Some people have converted a bumper pull to a 5th wheel pull and stayed on the right side of the law. The reverse may or may not be legal in many states. It may be easier to convert a bumper pull to a 5th wheel than the other way around.
Can you pull a fifth wheel with a bumper hitch? It's possible and it has been done in the past. The key issues will be the size of the trailer and the towing capacity of the tow vehicle. Not all trucks can pull the weight of a 5th wheel even as a bumper pull. Another issue will be will it be legal or not.
To learn more about this conversion, just continue to read our article. It has enough information to help you consider if this is a viable project for you or not. There are adapters to do this conversion but is it a smart move to make?
It is possible but why would you want to do it? Most 5th wheel trailers’ weights are above the towing capacity of an SUV or a van. That fact makes it an impossibility unless you get a real heavy-duty vehicle to do the towing.
If you are going to get a heavy-duty vehicle, you might as well stay with the 5th wheel and forget the conversion. There is a device called a safety hitch that will allow you to bumper pull a 5th wheel trailer but is it really practical is another question you need to answer.
With this hitch, you are adding about an additional 5 feet approx. to the length of the trailer. That might make it more difficult to handle when it comes to maneuvering. The positive that comes from using a safety hitch for a 5th wheel is that you may have more clearance.
Your turns may be better as you won’t need to worry about scraping the trailer against your pickup truck.
This is something you may have to take up with your local police department, DMV office, and even the state highway patrol. It has been said that this kind of setup is not legal in many states but those people never provided any specific information.
This may be a state-by-state regulated RV option. In Canada, and in at least one province, someone converted an old pickup bed into a bumper pull and then added a 5th wheel hook. It looked strange but according to our source, it was legal.
It may not be legal in most states though. There are commercially built safety hitches that handle this towing format but even those may not be legal in all states. One issue you may get caught up in is double towing. Since many safety hitches are actually a second type of tow vehicle, you may be illegal.
Double towing for non-commercial reasons may not be legal in most states. How law enforcement saw safety hitches would determine if you got a ticket a fine or not. This topic is not talked about a lot on any of the forums or websites on the internet.
Yes, this can be done and it is a simple setup. There are different photos on the different RV forums that show the adapters that have been used to make this conversion.
It seems to be a three-legged transformation for one option. You have stabilizing legs at the back of the adapter to hold the trailer level and then the last leg hooks into the 5th wheel and attaches to the bumper ball.
Another adapter hooks into the 5th wheel hook and then goes straight to the bumper ball for easier handling. Or you can go to what is called automated safety hitches. The 5th wheel almost automatically hooks up to the hitch which is then attached to your bumper.
Unlike the other adapters, this safety hitch is a separate unit with its own wheels. There seems to be some extra room if you want to add a toolbox, battery box, or even a set of propane tanks.
The only advantage of going to one of these adapters would be for more maneuvering room. The length of the trailer and adapter are not helpful but the lack of hitting the tow vehicle allows you to corner better and back up a little easier.
So far we have found only one company that makes these adapters. There may be more but they are not advertising right now and most of the photos we have seen on these adapters are more than 10 years old.
Many people make their own adapters but those may not meet regulations but it is hard to say as most websites talking about this conversion are also more than 5 to 10 years old.
The one current company that seems to be making the automated options is talked about on this website. The contact information is listed on that website’s landing page as is a photo of the automated safety hitch.
We have not found any advertisements for non-wheeled 5th wheel to bumper tow companies. We did find one company that went in the reverse direction and converted bumper tows into 5th wheel tows. You can see their website at this link.
This option may be the safer of the two conversion options. The main problem you will face when changing from a 5th wheel set up to a bumper tow set up will be tongue weight. You may not get the same advantage in terms of the amount of weight you can tow with this setup.
To be frank, there is no one talking about making this conversion. There have been different people inquiring about it but those inquiries came so long ago that the information is not helpful anymore.
Almost every website that came up in our research talked about going in the opposite direction. Now, this could be that converting a 5th wheel to a bumper pull may be illegal in more than just a few states.
Or it is due to safety reasons why more people do not want to do this conversion. Braking is going to be an issue and you would have to make sure you set up the wiring so that the trailer being towed can enact its braking system when you push the brake pedal in the tow vehicle.
The only reason beyond maneuvering ability that anyone would want to do this conversion would be to get more cargo space. With the 5th wheel in the way, you lose out on the amount of cargo you can carry.
Most likely, if it is legal, you would have to DIY this type of adapter yourself or get a friend to do it for you. it is best to check the laws of the state you live in and the states you want to visit to make sure you can do this type of work.
Some people like the way the 5th wheel trailers tow and others prefer the way the bumper pull trailers are towed. A lot will depend on your preferences. 5th wheel trailers are easier to maneuver but are heavier. That means you would need a bigger truck to pull the 5th wheel than you would a bumper pull trailer.
Also, you would need extra equipment to pull a bumper pull trailer. Things like sway bars, safety chains weight distribution hitches, and more will be needed. What makes 5th wheel trailers easier to pull is the fact that the hitch is right over the wheels of your tow vehicle.
You also do not need sway bars or safety chains due to the 5th wheel hook set up at the end of your truck. You just get better stability with a 5th wheel while on the road than you would with a bumper pull.
Backing up is a bit easier with a 5th wheel but if you have backed up both, then this should never become an issue. You just need practice to master the art of backing up a trailer. In the end, it will boil down to which style of towing you like best.
Since this is the only current adaption system to go from a 5th wheel to a bumper pull set up, it will be the only one listed in this section:
1.Does your system conform to Canadian and USDOT Requirements?
Right now the automated safety hitch system meets all USDOT safety requirements. it is in the process of being approve din Canada. The province of Quebec considers this hitch to be part of the trailer while the other provinces consider it to be part of the tow vehicle.
2. How is backing up with the Automated Safety Hitch System?
There really is no difference in backing up using the safety hitch or by using the standard 5th wheel set up. There is still only one pivot point and the real benefit is you are not at risk of having zero clearance
3. How are the brakes controlled?
The brakes are fully integrated with the tow vehicles braking system and can be attached to a single braking controller. It works with the tow vehicle’s and the trailer’s braking system without hassle. The hydraulic brakes add stopping power.
4. What hitch is needed?
generally, all that is needed to hook up this safety hitch is a class 5 hitch. You are still able to pull a bumper trailer with that class of hitch.
5. Can I pull the Automated Safety Hitch System with a lifted truck?
Yes, this is possible. The company would have to do some customization to their hitch in order to fit the height of your lifted truck. This can be done by blocking up the axle or adding a custom truck frame extension.
There are two major concerns with converting a 5th wheel trailer into a bumper pull model. The first concern is the size of the trailer. 5th wheel trailers can reach up to 40 feet or so while bumper pulls stop at around 25 feet in length.
The second concern is the truck or tow vehicle. 5th wheels are often too long or too heavy for SUVs or vans to tow. Usually, an SUV or van can tow most bumper pull trailers without any hassle.
There is really only one commercially made way to convert a 5th wheel trailer into a bumper pull. Most adapters are DIY or custom builds and are not widely advertised if they are advertised at all.
It is probably better to convert your bumper pull trailer into a 5th wheel model than to go the other way. The 5th wheel method of traveling is safer, has better maneuvering and handling. Bumper pulls have too many requirements to make it worth switching the 5th wheel to that method.
This is probably why many people do not do it nor try to have it done. The automatic safety hitch may be your only commercial option at present.