There are two main types of trailer hitches: Bumper pull and gooseneck. Bumper pull hitches are what most RVers are used to when towing a recreational vehicle. Many SUVs, trucks and even larger cars come with the ability to bumper pull a trailer from day one. Gooseneck hitches, or 5th wheel hitches, use a heavy-duty system that fits into the bed of a pickup truck equipped to tow this way. You’ll see gooseneck hitches used on fifth wheel RV and park model RVs.
Let's compare bumper pull hitches and gooseneck hitches, so you know which one is the right type of hitch for your adventures.
Comparing Bumper Pull Hitches vs. Gooseneck Hitches
Bumper Pull Hitches
Most RVers choose bumper pull hitches because they're easier to deal with to start and most trailers on the road use them. They don't need you to install more hardware, although you can invest in other bumper pull hitch system for better performance. Since you're dealing with a smaller RV or trailer to tow, you're spending less money to get started. If you're looking for a heavy-duty trailer or RV, most of them will need you to invest in a gooseneck hitch.
A bumper pull hitch uses a traditional ball and hitch system to tow. There are two types of bumper pull hitches: Fixed-drawbar and receiver. Receiver hitches mount to the rear of a vehicle, and a ball mount can fit inside to secure the trailer to the towing vehicle.
The fixed-drawbar hitch utilizes one solid piece, allowing a trailer ball into the hitch for securement. The fixed-drawbar is ideal for those towing long, wide trailers whereas the receiver hitch can be used for small trailers to cargo carriers to bike racks.
Bumper pull hitches aren't expensive. Most SUVs and trucks come with the basics you need to get started towing. In fact, when you buy a car nowadays that can tow, you’ll be asked about a hitch package at an extra cost by your dealership. From there, you add accessories to get the desired effects while towing.
Read More: Consider doubling up on safety chains if you’re using a bumper pull hitch. This will offer an additional level of support should something go wrong while towing this way.
Gooseneck hitches go by many names, including such as deck over hitches or 5th wheel hitches. They're meant to tow heavy trailers, like 5th wheel RVs. The gooseneck hitch's main plate is attached to a truck's bed. The trailer or fifth wheel hitch fits into it from above, eliminating the use of the bed in the process. This allows the truck to tow a trailer or fifth wheel with a higher weight class.
Most trucks don't come with a gooseneck hitch installed, so this is an extra cost to consider when going with a gooseneck hitch over a bumper pull one. This is one of the reasons why this type of hitch and the fifth wheels that come with it are invested in down the line for RVers.
Gooseneck hitches allow RVers to take tighter turns and control trailer sway easier than bumper pulls. With a bumper pull hitch, you'll need to learn how to turn so that you aren't taking out every car next to you. You'll also need to learn how to handle trailer sway depending on the conditions. While you still deal with sway with a gooseneck hitch, the weight of the truck helps keep the trailer or RV from swaying as much because of where its center of gravity is located.
When it comes to cost, a gooseneck hitch will be more expensive than upgrades to a traditional bumper pull hitch. Gooseneck hitches start at a couple of hundreds of dollars to the low thousands of dollars. This all depends on the type of RV or trailer you invest in, the towing truck you're using, and what type of gooseneck hitch you choose. Towing setups often double up on safety chains for increased stability and security.
Read More: A gooseneck hitch is perfect for towing something much larger than a travel trailer, such as a fifth wheel RV if you need something bigger and better on the road.
Considerations to Make When Buying an RV
Choosing a hitch isn't as important as choosing the type of RV or trailer you want to buy. Once you know the type of trailer that's right for you, RVing becomes more comfortable as you learn, grow and adapt to your travels across the country. You can always take classes and get more comfortable with towing on the road. Consider a towing class for both hitch types to see what leaves you feeling more in control when traveling.
Bumper pull hitches and gooseneck hitches serve their purposes, and one is not better than the other for RVers. It all depends on what makes you more comfortable on the road.