How To Move A 5th Wheel Camper Without A Truck | 5+ Ways

Hitting the open road in a 5th wheel camper is an amazing way to explore the great outdoors. But what happens when your truck is in the shop for repairs and you need to move your camper? It may seem impossible to relocate a 20-30 ft camper without a heavy-duty pickup, but with some planning and the right equipment, it can be done safely and efficiently.

The key is using specialized dollies or other vehicles designed for moving unhitched 5th-wheel campers short distances. When done properly, 1-2 people can roll a 25 ft 5th wheel 30-50 feet to place it into storage or hitch it to a temporary tow vehicle.

Here I will walk you through all considerations, equipment, techniques, and safety precautions for moving a 5th wheel without a truck. Follow along to gain the knowledge and confidence for this unconventional camper relocation method.

How To Move A 5th Wheel Camper Without A Truck

Alternative Options to Move a 5th Wheel Camper Without A Truck

There are several options exist to move a 5th wheel camper without traditional pickup trucks. Here are the most effective methods:

1. Trailer Valet Camper Mover

There are a number of trailer valets to move the 5th-wheel camper without a truck. Using it you can easily move your 5th wheel from one location to another by pulling it. However, companies like Trailer Valet manufacture self-contained electric motorized units specifically engineered for repositioning large towable RVs like 5th-wheel trailers. Their top model – the R5-XL – can safely move trailers up to 40,000 lbs!

How Trailer Valets Work:

These camper movers are essentially a forklift based on wheels with arms that extend and insert directly into open receiver ports built into the trailer frame or pin box area. User control buttons allow self-loading of the unit without manual lifting. The electric drive motor, gearbox suspension, and rugged tires provide smooth speed-controlled movement in any direction based on intuitive wired or wireless remote input. R5-XL generates over 2,500 lbs of thrust!

Benefits of Trailer Valet Platform:

  • Self-contained unit rolls up for easy storage under trailers when not needed
  • Allows precise camper positioning down to fractions of an inch
  • Operates on battery power so no vehicle or tractor is required
  • Designed specifically for RV applications with hardened components
  • Models available for smaller and larger capacity 5th wheels

Limitations of Trailer Valet Platform:

  •  Manual trailer dollies can carry a maximum of 500 to 600 pounds
  • Isn’t effective for loose soil like sand or mud

With a high-end Trailer Valet installed in their pin box, 5th wheel owners can reposition trailers multiple times per day in tight camp sites with total independence and no pickup truck required. The ultimate convenience mod for RVers lacking tow vehicle redundancy.

2. Trailer Dolly

For simple short intra-campground moves under 50 feet, a basic single-axle trailer dolly wheel can provide enough temporary mobility by installing the dolly bracket temporarily under the front frame rails or pin box area of a 5th-wheel camper. Use stacked wood blocks as needed during installation to achieve proper height alignment.

With the single trailer dolly wheel installed securely, crank down both sets of rear stabilizer jacks just enough to slightly lift the rear trailer frame and provide steering pivot tension but never remove weight fully from the wheels. Carefully roll the trailer backward as a helper steers gently using the supporting caster wheel and tensioned rear jacks for directional control. Periodically stop and check for shifted weight balance issues.

For improved ease and safety, use wheel chalks on both sides of all wheels and consider adding a second trailer dolly under the rear section if needing to move further than 25-30 feet in one relocation.


  • Simple and inexpensive temporary solution
  • Helps steer and maneuver trailer short distances


  • Cannot handle too much weight
  • Very difficult to control for just 1 person
  • Risk of trailer tipping if not careful
  • Isn’t suitable for long distance

3. Farm Tractor Short Distance Towing

In rural areas lacking professional towing options, typical agriculture tractors like John Deere provide capable substitutes for short-distance 5th wheel camper relocation up to a few hundred feet if equipped properly. A tractor weight class category 2 hitch receiver needs installing appropriate for anticipated loaded trailer tongue weights along with either a purpose-built 5th wheel tractor adapter or standard ball mount adapter plus lunette eye ring using tow chains crossed.

Carefully position and attach chains to multiple structural points both under the frame and around axles. Allow sufficient slack for turning while ensuring chains never drag the ground. Appoint a second person to ride the tractor fender operating as a spotter to guide steering and ensure security. Make small steering adjustments slowly avoiding sharp turns which could jackknife an un-braked camper. Periodically stop chains if needed while readjusting to prevent binding or structural damage. Exercise extreme caution near slopes or side hills vulnerable to uncontrolled rollaway acceleration if traction is lost.


  • Uses common farm equipment like a John Deere tractor
  • Helps pull heavy trailers short distances


  • Risk of loose attaching chains spreading damage
  • Possible uncontrolled acceleration downhill

4. Professional Towing Service

Specialized RV towing and roadside assistance providers like DarkAngelTowing offer commercial trucks equipped with under-lift mechanisms capable of securing and transporting partially loaded 5th wheels over longer distances on public roads to alternative destinations if required.

While extremely expensive given specialized drivers and equipment, sometimes paying pros provide the only safe extraction plan from remote troublesome locations far from help when a disabled tow vehicle leaves owners stranded camper in tow. Verify any tow company used carries proper insurance for expensive RVs to prevent extensive damage during rescue transporting around hazards to secure holding lots.


  • Safely transports trailers long highway distances
  • Insured and licensed for RV towing


  • Very expensive hourly charges apply
  • Wait times for dispatch availability

5. Dealer Courtesy Transportation

In certain situations where minor repair or maintenance work arises requiring brief relocation while the truck is unavailable, fifth wheel dealers will provide customer accommodation movement of campers needing transfer across dealer property locations such as separate sales display lots, detached service bays, or nearby storage facilities during required downtime.

Dealers typically utilize proper commercial dolly transportation carts designed specifically for secure short-duration transfers of unhitched units across dealership premises by experienced staff members familiar with handling procedures, tie-down protocols, and hazard avoidance techniques for protective maneuvering.

Maximum distance limits are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the risk factors assessed.  Some restrictions may apply during peak periods and availability subject to scheduling coordination with sales management based on situational variables and technician workloads. Dealers are more likely to accommodate requests with purchase verification of existing service contracts or negotiating new repairs simultaneously if involving revenue opportunities.


  • Free short-distance lot transfers when having service done


  • Limited to only moving across dealer property

6. Rent a Suitable Tow Vehicle

When faced with a disabled pickup truck leaving owners stranded with an attached fifth-wheel camper but lacking viable options through family, friends, or dealers, services like Road Runner Towing enable short-term rentals of suitable replacement tow vehicles by the day or week capable of legally and safely transporting rigs to alternative destinations for repair drop-off or interim storage needs.

Providers offer nationwide equipment rental delivery from specialized inventory including proper weight class heavy-duty pickup trucks already outfitted with fifth wheel rails and wiring kits ready for immediate hitching capability activation. Equipment Pickup and trailer moving packages bring required gear directly onsite for crisis response hitching, tow preparation, and camper transportation singles. Helps bridge gaps by managing unexpected truck breakdowns by procuring short-notice turnkey replacements while original vehicles undergo service elsewhere. Availability guarantees and roadside assistance upgrades further travel continuity assurances.

Despite steep rental costs compared to annual ownership, vital mobility restoration sensitive scenarios make rentals financial lifesavers. Just ensure obtaining correct vehicle ratings matching registered camper weights for legal highway transport and follow safety chain protocols.


  • Provides replacement truck for towing when yours breaks


  • Daily rental fees can add up fast

7. Fellow RVer Collaboration

groups provide ready help networks when needing assistance. Club members make voluntary good samaritan efforts as availability permits for sticking situations like when sudden truck problems arise. Simple verbal requests to forums or posted campground alerts requesting aid in locating urgent replacement transportation often receive prompt positive replies from willing helpers possessing suitable tow vehicles on location extending quick relief to one junction.

Benefits include waiving prohibitively expensive professional recovery service charges for basic relocation needs. Provides a crucial time buffer for finding permanent solutions without panicking over compounding daily campground costs. Successful matches result in short friendly transfers to safer holding locations preventing further rig damage exposures until DIY repairs are completed or permanent tow trucks are hired. Ensure reciprocity someday paying kindness forwards helping other members facing similar jams. Open communication channels early maximize response times when rapid decisive actions are required. 

Almost everyone with RV experience recognizes how instantly towing carriages can turn from joyful to helpless when truck troubles strike unexpectedly far from home.


  • Free help from friendly campers nearby


  • Hard to find volunteers available right away

Remember showing grateful generosity towards volunteer helpers regarding mileage costs, equipment usage fees or storage donations. Establish clear expectations beforehand so neither party feels unfairly burdened. Share collective wisdom reminding no rig is immune from safety risks when large mechanical equipment interfacing provides mutual understanding. Creates good karma in both directions!

Step-By-Step Moving Procedure of the 5th Wheel With Dollies

With the right 5th wheel dollies and assorted gear in hand, follow this careful procedure to safely relocate a 5th wheel travel trailer without a tow vehicle:

1. Inspect and Prep

Do a thorough walk around inspection looking for any defects or damage that could affect moving the camper. The basic checklist includes:

  • Check camper frame, welds, ladder mounts for cracks.
  • Ensure tires are properly inflated with adequate tread depth.
  • Confirm wheel lug nuts are tight.
  • Inspect hitch components are solid with no play or worn parts.
  • Look under the camper for any dragging components like tanks, wires, or hoses.
  • Ensure all interior cabinets, doors, and slides are secured and closed with travel latches.
  • Visually check the exterior for loose items like chairs or propane tanks which could fall off.
  • Confirm drained gray/black tanks to minimize shifting water weight.
  • Check battery charge level and fill propane if needed.

Fix or address any issues discovered that could make moving tricky or unsafe. Also consider your terrain and path identifying any slopes, obstacles like trees and fences, loose gravel, or muddy areas to avoid. Communicate the route plan to helpers so everyone understands.

2. Position Dollies and Stabilize the Camper

Carefully back up and align the forward dolly (with hitch plate installed) centered under the camper’s kingpin box area. Lock casters once placement is ideal. The second dolly should be positioned 1-2 feet behind the rear axles. Locking directional casters allow straight backward movement while providing good maneuverability.

Place wood blocks or plastic leveling blocks under all dolly and camper wheels to prevent rolling in case weight shifts during the process. Also, check both sides of the camper wheels front and back.

Ideally, use a tongue jack or electric camper jack to lift the front end above the dolly hitch plate to allow connecting the kingpin later. If no jack is available, the plate can be adjusted higher manually with some difficulty.

3. Attach Dollies To Camper

With dollies aligned centered under the pin box area and rear axles, securely attach them one at a time, starting with the forward hitch dolly.

The forward dolly has a height-adjustable hitch plate. Loosen the securing bolts and use a portable drill with a socket to raise or lower the plate (using hole alignment) until it lines up just under the camper’s kingpin. Lock it in position with tension bolts.

Next, if lifted via jack, slowly lower the camper until the kingpin slides into and locks onto the dolly hitch plate with an audible “click”. If no jack is used, have helpers manually lift the pin box just enough to attach it to the locked dolly hitch.

Double the kingpin is fully captured in the hitch plate and the securing lever/arms lock it in place. Then install the safety pins and chains as a backup connection system.

For the rear dolly, carefully raise the hitch using ramps/blocks until it contacts and presses slightly into the rear frame rail to create tension and friction. Crank the stabilizer jacks down firmly into the dolly footpads to provide downward force locking the rear dollysolidly in place.

Visually check all dolly and camper connection points for security before proceeding.

4. Move The Camper To the Destination

Do one final safety check ensuring brake systems or wheel locks are disengaged on both dollies, tires inflated, route clear, and helpers in position.

One person should be positioned at the rear camper wheels to steer and brake as needed, while another person (or two people if very heavy) maneuver the front dolly assembly steering the camper backwards using the locked pivoting casters. Communicate clearly using two-way radios to coordinate simultaneous movement.

Carefully roll the camper backward to the destination point, moving slowly while avoiding holes, slopes or tight turns which could cause shifting. If needed, briefly stop and check connections or re-chock wheels if movement concerning.

Once positioned properly at the destination, lower jack stands or blocks re-securing all wheels.

5. Detach Dollies & Stabilize

With the camper again firmly blocked up not relying any weight on dollies, detach the rear dolly first by raising it up and away from the frame with ramps until fully separated.

Then release or remove the safety pins/chains securing the kingpin hitch plate rotated open so the front dolly rolls clear releasing the camper fully separated from dollies.

Check complete separation visually and use wheel chocks on both sides of each camper axle as the parking brake fails safely.

The unhitched camper can now safely sit until connected later to a tow vehicle or hitched back onto the 5th-wheel dollies to complete final positioning or storage.

Safety Tips!

Like any procedure involving multi-ton vehicles, numerous safety precautions must be exercised when moving a 5th-wheel trailer without a truck:

  • Use approved DOT-rated 5th wheel dollies only, never makeshift wooden or metal contraptions that could fail or drop the camper.
  • Ensure the combined dolly weight capacity rating exceeds the actual maximum loaded camper weight for safe handling.
  • Always fully block up and secure the camper with extra fail-safe wheel chocks before disconnecting from dollies.
  • Utilize secondary safety chain systems to redundantly secure the camper connection to dollies during any movement.
  • Position assistant spotters at pivot points with radios to communicate maneuvering instructions clearly.
  • Move very slowly in difficult sections like tight turns or side hill slopes. Stop and check security often if concerned.
  • Attach a “Wide Load” sign clearly visible from both front and rear when moving an oversized camper near roads or pedestrian paths.
  • Use traffic cones or assistants to safely block if moving camper near any vehicle roadway.

While certainly feasible in most flat or moderately sloped parking areas, attempting to manually move very long, very heavy, or larger 5th wheel toy hauler or toy hauler style campers without proper equipment or terrain can lead to disastrous consequences like a runaway camper, severe injury, or death. Always put safety first!

When Should You Avoid Dolly Towing?

While 5th wheel dollies expand possibilities for camper relocation without a pickup, certain situations exceed capability limits requiring other solutions:

  • Travel long distances – meant only for short intra-campground or parking lot moves under 100 feet ideally
  • Significantly sloped terrain – the risk of uncontrollable acceleration downhill
  • No straight backup path – unable to maneuver tight turns
  • Poor surface traction like loose gravel – wheel slippage can’t propel heavy-weight
  • Severely unlevel camper – vulnerable to tipping if leaned too far to one side
  • Major roadway crossings – insufficient visibility and speed control

In such cases, you’ll need a heavy-duty tow truck with underlift capable of lifting partly loaded 5th wheels. This “tow rescue” service comes with trained operators and proper safety gear for highway transfers to alternative destinations as needed in emergency situations. While very expensive, specialty camper towing may be your only option if faced with a truck breakdown away from home in a difficult hitching situation.


While most RVers don’t anticipate needing to relocate a 5th wheel trailer without their pickup, unexpected truck breakdowns and parking snafus do arise. This expert guide outlined specialized equipment, careful procedures, techniques, and safety precautions for successfully moving an unhitched 18-30 ft 5th wheel camper short distances using 5th wheel dollies and good communication. What may sound impossible – rolling a 15,000-pound tiny home smoothly across a parking lot with no truck – can actually be done safely given properly rated gear, extra precautions, and a systematic tedious hitching approach. Understanding these emergency basics frees adventurous travelers to pursue off-grid destinations without fear of being stranded “truckless with a camper”.

So explore those boondocking locations knowing that regardless of tow vehicle reliability, you can still reposition your home-on-wheels manually in a pinch! Just invest in a quality 5th wheel dolly setup, assemble needed safety tools, study this guide, and pray you’ll never need to put this odd skill into practice! Stay safe on your journeys!

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I Use Regular Wheel Dollies To Move A 5th-Wheel Camper?

You should never attempt moving a 5th wheel trailer with standard automotive tow dollies or home-made wheeled carriages. Only use dedicated 5th wheel camper dollies rated over 15,000 lbs capacity for the job.

How Far Can You Safely Dolly Tow A 30-Foot 5th Wheel?

You should only plan to manually roll an unhitched 5th wheel a very short distance under 100 feet on flat even surfaces. Extended towing risks uncontrolled acceleration leading to disastrous consequences.

What Size Truck Do You Need To Tow A 30-Foot 5th Wheel?

You need a 3/4 ton or 1-ton pickup truck with a proper tow package and weight capacity to safely tow a 30 ft 5th wheel travel trailer. The exact spec varies by loaded camper weight and truck capability.

Can You Disconnect A 5th Wheel With The Jacks Down?

No, you should never disconnect a 5th wheel hitch from a truck with the stabilizer or landing gear jacks extended supporting camper weight. This can lead to crashed jacks and serious damage.

How Do You Level A 5th Wheel Without A Truck?

Use a detachable electric jack system or careful placement of solid blocking under landing gear footpads to safely level and support a 5th-wheel camper while disconnected from a tow vehicle.

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