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Gooseneck vs Fifth-Wheel Trailers

Gooseneck vs 5th-Wheel Trailers

Although gooseneck and fifth wheel hitches sit over your truck and connect to a hitch installed within the bed, they are not the same thing.You'll rarely, if ever, see fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers used for the same purpose. Goosenecks are typically used for agricultural or commercial purposes. These are work trailers designed to haul horses, tow tractors, and handle other heavy-duty needs. (Think utility trailer rather than RV.) Fifth wheels, on the other hand, are generally used for recreation. These are the rigs to take camping or even live in full time. They're basically apartments on wheels, with many of the same amenities you'd find at home.One isn't necessarily better than the other; they're just different types of trailers used for different purposes. Basically, fifth wheels are for fun, and goosenecks are for when there's a job to be done.So when it comes to the actual components, how do these two trailer and hitch types differ? We'll go over the key differences below.
Gooseneck Trailer

Gooseneck vs Fifth Wheels: Couplers

Although fifth wheels and gooseneck trailers both hook up to a hitch in your truck bed, they don't couple the same way.Gooseneck trailers couplers are designed to fit over a ball in the bed of a truck. These couplers include two tubes: an outer tube and inner tube. The outer tube is permanently welded to the trailer, whereas the inner tube is adjustable and includes the coupler. You can purchase a gooseneck coupler with both tubes or with the inner tube only.Fifth-wheel trailers have a pin box that is bolted onto the trailer frame. The pin box includes a king pin, which slides into a U-shaped fifth-wheel hitch jaw.
Gooseneck Coupler
Gooseneck Coupler
Gooseneck Coupler hitched to ball
Gooseneck coupler hitched to ball
5th Wheel King Pin and Pin Box
Fifth-wheel pin box/king pin
Fifth-wheel pin box hooked to hitch
Fifth-wheel pin box/king pin hooked up to hitch
Truck Towing Fifth Wheel

Gooseneck vs Fifth Wheels: Hitches

With gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers having different couplers, it follows that both would have different hitches as well. Gooseneck hitches are generally less obtrusive and less expensive than their bulkier fifth-wheel counterparts.Gooseneck hitches consist of two main parts:
  • The ball that sticks up in the truck bed, which the gooseneck trailer latches onto
  • The mounting kit that holds the ball in place
There are three types of mounting kits for gooseneck hitches: those that install above the bed, those that install below the bed, and those that install on top of fifth-wheel rails.Above-bed kits are generally less expensive than below-bed kits, but they do take up more space in your truck bed. Below-bed kits cost a bit more but install neatly below your bed, where they don't take up valuable truck bed room. Gooseneck hitches that are compatible with fifth-wheel rails are ideal if you already have fifth-wheel rails installed in your truck bed, or if you plan on switching between the two types of trailers often.Many gooseneck hitches allow you to remove the ball for uninhibted use of your truck bed when you're not towing.
Above-bed gooseneck hitch
Above-bed gooseneck hitch
Below-bed gooseneck hitch
Below-bed gooseneck hitch
Gooseneck adapter hitch on fifth wheel rails
Gooseneck hitch on fifth-wheel rails
Fifth-wheel hitches are much larger and heavier than gooseneck hitches. Rather than a ball, they provide a U-shaped jaw and latch that encloses the trailer's king pin. Like gooseneck hitches, they consist of two main parts:
  • The hitch itself
  • The installation rail kits that support the hitch
Also like gooseneck hitches, fifth-wheel installation kits can also be installed above or below the bed. Below-bed rail kits are generally more expensive, but they allow you full use of your truck bed when you remove the hitch. Since above-bed fifth-wheel rails can be much more obtrusive than gooseneck installation kits, below-bed rails can provide a big benefit.
Fifth Wheel Hitch - Birds Eye View
Top-down view of fifth-wheel hitch
Fifth Wheel Rails in Truck Bed
Above-bed fifth-wheel hitch
Below-Bed Fifth-Wheel Pucks
Below-bed fifth-wheel hitch
Truck and Gooseneck Trailer

Gooseneck vs Fifth Wheel: Adapters

Sometimes the situation may arise where you need to tow a fifth wheel, but you have a gooseneck hitch, or vice versa. Fortunately, there are options that don't involve purchasing an entirely new hitch for the job. Adapters are available for just about every mismatched towing scenario.If you need to tow a gooseneck trailer but you have fifth-wheel equipment, you can either use an adapter that fits on the gooseneck trailer or an adapter that fits on your fifth-wheel rails. The first option essentially gives your gooseneck trailer a fifth-wheel king pin that will slide into any industry-standard fifth-wheel hitch. The second option puts a gooseneck hitch over your industry-standard fifth-wheel rails.
Adapter attached to gooseneck trailer
Adapter attached to gooseneck trailer
Adapter attached to fifth-wheel rails
Adapter attached to fifth-wheel rails
If you need to tow a fifth-wheel trailer with a gooseneck hitch, your most secure option is to replace your trailer pin box with a suitable adapter that will fit over a gooseneck ball. You can also either use an adapter that fits right into your truck's gooseneck ball hole or one that installs directly onto the gooseneck ball.As a temporary solution, you can even use a bolt-on fifth-wheel adapter that attaches to your trailer's king pin.For more on these adapters and for help choosing between them, check out our articles, Towing a Gooseneck Trailer with a 5th-Wheel Hitch and Towing a 5th Wheel Trailer with a Gooseneck Hitch.Still have questions?Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can!
Amber S.
About the AuthorAs a content writer for etrailer, I might spend my morning loading and unloading a bike on five different bike racks to figure out which is easiest to use. I might be in the parking lot, taking pictures of an impressive RV battery setup our techs came across in the shop and discussing the benefits of the setup with the owner. I might spend an afternoon in a manufacturer training classes for some hands-on experience with new products, and then sit down to assemble all this information into a coherent article.At etrailer, one of our core values is that we are always learning, and I learn something new every day. I start each morning with the goal in mind of taking all of this information and figuring out the best way to answer the questions people ask us (and the ones they don’t know to ask yet), and helping people get the solutions they need to make their lives easier, safer, and more fun. I’m a DIYer at heart, so it brings me great joy to help a fellow DIYer find what they’re looking for, whether that’s a product, an answer, or a community.
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 2/19/2020

Angela B.

1/21/2022

Great detail



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