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Post Info TOPIC: Backing into your campsite

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Backing into your campsite

We have had our fifth wheel for 4 years. To this day, we still worry about backing into a campsite. I always try to get a pull-thru site.

My husband and I have really gotten into some arguments over this, which can really make a terrible beginning to a camping trip.

I have tried to tell him which way I want the 5er to go when backing, but he can't seem to get it going in that direction. You know each of us have things that we a great/good at BUT, backing up our 5er is not one of them.(and he knows it)

So can you good backeruppers out there give me some tips that I can in a very kind and loving way give my hubby.


PS We went to Disney World over Spring Break and Stayed at Fort Wilderness Campground which is so wonderful!!!! BUT all the sites are back in. The streets  or they call Loops are one-way, very narrow, and trees come right up to pavement on both sides. DW believes in keeping this campground very natural, which makes it so beautiful. Anyway!!! we had to work for about 45 minutes to get into our site. The trees, made it very hard to swing the truck around and back up! We finally cleared the trees in the front of truck (front bumper) by about 1 inch. If we'd had a chain saw, I promise, my hubby would have been out there taking a few trees down!!!



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It just takes patience, practice, feel, and proper use of mirrors.  When we first went on the road, we thought we were going to have to use pull-through sites the rest of our lives. 

We got the walkie-talkies (often referred to as "marriage savers") and tried to talk each other through backing up.  Now we just use them to communicate only AFTER we are parked.

What I learned was that I did best when Linda said NOTHING and gave NO hand signals other than STOP!  I think others will vouch for this, but the instructions "go the other way", "turn the wheel the other way", and "straighten up" are utterly useless.

For me, back-in sites that are at 45-degree angles or close to that are so much easier than backing straight or at 90-degree angles.  And I prefer backing in to sites where I can use my driver's side mirror rather than the passenger side.

I used to hug the far side of the road as I thought that gave me the better angle for backing.  But I found that squeezed the room I had to swing the truck in the front.  So now I hug the side of the road closest to the site and take advantage of the turning capability of the fiver which gives me much more room to swing the truck in the front.

I go very slowly and don't move unless I can see Linda in one of my mirrors.  That gives her the chance to check both sides for obstructions and overhead clearances.

Sometimes the campsites are not symmetrical and it can be confusing in the mirrors.  So I will often get out and study the site myself to make sure I have my bearings.

Just keep practicing and GO SLOW!  I'm sure others will have lots of tips, too.   

-- Edited by Howard at 09:32, 2006-09-05


RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 319

When we pulled a fifth wheel I found out several things about myself. First of all I give instructions much better than I take them, however my wife does take instructions well, so I quit trying to back the thing and gave it to her. She takes my instructions very well and keeps a cool head. Another fact I found out about myself that I am not too porud of is that I don't stay as cool through the process as she does. I guess it is a man thing I learned a couple of things about backing too. First backing a 5er is much different from a pull trailer because the connection point is just barely in front of the rear axle and not 3 feet behind it. Secondly with a 5er the most important thing is anticipation. You have to make your turns in anticipation. If you wait until you are at the point you want to turn it is too late. We also learned to keep our hands on the bottom of the steering wheel. This allows you to turn the wheel the direction you wish the 5er to go. If you put your hand on top of the wheel you have to turn it the opposite way. Very confusing, so we just use the bottom of the steering wheel when backing. I agree with Howard that backing into a site form the drivers side is much better than form the passenger side. Also he is right about where to put the vehicle before you start to back. I found that these things worked well for us. I seem to remeber from reading Howard's journal that he went to a parking lot where he had plenty of room and did a little practicing backing before making serious attempts to put the 5er into tight spots. That was a great idea and one I would recommend to any one. Nothng can substitute for experience!

Full timing since 1/1/2005
American Tradition & Jeep Wrangler

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 197

I agree with Howard.

The family radios are great. We have used a pair for years ( a Father's Dat present ) when backing up the 5'er and motor homes.

The trick is to go slowly and remember the steering wheel and the rig are not on a rail. The 5'ers react quickly to large changes in the wheel and it is easy to over correct. So slowly is the key.

The motorhome has a backup camera and that helps. The angles you see in the mirrors are not always optically correct either.

When we traveled with the Avion club years ago, the best parker director was a women. Betty would walk along side the driver's seat, with her hand on the sill. Her directions were impeccable and some one always watched the rear.

Funny thing though, when I occasionally travel by my self, I manage to get in thoses pesky sites fine. My wife often just can't believe that, LOL.

Practice, practice, practice.


Somes a little older is a whole lot better!!
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RV-Dreams Family Member

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One thing Howard said is key to success. That is Get Out and LOOK.

It is easy to loose perspective. I ALWAYS get out and look before starting to back. And if I loose perspective during the backing, I stop and get out. It makes a HUGE difference. Don't be shy about getting out. Even if there is an audience.


Jack & Danielle Mayer

2009 Volvo 780 HDT, 2015 New Horizons 45'Custom 5th, smart car
New Horizons Ambassadors - Let us help you build your dream RV.....

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 284

Join the club.  We are all less the excellent at backing the fith wheel.  Use Radios, have patience, ignore the onlookers, get out and look for yourself, and pull up as many times as necesary to get it right.  The best helper warns you of obstacles (especially overhead) and gives some guidance.  I like to be able to see my helper in front or behind me.

One other thought.  Go to an empty parking lot.  Take a couple of orange cones to set up trees and rails to miss. Then practive a 45 degree drivers side and passenger side back in.  Repeat with a 90 degree set.  It is 2 to 4 hours well spent.  You can knock over cones without fear and learn how to communicate.



Larry and Jacki-belle Linley with Taiga our minature dachsund - 2011 34 ft Montana towed by a 2014 Silverado Durmax Allison 4x4.

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 291

Another thing that would be helpful is if both parties have backed the fifthwheel into a site.  Often times we expect the partner, who has never backed the rig, to tell us when to turn.  They do not know how to anticipate what the fifthwheel will do and once the instruction comes it is too late.  Judy says "you need to go to the right" when she should have told me that twenty to thirty feet ago; however, having never backed the rig she has no reference point.  All she knows is that it is not in the right spot.  Next step, driving lessons for Judy and you get to back it up the next time, dear.

Wandering America
2006 38' Cedar Creek Custom
2500 HD GMC Sierra Duramax Diesel
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