Towing a Fifth Wheel with a Half-Ton Pickup Truck: All you need to know

Fifth wheel campers are increasingly popular thanks to having the spaciousness and luxury of a motorhome, yet you can easily unhitch from the tow vehicle without having to completely break camp. Of course, a pickup truck also gets around town, and the RV park easier than a motorhome.

However, fifth-wheel campers also tend to be heavy. Some of them are downright enormous, to the point where you need a three-quarter-ton or one-ton pickup truck to tow them safely.

Unfortunately, if you’re not a contractor by trade or a construction worker, then chances are you don’t own one of these trucks.

They tend to be large, very powerful, and expensive. Not to mention they all tend to be very thirsty when it comes to fuel consumption.

Though there is a narrow window in the fifth wheel camper niche of trailers that can indeed be towed by a half-ton truck.

The benefit here is that half-ton trucks tend to be less expensive to buy and own than their three-quarter-ton and one-ton big brothers.

If you have a half-ton truck or you’re thinking about buying a half-ton pickup truck you might be wondering if you can tow a fifth wheel camper with it?

The truth is, some fifth wheel campers can indeed be towed by a half-ton pickup truck, but they aren’t always easy to find. Fortunately, we’ve done most of the research for you. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best fifth-wheel campers that can be towed by a half-ton pickup truck as well as some of the basic towing principles that come into play.

The 7 Best Half-Ton Towable Fifth-Wheel Campers

Finding the best fifth wheel camper that can be towed by a half-ton truck can be a little tricky.

This is often due to payload capacity issues with the truck and just how much weight is being applied to the hitch installed in the cargo box.

Fortunately, we’ve been able to dig up a few gems for you to consider. 

Here Is A List Of The 7 Best Fifth Wheel Campers That Can Be Towed By Half-Ton Pickup Truck

  • 2019 Palomino Puma 255RKS Fifth Wheel
  • 2019 Flagstaff Super Lite 524LWS 5th Wheel
  • 2019 Forest River Arctic Wolf 285DRL4 5th Wheel RV
  • Rockwood Ultra Lite 2441WS Fifth Wheel Camper
  • The Escape 5.0TA Fifth Wheel
  • 2020 JAYCO Eagle Series Fifth Wheel 25.5REOK
  • 2020 Grand Design Reflection 150 Series 230RL

1. 2019 Palomino Puma 255RKS Fifth Wheel

  • Dry Weight of 6,754-pounds
  • Payload Capacity of 2,046-pounds
  • GVWR of 8,800-pounds
  • Hitch Weight of 1,102-pounds
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 51-gallons
  • Gray Water Tank Capacity of 70-gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity of 35-gallons

The Puma is one of Palomino’s most popular fifth-wheel campers. It offers a lot of the comforts of home you want engineering with lightweight design.

Palomino uses a lot of wood in the frame and body material with aluminum sidewalls.

This translates into a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,800-pounds, all within a length of 27.75-feet. It also has a hitch weight of just 1,102-pounds.

With a gross vehicle weight rating of only 8,800-pounds and a hitch weight of 1,102-pounds the 2019 Palomino Puma 255RKS can be towed by most of the popular half-ton trucks you see in the US and North American markets.

Palomino – Puma 255RKS

Though if you have a Ford F-150, you’ll want to make sure you have the V6 Eco Boost engine with a trim level that includes their robust towing package.

The 2019 Palomino Puma 255RKS has a rear kitchen with an attractive curved countertop that was designed to maximize the available working space.

It includes a spacious refrigerator and a lot of overhead cabinets. In the main living area, there is a comfortable sofa that faces a slide-out dinette.

There’s also a nicely outfitted entertainment center with good sightlines. There’s a small hallway that connects the living area to the queen size master bedroom and the bathroom, which has a wardrobe closet, a shower, toilet, and sink.

2. 2019 Flagstaff Super Lite 524LWS 5th Wheel

  • GVWR of 9,165-pounds
  • Dry Weight of 7,149-pounds
  • Payload Capacity of 2,016-pounds
  • Hitch Weight of 1,165-pounds
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 60-gallons
  • Gray Water Tank Capacity of 45-gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity of 45-gallons

The 2019 Forest River Flagstaff Super Lite 524LWS was designed with a spacious interior, a master suite with a touch of luxury, and many of the features you look for in a multi-seasonal fifth wheel camper.

It has a lightweight yet durable aluminum body construction with fiberglass sidewalls.

This translates into a gross vehicle weight rating of 9,165-pounds and a hitch weight of 1,165-pounds, as well as a length of just over 28-feet.

The 2019 Forest River Flagstaff Super Lite 524LWS has a GVWR of 9,165-pounds and a hitch weight of 1,165-pounds.

This realistically puts it just out of reach of the 2020 Ford F-150 and the 2020 Dodge Ram.

Flagstaff Super Lite 524LWS

Yet the Silverado, Sierra, and the highest trim level of the Toyota Tundra are still technically in play.

The cold weather carpeted master bedroom is incorporated into a slide-out section, which helps maximize the space when you are set up yet minimizes for towing at highway speed and reversing. The kitchen and the living area both flow together nicely.

A lot of RV retailers also offer an exterior gas grill with the purchase, just to add a little bit of something special to the value.

It’s also nice on those really hot days when you don’t want the heat from cooking supper to compete with the 13,500 BTU air conditioner.

3. 2019 Forest River Arctic Wolf 285DRL4 5th Wheel RV

  • Dry Weight of 8,275-pounds.
  • Payload Capacity of 1,625-pounds
  • GVWR of 9,800-pounds
  • Hitch Weight of 1,452-pounds
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 49-gallons
  • Gray Water Tank Capacity of 84-gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity of 42-gallons

There’s a reason why the Cherokee Arctic Wolf is one of Forest River’s most popular half ton towable fifth wheel fifth-wheel campers.

Not only is it built to be durable, but it also has a lot of the creature comforts you want when you are adventuring far from home or off the beaten path.

While the aluminum body construction and fiberglass sidewalls do save a bit of weight, some of the other characteristics makes this arguably one of the heaviest fifth wheel trailers that can possibly be towed by a half-ton pickup truck.

In fact it weighs in at a hefty 9,800-pound gross vehicle weight rating, with a hitch weight of 1,452-pounds.

The marketing slogans wrapped around the Cherokee Arctic Wolf 285DRL4 make it sound like towing it with a half-ton pickup truck is a breeze.

Cherokee Arctic Wolf 285DRL4

Unfortunately, its heavy gross vehicle weight means that it’s only truly safe to tow at speed with the highest trim levels of the Toyota Tundra and the Ford F-150 Eco Boost with towing package.

If you were going to park it up permanently at a long-term RV campsite, you might be able to move and position it with the Silverado and Sierra, but it’s not advisable to take it on the road with those half-ton pickup trucks.

The master suite with its queen-size bed is located in the front of the Cherokee Arctic Wolf 285DRL4.

It has a slide-outside that maximizes the space. The bathroom is adjacent which gives the master suite a little extra privacy.

The kitchen is modest, yet fully functional and comes with a residential refrigerator.

The living room has theater seating with power massage, and there’s a tri-fold sofa bed for times when you have overnight guests.

4. Rockwood Ultra Lite 2441WS Fifth Wheel Camper

  • Dry Weight of 7,149-pounds
  • Payload Capacity of 2,016-pounds
  • Hitch Weight of 1,165-pounds
  • Sleeps up to 6 people
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 60-gallons
  • Gray Water Tank Capacity of up to 45-gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity of up to 45-gallons

The Rockwood Ultra Lite with the 2441WS floor plan was engineered with weight-saving measures in mind.

It’s largely made from aluminum and fiberglass to keep the total dry weight and hitch weight down. While the interior still feels spacious and comfortable.

The Rockwood Ultra Lite 2441WS fifth wheel trailer is based largely on an aluminum body and frame for lightweight durability.

The sidewalls are then made from sturdy fiberglass. This means that the 28.42-foot Rockwood Ultra Lite has a dry weight of 7,149-pounds and a hitch weight of just 1,165-pounds..

This puts it reasonably in range with all the popular half-ton pickup trucks in the North American market.

Though you might be pushing it a little with a standard package trim level of the 2020 Ford F-150.

Rockwood Ultra Lite 2441WS

If you do have an F-150 you want to make sure it has the dual turbo Eco Boost engine and the trim level includes their robust towing package.

The interior of this fifth wheel camper is truly spacious for its relatively small footprint. This is thanks in part to the large open central space as well as the way the kitchen blends with the living room.

Though it is a little sparse when it comes to countertop space. Despite the limited footprint of trailers, this one offers a large open area in the center of the living space.

The entertainment center in this fifth wheel camper is impressive. Not only is there a TV in the main living room area, but a second one in the master suite.

The sofa and the dinette are also thoughtfully angled to let you watch TV while you eat without having to crane your neck.

It comes with a queen-size bed, but there is arguably enough space to upgrade to a king.

5. The Escape 5.0TA Fifth Wheel

  • Dry weight of 3,810-pounds
  • GVWR of 5,500-pounds
  • Hitch weight of 630-pounds

Escape trailers are built one at a time on a structural steel frame, in a factory based out of Chilliwack, British Columbia.

The Chilliwack, British Columbia is lightweight and easy to tow, as it’s more of a travel trailer with dual axles and a fifth wheel tongue.

Some people might argue that this is the baby fifth wheel of the bunch. Still there are some people who just want to travel light and small, to spend most of their time adventuring.

If this sounds lie you than the 5,500-pound gross vehicle rating and 630-pound hitch weight of The Escape 5.0TA might just be perfect.

It has a molded fiberglass exterior shell that was specifically designed with aerodynamics in mind.

Escape 5.0TA

This reduces some of the drag you often experience when towing a fifth-wheel camper. 

It only has a dry weight of 5,500 pounds and a hitch weight of 630-pounds, which means it’s comfortably in range for any half-ton pickup truck to tow.

The interior of the Escape 5.0TA is arguably cozy with a lot of the space being used for the main living area.

Though the modest master suite in the front of the fifth wheel camper is large enough to hold a queen-size bed.

At the rear, you will find a dining area and a modest kitchen with a U-shaped dinette.

6. 2020 JAYCO Eagle Series Fifth Wheel 25.5REOK

  • Dry Weight of 7,775-pounds
  • Payload Capacity of 1,405-pounds
  • GVWR of 9,995-pounds
  • Hitch Weight of 2,220-pounds
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 42.0-gallons
  • 2 Gray Water Tanks With A Total Capacity of 65-gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity of 32.5-gallons

The 2020 Jayco Eagle with the HT 25.5REOK floor plan has a nicely appointed and spacious interior.

It even sleeps up to 6 people which makes it a nice option for families with multiple children who want to travel.

The base body materials are largely made from aluminum, which saves weight. Yet the side walls are made from fiberglass which improves rigidity and adds stability.

This translates into a gross vehicle weight rating of 9,995-pounds and a hitch weight of 2,220-pounds, all in a 28.6-foot length.

The 2020 Jayco Eagle HT 25.5REOK tips the scales with a gross weight of almost 10,000-pounds. This puts it out of range of some half-ton trucks.

Though the highest trim levels of the F-150 with the Eco-Boost engine and tow package as well as the highest trim levels of the 2020 Toyota Tundra.

Eagle HT 25.5REOK

The 2020 Jayco Eagle HT 25.5REOK’s main living area gets its extra elbow room from a large slide-out, which also holds a convertible sleeper couch as well as a dinette area that can hold up to four people at a time.

The entertainment center sits relatively close to the modest kitchen. If you like there is even an optional electric fireplace that can be added to the equation.

For being somewhat small the kitchen comes with a refrigerator, a 3-burner range top stove with oven, and a microwave.

It has a curved countertop that holds the kitchen sink while also providing a few square inches for workspace.

The master suite bedroom with its queen-size bed and bathrooms at the front of the trailer.

The dual door bathroom essentially serves as a buffer area between the master suite and the rest of the interior living space.

7. 2020 Grand Design Reflection 150 Series 230RL

  • Dry Weight of 6,945-pounds
  • Payload Capacity of 2,607-pounds
  • GVWR of 9,495-pounds
  • Hitch Weight of 1,195-pounds
  • Fresh Water Tank Capacity of 52-gallons
  • Gray Water Tank Capacity of 71-gallons
  • Black Water Tank Capacity of 39-gallons
  • Sleeps up to 6 people

The 2020 Grand Design Reflection 150 Series with the 230RL floor plan was designed to have a spacious interior.

If it’s true that luxury is defined by light and space, then the Reflection 230RL, with its large windows and skylight stands out from the rest of the crowd. 

The 2020 Grand Design Reflection 230RL has a gross vehicle weight rating of 9,495-pounds and a hitch weight of 1,195-pounds.

This means you can tow it with just about any half-ton pickup truck. For the f-150, just make sure you have the V6 Eco Boost with the added towing package.

Like a lot of light weight fifth wheel campers the Grand Design Reflection employs an aluminum structure in the body with rigid fiberglass side walls.

This saves on weight while also adding strength to the overall equation. It also translates into a gross vehicle weight rating of 9,495-pounds and a hitch weight of 1,195-pounds.

Which is pretty good for a 28-foot long trailer that’s engineered for a touch of luxury.

Reflection 150 Series 230RL

The large slide out along the wall of the main living area gives the interior of the 2020 Grand Design Reflection 230RL a truly spacious feeling.

There is a large entertainment center that is thoughtfully angled to allow for easy viewing from nearly every angle. There is even a pair of comfortable theater seats in the back.

The kitchen is positioned in the corner of the main living area, and tightly hugs the wall to maximize the open feel.

There’s also an optional countertop extension for families who prioritize a little bit of extra workspace when cooking.

This fifth wheel camper has a rather large bathroom with a shower and overhead skylight.

It helps to buffer the master suite in the front of the camper which has a queen-size bed as well as a lot of thoughtful storage space.


What About Half-Ton Truck For Fifth-Wheel Towing?

When it comes to towing a fifth-wheel trailer with a half-ton truck, the irony is that it isn’t so much of a towing capacity issue as it is a payload capacity issue.

Though there are some ways to safely address this problem, without putting your half-ton truck or trailer at undue risk when towing at highway speeds. 

How Does Payload Capacity Affect A Half-Ton Truck’s Towing Performance?

Payload capacity is the truck manufacturer’s rating of how much weight the cargo box can handle. This also factors in a little storage space in the cab.

When it comes to a fifth-wheel camper trailer most half-ton pickup trucks don’t have the robust suspension and other characteristics to handle the hitch weight of the pin.

So, right off the bat, we made sure to keep a close eye on the hitch weight of the fifth wheel campers we reviewed.

The problem is that not all half-ton pickup trucks have the same payload capacity.

Indeed these numbers can vary from one make and model to the next, not to mention the difference in trim levels within a single manufacturer’s line.

Before pulling the trigger on any one of the fifth wheel campers we recommended on this list, you will want to double-check the payload capacity of your own half-ton pickup truck.

In general, the older the truck, the less payload capacity it has. This is due to recent improvements in suspension systems and other related components.

There’s also an increased chance of an older truck having damaged or worn out suspension components.

Even something as seemingly minor as a rust problem on a shackle and hanger can start to rob a half-ton truck of its payload capacity.

For this article, we tried to look for lightweight fifth-wheel campers with reasonable hitch weight numbers, that could put them in the ballpark of being towed by a half-ton pickup truck.

Always double check your specific truck’s specifications and try not to push it to the maximum.

Your payload capacity can still be affected by other cargo in the cab of the truck as well as how much you load into the fifth wheel camper while driving from Point A to Point B.

How Much Can The Average Half-Ton Pickup Truck Tow?

Most of the newer half-ton pickup trucks can tow around 9,000 to 13,000-pounds.

Though there are different trim levels and tow package options that can make these numbers higher or lower for a specific make and model.

At the top of the range, you have the very popular Ford F-150, which can tow a little over 13,000 pounds when the trim level and options are maxed out with the tow package.

The Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Dodge Ram tend to run a little under that but are still in the ballpark.

So, pay attention to your vehicle’s tow rating and make sure it is higher than the fifth wheel camper's gross vehicle weight rating, which is often expressed as GVWR.

What Are The Most Popular Half Ton Pickup Trucks For Fifth Wheel Towing?

Half-ton pickup trucks are very popular in the United States and Canada.

They have the fuel consumption that a lot of people can live within a daily driver, yet the robust characteristics to be able to earn their keep by working for a living. 

Though half-ton pickup trucks are perhaps not as well-received internationally, which limits their selection to a handful of domestically produced vehicles.

The Ford F-150  

The Ford F-150

This is the best selling half-ton truck in the world and has been for decades. Ford has recently started transitioning most of the F-150 trim levels to their Eco-Boost technology.

Which is more fuel-efficient but does rob the F-150 of a little bit of the robust torque you used to get from their 5.4-liter V8. It has a maximum tow capacity of up to 8,000-pounds and a payload capacity of 1,988-pounds.

The Chevrolet Silverado  

The Chevrolet Silverado

This is the runner up to the F-150, with a loyal following all its own. These half-ton pickup trucks have a reputation for adding a few extra creature comforts in the newer, higher trim levels.

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado has a maximum tow capacity of 9,800-pounds and a payload capacity of 2,100-pounds.

The Dodge Ram

The Dodge Ram

Originally seen as the perennial bronze star holder in the US domestic truck market, the Dodge Ram has gone through a little bit of a revolution thanks to the use of the Hemi engine.

It has a towing capacity of 8,750-pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 1,900-pounds.

The GMC Sierra

The GMC Sierra

This is a sibling of the Chevrolet Silverado as they are both made under the same General Motors umbrella.

The Sierra tends to have a few more special features which sometimes also beef up the price tag.

It has a towing capacity of up to 9,800-pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 2,100 pounds.

The Toyota Tundra

The Toyota Tundra

The Tundra has undergone some twists of evolution and engineering since making an initial big splash in the US marketplace.

It’s highest trim level with tow package has a towing capacity of up to 10,800 pounds and a maximum payload capacity of up to 1,915-pounds. Just bear in mind that lesser trim levels of the Tundra are not as robust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Special Hitch To Tow A Fifth Wheel Camper With A Half-Ton Truck?

Yes, you will need a special hitch, which will need to be installed directly into the cargo box of your half-ton pickup truck.

This is something you will need a specialist to perform. It’s not something you can do on your own.

You should also note that the weight of the hitch itself and the other components will also impact your truck’s payload capacity. Some can weigh up to 100-pounds altogether.

Will Towing A Fifth Wheel Camper Hurt My Gas Mileage?

Towing anything will affect your half-ton pickup truck’s gas mileage. In the case of a heavy fifth wheel camper, you will certainly notice a significant dip in your overall MPG.

Proper maintenance like frequent oil changes, air filter replacements, and using high octane fuel will help improve these numbers.

Still, if you are going to push the near the limits of your towing capacity, you might see the average MPG cut in half. Especially if you have to do a lot of stopping and starting.

Do I Need To Turn Overdrive Off When Towing A Fifth Wheel Camper?

In general, most pickup truck drivers will turn overdrive off when towing. Especially when towing a heavy load or driving over hilly terrain.

This keeps the truck from constantly kicking down, which taxes the engine and leads to poor MPG performance.

Just keep in mind that when overdrive is turned off the truck will have a little bit of lag time when accelerating quickly. You’ll see this even more pronounced in a pickup truck with a turbo engine.

So, Can a Half-Ton Truck Tow a Fifth-Wheel Camper?

The short answer is yes, you can tow a fifth wheel trailer with a half-ton truck. But it’s true that half-ton trucks aren’t ideal for towing a fifth-wheel camper, some can’t do it at all, there are a few rare exceptions in the field.

If you have a half-ton pickup truck with a robust towing package and you are in the market for a fifth wheel camper, you will need to keep a close eye on matching hitch weight to payload capacity and towing capacity.

If you are looking for something ultralightweight, and you are willing to sacrifice a little bit of elbow room, you might want to take a good hard look at the Escape 5.0TA.

It’s small, lightweight, easily maneuverable, and surprisingly aerodynamic. It certainly will take the smallest bite out of your average MPG.

If you place a priority on spaciousness and natural light, then the 2020 Grand Design Reflection 150 Series with the 230RL floorplan might be the perfect fit.

It has skylights and towering windows with a slide-out that maximizes the living room area.

If you want a touch of luxury with a little bit of a glamping feel, then you might want to lean toward the 2019 Forest River Flagstaff Super Lite in the 524LWS floor plan.

It’s spacious inside and has the creature comfort features that a lot of RV adventuring families enjoy.

Whatever your needs are, if you own a half-ton pickup truck and you are thinking about adding a fifth-wheel camper to go along with it, chances are the best option for you is somewhere on this list.

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