Regulations on Fifth-Wheel Camper

Regulations on Fifth-Wheel Camper
When towing a fifth-wheel camper trailer to a camp site or national park, it is essential that you understand the regulations regarding fifth-wheel camper trailers in your state or the state to which you will tow the vehicle. A fifth-wheel camper trailer is a recreational vehicle that attaches to a pickup via a special hitch that is affixed to the truck bed. One of the benefits of towing a fifth-wheel camper is that it affords you the comforts of home while at a camp site.

Weight, Width and Length

Weight restrictions are regulated according to an allowable gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for the tow vehicle and fifth-wheel camper (these numbers are calculated separately). For example, if your truck weighs 4,000 lbs. or more, you can tow a fifth-wheel camper with a GVWR of less than 10,000 lbs. with a standard Class C license in California.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in your state will issue a license for your fifth-wheel camper and can determine if the GVWR of your tow vehicle and fifth-wheel camper complies with state laws.

Regardless of your state of residence or where you will be traveling with your camper, you must comply with the legal maximum height and width, which in the United States, is 40 feet or shorter (however, some states permit up to 53 feet) and 96 inches to 102 inches respectively.


All U.S. states require fifth-wheel campers to have brakes. Remote control your fifth-wheel camper from your tow vehicle using a brake controller, which is available at most auto parts stores and local RV dealerships. Install a breakaway switch to disconnect the two vehicles, which may be required if the total weight capacity of your tow vehicle and fifth-wheel camper exceeds 3,000 lbs.

Load Distribution

When towing a fifth-wheel camper to a camp site or other destination, it is essential that you ensure all weight is evenly distributed. Load camping, hiking and fishing equipment and heavy gear from front to rear as well as left to right. Generally, your fifth-wheel camper's hitch weight must equal approximately 10 to 15 percent of the vehicle's gross weight and be loaded in front of the front axle.

Turning Right on Red

Some states impose strict traffic laws for recreational vehicles including laws that require you to stop at each red light before turning, yield to pedestrians and then proceed with caution.

Number of "Units"

Some states such as Iowa restrict the number of vehicles that can be combined or towed at once. For example, you may only tow a combination of three vehicles or units, which could consist of a pickup truck, a fifth-wheel camper and a snowmobile or watercraft.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.