I ran across a new term that I guess I’m going to have to add to my glossary.

Somehow I’ve managed to get this far without ever hearing of a “bumper pull” trailer. I even worked at a couple of RV places, and this term never came up. Trailers were only referred to as “5th wheels”, “travel-trailers”, and the less-common gooseneck. (Yes, we’d call pop-ups “pop-ups”, but for the most part, trailers were designated by their method of attachment.)


Upon hearing the term “bumper pull”, I started to imagine a trailer that was light enough to be pulled by a truck’s bumper, without the need for an actual receiver hitch underneath said bumper. But it turns out that “bumper pull” is just another way of saying “travel trailer”. That is, a trailer that hooks up to a ball mounted to the rear of the tow vehicle.

Now to be fair, “travel trailer” is a pretty awful name. Taken literally, it could apply to any trailer with wheels on it. The only thing the name does to set itself apart is the “travel” part, which serves to distinguish it from the “mobile homes” you might see in a trailer park.

Come to think of it, “5th wheel” isn’t very descriptive either, is it? It does nothing to communicate the up-and-over arrangement of the pin box, or the kingpin attachment point. All it does is lend a sense that the trailer is an accessory to the tow vehicle. EDIT: The “5th wheel” is actually horizontal here. See bhtooefr’s reply below (I shoulda checked Wikipedia first haha) 


Goosenecks, well they’re a little of both. Like “5th wheel”s, they attach over the axle, but the attachment point employs a ball like your standard bumper pull travel trailer. However, if you look at the name gooseneck, it seems to be partly in reference to the up-and-over arrangement of the front frame and coupler assembly to reach the center of the truck’s bed, and partly in reference to how it reaches further down into the bed than a 5th wheel’s pin box. In a way, I guess you could say that a 5th wheel could be a variety of gooseneck.


Speaking of hitches, what is a hitch anyway? I’ve seen receivers, ball-mounts, and couplers all referred to as hitches, yet the H-word is left out of the image below, giving way to more specific terms:


I have to admit, in my time in the RV business, I grew fond of using the word “hitch” to describe the receiver. I’ve also used the word in reference to the articulating assembly mounted in the truck’s bed, into which the 5th wheel’s kingpin slides. But perhaps “hitch” is better off used as a verb, and its noun usage avoided altogether. Thoughts?

Oh, and don’t get me started on motorhome classification. (too late haha)


You’ve got your class A, class B, and class C motorhomes, yet somehow they don’t follow an alphabetical hierarchy. The large bus-type rigs are class A, the medium sized boxes with a van sticking out of the front are class C, and your pimped-out super-conversion-vans are class B. Who came up with this?

Are there any other terms that you’ve encountered for these things? Is “caravan” is a superior word to “trailer” (despite its modern familiarity with Chrysler minivans)? If we had to start all over again and come up with new names to fix this mess once and for all, what terminology would you use?

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