Help me pick out a truck and a fifth wheel

GearJunky

Active member
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
171
Figure all you hunters will have plenty of good advice.

Looking for a truck and trailer combo that works well for family trips and hunting. We are a family of 5, so the floor plan will be a bunkhouse. I live in Billings, Montana.

After owning bumper pulls and a class c… I feel like a fifth wheel fits my needs the best. Large camper layout and the ability to triple tow toys.

Looking for a used diesel - $65k budget. Must be a crew cab with short box.
Looking at Ford and gmc

Used fifth wheel - $40k budget.
Suggestions on brand?


If you have any links to items for sale that would be great, otherwise happy to hear your feedback.

Truck will be my daily use truck. So likely going 2500 vs 3500.

Thanks!
 

Dan O

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
Messages
1,011
Location
Seeley Lake, Mt
If you're going to use it in hunting season, I would suggest looking for a 4-season unit. Arctic Fox and Jayco come to mind. I own a Jayco and it does ok above zero. No matter what you go with if it has slide outs get the awning package you will thank me when it snows. Mine doesn't have them :( Also with the short box get a hitch that compensates when your backing into a tight spot. A lot of new 1/5th wheels are not as critical as others. Just beware, I have $1,500.00 reasons to remember this lol.

Make sure it is sealed underneath to prevent mice/squirrels from getting into the underbelly and finding a pathway into the interior. I'm currently dealing with this now. So far 7 dead squirrels and a few more to go. Little bas####s

A 3/4 ton will work but a 1 ton is better for hauling. Check the gear ratio to see how it effects the hauling compacity. Currently my F250 short box has a 6.2 gasser and it works but strains on the hills when hauling my 30 foot 1/5th wheel. I think it has 373 gears if I remember right and it would do better with the next lower ratio. Also forgot to add if your going with the Ford go 2011 or newer. This is when the 6.7 Power Stroke came out. I've had a 99 7.3 = good, a 06 6.0 = not good, a friend had a 6.4 also not good according to him. My daughter and a friend had/have the 6.7 Power Stroke's and liked them. They were 2011 and 2013 and another has a 2021 all positive so far. Personally I would also include the Ford 7.3 gasser into the mix and check it out. No personal experience with this motor just find it interesting and worth a look.

Hope some of this helps,
Dan
 
Last edited:

Chingon

Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
39
Ford F350 all day long - they're the #1 seller for a reason, especially against the bowties. As mentioned above, don't bother with a 3/4 ton; price will be almost the same, ride will be no different (once you air down tires when not towing) but you'll gain at least 1k in payload.

Honestly, all RV's in that price range are equally junk, and that's just the nature of the industry. You have to spend a lot more to jump up into the Outdoors RV/Nash type of lower volume boutique brands, but even those have build quality issues.

Just look for features that you want. After owning a few, here are my criteria for minimum build quality:
  • Azdel construction for walls to avoid issues with water if/when the roof leaks
  • Fully walkable roof - many are very soft between trusses, but some are fully covered in plywood. This just translates to being a bit more overbuilt.
  • Look at payload/GVWR ratio. If a huge 5er only has 1500 lbs of cargo capacity, it's axles/frame are undersized and it'll break sooner.
  • Axle weight ratings that are equal to the GVWR or close is a good sign that it's built right. Many rely on the ~20% hitch transfer and slap on the cheapest axles you can find.
  • Look for upgraded suspension (CRE 3000 I think?), not just leaf springs bolted to fixed shackles
  • Tires can be changed out, but Goodyear Endurance is a good sign
  • Fresh water tank capacity is huge for me when I'm boondocking. I love toyhaulers just for the simple fact that they usually come with onboard generators and 100gal water tanks
  • Triple towing is a PITA. Consider a toyhauler. Your kids will be fine on their huge drop down queen beds. Layout isn't the best, but you'll get a more beefy trailer overall. In my experience we never spend much time in the camper beyond sleeping...
  • Few 5ers actually have rear hitches rated for towing any more than a couple hundred pounds, check for that.
  • Integrated solar is awesome, but if you only camp at RV campgrounds not important
  • Rear camera is a gamechanger, but usually easily added
  • Get the smallest one you can tolerate. If you boondock, pulling a massive camper is horrible, and asking for trouble. In fact, I don't recommend 5th wheels for navigating off-pavement. Very easy to get off-camber and smash bed rails/tailgate into the 5er cab.
  • Heated/enclosed underbelly is key
I ended up with a bumper pull toyhauler. I don't like the interior layout, but it hauls my 4 seater SXS, sleeps plenty, has onboard genny/fuel station, 100 gal water tank, and can be pulled up some gnarly twisty roads if needed. 5ers would not work at my spots with any modern truck with high bed rails (would need a utility bed conversion).

I also went with a long bed F350. Not much worse at all than my previous short bed F250, but way more stable towing. Also has a 48 gallon fuel tank with a nearly 1,000 mile range. IMO the fuel tanks in short beds are too small.
 

tim629

Active member
Joined
Jul 16, 2016
Messages
166
Location
upstate NY
with your truck budget i wouldn't rule out a new(er) gas truck. i have a 2020 GMC 6.6 gas that i've been happy with, only time it really struggled was around 17K pounds long steep two lane road, i think the truck speed limit on the return trip was like 15mph for the next 5 miles or something like that not a typical northeast road. new f350 gas should be here in the next week or two, decided that route so i could get the 4.3 gears for those 5 miles out of the last 50K that i've driven and wanted a bit more power plus the local GM dealer didn't want to order a truck that day and the ford dealer did. you can buy either brand in a 1ton for under 65K
 

WATERMAG

Active member
Joined
Jul 13, 2018
Messages
106
Location
Ohio
I have a 3/4 ton duramax and would buy another one. Overall I am please with it (once the emissions stuff fell off). As far as the camper goes 5th wheel vs bumper pull I just listed out the pros and cons and ended up with a bumper pull to keep my truck bed space. If I went with a 5th wheel it would have to be a toy hauler to have the "bed space" but I didn't need a toy hauler so I couldn't justify the extra money.

They also sell airbags if you decide to go with a 3/4 ton then buy a heavier camper than anticipated.

On a side note, I got a topper on my truck this year for my solo hunting trip. No need to haul around the camper and be tied to one spot.
 

Dan O

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
Messages
1,011
Location
Seeley Lake, Mt
A couple of points from Chingon's post. I did get the backup camera and it is a great help when backing into a parking area. It also has the ability to listen to what's going on behind you ie; parking directions, you just cannot communicate back. I also think you would be able to hear if your towing unit had tire issues if you have a blowout. I ordered the bigger tires 16 inch and they have been good so far. The Jayco has a factory 2-inch receiver hitch that is rated for #3000 and has the flat 4 wiring. I also got the factory option BBQ grill that taps into the camper propane tanks.

I agree you are very limited to off road and have to watch the bed rail/camper contact. There is not a lot of room for error.

The roof on mine is rubber coated and is rated for walking on. So far, I have not done so I'm not sure it would handle my weight, but the wife would be fine I have no doubt.

I see this is my 1000 post I hope it gives you some useful information.

Dan
 

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