Can a Half-Ton Pickup Truck Tow a 5th Wheel RV Trailer?

Ford F-150 with Jayco Eagle HT 23.5RBS trailer

As the lasts spring snow melts, many of us are hitting the road in search of adventure or relaxation. There are many ways to outfit your vehicle for travel and overnight stay, and one question that often comes up is – can my half-ton pickup truck safely tow a 5th wheel RV trailer? The answer simply is – it depends on the trailer. If the trailer weight matches the payload and towing capabilities of your truck, then it’s a done deal. Adventure awaits!

Not long ago, it was extremely rare to see a small 5th wheel trailer being towed by a light duty truck. It’s still unusual to see this, but there are now more options as capabilities of half-ton 1500 pickups are increasing and RV manufacturers are building more trailers to match.

1981 Toyota Sunrader 22R Dually with a 5th Wheel

This 1981 Toyota Sunrader dually truck is a collectors item. It’s towing a 19-foot Sunrader RV trailer that sleeps four. As consumer taste evolves with a focus towards more comfort and spaciousness, a 19-foot 5th wheel trailer becomes too small. A 26-foot long trailer, like the Jayco Eagle HT you see here behind a Ford F-150, is one of the smaller 5th wheel you can purchase today. Jayco says that this trailer is “perfect for towing with today’s half-ton trucks”.

2016-jayco-eagle-ht-23-5-rbs-trailer The Eagle HT trailer is rated at an unloaded weight of 6,320 lbs and a tongue weight of 1,240 lbs. Take the tongue weight and divide it by the total unloaded weight to get an approximate tongue weight percentage of 19.6%. The Eagle HT’s maximum weight or GVWR is 9,950 lbs. This calculates to a maximum tongue weight of 1,950 lbs. Not many half-ton pickup trucks have a payload rating of over 1,950 lbs. Remember that you still have to have leftover truck payload to carry people and have a safety margin. Yes, you can buy a 1500 pickup with a high-payload package, but this is a time to ask “should I buy a 3/4 ton truck for this application?”

Given the 1,240 lbs empty tongue weight, and the fact that most people will not max out the GVWR of their trailers, a half-ton truck can be a satisfactory and safe solution for this type of trailer. As long as the operator knows the specific payload and towing ratings of their truck, and as long as the real-world weight of the trailer is known and within the parameters.

The 2016 Nissan Titan XD is another solution for towing smaller 5th wheel trailers, as this is a truck with capabilities that fall between the half-ton and 3/4-ton truck segments.