A question a lot of people ask is can they tow a fifth wheel or a gooseneck with their truck with a 5.5 ft bed? While the answer seems simple enough it really is not. There is so much more to towing a Fifth Wheel with a super short bed than just adding a hitch and calling it good.
Today we are going to talk about physically fitting a fifth wheel hitch into a 5.5 fit bed. But before we go into that detail we need to outline some parameters for this post. We will not get into the half ton truck towing a fifth wheel discussion today. We will cover that topic in another post. But just for reference most trucks that have a 5.5 ft bed are Half-Ton trucks. However, there is the Ram 2500 and 3500 MegaCab that is Available with a 5.5 ft bed.
Disadvantages of a 5.5 ft Bed
Trailer Hitting the Cab
One of the biggest dangers of a 5.5 ft bed and towing a fifth wheel style trailer is the cab and the corner of the fifth wheel trailers nose touching. This can cause lots of issues and the damage can range from a small dent, busted back glass, or major damage to both the fifth wheel trailer and the truck.
This is not a problem that only plagues the 5.5 ft bed. This can be an issue for trucks with 6.5 ft beds as well. Taking an additional 12 inches off of a bed lengths that already has issues can seem like an impossible obstacle.
This issue in particular is something that most modern trucks have to overcome. The newer trucks are very tall with deep beds. I personally have a 2008 F150 SuperCrew with a 5.5 ft bed. This bed is deeper than the bed on my old 1997 F150 SuperCab. This depth can cause issue with clearance between the trailer and the bed rails.
Hauling other Stuff in the Bed
When you pull a fifth wheel or a gooseneck trailer with a 6.5 or an 8 ft bed (especially an 8 ft bed) its relatively easy to haul other stuff because you have a lot of additional room in the bed. Need to carry a generator with you and your long bed truck while towing? No problem, just put it up against the cab. Need to carry some firewood or a cooler? No problem there is plenty off room
With a 5.5 ft bed you are only going to have enough room for the fifth wheel hitch and the pin box. You may be able to get away with hauling a little bit of stuff if you run a gooseneck.
Advantages of a 5.5 ft bed
The biggest advantage, at least for the half ton trucks, with a 5.5 bed is that the truck is more maneuverable in tight situations. If you are backing the trailer into a tight spot the shorter overall length of the truck will give you an advantage over a truck like a long bed crew cab HD truck.
If you are researching towing with a 5.5 ft bed truck it is likely that you already own a truck now with the 5.5 ft bed and you are looking for solutions. If you can tow a trailer with what you already own then you are well ahead of the game cost wise. Many of the modern day half ton trucks come with tow ratings in the 8-110,000 lb range and its only natural to try to use what you have as opposed to buying another expensive truck.
Getting it done- How to Tow a Fifth Wheel Safely
As you can see there are a lot of obstacles to towing a fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer with a 5.5 ft bed. However, not all is lost. Here is how you can safely tow a reasonably sized trailer with your super short bed truck. There are two main steps.
- Pick a trailer that fits you trucks ratings and has a curved front profile. A fifth wheel trailer that is 8.5 ft straight across the very front nose of the trailer is not going to work. Thankfully many of the modern fifth wheels have the corners cut out to keep from hitting the cab of the truck.
- Choose the appropriate hitch DESIGNED for 5.5 ft beds. Currently there are three fifth wheel hitches and couple of gooseneck hitches that will work with a 5.5 ft bed.
- Best- The best hitch is the most expensive option. This is the PullRite Superglide 3100 series hitch. This hitch is what a lot of people call an “Auto Slider” and will rotate back automatically as you go around curves both forwards and backwards. A disadvantage is that this thing is very very heavy.
- Better– This hitch is actually just a standard fifth wheel hitch. This is the Reese Sidewinder Pinbox. This pinbox locks out the pivot point at the kingpin and moves it back about 22 inches. This is a really slick solution and many prefer it over an auto slider. What makes this solution great is that you can use virtually any standard fifth wheel hitch. One disadvantage is that it can be tough to hitch up but after a brief learning curve hitching up is a snap.
- You can Buy this pinbox on Amazon but you will need to buy the version that fits your trailers frame.
- Good-. Another option that is becoming more and more popular is the Andersen Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection. There are actually two versions of this hitch available. The first version adapt to a gooseneck ball in the bed via a light weight Aluminum Ultimate Fifth Wheel Connection. The final version is the best one, in my opinion, for a 5.5 ft bed truck. This version is the Rail Version of the Andersen Ultimate Fifth Wheel Hitch. The reason that I recommend this version is because its light weight and it can be positioned either towards the tailgate or towards the cab giving additional clearance if needed.
- One major con people have with this hitch is that it uses a ball connection and may require safety chains in your state. Not to worry, safety chains are available straight from Andersen.
What about towing with a Gooseneck Trailer?
There are several options to tow a Gooseneck with a 5.5 ft bed. You can run an underbid gooseneck hitch like the B&W Turnover ball hitch or you can install a Curt gooseneck bent plate hitch into your fifth wheel rails in your bed. The latter being a great option because its low cost and you turn your gooseneck ball away from the cab more so that you can gain more clearance.
As with the fifth wheel trailers, I would try to avoid trailers with a full 8 ft width right about the coupler. Without some relief in the corners you are likely to hit your cab.
Towing a fifth wheel or a gooseneck trailer with a 5.5 ft bed truck takes some work but it is do-able. In the end the best solution to pull most fifth wheels and goosenecks is a 3/4 or 1 ton truck but many people either want to or need to pull one of these trailers with their super short bed trucks. If you are one of those people, then one of the solutions outlined in this post should work for you.