Buying a 2018 Ford F150 to Tow a Fifth-Wheel Trailer: Maxing Out Payload? (Ask TFLtruck)

ford f150 towing 5th camping trailer
Ford F150 towing a 5th wheel camper trailer

TFLtruck has recently received the following question from Nate A. about towing a fifth-wheel trailer with a Ford F-150.

I’m planning on buying a beefed up 2018 Ford F150 (3.5L EcoBoost V6, heavy payload package, etc) to tow a fifth wheel. Do these specs work?

– Tow capacity of 11,700, trailer will generally be at 9,600 pounds. (82% of capacity).

– Payload of 2,850 lbs, including pin weight will be at 2500 pounds payload.

– GCWR of 17,100 and will be at 15,200. (89% of GCWR).

48 weeks of the year the f150 will be an “in-town car”, 4 weeks traveling the country.

I have a slightly less desirable fifth wheel option that’s lighter:

– 8,900 pounds meaning I’d be towing at 76% of capacity.

– Payload would be at 2,200 pounds including pin weight, leaving me 650 pounds under capacity.

– GCWR would leave me at 14,600, or 85% of capacity.

Is my option good or does it not leave me enough margin? Second option? Can I max payload or should I leave margin there as well?

The question boils down to the importance of truck’s payload capacity. All of our towing tests suggest that the payload rating is very important, especially with half-ton trucks. The closer we get to the maximum payload rating of any truck (which is easy to do with a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer), the more susceptible the truck becomes to sway or rougher ride as the suspension gets more an more compressed.

New truck, such as the 2018 F150 are very powerful and confident towing machines, but leaving extra margin on payload capacity is always a good thing.  With this in mind, I would go for the second option – the 8,900 lbs trailer.