sliding fifth wheel hitch

Best Fifth Wheel Hitch for a Short Bed Truck 2023

CURT 16516 Fifth Wheel Hitch Head with R16 Roller

Since this hitch doesn’t come with mounting brackets or slide rails, it’ll be a good idea to purchase vehicle-specific versions of these for your truck.Expert Reviewer: Arnold Caughman

Quick Summary:
You’ll be able to tow a 16,000 pound fifth wheel unit with this particular device. This enables this hitch to tow a fairly large fifth wheel and it’s contents as well. The skid plate also has anti-rattle features so that while you are driving your fifth wheel to a campsite, you don’t hear excessive rattling while you’re on the road.

Selecting a Fifth Wheel Hitch for a Short Bed Truck

If you are a big fan of fifth wheel camping like me, then you know about the struggle of maneuvering your huge fifth wheel through the campsite’s often too tight areas. Fortunately, there are a plethora of great options when it comes to fifth wheel hitches, especially if you have a standard truck, but what if you have a short bed model of truck? Is there a way to still get the same maneuverability out of a short bed attached fifth wheel hitch? This is where a dedicated short bed fifth wheel hitch assembly comes in.

There are a few great options out there, but I found that the best fifth wheel hitch for a short bed truck is the CURT 16516 Fifth Wheel Hitch Head with R16 Roller. This particular hitch has a lot of the built-in maneuverability of some of the best full-size truck hitches on the market today. As a matter of fact, it took me only a few minutes to fully maneuver this particular hitch into a campground campsite during a weekend camping trip.


When it’s time to install this short bed fifth wheel hitch, you’ll need some additional items. Unfortunately, CURT doesn’t provide the mounting brackets or the slide rails for this particular product, so you’ll have to purchase them separately. Also, as this is a fairly detailed installation, you’ll need a few things:

  • Tape Measure – This is one of the most important components. You’ll need to be sure that you install this device evenly, as an uneven installation will reduce the efficiency of the hitch.
  • Corded Drill – This requires a 1/16 inch drill bit as well as a ¾ inch step drill bit for making the holes in your bed.
  • Brake Controller – Each fifth wheel hitch needs a way to control the brakes of the fifth wheel itself, this unit will be based in your cab.
  • Extension Harness – This is the power system that transmits braking info between your cab and the trailer. When there is a need to brake, this harness will send the information to the braking system of the fifth wheel.
  • Ratchet – Once you’ve got your mounting brackets and slide rails aligned, you’ll need this for attaching the bolts.
  • Padlock – This will help you secure the kingpin to the hitch so that unscrupulous individuals won’t be able to pull it.
  • Torque Wrench – When everything is connected, this will make it so that you can tighten up the connections. You’ll want to do this so that the connection is strongly tightened and road-worthy.
  • Nylon Boot Plate (Optional) – You can add this so that you don’t get excess scratches on the top plate of your fifth wheel hitch.

As you can see, this installation is a bit work-intensive, so if you think it’ll be too much to install on your own, there are a wide variety of professionals who can install your hitch for the cost of labor.


The hitch is made of sturdy steel that is sure to last for decades. To protect it from rust, CURT used a powdered carbide black paint that is relatively scratch-resistant. Each of the components on this fifth wheel hitch are sturdy and secure. Just installing it will give you a sense that this particular hitch will last you for the long haul through many different camping excursions. I particularly liked the hitching lever; it’s very strong and CURT built some padlock holes into the lever itself so that you can secure it against thieves.


This hitch has a slide bar, jar design that is perfect for hitching up your fifth wheel or other towables. I really liked the fact that this particular device has four unique height levels, which lends some overall versatility to the hitch and allows you to tow fifth wheels with kingpins at higher positions. The device is connected to the rails by a series of included pins and clips. These pins and clips add a bit of convenience to the removal process, but remember, this is a very heavy fifth wheel hitch, so getting some help is preferred.

On the other hand, if you can’t get any help, then each part of the hitch can be detached and removed. This includes the contact head, the cross-bar, and the slide plate out separately. This individual removal helps you break up the hitch’s heavy 220 pound frame.

The product also includes rubber sound dampener that reduce the amount of noise that this product produces while it’s in use. I think it’s great that CURT designed this particular unit to be virtually quiet; many of us who’ve used a fifth wheel hitch hate the fact that you can usually hear a truck with a fifth wheel attached coming from about a mile away.

The amount of front to back travel on this particular hitch is about a foot, which is a decent amount of travel for when you need to maneuver. There is also an internal tension bar that will hold the hitch lever in place both when it’s engaged and disengaged. The locking mechanism for the kingpin is sturdy and rattle-free as well.


These fifth wheel hitches need to be installed correctly for safety and performance. Talking about safety, this hitch is about 220 pounds, so if you plan on removing it to use your bed as storage from time to time, that should be taken into consideration. The bottom line is that you’ll definitely need help when installing and removing it from your bed. Since this hitch doesn’t come with mounting brackets or slide rails, it’ll be a good idea to purchase vehicle-specific versions of these for your truck. This way, you know that you’ll have the precise measurements for the make and model of your vehicle.


This short bed fifth wheel hitch is a great choice if you have a smaller-bedded truck. It’s well built and well protected from the elements by a powdered carbide coating. Camping is one of the greatest traditions that should be passed down from generation to generation, and it’s good to know that there are quality camping devices like this one to make maneuvering your fifth wheel camper much easier.

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