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There are different types of hitches for connecting your tow vehicle with what it needs to tow, like a boat or a recreational vehicle. Each comes with distinct pros and cons, and among them, the gooseneck hitch is the ideal hitch for really heavy towing jobs.
However, you might want to tow a fifth wheel trailer for camping trips, which typically comes with a 5th wheel kingpin for connecting to a 5th wheel hitch on your pickup, while your truck might already have a gooseneck hitch installed. In this common case, you’ll need a 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter.
To find the best 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter for your towing needs, it’s critical that you understand the basics of a hitching system for recreational vehicles, how an adapter works, where it comes into play in the towing setting, the working mechanisms of different types of adapters, as well as the most important buying criteria.
This comprehensive guide will start with all the basics, then you’ll find our delicious handpicked list of the best adapters on the market, based on their specifications plus 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter reviews by seasoned campers and experts’ opinions. At the end of this guide is installation procedures and answers to frequently asked questions.
5th Wheel To Gooseneck Adapter Basics
What is a hitch?
A hitch is a connection system that attaches a travel trailer or a 5th wheel trailer to a towing truck. There are different hitches designed for different circumstances, and your chosen hitch would greatly affect your towing experience, including the turning radius or how the trailer follows the towing vehicle when turning, how heavy of a load your car can tow and how well the trailer’s weight is distributed.
Therefore, if you are a first-time camper, you should understand the pros and cons of each type of trailer hitch before installing one on your truck. Once there’s a mismatch between your installed system and what’s on the trailer you want to tow, you will need to make a few decisions as outlined below.
Although there are more types of hitches for towing, the gooseneck and 5th wheel hitches are the two trailer hitches particularly used for hauling heavy loads, with the gooseneck hitch allowing for heavier towing jobs between the two.
A 5th wheel trailer would typically come with a 5th wheel kingpin for connecting to a corresponding 5th wheel hitching system on your towing truck. But in the case that you have a gooseneck hitch system already installed on your truck, but need to tow a 5th wheel, you have two options.
One is to remove the existing hitching system on your truck and put in a 5th wheel system instead. This is recommended by experts if you prioritize getting a smooth, more stable ride. The second is to use a 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter, which would allow you to connect the gooseneck hitching system on your pickup to the 5th wheel kingpin on the 5th wheel trailer.
Put simply, a 5th wheel adapter allows a gooseneck hitch to tow 5th wheel trailers, as long as there is sufficient weight capacity and the correct adapter is installed.
There are different types of 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters which work a bit differently, but in general, an adapter comes with a shank to drop into the gooseneck ball hole on your truck’s hitching system and an adapter plate that can be installed into the gooseneck hitch, providing a set of industry-standard 5th wheel base rails to accept a 5th wheel hitch.
Gooseneck vs 5th wheel
While a “gooseneck travel trailer” comes with a coupler for gooseneck hitching, a 5th wheel trailer typically comes with a king pin plate already mounted to the front of the trailer for 5th wheel hitching. A king pin is a round steel shaft, which allows the fifth wheel hitch on the truck to clamp around it.
In general, the gooseneck trailers are more typically used for really heavy towing jobs and industrial trailers due to its capacity for a heavier load. If you want to transport heavy and bulky cargo, then a gooseneck hitch is advisable.
Meanwhile, fifth wheel trailers are more common for recreational purposes. If you plan on carrying passengers, then it is better to go for a fifth wheel, which is best towed using a 5th wheel hitching system. According to experts, towing a 5th wheel trailer using a 5th wheel hitch on your pickup will generally offer a smoother towing experience. You can further improve this with an air-ride pin box, also called an ungraded king pin receiver to help reduce road shock from the tow vehicle and dampen the resulting noises.
How 5th Wheel to Gooseneck Adapters Come Into Play
That said, if your pick up truck already has a gooseneck hitching system installed for regular heavy towing jobs and you just bought a trailer that comes with the 5th wheel king pin, what should you do?
You don’t have to remove the existing gooseneck hitching system on your vehicle to replace it with a new 5th wheel system. A 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter will allow you to connect the trailer’s 5th wheel king pin to the gooseneck ball on your pickup.
Such an adapter allows you versatility and flexibility: you can either perform your regular heavy towing jobs or tow a gooseneck travel trailer using just the existing gooseneck hitch alone, or tow a 5th wheel trailer using the adapter.
That said, since fifth wheel campers are more common for recreational purposes, if you’re purchasing a towable RV for traveling on the open road, you should install a 5th wheel hitching system on your truck. If you are sure that you’d only be towing a 5th wheel at all times in the future, having a 5th wheel hitch installed on your truck would also mean you’d need to make less considerations regarding your towing setup.
For instance, when you use an adapter, the adapter needs to be of the appropriate height, which must absolutely fit snugly between the top of the gooseneck ball and the bottom of the 5th wheel king pin plate for a secure connection. Another thing that you must take into careful consideration is that you must double or triple check that the adapter wouldn’t stretch the frames of the fifth wheel over its limit. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of using a 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter to tow a fifth wheel trailer. Do consider your towing needs carefully to better decide whether to use an adapter or install a new 5th wheel hitch on your towing vehicle.
5th Wheel to Gooseneck Adapter Pros & Cons
- Flexibility With Different Towing Setups For Different Jobs: If you need a gooseneck hitch on your truck for regular heavy towing jobs, like towing lumber or construction materials, so you might not want to remove it to put a 5th wheel hitch in place just to tow your 5th wheel on occasional camping trips. Having the right 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter in place would allow you great versatility, so that you can use different setups for not just doing your regular towing and towing a fifth wheel trailer, but also for towing a gooseneck travel trailer. This is especially handy if you do not own but rent an RV for camping, and might want the flexibility of towing different trailers each time.
- An adapter for every needs: Depending on your needs, you can get an adapter with adjustable heights, a secure connection for a more permanent solution or a flexible connection that facilitates frequent switching between trailer types, or one that doesn’t take up space in your truck bed for other hauling purposes.
- Easy To Install and Operate: Installation of an adapter and hitching can be done simply. All the different types of 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters have straightforward mechanisms. A common type typically features a removable ball that is very lightweight and can come directly down to the ball hole of the gooseneck hitch for easy operation. Or the adapter can mount to the gooseneck ball in your truck bed, or mounts around the fifth-wheel king pin on your trailer, or replaces the king pin entirely.
- Some Adapter Might Put Extra Stress On Trailer’s Frame: The extra torque caused by certain types and models of gooseneck adapter may stretch the frame of your fifth wheel trailer beyond its limits and may damage it. That only means you need to consider different options to find the one that offers the right balance of pros and cons for your needs, as there are also 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters that will directly couple your trailer to the ball and will not put any extra stress on the frame.
- Can Void Your Trailer’s Warranty: Keep in mind that some RV makers have a clear-cut rule that if the trailer is damaged because of a hitch adapter, the original manufacturer’s warranty, so be prepared for the risks.
- Might Not Come With a Warranty: Although the best 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters on the market often come with some kind of warranty, this is not true in all cases. Some manufacturers lack the adequate testing, thus they do not offer a warranty with their adapter. Do check this when comparing different models. Often, as with anything, a solid warranty usually is proof that the model is well designed with excellent construction quality, and can be expected to be more durable.
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Types of 5th Wheel To Gooseneck Adapters
Adapters that Slides in the Ball Hole of the Gooseneck Hitch
These adapters feature a lightweight removable ball that can slide directly down to the ball hole of the gooseneck hitch. Because this adapter replaces the king pin on your trailer, you won’t need to measure for height. All in all, this type of adapter is extremely versatile, very easy to install, hitch up and remove.
This type of adapter offers the most adaptability for different jobs. It’s the most suitable if you frequently need to switch between towing a 5th wheel trailer, a gooseneck travel trailer or other towing jobs while driving the same towing truck. In addition, it can be easily removed when you need to haul cargo in the truck bed,and it doesn’t require any modification to the trailer.
One thing to note though, these adapters are made to fit specific pin boxes, so you must check your make and model by looking for a plate or sticker with this specification.
Adapters that Replaces the trailer Pin Box
These adapters replace the pin box on your trailer entirely, thus allowing for the most secure connection and is meant to be more of a permanent solution, without the adaptability of the first type. The major advantage is that the adapter will leave your truck bed open for other uses, and there’s no additional stress on either the trailer frame or the hitch. Also, you won’t need to measure for height, since the adapter will replace your trailer’s king pin.
Note that as a more permanent hitching solution, they are made to fit specific pin boxes though, so you’ll have to check which make and model you have on a plate or sticker on your unit.
Adapters that Attach to the Fifth-Wheel Trailer King Plate
Another type of 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter takes the form of a tube that mounts around the king pin on your trailer and attaches to the entire fifth wheel plate at one end, and at the other end attaches to the gooseneck ball in your truck bed. This setup does not require the removal of the king pin and pin box.
The advantage of this type of adapter is that since it does not pull on the king pin but instead is mounted to the entire fifth wheel plate that the kingpin is attached to, the setup strengthens the kingpin box as well as allowing for an even weight distribution across the entire base plate.
As for downsides, this type of 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters cannot be used on all 5th wheel trailers. You’d need to check with your manufacturer. Plus, this type of adapter is very heavy, which makes installation less straightforward and might require some assistants. And since it’s extra heavy, it might cause stress on the trailer frame and hitch, thus you will need to check in respect to your trailer’s limit to avoid damages
Some products in this category are not recommended by the manufacturers to be used with pin boxes over a certain length, so do check for maximum recommended pin box length. Another consideration is that these adapters need to be of the correct height to allow for level and safe towing. In this regard, you can get an adapter with adjustable height instead of a fixed height.
Adapters that Attach to a Gooseneck Ball in the Truck Bed
These adapters are the most lightweight options. They mount to the underbed gooseneck ball in your truck bed and allow for adjustable hitch height. The advantage of this setup is that the higher attachment point between your truck’s hitch and your fifth wheel trailer means less stress on the trailer’s frame and pin box, thus a lower chance of damaging the frame.
How To Determine The Required Height of The Adapter
To measure the height of the adapter you will need, you need to take some precise measurements. First, put your truck into position as if you were hooking up your trailer and make sure both vehicles are level. Then measure from the king pin plate down to the top of the gooseneck ball on your truck bed. This number will be the required adapter height. Do note that for safe towing, you should leave about five or six inches of clearance between the side rails of your truck and the overhang of the trailer.
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The Best 5th Wheel To Gooseneck Adapters
Eaz-Lift Gooseneck Adapter 15 Inch Camco Gooseneck Adapter
Although Camco is not particularly known for their hitch adapters, their Eaz-Lift 15 Inch Adapter is one of the best 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters on the market for real heavy towing jobs. It can handle up to 30,000 pounds of gross trailer weight and a vertical weight of up to 7,500 pounds, and that is some superior tongue weight compared to the best models on the market. It’s high capacity but is compact and relatively lightweight, so you will still be able to haul other items in your truck bed.
The major advantages of this model is compatibility and versatility. Eaz-Lift comes with a universal locking coupler that would fit any standard gooseneck ball of 2-5/16 inches. The adapter is available in all the three common heights, that is 12 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches. The kit includes all the essential hardware to hook the adapter up to your truck. And it generally receives positive reviews regarding reliability and durability.
However, a major disadvantage is this model lacks cushioning for better ride comfort, so it’s not suitable for adventurous campers who often travel off the beaten path on rough terrains. Another downside is you need to take some precise measurements for choosing the right height. In addition, some customers complain the installation process is not as straightforward as it should be, due to the included nuts and wrench not quite fitting together, which means you might need to use your own toolkit to complete the process.
T Built Gooseneck Adapter
If you’re one who is always wary of the potential danger when disengaging your trailer from your tow vehicle, then you should really consider the T Built Gooseneck Adapter. This model has a remote release feature to allow you to disengage safely from a distance, without having to place a human body too close to the source of potential force. It also comes with a self-locking coupler for added safety.
The T Built adapter features forward offsets, which makes it ideal if you own a short-bed truck. This model has a towing capacity of up to 24,000 pounds of gross trailer weight. It’s compatible with standard 2-5/16 inches gooseneck hitches, and comes in 12, 15, and 17 inches heights, all adjustable.
Installation is also straightforward as consistently reported by buyers, with easy to follow instructions and the kit includes everything, from mounting bolts to lock nuts, and everything works well and fits together snugly. The installation does bring about a possible inconvenience though, that is you’ll need to drill some holes to bolt the unit on. That said, this should not be a downside for most campers.
Convert-A-Ball C5G Coupler Adapter
This 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter is an all-around durable and secure model with decent towing capacity. Made of sturdy cast steel, you can rest assured that it will be of good service for many years to come while withstanding demanding towing jobs as well nature’s unforgiving outdoor elements. Convert-A-Ball C5G Couple Adapter offers some of the most secure connections between your tow vehicle and trailer. Just fasten it over the kingpin and it won’t budge. While not as high-capacity as the Campco adapter above, it is made for some decent towing of up to 20,000 pounds and a tongue weight of up to 4,000 pounds.
A big plus is it features poly cushions padding, 360 degrees plus up-and-down, for more ride comfort while you’re in motion on bumpy roads as well as minimizing the wear and tear on both your trailer and vehicle. This makes this product one of the best 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters for campers who love to explore hard-to-reach places.
Another upside that customers often appreciate is the easy installation process. Plus, it comes with an adjustable height feature, thus allowing it to adapt to a broader range of tow vehicles. High compatibility is always nice when towing, as it gives you a bit more flexibility in different situations.
All in all, not only is it easy to set up, it provides a sturdy connection and is made to last. The cast steel construction makes it extra durable, the kit comes with three heavy-duty fasteners, and the rust-proof guarantee by the manufacturer speaks volume about the durability and construction quality of this model.
As for the few downsides, first is the lack of sufficient clearance in the case that you have a newer camper and need more height, despite it being adjustable. The lack of a remote release might not necessarily be the deal breaker, but considering the fact that this adapter is very heavy, you might want the remote release feature so that you won’t have to get close to what might potentially be a source of tremendous force.
Andersen Hitches 3220 Aluminum Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection
The Andersen Hitches 3220 Aluminum Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection is specially designed to fit short bed trucks and is one of the best adapters for this type of tow vehicle, but it is universally compatible with standard and long bed trucks as well. All in all, it is extremely easy to install, is durable and lightweight, and very easy to work with, offering you a well-rounded towing solution.
One of its major selling points is superb quality construction that ensures its longevity. Second is its thoughtful design that allows for fuss-free operation. Thanks to the coupler being engaged on a ball, it can swivel in any direction, setting it apart from other competitors. Housed on a grease-free coupler, the ball of this model is adjustable, which means you can work with the hitch without getting your hands stained or dirty. This adjustability feature also allows you to quickly disconnect your tow vehicle and the trailer when you’re on uneven ground.
This unit is probably the most lightweight on the whole market for 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters. Weighing in at a mere 35 pounds, this unit allows only one person to lift it easily for installation. Thus one aspect that every customer commented favourably on is that the installation process can be completed in less than 5 minutes, which no other model can boast.
The only downside is it can lift up the trailer higher than other units, so you might want to double check if this would be a potential source of problem. Another quality-control problem is that a few buyers reported on the flimsy release cable included in the kit.
LLC GN5 Gooseneck Adapter
The LLC GN5 Gooseneck Adapter is one of the most universal and well rounded 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters on the market. All in all, this model is reliable and durable. What sets it apart is it allows for extra clearance for hook-up as well as more trailer swing. You get an additional nine inches of clearance between the tow vehicle and the trailer, thanks to the 9-inch offset square coupler. This allows more room for hook-up and more trailer swing.
This unit is universal, being made to fit all standard trailer coupler tubes. This unit is made to last, being constructed from heavy wall tubing for many years of good service down the road. It also has a black powder coat finish to withstand corrosive outdoor elements.
The easy-to-work-with design allows you to easily couple and uncouple the setup. Once the trailer is lowered onto the ball, the coupler automatically latches, while the molded hitching guide ensures butter smooth coupling. To uncouple, you only need to pull the release cable located near the trailer jack handle.
All in all, this is a fuss-free, user-friendly, functional and durable model. The only minor downside is some buyers report that the ball holes are not high enough, which is a hindrance for some during operation.
CURT 2-5/16-Inch Bent Plate Adapter
If you frequently alternate between regular commuting and different towing jobs, and also want to go camping on the weekend, you’d need an adapter that’s easy to install and remove, all the while providing a secure connection for safe towing. For this particular purpose, the CURT 2-5/16-Inch Bent Plate Gooseneck Adapter would be your best bet. Featuring four pin-and-clip attachment points for quick removal, it can turn your pickup into a powerful, versatile towing beast.
It has a gross trailer weight capacity of 25,000 pounds and a tongue weight capacity of 6,250 pounds. This universal adapter can be mounted onto all standard industry rails and comes with an attached 2-5/16-inch trailer ball. This means that if you need to tow livestock trailers or industrial equipment haulers or chopper boxes for work, this extremely versatile 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter would allow you to easily switch between different jobs and also take a 5th wheel trailer to the open road for camping trips. The adapter smoothly drops into the 5th wheel hitch rails for easy attachment.
In addition, this model’s superb versatility is further enhanced by the ability to achieve more clearance. You just need to place it over the truck axle or flip and set it for 3 inches of rearward displacement. Not just versatile and easy to work with, this model is made to last, featuring a durable carbide powder coat finish to prevent corrosion under exposure to elements like rain, snow and dirt.
For all these benefits, you’d be overjoyed to learn that the CURT 2-5/16-Inch Bent Plate Gooseneck Adapter is also one of the most reasonably priced units available for its high quality standards. The only complaint by customers is the pins included in the kit sometimes being too small, so you might have to purchase additional pins to install the unit.
Reese 94623 Coupler
If you are a frequent camper, owning and maintaining your rig surely is a time-consuming job. So you might want to avoid future headaches as much as possible and want to get the most durable 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter on the market, so that you won’t have to replace it too soon. If durability is your priority, then the Reese 94623 Coupler will be an ideal choice.
Being a part of Reese’s 5th Airborne series, this adapter is designed and engineered by towing veterans and is independently lab-tested, with functionality, reliability and durability in mind. Towing veterans all need a reliable adapter that will be of good service for years to come, and here they offer you just that.
This model replaces the pin box on certain 5th wheel trailer models. It is rated for up to 20,000 pounds of gross trailer weight. A major advantage that contributes to its exceptional durability is that this adapter is built to minimize the stress and resulting damages on both your truck and trailer, as well as on the adapter itself.
In addition, it comes with a hose of comfort features for smooth and stable towing, including rubber bumpers, dual shocks, and an airbag. More stable rides also means less shocks and vibrations, which means a safer ride plus less wear and tear on both vehicles and the unit itself. This further contributes to the unit’s longevity. As your truck, your trailer and the adapter are all major purchases, these durability features help better protect your expensive investments.
Another plus is the simple coupling mechanism, with countless customers reporting as little as 30 minutes to get the adapter in place and ready for towing. That said, this adapter is among the heaviest 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter on the market, weighing in at 170 pounds, which means you’d likely need an extra pair of hands when installing it. Another downside though, is that each time you unhook your trailer, the large airbag will deflate, and you’ll have to re-inflate it.
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5th Wheel To Gooseneck Adapters: Buying Criteria
Gooseneck to fifth wheel adapters are available in three major types with different methods for installation and mounting. All in all, the best one for you depends on your towing needs, such as whether you frequently alternate between towing heavy loads for work and towing an RV on holidays, or if you want a more permanent solution.
One type replaces the kingpin on your trailer and slides down to the ball hole of the gooseneck hitch. This type of adapter is very easy to install, hitch up and remove, and is extremely adaptable for towing different types of trailers and different towing jobs.
Another type replaces the pin box on your trailer entirely, thus allowing for the most secure connection. There’s no additional stress on either the trailer frame or the hitch, and your truck bed is open for other uses.
Another type of 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter takes the form of a tube that can be bolted around the kingpin and over the kingpin lube plate on your trailer. This type is very heavy and thus might cause stress on the trailer frame and hitch. But on the upside, it allows for an even weight distribution and strengthens the kingpin box.
After deciding on the type of adapter, you’ll need to do some precise measuring, although you can inevitably do less if you decide on an adapter that straight up replaces the trailer’s pin box entirely. The measurement will help you filter down the most suitable adapter for your vehicles.
It’s crucial that we stress again on the precision of the measurements. If the measurements are not correct and dead-on, even a small error could lead to major mechanical headaches when installing the adapter. It could also result in your trailer not riding level and reduce overall ride comfort when towing.
The first required measurement is the exact distance between the front of the gooseneck’s ball and the bottom of the pin box. Instead of measuring from the top of the gooseneck ball to the kingpin plate, a common mistake many folks make is measuring the distance from the truck bed to the kingpin plate.
This is because the height of the adapter is not the total height of the adapter hardware itself. It measures how much higher the trailer is lifted from the top of the ball, or from inside the hole on the bottom of the adapter to the top of the adapter. If you’re not convinced, take a tape measure to the outside of the adapter. You would get something larger than its rating.
The measurement typically comes out somewhere between 11 and 17 inches for most trailers these days. Most 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters come in 12-inches, 15-inches or 17-inches. Choose the height rating closest to your measurements, and go larger, not smaller. For instance, if the measurement is 11 inches, then the correct adapter should be 12 inches. If it’s 13 to 14 inches, use a 15-inch adapter, and if it’s 15- to 16 inches, you’ll need a 17-inch adapter.
Maximum Towing Capacity
Every 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter has a towing capacity. For instance, a model rated at 20,000 lbs towing capacity would allow you to tow this much. Don’t exceed your truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which limits the amount of cargo weight inside, including the driver plus passengers, and the weight of anything it tows behind. And know your towing needs so that you choose an adapter that has adequate towing capacity, if you prioritize safe towing.
Maximum Tongue Weight
Tongue weight measures the weight that a fully loaded trailer exerts downward on the hitch ball of the tow vehicle. It also determines the total weight that can be exerted by the trailer tongue. For safe towing, this should be between 10 to 15 percent of gross trailer weight. Too much tongue weight will cause the trailer to sway from side to side.
A 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter comes with its own tongue weight or pin weight capacity, which is the maximum downward force the adapter can handle. The handy tip for towing is to try to distribute more of the gross vehicle weight in the front of the trailer for a more stable ride. With a well-distributed weight and the correct tongue weight, your vehicle and your trailer will be kept in a straight line while traveling on the road.
After considering the crucial criteria above, to further shortlist your best options, you might want to consider special features that allow for safer and better ride comfort, or security features once you are unhitched.
Safety: Safety features like robust tow chains and hasps in the cap can allow for safer towing on the open road. A remote release feature is also helpful in keeping you and others out of harm’s way while unhitching, as it lets you disengage the trailer from the adapter without having to get too close to what could be a potentially large amount of force. Most remote releases are made from a braided steel cable with a sturdy handle on the end, which you simply need to pull to disconnect the hitch adapter and the trailer.
Increased Clearance: If you need a little extra clearance between the fifth-wheel-trailer overhang and the back of the truck cab, look for a 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter with an offset. This type of adapter can also provide a bit more clearance between the back of the truck and the trailer. An important thing to note if you opt for this type of adapter is that if you own a short-bed pickup, you will have difficulty executing a 90-degree turn. For safety, you will need either a sliding fifth wheel hitch or a fixed fifth wheel hitch and a sidewinder pin box.
Ride comfort: The highest rated adapters for the adventurous campers typically offer some type of cushioning for a smoother, more stabilized ride. Not only does it make for better ride comfort, but it can also reduce road noises. This is particularly a desirable feature if you tend to travel on rough terrains and long drives between campsites.
The best adapters typically offer either mechanical or pneumatic cushioning. They employ different methods, but they both work to reduce the shocks and vibrations that’s unavoidable when you tow a bulky, heavy trailer on rough terrains.
The cushioning feature is important in the way that it also minimizes long-term wear and tear on the tow vehicle, which is always nice, but especially so if you tend to travel off the beaten path, or if you have an older truck and it already sustains a bit of structural rust.
Adjustability: If you only plan on towing the same fifth-wheel trailer in the foreseeable future, then obviously a hitch adapter with additional height adjustability feature might not matter as much. However, if you rent different trailers each time for your trip, or if you need to tow different fifth-wheel trailers for work, such as for towing livestock or equipment or construction materials, you’d appreciate extra versatility. Even if you’re only towing a trailer for camping, having more adaptability does open up more travel opportunities.
Security: Security features like couplers that lock with a trailer padlock or other ways to lock people out from hooking up to the pin box on the trailer would always come in handy. No one wants to have someone tampering with their rig when they’re away, especially when the trailer is parked unattended for extended periods.
The highest-rated trailer hitching systems as well as 5th wheel to gooseneck hitches are often made from solid steel. Since they are very rigid and durable, they are less likely to bend for crack under tremendous amounts of pressure. In addition, ones made from stainless steel are less likely to rust, which would be highly desirable considering the fact that the adapter and your hitching system will be exposed to the unforgiving outdoors elements. Rust would affect the integrity and durability of your expensive trailer hitch adapter.
Most fifth wheel to gooseneck adapters on the market cost about $400 to $500. You might think this is expensive, but remember that they are built out of at least 40 lbs of solid steel, and you must get a decent one as such an adapter makes up the critical connection between your tow vehicle and the trailer. You need the best 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters for safe and stable towing, so that big price tag is justified.
There are some models costing less than $400, but if you value safety and especially if you need to tow a heavy load, it’s not recommended that you go for anything costing less than $350. $350 should be your floor, since anything cheaper than the normal range would usually have some sort of short cut taken in their design, material, or engineering.
On the other end of the spectrum, you might see other adapters that cost north of $700, which might not be necessary considering your towing needs. Other than price, carefully check all the important specifications to make sure you get the right adapter for your vehicle and towing needs.
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Gooseneck Hitch vs 5th Wheel Hitch
Gooseneck hitch and 5th wheel hitch are two different hitches, but many folks think they are the same since they do share some similarities. They are both preferred by veteran RV owners for heavier towing jobs and a smoother ride, while beginners tend to opt for other hitches like the common bumper pull hitch, which are made to tow lighter weights, but are cheaper and simpler.
A gooseneck hitch is mounted in the bed of the towing vehicle instead of the rear bumper like the bumper pull hitch commonly used to tow lighter RVs. The system features a ball mount at the same level with the bed of the trailer that attaches to a coupler on the trailer.
The first major advantage of a gooseneck hitch over other types is that it allows for heavier towing jobs. Since the attachment point is over the rear axle of your truck instead of at the back of the frame, the majority of the trailer’s weight rests directly on the rear axle, which is the component that turns the rear wheels.
This very distribution of weight allows you to tow more weight. The second major advantage of using a gooseneck hitch is safer, more stable towing experience, since this setup minimizes swaying.
Another plus is they have a tighter turn radius, so you can make sharper turns and better maneuver the trailer while traveling off-road or parking in tighter spaces. This feature is extremely important for campers who prefer to travel off the beaten path.
Compared to the other hitches that attach to a truck’s rear end, the main disadvantages of gooseneck trailers are its size, weight and a bit more complex mechanism. That said, it’s still straightforward to install and operate.
Gooseneck hitches are bulkier and heavier, so you must own a pickup or a tractor if you want to install one of these. They also require a special hitching system installed in the bed of the tow vehicle, including a gooseneck trailer ball.
Since gooseneck hitches are less common than other low-capacity hitches and are more commonly used by veteran trailer owners for heavy towing, most trucks won’t likely have the gooseneck hitching system in place.
Fifth Wheel Hitch
While a gooseneck hitch uses a ball that engages with a coupler on the trailer, a 5th wheel hitch uses a king pin on the trailer to attach to a U-shaped king pin receiver on the bed of the towing vehicle.
Similar to a gooseneck hitch, a 5th wheel hitch is also designed for heavier towing jobs than what the common bumper pull hitch can enable. It’s also mounted in the bed of the towing vehicle.
In addition, with this hitch, the trailer’s weight also presses down almost directly over the rear axle of your pickup, thereby allowing it to tow more weight. Therefore, gooseneck hitches and 5th wheel hitches are similar in many ways, including effective weight distribution, optimal towing capacity as well as a smoother, more stable towing experience.
For the detailed comparison, check here!
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How To Install a 5th Wheel To Gooseneck Adapter
Before starting to hook up your fifth wheel to gooseneck adapter, the first thing you’ll need to check is the length of your kingpin box. If it is over 30 inches long, the extra extension of your kingpin box you would most likely need some strengthening for safe towing since the heavy adapter will put additional stress on it. You might need gussets or other mediums to provide extra support. While open kingpin boxes are more common, you might have a closed unit, so follow the steps below as they involve a bit different installation steps.
If you have an open kingpin box:
- The base plate of the adapter hitch usually has a slightly longer side, say 10 inches and 12 inches.Generally the shorter side should face forward, which should work best with most 5th wheel trailer pin boxes.
- If there’s a lube plate around the kingpin, you need to remove it so the adapter can attach securely to the kingpin box. To allow the adapter to bolt to the kingpin box, you’ll need to drill 4 holes into the kingpin box. For precision, you should dry fit the adapter hitch over the kingpin to mark the location of the holes with a Sharpie marker.
- Check your product’s instructions on how to measure the placement of the four holes. You can draw it out on a poster board and use that to center punch the start points. Do not drill all four holes in one go.
- Drill the holes into the fifth wheel pin box. Make sure they are large enough to receive the bolts provided in the kit. A general rule in drilling holes on anything is, after drilling the first hole, attach the hitch with one bolt first to double check the location of the other holes before drilling. You can just leave the hitch in place on your trailer and drill the remaining three holes.
If you have a closed kingpin box as opposed to an open kingpin box, you will need to follow the extra steps as follows:
- If you cannot access the inside of the kingpin box, you will need to tighten the bolts through the top of the kingpin plate. You can use a hole saw to drill these access holes. You must check the placement of the attachment drill holes first before deciding where to drill the access holes. They could be located on the side or top depending on your model.
- Before you drill the access holes, check the size of your tools first to make sure you can get them through the holes. A 1 and ¾” hole saw should be big enough to allow you to get a wrench or socket wrench through the hole to tighten the bolts.
- Now you’re done. Just use the provided caps to plug the holes from the hole saw.
No matter how you installed your adapter, for safety reasons, you must regularly inspect the bolts, the adapter, the latch and the kingpin box after the first 50 miles or so, then again after 100 miles, after 200 miles and so on to make sure your installation was proper and secure.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you hook a gooseneck to a fifth wheel?
You don’t have to remove the existing gooseneck hitching system on your vehicle to replace it with a new 5th wheel system. A 5th wheel to gooseneck adapter will allow you to connect the trailer’s 5th wheel king pin to the gooseneck ball on your pickup. This type of adapter comes with a shank to drop into the gooseneck ball hole on your truck’s hitching system and an adapter plate that can be installed into the gooseneck hitch, providing a set of industry-standard 5th wheel base rails to accept a 5th wheel hitch.
2. Are 5th wheel to gooseneck adapters safe?
Most models also feature secure locking mechanisms that enable secure connection to better keep your trailer in place while you’re traveling on rough terrains. Also, you can expect most models on the market that allow for heavy towing jobs of up to 35,000 lbs or greater.
That said, for safe towing, you need the correct adapter installed in regards to height and weight ratings. Your trailer must come in below the adapter’s maximum weight rating.
3. How much is an adapter to go from a 5th wheel to a gooseneck?
There are cheaper models, but they typically would not offer as much durability, a secure connection and other handy features, such as cushioning for shock absorption. There are more expensive models too, but anything within this price range should be adequate. The rest depends on how you pick the most suitable model for your towing needs.
4. What are the best trailer hitch adapter brand?
5. Does a fifth wheel hitch increase towing capacity?
Your truck has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that limits the amount of cargo weight inside, including the driver plus passengers, and the weight of anything it tows behind. If the desired amount of load does not exceed the GVWR, using a 5th wheel hitch can improve your hitch load limit, which is the weight allowed by the trailer hitch.
If you can’t re-engineer your tow vehicle, never try to exceed its towing capacity because it’s dangerous. Towing too heavy a load reduces your braking and steering control, which is extra troublesome if you travel off the beaten path on rougher terrains. While your towing capacity cannot be changed, towing can only be improved with weight distribution. A useful tip for towing is to try putting 60% of the load on the front half of the trailer to improve stability and control at highway speeds.
6. Does a gooseneck trailer increase towing capacity?
7. How much does it cost to put a gooseneck hitch in a truck?
8. Where should a gooseneck hitch be placed?
Last Updated on July 8, 2021