If you want to have any measure of success towing a trailer or separate vehicle with your short bed truck, you are going to need an adequate fifth wheel hitch. Fifth wheel hitches are placed in position on the hitch mount of your pickup. These devices allow your truck to hold fast to whatever cargo it is that you are hauling. With short bed trucks, you are beholden to a new realm of potential issues that don’t manifest in larger vehicles. Let’s walk you through the qualities and traits that you need out of your next fifth wheel hitch.
5th Wheel Hitch For Short Bed Truck Buying Guide
Before we can show you all of the best fifth wheel hitch options for your truck, we have to talk about a few key factors that will impact your selection process.
1) Hitch Weight Ratings – The most important aspect of your hitch selection will be the weight rating of the device. Hitches can handle a sliding scale of different weights. Typically, the lightest 5th wheel hitch can handle roughly 15,000 lbs of weight while the heaviest duty options can handle around 30,000 lbs. It is of the utmost importance that your weight rating is accurate as a misstep here could lead to potential danger while on the road.
2) Material Design Of Hitch – Fifth wheel hitches are exposed to the elements at all times as well as all of the regular operational wear-and-tear that they must endure. Whether you are looking at a 5th wheel slider hitch or a basic heavy duty hitch, you need something that was built to last. The best and most durable 5th wheel hitches will be made out of heat-treated stainless steel, though durable aluminum is also a decent option. Pay close attention to UV resistant and weather resistant coatings, as well.
3) Mounting Process – How your hitch mounts onto your vehicle will be the largest deciding factor during your shopping expedition. With a short bed truck, you are going to need a hitch connection that works with the limited space of your vehicle. If you want to know how to install a fifth wheel hitch on a short bed truck, you must first know what type of mounting hardware it is that you are working with.
Different Mount Options
1) Industry Standard Rails – Also known as an ISR kit, this style of hitch mount requires you to install a rail system into the bed of your pickup. Kits can range from permanent installations to temporary installations, depending on their durability and expense.
2) Above Bed Mounting System – This style of hitch relies on a bracket system that is installed and left in the bed of your truck at all times. These systems are trickier as you have to make sure that your mounting hardware matches the style of hitch that you are working with.
3) Under Bed Mounting System – Similar to the puck system, an under-bed mounting system features hardware that is drilled into the frame of your vehicle. This hitch can be removed as needed if you are no longer hauling another vehicle.
4) Gooseneck Hitch Attachment – Similar to a slider fifth wheel hitch, a gooseneck hitch is a unique hauling mechanism that is implanted in the bed of your truck. This type of hitch is incredibly popular with short bed trucks due to the increase in maneuverability it provides you.
5) Factory Puck System – Certain car manufacturers are now preparing their trucks with a puck system. In the bed of your truck, if applicable, you can find a host of mounts. A factor puck mounting kit will use these mounts in order to attach to your vehicle.
6) Sliding Hitches – Slider fifth wheel hitches are most commonly used in short bed trucks. A slider system allows for your trailer’s mounting mechanism to slide forward and backward in the bed of your truck as you drive, thus allowing the optimum distance between your truck and your cargo to remain the same. There are two types of sliding hitch:
a) Autoslide Fifth Wheel Hitch – If you plan on towing full time, an automatic sliding fifth wheel hitch might be the answer for you. Automatic sliding hitches are typically incredibly heavy though that gives them a lot of durability, as well. Automatic sliding hitches adjust as you travel, thus minimizing the potential for bucking and chucking as you drive. You won’t have to worry about getting out of your car for manual adjustments.
b) Manual Sliding 5th Wheel Hitch – This is the lighter option and also the more common. A manual slide fifth wheel hitch requires the driver to make each and every adjustment before traveling via a unique lever system.
Top Fifth Wheel Hitches For Short Bed Trucks
1) Andersen 3220 – Aluminum Ultimate 5th Wheel Connection-2-Gooseneck
This hitch fits comfortably with all standard gooseneck hitches. The base of the product weighs just 35lbs and it can be installed by a single individual into the bed of your truck. Installation takes under five minutes and you’ll be on the road before you know it.
The Andersen 3220 can handle up to 24,000lbs of GTWR while also handling up to 4,500 lbs of tongue weight. You have three different height positions that you can enjoy which will give you enough flexibility no matter what kind of trailer you are hauling. The 3220 is one of the lightest and most durable hitch options we have for trucks with short beds. The ease of access and simple installation process makes the Andersen 3220 one of the top models on the market. The hitch itself is made of lightweight but durable aluminum that is also resistant to the elements.
2) PullRite 2300 24K ISR Superglide Hitch
The PullRite 2300 sets itself apart from the other hitch options on our list due to the intense weight of the product. The PullRite 2300 weighs in at just under 300lbs but installation is still fairly simple, you’ll just need a second set of hands to help you pick up the product The Superglide function on this hitch allows you to move with ease without worrying about 90 degree turns as much. Removing your trailer from the PullRite 2300 is easy so long as there is no tension on the coupler when you attempt to do so.
3) Reese 61412 Elite Airborne Sidewinder 16K
Reese is one of the top providers of 5th wheel hitches in the industry. The Reese 61412 is a sleek hitch that was built to last. With a 90 degree turning radius, this is one of the more flexible trailer hitches that we have on our entire list. This sleek looking fifth wheel hitch attaches to your vehicle via a King Pin assembly.
This durable and long-lasting hitch benefits greatly from patented shock absorption and anti-juking technology. You’ll be able to ride smooth and drive how you want without too much concern for your haul. Adding to its ease of installation, the majority of components that you receive with the Reese 61412 will have been assembled before you even open the box.
4) Reese 30156 Under Bed Adapter Mounting
The Reese 30156 under bed adapter was built to be used in conjunction with the puck system in the bed of your truck. This lightweight product is easy to install but you’ll have to put in a little bit of work assembling all of the components before you can actually put the pieces into place. This mounting kit can handle up to 20,000 lbs GTWR and 5,000 lbs of pin weight capacity.
There are a pair of convenient handles for installing and removing the mounting features and the latching system was designed by Reese to improve functionality. This is a simple under bed mounting kit that requires little in the way of adjustment as it should fit the majority of puck-compatible vehicles.
5) Reese 30154 Fifth Wheel Rail Kit Mounting Adapter For RAM
If you have a RAM vehicle with a short bed, you’re going to want the Reese 30154 mounting adapter. This kit was built to get you out on the road. With only a handful of components, you’ll be able to quickly and easily install this mounting hardware onto your RAM’s puck mounted system.
This mounting kit can handle 25,000 GTWR/6,250 PWC which puts it right where you want for most conventional hauling needs. Again, this mounting kit is made more secure by the patented Reese latching system. With minor adjustments, you should be able to have this mounting kit installed and ready to haul without the invasive drilling required of other potential fifth wheel hitch mounts.
6) Curt Manufacturing 16516 Towing Wiring
This is a heavy duty 5th wheel hitch that was designed to give you viable hauling capabilities backed by strong manufacturing prowess. This auto-locking sliding system allows for your haul to adjust as you ride without you needing to get out of your car to make the adjustments. The 16516 can handle up to 16,000 lbs of gross trailer weight while providing support for up to 4,000 lbs of vertical load. The dual-pivoting head allows for plenty of lateral movement and the anti-rattle protection plate will give you some peace and quiet on your rides.
This is a simple installation kit that is backed by durable materials. The entire hitch mounting kit has been powder coated for longevity, providing you with protection from the elements as well as casual wear-and-tear. The roller on the 16516 provides up to a full foot of potential displacement.
7) Reese Towpower 30051 16K Fifth Wheel w/Kwik-Slide
The Reese Towpower 30051 blends power and functionality into a small, adjustable package. This hitch kit provides side-to-side pivoting ability thanks to the Kwik-Slide mechanism. With up to six inches of pivot control, you’ll have an easier time once you are out on the road with your trailer behind you.
From a security standpoint, the Towpower 30051 is effective thanks to the special dual-jaw locking system. The widened stance of the hitch mounting kit provides additional stability and the premium materials help to assure longevity. This hitch kit can be adjusted anywhere from 15″ to 18″.
8) Pulliam Enterprises 2900 SuperGlide 18K For STD Base Rail
The SuperGlide hitch provides you with everything you’d want from a rail hitch without much of the hassle required during the installation phase. This heavy duty hitch was built to take a beating and it fits comfortably with the vast majority of rail systems. The 2900 SuperGlide can handle up to 18,000 lbs of gross trailer weight. The hitch itself weighs in at nearly 185 lbs, so you’ll need a second pair of hands when attaching this to your vehicle.
9) PullRite 4100 16K SuperGlide 5th Wheel Hitch
The PullRite SuperGlide, not to be confused with the Pulliam SuperGlide, was built for short bed trucks that still need to pack a bunch of power. This hitch can handle up to 14,800 lbs of GTWR which should give you plenty of flexibility when you are hauling.
The most impressive aspect of the PullRite 4100 is that the automatic sliding system runs completely without the need for you to interfere with or attend to it. The hitch will move your trailer away from your cab as you turn, allowing for up to 90-degree variables. You won’t have to worry about losing your trailer on tight turns thanks to how effective the rotating heads and rotary latch operates. You’ll also benefit greatly from the shock absorption technology that PullRite has been leaning on.
This hitch is available in different mounting styles. Make sure to check with your vehicle before selecting the right mounting kit for your needs. The hitch itself weighs about 150 lbs out of the box.
10) Reese Titan 30870 Fifth Wheel 20000 lb Load Capacity
Rounding out our list is the Reese Titan 30870 mounting kit. This heavy duty mounting kit provides you with up to 20,000 lbs of hauling capacity, all packed within a tight and heavy-duty package. The 30870 benefits from customized grips and easy-to-access handles.
Like the other auto sliders on our list, the Reese Titan 30870 helps to keep you on the road and safe with the automatic adjustments that you need. This product is sidewinder compatible and features a quadruple vibration isolator system in order to maximize the smoothness of your ride. The King Pin indicator is unique to Reese products as is the double-jaw mechanism. You can adjust the height of this mounting kit anywhere from 14″ to 18″ in order to fulfill your own specific needs. You’ll have to add your own rail system in order to utilize this kit.