lights when no one needs them and never use more than one or two lights at a time. Choose mild times of year to dry camp when the air conditioner or furnace is not required. During the day, hook up the unit to the tow vehicle and let the engine run to charge the batteries.
Flush Water System
Keep the water tank on the fifth wheel clean and properly maintained. Flush out the water tank if the fifth wheel has been sitting unused for a long period of time, or at least once per year regardless of use. Pour a quarter cup of chlorine bleach into the tank mixed with one gallon of water. Add 10 more gallons and then run the water until the tank is empty again. Put in 10 more gallons of fresh water and flush it out. The water tank will be sanitary and ready for use again.
- lake mead national recreation area 14 image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com