The RV Guide To 5th-Wheel vs Gooseneck Campers & Hitches

Do They Make Gooseneck Campers?

The short answer is no. They do not make gooseneck campers.

They do make gooseneck horse trailers with campers built into the front and even gooseneck ATV and snowmobile trailers with an area to sleep in.

But they do not make a gooseneck trailer that is made just for camping.

See Also: Best 5th Wheel Hitches (Reese, B&W, Curt, Andersen, Blue Ox)

Why don’t they make gooseneck RVs?

It’s a good question with a pretty interesting and well debated answer.

In this article, I’m going to be talking a lot about 5th-wheel and gooseneck trailers and what makes them so different. Each kind has different pros and cons and much different engineering.

To answer specific questions you can navigate through the post using the table below. Or just keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these similar but very different trailers.

gooseneck camper horse trailer combo
Some gooseneck horse trailers have campers in the front.

Why Don’t They Make Gooseneck Campers?

The gooseneck style hitch comes with a lot of benefits. Some people love them so much they install 5th-wheel to gooseneck adapters on their campers even though these adapters are known to be hard on the frame and can potentially void the warranty that came with the RV.

So why don’t they just make camper trailers with gooseneck hitches?

The reason you’ll probably read or hear about the most is simply the hitches. 5th-wheel hitches are much better for long distance towing on highways and roads and they are more stable than ball hitches.

That’s why you’ll hear a lot of experienced RVers say that they prefer 5th-wheels over travel trailers because they just tow so much better.

A gooseneck is similar to a travel trailer since the trailer is being towed on a ball and not a wide base like a 5th-wheel. They are more susceptible to trailer sway and they don’t feel as smooth on the road.

Related: The 5 Things You Must Do When A Trailer Starts To Sway

There’s another less talked about the reason you don’t see companies coming out with gooseneck trailers that are just for camping.

If you take a close look at a large gooseneck horse trailer you’ll notice that the frame that’s built up to the gooseneck is super heavy duty. Not to mention the gooseneck part has some serious material and welding going into it.

The entire thing has to be connected to a strong frame that runs throughout the entire trailer to offset the force that’s being put on the long gooseneck bar.

A real gooseneck trailer is normally very heavy and has a super strong frame. For ATVs, snowmobiles, and horses these huge gooseneck trailers can be heavy because they don’t normally have a full camper inside.

If you get a horse trailer with a camper built into the front you are going to need a serious truck to tow it that the average person just doesn’t normally use. The camper part is usually pretty small as well with a big open back for horses.

Most people want to be able to tow their 5th-wheel camper around with a small or medium sized truck they can also use in their daily life. So getting a super heavy gooseneck RV just doesn’t make sense.

It also doesn’t make a lot of sense for the RV manufacturer. They would have to add a lot more steel or aluminum to the frame to make the gooseneck part work and it just doesn’t seem like the best trade off when 5th-wheel hitches are still a great way to tow trailers that can be made with fewer parts.

In conclusion, there aren’t any full gooseneck campers out there because 5th-wheel hitches are still better for towing on paved roads. Gooseneck campers would be a lot heavier, and they would require a lot more steel or aluminum to make safe which hurts the bottom line for manufacturers.

Related: RV Truck & Trailer Towing Capacity – How Much Can I Tow?


5th-Wheel vs Gooseneck

While the basic outline of a 5th-wheel and a gooseneck trailer is the same they are actually very different both in the types of hitches used, how the frames are engineered, how they tow, and more.

Below is a comparison of 5th-wheels vs goosenecks and the pros and cons of each for towing.

The 5th-Wheel

A 5th-wheel trailer uses a large centered kingpin that attaches to a 5th-wheel hitch that sits in the bed of a truck.

A 5th-wheel hitch is normally a very large and heavy device that sits up about 2 feet. The hitch uses a U shaped hole in the top plate to allow the kingpin to enter.

Depending on the kind of hitch you have a bar is either slid across the gap once the kingpin is in the U to lock it into place or jaws are wrapped around the kingpin to hold it securely.

The kingpin on a 5th-wheel doesn’t extend very far down from the overhanging frame of the trailer which helps distribute the force being put on the frame while it’s being towed.

It makes it so the frame doesn’t have to be built as sturdy and you can spread out the weight in the front instead of focusing the strong point in the front center.

Having a hitch that sits up in the bed of a truck to help even out the force is great for towing and making a lightweight trailer but it’s also one of the things people dislike about 5th-wheels.

See Also: Best RV Stabilizers For RV, 5th-Wheel & Travel Trailer 2021

The hitches are super heavy. They can be anywhere from 70-200 lbs and they take up a lot of space in the bed of a truck.

It can be a pain for weekend and summer campers to have to take out the 5th-wheel hitch every time they want to use the bed of their truck.

There is one hitch that is the exception to all of this that I talk more about later in this article. If you have a 5th-wheel and you are tired of the large bulky hitch taking up so much space in the bed of your truck it’s a great option.

While fifth-wheel hitches are heavy and bulky and a pain to install they aren’t always the bad guy. Many of them are made with towing heavy trailers in mind.

They use springs and articulating heads to help create a smoother and safer towing experience.

There’s a reason semi trucks also use 5th-wheel hitches instead of goosenecks and ball hitches.

5th-Wheel Pros

  • Trailer is often more lightweight
  • Weight distribution is better allowing for a taller and wider front.
  • Tow smoother and safer on roads and highways.
  • Hitches absorb more road impact and reduce trailer sway.
  • Easier to hitch up (hitch point is raised so you can see it.
  • No safety chains are required.

5th-Wheel Cons

  • Heavy hitches.
  • Take up lots of space in the truck bed.
  • Hard to install and remove the hitch.
  • Harder to hitch or unhitch on unlevel ground.
truck towing a gooseneck trailer
It’s very rare to see a gooseneck camper. Normally they are used for horse or cargo trailers.

The Gooseneck

Gooseneck trailers have a long arm that extends down with a ball hitch receiver on the end.

To hitch up a gooseneck you have to align the bottom of the “neck” directly over the ball in the center of the truck bed.

You then lower the gooseneck onto the ball until all of the weight of the trailer is on the ball and truck.

Next, you have to climb into the bed to close the coupler that locks the ball onto the truck bed and secure the safety pin that stops the coupler from moving.

Then you set up the breakaway cable and trailer plug just like with a 5th-wheel. The added step for goosenecks is the safety chains.

Since you are using a ball to tow the law in most states requires a gooseneck trailer to use safety chains just like a travel trailer.

Being able to use a truck bed ball hitch is the main reason people want gooseneck campers to become more available.

Most truck bed ball hitches can be turned down so your truck bed is smooth and unobstructed when you aren’t using it.

It also means there’s less weight in your truck bed while towing and you have more space for storage.

It’s perfect for farmers who need to use the truck bed almost as often as they tow gooseneck trailers.

See Also: Best RV 5th-Wheel & Travel Trailer Tires Review/Buying Guide

Because the trailer is sitting on a ball it can freely move side to side without throwing the truck around as well.

They are awesome for driving in unlevel fields. You aren’t going to feel the trailer’s side to side movement in your truck with a gooseneck like you will with a 5th-wheel.

This is a huge pro for farmers and ranchers who often tow their trailers in these conditions but it makes towing on a road or highway less safe.

A big part of reducing trailer sway or being able to make driving adjustments to stop it before it happens is being able to make the truck and trailer a solid unit as it drives down the road.

With a 5th-wheel hitch, the head of the hitch and trailer make a large solid connection that’s about 12 inches in diameter. This helps the hitch and truck steady the trailer and keep it from swaying.

With a gooseneck, it’s only sitting on the ball and there’s nothing there to help steady it and stop it from swaying.

I’m not saying goosenecks are super unsafe. But when loaded down and being towed long distances 5th-wheel hitches are technically better.

Gooseneck Pros

  • Great for towing across unlevel terrain.
  • Easy to hitch and unhitch on unlevel ground
  • No bulky hitch in the truck bed.
  • Easy to flip up or down ball hitch.
  • More truck bed storage.

Gooseneck Cons

  • Doesn’t help reduce trailer sway.
  • Safety chains required.
  • Not as easy to hitch up (must get into the truck bed to fully hitch).
  • Often requires a more sturdy and heavy trailer frame
  • Front of trailer can’t be as wide or tall as a 5th-wheel (less living space)
  • Not as smooth towing on paved roads.

In conclusion, when talking about 5th-wheel vs gooseneck for campers it’s pretty clear why RV manufacturers are still sticking with 5th-wheel hitches over goosenecks.

The common camper isn’t spending a lot of time driving across fields and they don’t necessarily need to have the whole truck bed easily accessible although it is nice to be able to use it when you want.

Luckily there are more and more companies designing lighter and easier to remove 5th-wheel hitches that are safe, keep stress low on the trailer frame, and are great for distance towing.


The Truth About 5th-Wheel To Gooseneck Adapters

One way you can try and get the best of both worlds is to use an adapter that will turn your 5th-wheel kingpin into a gooseneck ball hitch receiver.

There are a few things to know before going this route to get a gooseneck camper.

First, be careful about what kind of adapter you are getting. 5th-wheel hitches are not in any way made to be towed with a gooseneck and using the wrong kind will not only damage the frame, but it will also void the warranty of your camper’s frame.

See Also: Best Wireless RV Backup Cameras & Systems Reviewed

The kind of 5th-wheel to gooseneck adapter that does this is the one that is a long steel tube with a gooseneck receiver on the bottom that attaches to the bottom of the kingpin.

The reason this kind of adapter isn’t recommended is because it’s basically putting a torque handle on the pin of your 5th-wheel. It multiplies the force being put on the camper’s front frame and could even rip out the entire hitch mount.

The only way to adapt a 5th-wheel to a gooseneck that’s safe and won’t void most warranties is to either lower the 5th-wheel kingpin or raise the ball hitch in your truck bed to reach the kingpin.

Two products do this.

Reese 94720 Gooseneck RV Coupler for Lippert

Reese 94720 Gooseneck RV Coupler for Lippert #1621 & #1716 Wing Sets, 20K Rated, 2-5/16'

Check Price at Amazon

The Reese Gooseneck RV Coupler for Lippert is one of the only fully OE approved 5th-wheel to gooseneck adapters.

That’s because it’s not an adapter. It’s an actual replacement part that you will need to permanently install onto your 5th-wheel.

It’s only compatible with certain Lippert frames so make sure your 5th-wheel is the right kind before purchasing.

Not only will this 5th-wheel to gooseneck adapter not void your warranty, but it also offers a pretty smooth and safe towing experience.

The “Goose Box” extends the arm of the main 5th-wheel frame to reach the ball in the bed of the truck.

Like a standard gooseneck, the coupler secures to the ball but inside the hitch box, there’s a lot more going on than with a standard gooseneck.

It uses the same technology that you find in Reese Hitch’s highest quality 5th-wheel hitches. They call it the 5th-airborne.

Inside the “Goose Box,” there are two shocks, rubber bumpers, and an air bag. Using these things together much of the impact from the road to the truck is absorbed by the box instead of the frame of the trailer.

This not only makes towing smoother it also takes away a lot of stress from your 5th-wheel camper. It won’t get shaken up and down as much and that’s not only better for the frame but the inside structure and cabinets as well.

The psi in the airbag can be adjusted to help match the weight of your camper better for a customized fit.

This version is for trailers that are up to 20,000 lbs but there are smaller options available for lighter campers.

The Reese 94720 Gooseneck RV Coupler for Lippert is the only 5th-wheel to gooseneck adapter that will not void the warranty on your camper and it’s also the safest option out there.

It is a commitment to get it installed but once it’s on your RV you don’t have to think about it again.

If you want to turn your fifth wheel into a gooseneck trailer. This is the best way to do it.

Note this does require safety chains that are not included with purchase. You can get some here if you need them (click to view on Amazon).

PROS

  • No Hitch In Truck Bed
  • Air Ride System Inside Box
  • Permanent Install (Don’t Have To Mess With Adapters)
  • Will Not Void Warranty
  • Helps Reduce Trailer Sway

CONS

  • Difficult Install
  • Requires Safety Chains

Andersen Hitches 3220 Ultimate 5th-Wheel Connection Gooseneck Mount Hitch

ANDERSEN HITCHES | Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection | Part # 3220 | GOOSENECK Mount Hitch - 24,000 LBS

Check Price at Amazon

The second way to avoid having a bulky 5th-wheel hitch in your truck bed is to get the Andersen Hitches 3220 Gooseneck Mount Hitch.

One warning about this 5th-wheel hitch is the warranty issue that I talked about earlier is unclear with this product.

It technically does use a kingpin to ball adapter but it doesn’t add the dangerous gooseneck part that is so damaging to 5th-wheel campers.

Andersen Hitches states that if something happens and your warranty is void they will pick up the cost with their own warranty but that’s something you have to be willing to deal with if you get this 5th-wheel hitch.

The way it works is Andersen Hitches provides you with a small coupler that connects to the kingpin on your 5th-wheel.

The coupler doesn’t add any extra distance from the kingpin to the hitch so there is no extra force being added to the frame. Of all the true gooseneck adapters, this one is the safest. That’s excluding the Reese Hitches “Goose Box” of course.

When the coupler/adapter is attached you will leave it on your 5th-wheel. It doesn’t need to be removed when you unhitch your RV.

Inside the truck bed, you will install a hitch that is a ball sitting on an aluminum tripod. It weighs only 35 lbs so it can be removed easily and it has an adjustable height.

This version secures to the ball hitch that is already inside your truck bed but there is also a version (click to view on Amazon) that goes on rail mounts. Rail mounts are what most traditional 5th-wheel hitches are mounted to in a truck bed.

There are other versions for short bed trucks, toolboxes, and more.

The coupler uses a greaseless lube plate to reduce noise and help the trailer move on the ball better.

It’s a fantastic design that’s a really smart way to make the 5th-wheel hitch inside the truck bed much smaller and lighter while not putting any dangerous torque on the trailer frame.

The Andersen Hitches 3220 Ultimate 5th-Wheel Connection Gooseneck Mount Hitch is a bit of a risk if you are worried about your warranty but the design of this lightweight 5th-wheel hitch doesn’t damage the frame in any way.

PROS

  • Lightweight 5th-Wheel Hitch (35 lbs)
  • Can Be Installed On Tons Of Different Trucks
  • Rail Mount Version Available
  • May need Chains (Depending On State Laws)

CONS

  • May Void Warranty
  • No Air Ride Features
  • Doesn’t Reduce Trailer Sway
  • Still Requires Hitch In Truck Bed

The Reese 94720 Gooseneck RV Coupler for Lippert is still the best option if you don’t want to have to deal with a hitch in the bed

But the Andersen Hitch is a fantastic way to get your truck bed back without having the change anything permanently.

Have any more questions about 5th-wheel vs gooseneck and gooseneck campers? Leave a comment below.

by Jenni
Jenni grew up in a small town in Idaho. With a family that loves camping, she has been towing trailers since a very young age.

Leave a Comment