Looking for 1st 5th wheel


New Member
Hi, we are knew to RVing and are looking for a 36' 5th wheel, 3 slide, 2-7 years old. There sure are a dizzying array of features, options, layouts, etc! We are going to start rving on weekends and holidays with our 2 young sons, as well as living in it shortly as we re-model our home for sale, and then likely for 6 months to a year as we decide what state to move to as we are getting ready to get out of California. I've already done a bunch of research and "lookin", but the esteemed experience and wisdom of seasoned rvers would be greatly appreciated. What should we look out for/look for in a trailer this size? Construction-alum/wood? Brands/models known to be problems or of superior quality? Layouts-rear kitchen/slide kitchen/island kitchen? We will do some dry camping - size of water tanks/size of generator? Suspension/axles/frames/slides? Leaks/plumbing? Insulation/fit/finish? Bunks for the kids, or just the sofa sleeper? Etc. From your collective wisdom, is there a good buyers guide for used RVs/5th wheels that is specific like the questions above, and perhaps even model/brand specific? Sure would be great to find a publication like this that would guide us in our purchase as well as educate us on things to do-not to do/and to pack/equip the RV. Thanks for your assistance!


Senior Member
Looking for 1st 5th wheel

What are you planning on towing it with? 36' 5vers tend to be fairly heavy.

With 3 slides, it is likely that 2 of them will be opposite from each other. Make sure you can use the trailer without putting out the slides. If I can't use the bathroom, make/eat a meal or take a nap without putting out any slides, I won't buy it.

Make sure you get one rated for 'full time' use. Many 5vers are only sturdy enough for occasional use. Some manufacturers even void the warranty if you spend more then x days per year in them. Although the one you are looking for will be out of warrenty, I'd avoid one which had that limitation, since it shows the mfg knows it won't stand up to full time use.

With 40 gallon tanks, we were able to go for several days with 2 people. But that was a 25' 5ver; it is likely that the 36' will have bigger tanks. Note that you generally don't want to fill your fresh water tank unless you are going somewhere without water, as hauling water is expensive in gas used. Generally, I kept my fresh tank about 1/3 full when driving the interstates.

Not many 5vers have generators. Options are gas, diesel and propane. Of the 5vers which do have generators, many are propane so you can run them without another fuel tank. If it is not propane, it may be best if it is the same fuel as your tow vehicle. If you have 1 AC unit, 4KW or possibly 3KW may be enough. With 2 AC, about 7KW is needed.

Many 5vers do not have shocks; since noone is supposed to be riding in them, this may make sense. However, it will throw stuff around in the trailer, so I would try to get shocks if practical. I'd rather have 2 axels than dual wheels, except when going on a tollroad which charges by the axel :)

1 Sofa sleeper may not be enough for 2 kids; and even if it is now, won't be as they grow. Bunks may also be a problem as they grow. 2 sofa sleepers (or sofa sleeper plus hide-a-bed) may be a better choice in the long run, if they have that in any 5ver floorplans (they do in class A motorhomes). Many 5vers have dinettes which convert to a bed, but we never tried the one in our trailer, so can't speak to the comfort or conveniance.