Which Is the Better Purchase? Fifth Wheels or Airstream Trailers?

Which Is the Better Purchase? Fifth Wheels or Airstream Trailers?

It can be difficult to choose between an Airstream and a fifth wheel. Both are excellent trailers, but which offers the best value for money? I did some research and this is what I discovered.

So, which is the better purchase? Fifth wheels or Airstream trailers? Most people agree that an Airstream trailer is preferable to a fifth wheel in most situations. Airstreams are smaller than most fifth wheels, but their stunning floor plans, an abundance of large windows, and classic silver appearance will make you the envy of any trailer park.

Airstreams are a great way to tour the country in style, but they aren’t always the easiest to transport and aren’t ideal for carrying a large number of passengers.

If you want to make a living on the road while traveling with your family, you should consider a luxury fifth-wheel trailer.

Fifth-Wheel Trailers

What Is the Difference Between a Fifth Wheel and an Airstream Trailer?

Buying a big RV, selling your house, quitting your 9 to 5 job at the office, and setting off on an adventure is so quintessentially American.

Perhaps you want to take that step, or perhaps you just want to turn all of your neighbors’ heads when you go camping for a weekend getaway.

Whatever your reasons, an Airstream trailer or a fifth wheel are an excellent way to begin living on the road in style!

However, many people are put off by the technical jargon used when discussing these large campers. Or are they vacationers? Are they referred to as RVs or not?

Do you see what I mean? Confusing. Let’s go over what a fifth wheel and an Airstream trailer are, so you can decide which vehicle is best for you.

A fifth wheel trailer is a large trailer that can be up to 45 feet long and requires a large vehicle to haul. The term “fifth wheel” refers to a hitch that allows a driver to attach a cargo attachment to the back of their vehicle.

These are some LARGE trailers, usually towed by large trucks or trailers. Don’t kid yourself, a long bed 3/4 or one-ton truck is required to transport one of these babies.

I would highly recommend the one-ton carrying capacity truck if you anticipate using it frequently. Especially if you intend to travel cross-country. A 3/4-ton truck can handle the job, but a 1-ton truck will be a much smoother ride. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Fifth wheels are massive in both size and design. Some of the interiors are absolutely stunning. I’m referring to granite cabinetry and countertops. Beautiful carpets and spacious wardrobes.

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard about people who planned to travel across the country but ended up staying inside because their fifth wheel trailer was too nice.

Let me repeat that.

People don’t want to leave the Trailer because it is so luxuriously comfortable.

Does that make sense? That is because it is. That’s just something to think about before you buy, but we’ll go over it further later.

Airstream trailers, on the other hand, are smaller, but that may be exactly what you need if you want to be light and mobile. Airstream trailers are known for their bright and shiny silver exteriors, which are sure to turn heads as they cruise down the highway.

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Despite their reputation for being easily dented, these babies were handcrafted with love in every bolt. Large Airstreams are typically between 23 and 30 feet long, with enough room for two people.

Airstream trailers have been a favorite of Americans since they first appeared on the roads in the 1930s.

Now that you know a little bit more about the two types of trailers, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each, beginning with the Airstream.

The Airstream Travel Trailer

Have you ever slept in a regular car? I’m referring to your classic Toyota Corolla, which can be found on any street or parked in any cul-de-sac across the country.

If you have, you understand what a terrible situation it can be. If there is one thing an Airstream provides, it is comfort. And comfort is essential for those who intend to spend extended periods of time on the road.

Is the High Cost of an Airstream Trailer Worth It



If you want to drive across America with your entire house in tow, the Airstream is not for you. These bad boys may not be as large as a fifth wheel, but they are still spacious and comfortable.

The Airstream trailer’s simple design is one of its best features. Anyone who has ever set up a fifth wheel trailer knows how difficult it can be. Fifth wheels are typically outfitted with slide-out panels, which can make setup a real pain in the buttocks. Especially if you want to start exploring right away.


“An Airstream trailer hitches to the bumper rather than the truck bed.”


The Airstream trailer completely eliminates this issue. There are no sliding panels or anything like that. You only need to park and get ready to go!

Another advantage of an Airstream trailer over a fifth wheel is that it attaches to the bumper rather than the truck bed.

This may not appear to be a significant advantage, but anyone who has spent more than a week on the road knows how valuable that extra space in the back of the truck bed can be. Especially when transporting toys such as ATVs or dirt bikes.

Airstream trailers are also much shorter in length than fifth wheelers. I know you’re thinking that bigger is better right now, but that’s not the case when you’re constantly on the road.

When touring the country in an RV, you want to be able to fit into all types of roads, not just the major highways that lead to popular tourist destinations.

A fifth wheel situation can be more than 55 feet long from trailer to truck. Consider attempting to merge on the highway while hauling that much length. Consider trying to find a parking spot in a national park or other camping area.

Consider attempting to make a left turn. It causes me anxiety just thinking about it.

Don’t get me wrong: Airstreams are still popular. They will measure anywhere from 30 to 40 feet from truck to trailer, but that 15 feet of space opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

You’re no longer afraid of parking or turning left, which is significant for someone who is constantly on the move.

The height of the vehicle is related to its length. Airstreams are small, and while the low hanging ceilings may be unappealing at first, believe me when I say they become a blessing whenever you see a low overpass sign.

Even with large tires, an Airstream trailer is typically only 10 feet tall. It’s short enough to get under most low-hanging overpasses. Although you should still plan your driving routes to avoid having your top ripped off.

“Airstreams are considerably lighter than a fifth wheel would be.”


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Then there’s the matter of weight. Weight can keep you from going to many fun places. A heavy RV not only tears up roads and sinks deep into the mud, but it can also make driving up hills difficult and terrifying.

Airstreams are significantly lighter than fifth wheels. Typically weighing between 7,000 and 12,000 pounds. In comparison to the standard 20,000 pounds for a fifth wheel.

You will save a total of 10,000 pounds.

12,000 pounds is also no picnic, but at least you won’t feel like Godzilla every time you drive into town.

Whew! There were numerous reasons for this. For quick reference, here is a summary:

  • Simple Design
  • Hitches to the Bumper Rather than the Truck Bed
  • Shorter Length Wise
  • Shorter Height Wise
  • Weighs Less

The Airstream trailer has a lot going for it, but it does have a few flaws that we’ll look at now.



Airstreams are simple, which can be a good thing, but it can also make them mundane and boring. Unlike fifth wheel trailers, which have a variety of floor designs, Airstream trailers have much less variety and creativity.

If you intend to travel for an extended period of time, staying in the same boring place can become tiresome.

Speaking of design, we’re all familiar with Airstream’s classic silver bullet exterior. Most people adore it because it appears to be both futuristic and retro, but there is a catch.

While the exterior of a new Airstream trailer is beautiful, it can lose some of its luster as it travels, and not because it is dirty. It turns out that an Airstream’s exterior is extremely easy to dent and ding.

Spending thousands of dollars on a pristine Airstream only to have it ruined the second a semi kicks a pebble into your car can be a pain.

Not to mention the cost of having any type of body work done on these vehicles.

In terms of repairs, have you ever had an RV of any kind inspected? If working on a fifth wheel is a nightmare, working on an Airstream is like wading through the waking flames of Hell itself.

That may be an exaggeration, but trust me on this. Nobody knows how to repair these issues.

Let me tell you how it will go if you need some repairs done. You’ll spend hours driving to a specialty shop that claims to be an expert at repairing Airstreams, only to discover that the mechanic has no idea what he’s talking about.

“The exterior of an Airstream is extremely easy to dent and ding.”


After leaving it in his care for a few days, you will receive a phone call informing you that not only will the job cost a few hundred dollars more than anticipated, but it will also need to be in the shop for a few days longer. Yikes.

There are two types of people who buy these types of RVs, in my opinion. First, there’s the down-to-earth guy who enjoys classic cars and the great outdoors and wants to go fishing in style this summer.

Second, there’s the granola millennial who read about traveling on a lifestyle blog and decided to drop out of college to pursue his new dream.

If you are the latter of these two types of men, you should consider gaining some handyman experience before making a purchase.

Here is a quick rundown of the Airstream trailer’s drawbacks:

  • The Simple Floor Plan Can Be Exhausting
  • The outside is prone to denting.
  • It’s Difficult to Find Good Repairmen



Fifth wheels are the RV equivalent of mansions. Spacious, long-lasting, and often stunning. If you go with a fifth wheel, you will be the camping king.

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Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of a fifth wheel versus an Airstream.


If you believe that “variety is the spice of life,” then a fifth wheel is the RV for you. The floor plans on a fifth wheel can be as diverse as the people on the planet.

Do you want your fifth wheel to look like a cozy rustic cabin so you never feel disconnected from nature? They got it. What about something a little more contemporary, with solid oak floors and cozy throw rugs?

They also have that. Do you want to paint the walls with stars and buy a rocket ship bed so you can pretend to be a spaceman every night? Do your thing, man.

The point is that the customization options for a fifth wheel are nearly limitless.

They also have plenty of storage space for whatever you want to transport. One of my favorite aspects of a fifth wheel is the ability to convert a portion of it into a toy hauler.

“Customization possibilities are nearly endless on a fifth wheel.”

I never want to leave my ATVs at home, and a Fifth wheel allows me to have both a toy hauler and a luxurious home in one.

That extra storage space can also be used as a living space. When I first stepped inside a fifth wheel, I was taken aback by how high the ceiling was. It’s like walking into a regular house.

If you’re the type of guy who likes to have plenty of elbow room, the fifth wheel is for you.

Here is a list of the benefits of owning a fifth wheel.

  • A plethora of Innovative Floor Plans
  • Extra Storage Area (Toy Hauler Included)
  • Large Living Room


Now consider some of the disadvantages.


The biggest disadvantage of owning a fifth wheel is its size. They are so large and heavy that many drivers are hesitant to transport them, especially if they are transporting children.

Going up and down hills can be hazardous, and any turn has the potential for disaster.

“Make sure your truck has four-wheel drive.”


The large size also limits your potential adventure locations. People have a difficult time finding a parking spot in trailer parks or any type of RV park. You will also most likely become stuck in the mud and snow. Quite a bit. As a result, ensure that your truck has four-wheel drive.

I believe that the restrictions that fifth wheels impose on your adventure capabilities are a significant disadvantage.

Here is a list of the disadvantages of fifth wheels:

  • It is difficult to haul.
  • Parking is a Horrible Experience
  • Can’t go everywhere, has limited mobility



Both fifth wheels and Airstream trailers are beautiful mobile homes, but I believe the Airstream takes the cake here.

It’s a little smaller, but its classic design and feel make it the envy of the road. It is also more agile than a fifth wheel, allowing you to go on more adventures.

But no matter what you end up purchasing, you will have a great time. So go ahead and start driving!



What exactly is a motorhome? Motorhomes, as opposed to fifth wheels, are self-powered, which means they do not require a truck to transport them. Motorhomes can be roughly the same size as fifth wheels, but they are typically less customizable.

Some believe they are safer than fifth wheels because they are made of steel.

Is Airstream a brand or a type of RV? Airstream is a company that has created a trailer that is so distinctive that it has almost become its own type of trailer.

The shape and signature chrome color of Airstreams are easily identifiable and unique to Airstream. I am not aware of any other company that manufactures trailers in the same manner as they do.

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