Serious hardware for safely towing travel trailers and fifth-wheels
Travel-trailer and fifth-wheel buyers typically put a lot of thought into floorplans, features, upgrades and creature comforts, but unless you have owned several trailers, you probably don’t know much about the types of hitches and tow-ball mounts that are available. You likely took the dealer’s recommendation for your RV’s hitch setup or just ended up with whatever brand and style the parts shop had in stock.
Considering that hitches are big-ticket items, especially weight-distributing (WD) models and those for towing fifth-wheels, it’s not like you can just buy a bunch and try them until you find the one you like best. And one type or brand of hitch of a lighter-weight rating may work fine for that 17-foot trailer you started off with but not so much for a new 31-footer. Your tow vehicle has a lot to do with the equation, as well, and the hitch is the most important component for a safe, reliable and trouble-free hookup.
Knowing what is out there will help you make an informed choice about this critical piece of trailering equipment. With that in mind, the following guide presents some of what the towing industry has to offer. Of course, it’s not possible to cover every hitch from every manufacturer on these pages, but the sampling below should help you get started on the journey to determine what may work best for your specific configuration.
B&W Trailer Hitches
Doing business in Humboldt, Kansas, since 1987, B&W offers products from adjustable load-carrying ball mounts to fifth-wheel hitches. B&W Companion Fifth-Wheel Hitches use rail-less mounting for ease and simplicity and are available in stationary and sliding models. For use in late-model Ford, GM and Ram trucks with factory puck mounts, the company also offers a line of B&W Companion OEM Fifth-Wheel Hitches. Available in stationary models (MSRP: $1,162 to $1,415) or with sliding base mechanisms (MSRP: $1,780) that provide extra versatility, Companion OEM hitches are known for their simple two-piece design, ease of hookup, 1-inch-thick locking jaws and heavy-duty construction. Since no mounting rails are required, the truck bed can easily be converted for non-towing usage, leaving nothing in the bed to get in the way of hauling chores. With a sliding base, the OEM Companion fifth-wheel hitch can provide up to 12 inches of maneuverability for getting the fifth-wheel into tight spaces without damage. All Companion fifth-wheel hitches are made in America and come with a limited lifetime warranty.
Comfort Ride was recently acquired by Roadmaster, which has been manufacturing dinghy-towing products since 1974. With its proprietary urethane spring suspension, the Comfort Ride fifth-wheel hitch is claimed to ride “as soft as a Zamboni.” Having distinct advantages over air bladders that can leak, blow out and require a compressor and increased maintenance, the hitch not only isolates and cushions the tow vehicle from the fifth-wheel trailer, it does so by absorbing road shock rather than displacing it, according to the manufacturer. The standard four-way articulating coupler and latching system (also proprietary) mean no grease or lubrication plate is required, saving money and simplifying the hookup process. One of three models, the Comfort Ride 245 (MSRP: $2,825) mounts to standard four-pin fifth-wheel-hitch rails, with options available to fit late-model Ford, GM and Ram puck-mounts or the popular B&W Turnover Ball system. The 245 is rated for a maximum 5,000 pounds of pin weight and a total capacity of up to 24,000 pounds. All Comfort Ride fifth-wheel hitches are covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
Demco is known in heavy-hauling circles for its line of towing products for various industries including agriculture, material handling and liquid transport. The company’s RV product line focuses on fifth-wheel hitches, tow dollies, tow bars and towing accessories. Its Autoslide automatic sliding fifth-wheel hitch is designed for shortbed trucks and can provide a full 90 degrees of turning ability, depending on application, to help get fifth-wheels into tight spots while keeping a safe distance between the truck cab and front cap. The Autoslide uses a patented wraparound jaw for a secure ride, and no special locking plate is required for standard pin boxes. It is available for use with industry-standard rail mounts, and under-bed mounts (for most trucks) that leave the bed clean when the hitch is removed. The Demco Autoslide 18K Under Bed Mount (MSRP: $1,745) is one of nine models with three height adjustments and capacities from 13,000 to 21,000 pounds to accommodate almost any fifth-wheel. All Autoslide hitches carry a five-year warranty and a made-in-the-USA label.
Camco makes and markets a number of products for the RV industry, covering almost every aspect of RV operation. Camco designed its Eaz-Lift Recurve R3 and R6 WD hitches to be user-friendly. The same can be said of Eaz-Lift fifth-wheel hitches. Features include adjustable height, adjustable pivots, secondary locking-bar handles, enclosed rollers and durable powder-coat finishes. Engineered around industry-standard four- and 10-bolt mounting rails, the hitches are available with weight ratings to accommodate almost any size fifth-wheel and any truck bed, in stationary models as well as sliders that allow additional clearance for tighter turning and trailer maneuvering. Six fifth-wheel models include the Eaz-Lift 18KS Slider (MSRP: $1,324.99) with an 18,000-pound rating and a 9-inch hitch displacement. All Eaz-Lift hitches are covered by a five-year warranty.
With a 70-year presence in the market, the Equal-i-zer Sway Control Hitch (MSRP: $745 to $993) combines weight distributing with four-point sway control in an easy-to-use-and-adjust package. The Equal-i-zer is available in seven models with hitch-weight ratings from 400 to 1,600 pounds and overall capacity ratings from 4,000 to 16,000 pounds. The patented design relies on spring bars, the ball mount and specialized brackets to combine weight distribution and sway control. It is compatible with almost all travel trailers, according to the manufacturer. A shank-less model for use with your own drop shank provides versatility with different trailers. Carrying a lifetime warranty, the Equal-i-zer is made in America by Progress Manufacturing, which also owns Fastway Trailer Products, maker of the e2 WD hitch.
Hensley Manufacturing Company’s Arrow WD trailer hitch takes a unique approach to controlling sway and hooking up. The same technology is also available in the Hensley Cub Anti-Sway Trailer Hitch (MSRP: $2,170), aimed at trailers weighing 6,000 pounds or less with a hitch weight under 600 pounds. By moving the trailer’s pivot point away from the ball and closer to the tow vehicle’s rear axle, eschewing conventional friction-type designs, the Cub is said to literally eliminate sway. Hensley offers a 60-day money-back guaranty and a lifetime warranty. Another advantage of the Hensley design is that the bulk of the hitch remains on the trailer A-frame, making it easier to hitch up and unhitch at the campsite.
The ProPride 3P Trailer Sway Control Hitch (MSRP: $2,745 to $2,895) is claimed not just to control trailer sway but to eliminate it. The 3P uses a patented innovation called Pivot Point Projection, hence the three P’s in its name. The design shifts the trailer’s pivot point from the hitch ball to nearer the tow vehicle’s rear axle, resulting in a stable ride that still allows for smooth turning and backing. The most expensive WD hitch in this guide, the 3P comes in four models with hitch-weight ratings from 300 to 1,400 pounds, with each overlapping the next model in the lineup. This allows users to move moderately up or down in trailer size without necessarily having to replace the hitch. All ProPride 3P models are backed by a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser.
New to PullRite’s SuperGlide line of fifth-wheel sliding hitches are models designed to fit Ford, GM and Ram puck-style mountings. The PullRite SuperGlide OEM Puck Series Hitch (MSRP: $1,299 to $1,899) makes installing a fifth-wheel hitch simple and easy, leaving little or nothing behind when it is removed to use the truck bed for other chores. PullRite calls this Clean Bed Technology (CBT). In addition, the hitches can easily be converted to a gooseneck configuration, making them a versatile choice for those who use their pickup trucks for towing other types of trailers. For owners of older trucks or models without the factory puck system, PullRite offers a number of other fifth-wheel hitches. All PullRite products are made in America and come with a limited five-year warranty.
10 More Ways to Stay Connected
AirSafe’s broad line of hitch receivers, fifth-wheel hitches and goosenecks features air bladders and shock absorbers to cushion and isolate the connection between the tow vehicle and trailer for a claimed smoother, more controlled pulling experience. Available in square or round, the AirSafe Gooseneck Hitch (MSRP: $1,895) features airbags and shock damping to soften the ride when towing even the heaviest trailers.
Andersen makes a full line of trailer hitches, and the Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch (MSRP: $519 to $569) has an almost cult-like following among the trailering crowd. Weighing less than 60 pounds, having a greaseless connection between the ball and coupler, and described by the company as being anti-sway, anti-bounce and practically noiseless, the hitch is economically priced and made in America.
Blue Ox offers WD trailer, fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitches, and provides drawbars, brake controllers, sway bars and a host of accessories for towing. The Blue Ox SwayPro Weight Distributing Hitch (MSRP: $725) is claimed to eliminate sway and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
BulletProof Ball Mounts (MSRP: $199 to $349) feature hefty construction and quality materials for any application, according to the company. Products are available for vehicles in stock height or lifted, with adjustable drops as low as 12 inches, and with extreme-duty weight ratings as high as 30,000 pounds.
One of the most prolific names in the industry, Curt makes everything from all types of hitches to tow balls, ball mounts, wheel chocks, tow straps and just about anything you’ll need for safe towing. The Curt Rebellion Drop Hitch (MSRP: $594.21) uses what the company calls Shockdrop Technology to isolate the tow vehicle from inherent vibration and rattling of trailer components.
Husky supplies products for towing RVs that include WD and fifth-wheel hitches and brake controllers, as well as power-lift jacks for the trailer A-frame and manual scissor-jack-stabilizer replacements. The Husky Centerline TS (MSRP: $549) combines weight distributing with sway control in a lightweight package that is claimed to be easy to install and noiseless in operation. The company recently introduced a line of fifth-wheel hitches that work with Ford and Ram puck-system under-bed prep packages.
Torklift has grown into a manufacturer of a wide variety of products not just for the RV world but the automotive and power-sports industries as well. Torklift’s SuperHitch Series offers features like dual-receiver mounts (2- and 2.5-inch) and models with no drilling required to install. The Torklift SuperHitch Everest 30K Weight-Distribution System (MSRP: $1,384.99) is rated to tow up to 3,000 pounds of hitch weight and 30,000 pounds overall. Many Torklift products are covered by a lifetime warranty.
Gen-Y focuses on products that make hooking up trailers easy and safe. Gen-Y Boss Hitch Torsion Flex Drop Hitches (MSRP: $589 to $1,199) feature a rubber-isolated design that prevents shock transfer to the tow vehicle, providing a smoother ride and less wear and tear on equipment, according to the company. The hitches allow use of different ball mounts at varying drop heights, making them versatile for those who tow more than one style of trailer and use different ball mounts.
Owned by Horizon Global, parent company of Draw-Tite, Hidden Hitch and Bulldog, Reese is a major player in the towing industry and has a wide array of towing products and accessories covering all types of hitch styles, receivers, ball mounts, trailer-accessory parts, and electrical wiring and connectors. Rated to tow up to 22,000 pounds, the Reese 22K Fifth-Wheel Hitch (MSRP: $2,105.72) features quick installation and removal, and comes with a five-year warranty.
Weigh Safe offers a unique integrated hitch-weight measuring scale. The scale is not to-the-pound accurate, but it does give a good idea if you are below, at or exceeding the tow vehicle’s rated hitch-weight capacity. Weigh Safe drop hitches are available with vertical ranges from 4 to 10 inches and 2-, 2.5- or 3-inch shanks. The Weigh Safe True Tow Weight Distribution Hitch (MSRP: $899 to $999) features the same technology with a built-in scale that measures hitch weight. It can easily be moved between various tow vehicles and trailers.
The new B&W Fifth-Wheel Lifting Device (MSRP: $35) makes moving a B&W Companion or Patriot hitch in and out of the truck a snap when used with a mechanical hoist or other type of lift. Made of powder-coated heavy-gauge steel, the tool simulates the kingpin on the fifth-wheel to give a lifting point for installation and removal of the hitch from the truck bed.
Residing in West Palm Beach, Florida, Rick A. Diaz is an avid mountain biker, woodworker and former Hollywood, California, custom Harley-Davidson shop owner, as well as a motorcycle and truck journalist. Rick will be taking his fiancée, their two retired racing greyhounds and an Italian greyhound puppy on adventures in their Winnebago Minnie Plus while contributing to Trailer Life.