Fifth-wheel trailers offer the comfort and convenience of a motorhome while giving you the ability to disconnect from them to use your tow vehicle, just like you do with a travel trailer.
They also tend to be very heavy, and require not just a robust pickup truck to tow them, but a special type of hitch that is designed to connect with fifth-wheel trailers.
In the past most fifth-wheel hitches needed to be permanently installed, which some people didn’t like as it significantly reduced how much cargo you could put in the box of the pickup truck when you weren’t towing a fifth-wheel trailer.
In recent years, fifth-wheel hitch manufacturers have tried to address these concerns by making hitches that can be partially uninstalled out from your truck bed.
If you want to pull a fifth-wheel trailer, but you don’t want to live with the fifth-wheel hitch permanently installed in your truck’s cargo box, this article is for you.
Though before we take a closer look at some of the best removable fifth-wheel hitches on the market, we first need to take a closer look at some nuts and bolts details.
This calls for asking and answering a few important questions to help lay the groundwork.
Do Removable Fifth-Wheel Hitches Come Completely Out Of The Cargo Box?
The most recent fifth-wheel hitches on the market will come out of the pickup truck’s cargo box with very little left behind.
Though the rails and some hardware connections may need to remain.
Though these will not impede the cargo box’s ability to earn it keeps hauling things like tools, lumber, and equipment.
This makes removable fifth-wheel hitches very popular with tradesmen who need their truck to earn its keep Monday through Friday.
Is There A Difference Between A Gooseneck Hitch & A Standard Fifth-Wheel Hitch?
Some fifth-wheel trailers are set up to connect via a gooseneck hitch. Some of these hitches lag behind the removable innovation offered by a traditional fifth-wheel hitch.
While some hitches are capable of adapting to accept a gooseneck, you should not assume that all of them are compatible.
What Is An Under Bed Fifth-Wheel Hitch?
An under-bed fifth-wheel hitch is more common with removable fifth-wheel hitches in pickup trucks that still need to be able to haul a maximum load of cargo.
With under-bed fifth-wheel hitches, the rail system is attached underneath the truck’s cargo bed.
This leaves the cargo box flat and empty after the removable hitch has been taken out.
How Much Does A Removable Hitch Cost?
Before installation, the hardware cost of a removable fifth-wheel hitch can range from as low as $300 to as much as $2,500, depending on the size, style, and manufacturer.
Then you also need to add in the professional installation cost which can range from $250 to $500.
Can I Install A Removable Fifth-Wheel Hitch Myself?
Unless you are a professionally certified mechanic, it’s probably a bad idea to try to install a removable fifth-wheel hitch yourself.
Though once a professional installed the key components like the rails and other permanent hardware fixtures, you should be able to “Remove” the fifth-wheel hitch on your own. You just need to be conscious of the weight.
Key Fifth-Wheel Hitch Terms
There are a few key terms to understand when it comes to choosing and installing the best removable fifth-wheel hitch for your truck and trailer.
Familiarizing yourself with the following terms will go a long way toward helping you make informed decisions.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
This is the total weight of the fifth-wheel trailer when it is fully loaded. The manufacturer posts this based on the suspension, frame, and other factors.
You need to compare this weight to your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity. This also needs to be factored into the removable fifth-wheel hitch’s rated capacity.
This is the weight of the fifth-wheel trailer when it is completely empty.
If you are only going to partially load the trailer and pull it with the water tanks empty, then you can add the weight of the items you pack in the trailer to determine the real-world gross weight of your fifth-wheel trailer.
This can allow you to tow a fifth-wheel trailer that might have a GVWR higher than the removable hitch’s rating, assuming you pack light and are willing to weigh your cargo.
Payload Capacity & Vertical Load Limit
These are technically two separate terms that are directly interrelated. When it comes to your pickup truck tow vehicle, the payload capacity of the vehicle is based on the frame, suspension, and other key factors.
This determines the maximum tongue/hitch weight of a fifth-wheel trailer that it can support.
The Vertical Load Limit, it the amount of weight that the removable fifth-wheel hitch can support.
These numbers can be different. To be safe, you want the hitch/tongue weight of the fifth-wheel trailer to be below the lowest number of the truck’s payload capacity as well as the vertical load limit.
Gross Tongue Weight
This is another term that needs to be compatible with the truck’s payload capacity and the maximum towing capacity.
You want the gross vehicle weight rating of the fifth-wheel hitch to be less than the Gross Tongue Weight (GTW) of the removable fifth-wheel hitch.
Different fifth-wheel manufacturers will use either “Tongue Weight” or “Hitch Weight” to describe the weight that the tongue or pin of the fifth-wheel trailer applies when properly connected.
This number needs to be less than both the pickup truck’s payload capacity as well as the removable fifth-wheel hitch’s vertical load limit.
5 Best Removable Fifth-Wheel Hitch Hitches
The world of removable fifth-wheel hitches continues to expand to meet the demand for fifth-wheel trailer owners who still want their truck to use its full payload capacity Monday through Friday.
With that in mind, we tried to keep an eye out for the kind of removable fifth-wheel hitches that will hold their value no matter which way the market continues to expand.
1: The B&W Companion RVK 3500 5th Wheel Hitch
The B&W Companion RVK 3500 is a removable fifth-wheel hitch with a wide stance which gives it superior stability and strength.
It has special polyurethane bushings that help to absorb vibrations which is important when you need to tow long distances or you need to pull your fifth-wheel trailer over rough roads.
It has 1-inch thick jaws that holds a fifth-wheel trailer’s kingpin tightly to prevent a loose start or stop.
2: The PullRite Superglide 2700 5th Wheel Hitch
The PullRite Superglide 2700 is an automatic sliding fifth-wheel hitch that can fit most half-ton pickup trucks.
Just bear in mind that it has a vertical maximum load limit of up to 4,000-pounds, which can be more than the payload capacity of a half-ton pickup truck can bear.
What this ultimately means is that while the PullRite Superglide 2700 will work in a half-ton pickup truck’s box, it is just as well suited for three-quarter and even one-ton short box pickup trucks.
This removable fifth-wheel hitch also has a reputation for making it easy to pivot the trailer up to 90-degrees without risking contact between the nose cone of the trailer and the rear corner of the cab.
It’s also worth noting that the hitch head only weighs 40-pounds, which is comfortably within the range of what one person can remove without help.
3: The PullRite 2914 Superglide Ford OE 5th Wheel Hitch
The PullRite 2914 Superglide is a removable fifth-wheel hitch that is great for short-bed trucks and is most compatible with Ford models.
It does a great job of reducing the turning issues that are often a concern with removable fifth-wheel hitches in a short-bed pickup truck.
It avoids this issue by changing the connection from side to side when you turn.
This allows you to make up to a 90-degree turn without risking the nose cap of the fifth-wheel trailer contacting the rear corner of the pickup truck’s cab.
This also helps reduce vibration, which can be a priority if you frequently to your RV on rough backcountry roads.
4. The CURT 16035 Q20 5th Wheel Hitch
The CURT 16035 Q20 Fifth-Wheel Hitch is designed to work with an 8-foot long cargo box.
It is most compatible with Ford’s lineup of three-quarter and one-ton pickup trucks. The engineers who designed it made ergonomics a priority.
To that end, it has a lockable, short-throw, single-handle operation, as well as a self-aligning head with a wide opening for easy coupling.
The dual jaws have the potential to provide 360-degree kingpin contact, which can be handy if you need to park up your fifth-wheel trailer in a tight forested campsite.
The fact that it can handle up to 20,000 pounds of GTW and 5,000 pounds of the vertical load makes it great for pulling most fifth-wheel trailers.
When it comes time to take this removable fifth-wheel hitch out of the box it is only 56-pounds, which most people can manage on their own.
Can I Use A Bed Liner With A Removable Fifth-Wheel Hitch?
Most fifth-wheel hitches and removable fifth-wheel hitches are designed to be flush-mounted with the flat plane of the pickup truck’s cargo box. This typically makes it impossible to install a plastic truck bed liner.
Though you might be able to get away with a spray-on bed liner, provided that none of the sprayed material affects the connection hardware between the removable fifth-wheel hitch and the permanently installed components on the pickup truck.
Can I Remove The Rails From My Removable Fifth-Wheel Hitch?
While the hitch itself can be taken out of a properly engineered removable fifth-wheel hitch, it is best to leave the rails permanently installed.
It’s important to note that the rails attach directly to the pickup truck’s frame.
Then brackets are tightened to an exact torque level, similar to how you tighten a spark plug.
This all plays a critical role when it comes to holding your trailer firmly in place.
Frequently loosening and re-tightening these bolts and brackets can effectively start to weakens the bed rails as well as potentially even your vehicle’s frame over time. Ultimately, it’s best to leave the rails installed from day one.
Manufacturers continue to respond to the demand for removable fifth-wheel hitches with innovative options.
Being savvy about reading the specifications and making sure that the technical specs of the fifth-wheel hitch meet the technical specs of your fifth-wheel trailer is a critical first step.
If you have a lightweight fifth-wheel trailer and you want to connect it to your half-ton pickup truck then the PullRite Superglide 2700 might be the best removable fifth-wheel hitch to meet your needs.
It is also light enough for a single person to handle the removal without the need for additional equipment.
If you have an 8-foot box on a three-quarter-ton or one-ton Ford pickup truck then the CURT 16035 Q20 might be the best removable fifth-wheel hitch to meet your needs.
Not only can it pull up to 20,000-pounds of a fifth-wheel trailer and handle a vertical load limit of up to 5,000-pounds, but you can even connect to your trailer at non-traditional angles, which can be handy. Especially if you have a backcountry horse trailer and camper combo.