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How to Choose the Best 5th Wheel Hitch for Your Truck

How to Choose Best 5th Wheel Hitch Guide - CURTHow to Choose Best 5th Wheel Hitch Guide - CURT

Step-by-Step 5th Wheel Hitch Buying Guide

A CURT 5th wheel hitch equips your pickup truck with a powerful coupler for towing the largest of travel trailers, RV campers and flatbed trailers. Choosing the best 5th wheel hitch for your truck requires careful thought. There are many options to consider.

This 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, lifestyle and budget.

Compare CURT 5th wheel hitch series

  1. Consider towing capacity and weight
  2. Measure truck bed length
  3. Determine if the truck bed has pucks
  4. Choose permanent or removable 5th wheel rails
  5. Select a style of 5th wheel hitch

5 Steps for Choosing the Best 5th Wheel Hitch

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.

Truck Towing Heavy 5th Wheel CamperTruck Towing Heavy 5th Wheel Camper

Step 2: Measure the length of your truck bed

Once you know your towing capacity, the next thing to do is to measure 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 slider.

Note: Some long-bed trucks may require a slider. Review your own unique configuration before purchasing.

Measure Empty Truck Bed LengthMeasure Empty Truck Bed Length
Long-Bed Pickup Truck DiagramLong-Bed Pickup Truck Diagram

Long-bed truck

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.

Short-Bed Pickup Truck DiagramShort-Bed Pickup Truck Diagram

Short-bed truck

For short-bed trucks, additional clearance is needed between the truck cab and 5th wheel trailer overhang, particularly when turning. A sliding 5th wheel hitch provides this added clearance. If you own a short-bed truck, follow the blue path.


Step 3: Determine if the truck bed has a puck system

A puck system is a built-in mounting platform included with many pickup trucks today, particularly those with a factory 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.

Important note! 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 and correct year-range of your truck. Puck systems vary by brand and model year.

Factory Truck Bed Puck System Towing Prep PackageFactory Truck Bed Puck System Towing Prep Package
CURT A-Series 5th Wheel with Legs - Puck SystemCURT A-Series 5th Wheel with Legs - Puck System

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.

CURT A-Series Hitch with Roller - Puck SystemCURT A-Series Hitch with Roller - Puck System

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 slider or slider adapter to fit your truck's make. We offer options for Chevy, Ford, GMC, Nissan and Ram.


Step 4: Choose permanent or removable 5th wheel 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 Rail InstallationPermanent 5th Wheel Rail Installation

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.

A-Series Hitch Installed with Permanent Base RailsA-Series Hitch Installed with Permanent Base Rails

Options A: Permanent 5th wheel rails

Permanent 5th wheel base rails provide industry-standard mounting points to accept all CURT 5th wheel legs and sliding 5th wheel hitches (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.

CURT 5th Wheel Hitch Base Rails PermanentCURT 5th Wheel Hitch Base Rails Permanent
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.
CURT 5th Wheel Hitch Roller Base Rails PermanentCURT 5th Wheel Hitch Roller Base Rails Permanent
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 slidng option for the short truck bed.
Q-Series 5th Wheel with Removable Bed RailsQ-Series 5th Wheel with Removable Bed Rails

Option B: Removable 5th wheel 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.

CURT 5th Wheel Hitch Long Bed Base Rails Gooseneck AdapterCURT 5th Wheel Hitch Long Bed Base Rails Gooseneck Adapter
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.
CURT 5th Wheel Hitch Short Bed Roller Base Rails Gooseneck AdpaterCURT 5th Wheel Hitch Short Bed Roller Base Rails Gooseneck Adpater
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 hitch 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 sliding 5th wheel hitch to accommodate your short-bed truck. Note that the X5™ adapter and slider may limit the weight capacity of your towing system.

Step 5: 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 top rated 5th wheel, including the articulating A-series™, the quiet Q-series™ and the economical E-series™.

CURT 5th Wheel Trailer Hitch in Truck BedCURT 5th Wheel Trailer Hitch in Truck Bed

Compare CURT 5th wheel hitches

CURT A-Series 5th Wheel HitchCURT A-Series 5th Wheel Hitch
A-series

The A-series™ is named for its articulating head design. The hitch head is built on a patented cast yoke that offers a stable, quiet ride, even with large 5th wheel trailers.

CURT Q-Series 5th Wheel HitchCURT Q-Series 5th Wheel Hitch
Q-series

The Q-series™ is designed to offer the quietest towing possible. It features a spherical axial bearing that allows the head to tilt in any direction needed to ensure a smooth ride.

CURT E-Series 5th Wheel HitchCURT E-Series 5th Wheel Hitch
E-series

The E-series™ is designed to be a more economical option for our budget-conscious customers. It operates on a dual-pivoting head with 10° of lateral movement.


Features A-Series™ Q-Series™ E-Series™
Pivoting Mechanism  Cast yoke with two pivot points  Spherical axial bearing  10° dual-pivoting head 
Handle Operation  Single-throw, self-resetting handle  Short-throw, single handle  Single handle 
Head Opening  Extra wide, self-aligning  Extra wide, self-aligning  Self-aligning 
Jaw Type  Dual, interlocking  Dual  Locking bar 
Coupling Indicator  Yes  Yes  No 
Head Removal  One-pin  Two-pin  Two-pin 
Sidewinder Compatible  Yes (wedge required)  No  Yes (wedge required) 
Weight Capacity Options  16K, 20K, 25K, 30K  20K, 24K, 25K  16K 
Warranty  Limited lifetime  Limited lifetime  Limited lifetime 

FAQs

What is the best 5th wheel for the money?

The CURT E16™ 5th wheel hitch is the best value 5th wheel hitch, particularly if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option. The E16™ is less expensive than other 5th wheel hitches but offers solid features, including a dual-pivoting, anti-rattle head and the option to be used with rotating kingpin boxes.

 

What is the best quality 5th wheel hitch?

The CURT A25™ is the best quality 5th wheel hitch because it offers both exceptional towing power to last a lifetime and intuitive features for streamlined operation. The A25™ 5th wheel hitch is rated for 25,000 pounds and has a highly durable cast steel body, all backed by a limited lifetime warranty. It also features a self-resetting handle, visible coupling indicator, easy-access mounting bolts, an extra-wide head opening and one-pin head removal for the easiest possible operation.

 

What is the best 5th wheel hitch for Ford puck system?

The A25™ 5th wheel hitch with OEM puck system legs #16036 is the best option for the Ford puck system. The leg anchors easily and securely drop into the Ford pucks, locking into place with just a quarter-turn of the handles. The anchors are also fully adjustable to eliminate chucking noises.

 

What is the best built 5th wheel hitch?

The CURT A30™ 5th wheel hitch has the best build compared to other options. It features a cast steel body and is fully tested to 30,000 pounds. The A30™ is built around a patented cast yoke head that provides an extremely stable 5th wheel connection, while still being able to move and flex with the articulation of the trailer.

 

What is the best rated 5th wheel hitch?

The CURT Q24™ is one of the best rated 5th wheel hitches. It is highly engineered to produce the quietest towing possible, featuring a unique spherical axial bearing. Chucking and clunking noises can be a common problem in 5th wheel towing, and the Q24™ seeks to answer that problem. It also has integrated grease fittings, full-wrap jaws and a self-aligning head.