sliding 5th wheel hitch on a vehicle

Best Sliding Fifth Wheel Hitches - Choose Yours!

sliding 5th wheel hitch on a vehicle

Choosing the right fifth wheel hitch can be a little bit tricky. Fortunately, the favorable conditions basically begin with your keen familiarity with the vehicle and the cargo.

The basic principle for finding your ideal fifth wheel hitch is measuring how big your truck’s cargo bed is. This way, you will whether what you are driving is a short-bed pickup or a long-bed pickup. As far as overall traffic safety is concerned, a sliding fifth wheel hitch is the only variety suited for short-bed trucks.

The Selection Criteria

Knowing the size of your cargo bed is just the first step to finding the best variety in the market. Take note of these other crucial decisive factors:

  • Mounting: Above vs. Under

Among the clearest advantages, you can get for choosing above-bed mounting system is that it is easier to come by and it’s relatively affordable. However, its simplicity and convenience often fall short in terms of aesthetics and design ingenuity.

The under-bed mounting system suffers its share of an infuriating level of difficulty in terms of its installation process. The big tradeoff is that it allows you to attach or remove the hitch from its mounting system anytime you want. It leaves empties the space of the cargo bed for other purposes such as ferrying farm animals, using it as concert platform or even setting up a temporary pool during a special weekend barbecue.

  • Design: Manual vs. Automatic

Judging by its obvious namesake, the manual slider fifth wheel hitch requires you to get out of the truck and operate the lever of the hitch. Each time you find yourself in need of a sharp detour, giving a spatial allowance for the trailer pin box and preventing it from hitting the rear windshield of the truck can be a time-consuming chore. This type of fifth wheel hitch, however, is relatively cheaper and easier to install.

Automatic sliders can give you less trouble and keep you seated behind the wheel even during dangerous pivoting angles. While this design gives you the practical edge in terms of safety and convenience, it is comparatively costlier and harder to find.    

  • Two Weights Comparison

Another unorthodox way of gauging the quality of your prospective slider fifth wheel hitch is to compare the item’s weight and the towing capacity. If you think about it, buying a very heavy auxiliary machine that can only haul less than 16,000 lbs doesn’t exactly sound like a satisfactory bargain. A product that can only bear light-weight towing capacity may not be worth all the hard effort and the necessary additional expenses of installing it.

The Best Sliding 5th Wheel Hitches

The three suggested selection criteria can help you narrow down your choices for your short-bed truck. Regardless of how heavy the item is, all you need to remember is that it is supposed to be able to hold on to a trailer weighing at least 18,000 lbs.

Whether you emphasize performance, durability or retail cost; how you define the value of the fifth wheel hitch is completely up to you. Check out these following popular brands:

1. Hijacker SL Flatdeck – 21K

This product usually includes the above-bed rail kit in its standard retail shipment.

For a fifth wheel hitch that only weighs 179 lbs, it is capable of hauling a mobile home containing 21,000 lbs of pressure.

Considering the odds of finding something that is highly reliable and easy to install, consumers seemingly hit the goldmine with the Hijacker SL Flatdeck.

Although the slider requires manual operation, you may be interested to know that this hitch works well for both short-bed and long-bed trucks.

If you’re skeptical about its overall performance, you can never go wrong with a 5-year warranty.

It is almost twice cheaper than other fifth wheel hitches but (be warned) a visible ratio of online consumers complain about its subpar distribution. 

Pros

  • Great towing capacity
  • Stable and durable
  • Comparatively cheap

Cons

  • Very short height allowance
  • Limited availability

2. Hijacker SL Double Pivot – 21K

  • Manufacturer: Demco
  • Part Number: 8550030

Like its Flatdeck cousin, this Double Pivot version of Demco’s SL series has a manually operated slide and it is also mounted on the cargo bed.

Although it can haul as much as 21,000 lbs of weight on the road, this unit is relatively heavier compared to the previously featured model. 

It can be a little expensive but the number of positive features makes up for the reasonable investment.

One of the most notable advantages of buying this model is the benefit of its special cushion pivot when coupled – allowing the hitch to keep the trailer’s king pin locked secured even in slightly bumpy terrain. Furthermore, this unit is designed with four height settings, anywhere between 16 to 19 inches. While bed rails are included in the standard distribution, the brackets will have to be purchased separately.

Pros

  • Good towing capacity
  • Eliminates side to side movement
  • Multiple vertical height adjustments

Cons

  • Brackets excluded

3. 21K Autoslide

  • Manufacturer: Demco
  • Part Number: 8550037

The 21K Autoslide fifth wheel hitch is an impressive machine of its type that, as the namesake suggests, can tow as much as 21,000 lbs of weight behind a short-bed truck.

Given its under-bed mounting system, this fifth wheel hitch retains your pickup’s multi-purpose hauling functions. Most importantly, this model proves to be the one of the lightest (if not the lightest) item in existence, weighing only as little as 5 lbs!

As far as the comparison between the unit weight and towing capacity is concerned, this model proves to be a Superman. Unfortunately, its rigid and low-profile aesthetics looked like it swallowed one bad kryptonite. But if the subpar artistry doesn’t bother you (well, it really shouldn’t), the borderline-hostile retail price will definitely make you think twice. 

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Practically noiseless
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Unimpressive design

4. SuperGlide – 24K

  • Manufacturer: PullRite
  • Part Number: 2300

Similar to the super-lightweight Autoslide fifth wheel hitch, this model’s slider is operated automatically. With this product, PullRite has lived up to its namesake with its monstrous 24,000-lbs towing capacity – a hitch that does not balk from the bulk of colossal trailers.

Apart from its superior heavy-duty performance, the design assembly is so user-friendly that you only need your good old pair of hands for removing the hitch from its under-bed mounting system.

As logic dictates it, a heavy cargo requires a heavy hitch – physically and financially heavy, that is. Weighing almost 300 lbs, this model also costs nearly twice the average retail price of manual-slider hitches. And just when you thought that temporarily removing this thing is easy.

Pros

  • Excellent towing capacity
  • Easy installation
  • Great vertical load limit

Cons

  • Very heavy item
  • Very expensive

5. Elite Series – 18K

  • Manufacturer: Reese
  • Part Number: 30144

This 200-lbs fifth wheel hitch by Reese’s Elite Series has a manually operated slide. What makes this model quite unique is that the manufacturers and distributors love you enough (yep, not kidding) to make installation easier for you. The pre-assembled components and neat bolts that can be tightened by hand can save approximately one hour of total DIY work – more spare time for weekend recreations, eh?

The under-bed mounting system may seem impressive but just imagine the hassle of removing 100 kilos out of your truck bed – you have got to have a very compelling reason to do so. For a product that usually costs twice of most manual-slide hitch models, you may perhaps console yourself with its usual 7-year warranty.

Pros

  • Longer warranty period
  • Easy installation
  • Wire harness included

Cons

  • Very expensive

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