A fifth-wheel trailer’s special hitch, which allows it to be pulled comfortably by a heavy pickup, can also cause the nose cone to dangle in the air when you unhitch and bounce the bearing. This can cause an uncomfortable wobble if you live inside. Even when the hydraulic jack stands are extended.
One of the easiest ways to counteract this is to use a tripod stand for the fifth wheel as part of the camping setup. Proponents of this approach point out that it not only reduces the odd wobble of some fifth wheels, but also reduces potential wear on the trailer’s frame. Especially if your fifth wheel has a front kitchen or living room that gets heavy foot traffic.
Since it’s such an easy way to protect your big investment, it seems clear that we need to take a closer look at tripods for fifth wheels and when to use them. Along the way, we’ll look at some of the best tripods for fifth wheels on the market today, as well as some possible alternatives.
What is a fifth wheel tripod?
A tripod stabilizer, also known as a fifth wheel stabilizer, attaches under the hitch of your semitrailer to reduce wobble in the nose cone area. It increases the stability provided by the hydraulic supports at the four corners of the trailer.
For gooseneck and kingpin fifth wheels, there are tripods that, as the name implies, have three legs that can be adjusted to different heights. They are then attached to the bottom of the fifth wheel on the hitch.
Tripods for fifth wheels effectively reduce the back and forth and rocking motion that can occur when you move around the front of your RV.
They also reduce the stress caused by weight in the front of the camper, making them a true “must have” accessory for fifth wheel trailers with a front kitchen or living room.
Do you really need a tripod for your fifth wheel?
Technically, RV manufacturers design modern fifth wheels to be safely self-supporting when standard hydraulic jack stands are used and the unit is properly leveled.
Fifth wheel jack stands are not an absolute necessity, but they do make your trailer much more stable. Especially in the area of the front nose support.
If you’re annoyed by the vibration, wobble, and shake in the front of your fifth wheel trailer, then it’s probably time to invest in a tripod stabilizer. They’re not that expensive, easy to install, and could even make your camping trip more enjoyable.
Ultimately, a tripod for a fifth wheel doesn’t have to be a “must have” accessory to have on board before you embark on your first trip with your fifth wheel. However, if you will be camping frequently with your new caravan, you will certainly appreciate having it with you!
How does a tripod for a fifth wheel work?
A fifth wheel tripod provides additional stability for a fifth wheel nose section by minimizing the shaking, rattling, and side-to-side movement that a lot of fifth wheel suffer from.
Most consist of three adjustable metal bars that attach to the bottom of the fifth wheel. This provides additional support for the overhang while reducing the effective load on the front stabilizer bars.
Advantages of a fifth wheel tripod
There are several benefits to adding a fifth wheel tripod beyond stopping the wobble of foot traffic in the front of your trailer. These include things like:
Reduced Wear & Tear
Although your semi-trailer is technically designed to support the weight of the dangling overhang of the nose cone, a tripod further reduces the load on the trailer frame. Especially if your model has a front living room or kitchen where many people come and go during the day.
A better night’s sleep
Many couples who have a front master suite in their fifth-wheel trailer find that they sleep better when a tripod is installed. If you don’t like your spouse waking you up when he rolls over, you’ll love the solid stability a tripod provides under the nose of your trailer.
Maintaining a level trailer
The jack stands on your fifth wheel are designed to balance the load on the entire fifth wheel when you pitch your camp. When you set up your RV on a soft surface or unpaved area, a tripod helps reduce the load on the primary hydraulic jacks and keeps the entire trailer more level. It also prevents your feet from sinking in during an extended stay at a campsite.
The disadvantage of using a fifth wheel tripod.
There are a few small drawbacks to investing in a fifth wheel stand and using it every time you set up camp.
They’re not too expensive, but a quality tripod for a fifth wheel is an additional cost to add to all the other accessories you’ll need to outfit your new trailer to your liking.
Setting up a semi-trailer at a campground can be time consuming as it is. If you then mount a tripod under the front overhang, that adds another 10 minutes or so, which can be frustrating if you didn’t arrive at the campsite until around sunset.
Weight & storage space
Fifth wheel tripods are somewhat bulky and add to the weight of your vehicle when you transport it. Even if it’s packed in a convenient case, it still takes up a lot of space in a quality storage compartment like the front pass-through cargo area.
When do I need a fifth wheel stand?
Fifth wheel tripods are best for trailers that have a living room built into the front overhang. This includes models with a front kitchen or living room.
All the foot traffic coming and going can cause a lot of shaking and wiggling, which can be very annoying. Sometimes you can even feel it in other parts of the caravan!
A tripod for a fifth wheel might also be a good idea for a caravan with a front master suite. Especially if one of you is a light sleeper and wakes up to the movement of your spouse rolling over or getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
The Best Fifth Wheel Tripods in 2023
When looking for the best fifth wheel tripods, we made sure that the models were compatible with both king pin trailers and gooseneck trailers. We also looked for models that have a sturdy base, high load capacity, and are easy to set up.
We also tried to look at price without sacrificing quality so as not to cut corners. Thus, we came up with a list of some of the most solid fifth wheel tripods you can buy for your hard earned money.
1: Camco Eaz-Lift 48855 Kingpin Tripod Stabilizer
Camco is a leading manufacturer of many major RV equipment items. So it’s only logical that Camco brings its reputation for quality to bear on this EAZ fifth wheel tripod.
This model is designed to connect to a fifth wheel trailer with a king pin coupling. It is easy to set up and allows important height adjustments by simply moving the adjustable foot plates inward or outward.
Once you reach the desired height, you can use the stabilizing adjustment lever to make minor adjustments to the bolt until it is perfectly connected to your semitrailer.
This fifth wheel tripod can accommodate an overhand height of 39 to 53 inches and has a load capacity of 5,000 pounds. This is more than enough to accommodate all but the heaviest of fifth-wheel trailers. It also has concave pads that help secure it in place, even on a soft surface or paved concrete slab.
2: A-KARCK NSTJ-55 Adjustable Stabilizer Tripod Jack.
This A-Karck tripod for fifth wheels is designed for use with a king pin hitch. It has a maximum weight of 5,000 pounds, which is suitable for the heaviest fifth wheels. It is great for minimizing rocking of a model with a front kitchen or living room.
You can adjust the height from as low as 33 inches for smaller semitrailers to 55 inches for a fifth wheel with a massive overhang. It’s relatively easy to set up, although it doesn’t have the fine-tuning options you’ll find on some of the more expensive models.
You won’t notice this if you’re setting up your fifth wheel on a paved concrete slab, but it might be a little more frustrating if you have to set it up on a soft gravel surface. This is the trade-off for a lower price without compromising weight capacity or material strength.
3: Camco Eaz-Lift 48850 Heavy Duty 7500 lb Gooseneck Stabilizer Tripod Lift
It should come as no great surprise that Camco offers another high-quality fifth wheel stabilizer for a gooseneck hitch. In truth, it’s an almost identical copy of the Camco fifth wheel stabilizer for a kingpin hitch that we tested earlier.
You get the same simple main adjustment via the legs. Once you reach the desired height, you can make minor adjustments to the screw using the stabilizing adjustment lever until you have the stand perfectly adjusted to your fifth wheel.
It also has large pads to help secure it in place. However, you may want to put some paving stones under it if you need to set it up on a loose surface or a tamped gravel surface.
This gooseneck tripod has a height range of 30 to 44 inches, which matches a trunk of gooseneck fifth wheels. It also has a 7,500-pound weight rating to handle some real heavyweight trailers. Although it is not compatible with vehicles equipped with Anderson Ultimate hitches.
4: Ultra Fab 19-950450 Steel Gooseneck Tripod Jack
This Ultra Fab is another tripod stabilizer for fifth wheels that can be attached to trailers with a gooseneck hitch. One of the nice things about it is that it offers a superior height range from as low as 33-inches all the way up to 55-inches.
This Ultra Fab fifth wheel tripod has 5″ x 5. 5″ foot pads that do a good job of combating sinkage and tipping on loose surfaces. Although you may still want to think about setting pavers or maybe some 12 “X 12” squares of one inch thick plywood if you need to park on a sandy surface.
This particular model is designed to be used with Andersen hitch conversions. This is uncommon with gooseneck tripods sold at retail. If you have an Anderson Hitch Conversion on your fifth wheel, you need to put this Ultra Fab at the top of your list!
How do you set up a tripod for a fifth wheel?
Building a tripod for a fifth wheel takes about 10 minutes and is not too difficult. Still, it’s helpful to know the basics in advance. Especially if you’re trying to set it up and chase the sunset or get everything in place before a storm hits!
The most important thing to remember is to properly level and set up your semi-trailer before setting up the tripod stabilizer.
If you don’t level it first, you risk damaging the trailer hitch or breaking the tripod if the rig misaligns or shifts. You can then perform the following steps:
Alternatives to the use of a fifth wheel tripod
There are a few ways to improvise a fifth wheel tripod. The most common is to use stabilizer legs, such as those used on older motorhomes to support an extension.
The problem with using a stabilizer stand is that you only have one long support, which is prone to swinging out from side to side.
They also tend to have smaller feet that can gradually dig into a soft surface, so you’ll need to place a large paving stone or a one-inch-thick square of plywood underneath.
A tripod stabilizer for the fifth wheel may not be “essential,” but it is certainly a helpful accessory. Especially if you have a trailer with a front living room or kitchen that is frequently accessed. But even with a front bedroom and a light sleeper, you’ll certainly appreciate having one.
If your semitrailer has a kingpin, then the Camco Eaz-Lift may be the best tripod stabilizer for your semitrailer. It is rated for a maximum weight of 5,000 pounds and can be adjusted in height between 33 and 53 inches. It also has a sensitive fine adjustment system that allows you to set everything perfectly.
If you have a gooseneck trailer that doesn’t have an Anderson Hitch Conversion, then the Camco Eaz-Lift 48850 may be the best fifth wheel stabilizer for your needs. It adjusts up to 44 inches and has fine adjustments to secure the connection between the hitch and tripod. The maximum load capacity of 7,500 pounds is also impressive.
If you have a gooseneck with an Anderson Conversion Hitch, the Ultra Fab 19-950450 might be the best tripod stabilizer for your semitrailer. It can be adjusted for taller fifth wheels up to 53 inches, and has the kind of fine-tuning you need to eliminate front overhang wobble and sway.