Gooseneck vs 5th wheel hitch

Gooseneck vs. 5th Wheel Hitch: What’s The Difference?

Peter Wade

Buying an RV or a trailer to pursue a minimalist lifestyle on the road is a big purchase. There are many things to consider, from whether to buy new or used, to the cheapest state to buy, to the type of hitch used to tow your trailer. Find out which hitch is right for your needs in this full comparison of gooseneck vs 5th wheel.

Gooseneck vs 5th wheel hitch – Full comparison

What is a hitch? 

A hitch is the component that attaches the trailer camper to a towing vehicle. The type of hitch you use to tow your trailer will affect a number of important factors, including the weight your car can tow and your towing experience on the road, for example how the trailer follows the towing vehicle when turning. 

RV hitch
A hitch attaches the trailer camper to a towing vehicle.

Therefore, if you are a first-time trailer owner, you should find out the advantages and disadvantages of gooseneck vs 5th wheel hitch before settling on one. 

What is a gooseneck hitch? 

A gooseneck hitch is mounted in the bed of the towing vehicle instead of the rear bumper like some other types of hitches, such as the bumper pull hitch commonly used to tow lighter RVs.

A gooseneck hitch uses a ball mount on the towing vehicle, at the same level with the bed of the trailer. This ball engages with a coupler on the trailer for attachment. 

gooseneck hitch
A gooseneck hitch’s trailer ball.

The first major advantage of a gooseneck hitch over other types like the bumper pull hitch is that you can tow a heavier trailer. Since the attachment point is over the towing vehicle’s rear axle instead of at the back of the frame, the majority of the trailer’s weight rest directly on the towing car’s rear axle. The rear axle is the component that turns the rear wheels. 

This distribution of weight means your car can tow more weight. It also minimizes the swaying when you tow a trailer on the road. This increased stability is the second major advantage of using a gooseneck hitch. 

gooseneck vs 5th wheel hitch
The majority of the trailer’s weight rest directly on the towing car’s rear axle.

Apart from gooseneck towing capacity, another plus for gooseneck hitches is they have a tighter turn radius, which means they allow you to make sharper turns and let you maneuver the trailer in a smaller space. This will be useful when you are traveling off-road. 

Compared to other hitches attached to a car’s rear end, the main disadvantages of gooseneck trailers are its size, weight and complexity. 

Due to its size and weight, you will need a at least a pick up truck to install gooseneck hitches. They also require a special hitching system including a gooseneck trailer ball, installed in the bed of the pickup truck.

Since gooseneck hitches are less common than, say, bumper pull hitches, and are more commonly used by veteran trailer owners, most pick up truck won’t likely have the gooseneck hitching system installed in the bed of the truck. 

gooseneck hitch benefits
You’re less likely to find a gooseneck hitch on pick up trucks.

Gooseneck hitch and 5th wheel hitch are often confused together due to some similarities. They are both preferred by veteran RV owners, while first-time owners tend to opt for other hitches like the bumper pull hitch for their simplicity and lower prices. 

Read on to learn the difference between 5th wheel and gooseneck hitch.

What is a fifth wheel hitch? 

Also mounted in the bed of the towing vehicle, fifth wheel hitches are designed so that the towing vehicle can carry heavier weights. 

With a 5th wheel hitch, the weight of the trailer also presses down almost directly over the rear axle of the towing car, thereby allowing the towing car to tow more weight. Therefore, 5th wheel hitches are similar to gooseneck hitches in terms of large towing capacity, effective weight distribution and more stability. 

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.

5th wheel hitch RV
The king pin receiver on the bed of the towing vehicle.

Also similar to a gooseneck hitch, a 5th wheel hitch is quite big and heavy, thus it will require at least a mid-size truck to have it installed. 

Gooseneck vs 5th wheel – The differences

If a trailer comes with a king pin plate for 5th wheel hitching, it is called a 5th wheel trailer. Similarly, if it comes with a coupler for gooseneck hitching, it’s a gooseneck trailer. 

In general, while gooseneck trailers are more typically used for industrial trailers, fifth wheel trailers are more common for recreational purposes. 

According to experts, a 5th wheel trailer towed with a 5th wheel hitch will generally provide a smoother ride, which can be further improved with an ungraded king pin receiver. 

Fifth wheel hitch
Fifth wheel hitch are more common for recreational RVs.

Can you tow a 5th wheel trailer using a gooseneck hitch?

That said, if your pick up truck already has a gooseneck hitching system installed and you just bought a trailer that comes with the 5th wheel king pin, what should you do? 

You don’t have to uninstall the gooseneck hitching system to replace it with a 5th wheel system. Adapters allow you to connect the trailer’s 5th wheel king pin to the gooseneck ball on your truck. 

Make sure to find an adapter of the correct height. Its height should fit between the top of the gooseneck ball and the bottom of the king pin plate. Also note that adapters can be hard on the frames of the fifth wheel, thus it is best to install the correct hitch for your trailer. 

Since fifth wheel trailers are more common for recreational purposes, if your purpose is camping and traveling, you should install a 5th wheel hitching system in your towing vehicle. 

5th wheel hitch for RVs
For recreational purposes, you should install a 5th wheel hitching system in your towing vehicle.

Gooseneck vs 5th wheel – The verdict

In short, a gooseneck vs 5th wheel hitch comparison reveals great similarities between these two types of trailer hitches. They are both favoured by seasoned trailer owners as they allow for larger towing capacity and stability thanks to effective distribution of the trailer’s weight. 

In general, while gooseneck trailers/hitches are more typically used for industrial trailers, fifth wheel trailers/hitches are more common for recreational purposes. 

Hope you enjoy reading our blog. Happy camping!

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Tori Raddison February 4, 2020
  2. Avatar Alice Carroll June 9, 2020

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