How to Select a 5th Wheel Hitch for Your Truck
A CURT 5th wheel hitch equips your pickup truck with a powerful coupler for towing the largest of travel trailers, campers and flatbed trailers. Choosing the best 5th wheel hitch for your truck requires careful thought. There are many options to choose from.
The following 5th wheel hitch guide will walk you through the process of selecting a 5th wheel hitch step-by-step, ensuring that you find the right match for your truck, trailer and lifestyle.
Step 1: Consider towing capacity and weight
Before you hitch up your truck and trailer -- or even select a 5th wheel hitch for your truck -- it is important to know your towing capacity and gross trailer weight.
Towing capacity is the maximum weight your truck is rated to tow. Gross trailer weight is the total weight of your 5th wheel trailer when it is loaded and hitched up to your truck.
Remember towing capacity is always limited by the lowest-rated towing component. For this reason, we recommend purchasing a 5th wheel hitch that meets or exceeds your truck's towing capacity.
Step 2: What size is your truck bed?
Once you know your towing capacity, the next thing to consider is the length of your truck bed. For simplicity, we'll speak in terms of short-bed versus long-bed.
The length of the truck bed determines how much space or clearance your truck and trailer will have when hitched up. A long-bed pickup truck generally provides more clearance, while a short-bed truck provides less clearance. This, in turn, determines which type of mounting platform your 5th wheel hitch will require: legs or a roller.
Note: Some long-bed trucks may require a roller. Review your own unique configuration before purchasing.
5th wheel legs are the standard method for mounting a 5th wheel hitch in the bed of a pickup truck. Most long-bed trucks provide ample space for this fixed hitch option. If you own a long-bed truck, continue to follow the maroon path.
For short-bed trucks, additional clearance is needed between the truck cab and 5th wheel trailer overhang, particularly when turning. A 5th wheel roller provides this added clearance. If you own a short-bed truck, follow the dark blue path.
Option A: 5th wheel puck system
A puck system is a built-in mounting platform included with many pickup trucks today, particularly those with a towing prep package. It consists of a center gooseneck hole and a set of anchoring points or "pucks". Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Nissan and Ram all offer puck system options.
Utilizing this built-in puck system, CURT offers several 5th wheel mounting options for short-bed and long-bed trucks. The puck system allows the 5th wheel hitch to quickly and securely drop into the truck bed for streamlined towing -- no drilling, brackets or additional hardware needed.
Puck system required.
Your truck must have an OEM puck system, like the one pictured, in order to accept CURT puck system products.
Additionally, the puck system product you choose must match the brand of your truck. Puck systems vary by brand.
Long-bed with OEM puck system
If you have a long-bed truck equipped with a puck system, select a 5th wheel hitch with OEM puck system legs to match the make of your truck. Remember to consider towing capacity and weight.
Short-bed with OEM puck system
If you have a short-bed truck with a puck system, select a 5th wheel hitch with an OEM puck system roller or roller adapter to fit your truck's make. We offer options for Chevy, Ford, GMC, Nissan and Ram.
Option B: Permanent 5th wheel base rails
If your truck is not equipped with a puck system, the traditional method for installing a 5th wheel hitch is to use 5th wheel base rails. You can choose to install permanent base rails or removable base rails, depending on your preference.
Permanent 5th wheel base rails provide industry-standard mounting points to accept all CURT 5th wheel legs and rollers (puck system products excluded). An under-bed bracket kit is required to attach the base rails to the frame of the truck. We offer vehicle-specific and universal bracket options.
Long-bed brackets and base rails
1. To install permanent base rails in a long-bed truck, you will need to begin with a set of brackets. CURT offers vehicle-specific brackets for a custom fit on a variety of truck applications.
2. After finding custom 5th wheel brackets for your unique truck application, you will need to select corresponding base rails that fit your specific brackets.
3. With brackets and base rails selected, it is time to choose a 5th wheel hitch. Carefully consider the towing capacity of your truck and the weight of your trailer.
Short-bed brackets and base rails
1. To install permanent 5th wheel base rails in a short-bed pickup truck, you will need to choose a set of vehicle-specific brackets.
2. Next, select a set of base rails that correspond to the custom brackets you have chosen. Part numbers for the base rails are indicated on each bracket's detail page.
3. With base rails and brackets selected for your truck, you can move onto 5th wheel hitch selection. Remember to choose a roller option for the short truck bed.
Puck system vs. 5th wheel base rails
5th wheel puck system
This how-to video shows OEM puck system 5th wheel legs, as well as a Q20 5th wheel hitch head, being set up on a Nissan Titan XD with the factory puck system. Note that no drilling or extra brackets are required.
Traditional 5th wheel base rails
This how-to video shows the step-by-step process of installing a CURT Q20 5th wheel hitch on a Chevrolet Silverado, using traditional 5th wheel brackets and industry-standard 5th wheel base rails.
Option C: Removable 5th wheel base rails
A unique mounting option you may choose for your pickup truck is removable 5th wheel base rails. Unlike traditional base rails and brackets, this setup allows you to completely remove the rails for an unobstructed truck bed.
The removable 5th wheel base rail system is comprised of a CURT gooseneck hitch, 5th wheel adapter plate and 5th wheel hitch. This option also provides the benefit of equipping your truck for towing gooseneck trailers.
Long-bed removable rail system
1. Select a gooseneck hitch and installation brackets that fit your truck application. You must choose a CURT original Double Lock or Double Lock EZr™ gooseneck hitch that is compatible with our X5 adapters.
2. Next, choose a corresponding X5 adapter plate. The X5 is a gooseneck-to-5th-wheel adapter that drops into the gooseneck ball hole and provides a set of industry-standard 5th wheel base rails.
3. Finally, select a 5th wheel hitch with legs for your long-bed truck. Note that the X5 adapter may limit the towing capacity of your hitch. Always abide by the lowest-rated towing component.
Short-bed removable rail system
1. Select a gooseneck hitch kit that fits your truck, including the hitch and brackets. Choose a CURT original Double Lock or Double Lock EZr™ gooseneck hitches that is compatible with our X5 adapters.
2. Select the X5 adapter plate that corresponds to the gooseneck hitch. The X5 adapter anchors into the gooseneck hole and provides a set of 5th wheel rails with industry-standard mounting points.
3. Choose a 5th wheel hitch with an included 5th wheel roller to accommodate your short-bed truck. Note that the X5 adapter and roller may limit the weight capacity of your towing system.
Step 3: Choose a style of 5th wheel hitch
Once you are confident with the type of mounting platform needed for your pickup truck, you can browse our selection of 5th wheel hitches based on weight capacity and features.
CURT offers three distinct series of 5th wheel hitches: the articulating A-series, the quiet Q-series and the economical E-series. To find out more and compare each series, visit our 5th Wheel Hitches Learn More page.