The Andersen Hitches Review That You’ll Love

The Andersen Hitches Review That You’ll Love

One of the key questions I had to answer when deciding to travel full-time was, “What type of RV am I going to buy?” This is important for several reasons because it dictates your choice of vehicle. If you get a motorhome, you can tow it and get a small sedan or SUV.

If you go with a travel trailer, you can probably get by with a smaller truck like a Ford F150. But if you choose a fifth wheel, you have to have something capable of pulling it. Not only that, but you have to have a hitch that can handle the payload.

Most people choose to go with a standard fifth wheel hitch. This involves backing up the vehicle until the fifth wheel’s tongue snaps into place inside the receiver. But Andersen Hitch has changed the way people think about pulling the fifth wheel.

Is an Andersen hitch right for everyone? Probably not. But this innovative company has created a hitch that redefines the way RV travelers pull their campers. Keep reading to learn all the ins and outs about this hitch in our ultimate guide to Andersen hitches.

Why Use an Andersen Hitch?

andersen hitches

When you’re ready to jump into the world of 5th wheel campers, you’ll need a hitch that’s up to the task. There are several hitches to choose from, but there are a few reasons why you might decide to install an Andersen hitch.

Easy installation and removal

If you do most of your camping on the weekends or sporadically throughout the year, you might need your truck for other purposes.

As a result, you probably want a hitch that’s easy to put in and take out whenever you need it. Andersen hitches are among the easiest on the market to do yourself.

Perfect for short truck beds

If your bed doesn’t have the length needed for a standard hitch, using an Andersen hitch might be the answer. People have shattered the rear windows on their trucks by turning too sharp, which results in the front of the RV crashing right into the back of the vehicle. That’s why a lot of people who pull fifth wheels have turned to Andersen hitches.

Various hitch types

Andersen hitches also offer a variety of hitch types. You can select the version that makes the most sense for you, your truck, and your fifth wheel. Currently, Andersen hitches has three available options.

There are plenty of advantages to each type, so let’s take a look at the benefits of each so you can make a better decision.

Aluminum

The aluminum gooseneck is made from – you guessed it – aluminum, and your fifth wheel will attach to a gooseneck ball in the bed of your truck, much like a gooseneck trailer would.

The lowered aluminum gooseneck is the same as the aluminum gooseneck, but the ball height is four inches lower. It’s intended for use in flatbed trucks.

While steel is stronger than aluminum, the aluminum versions are rated to handle plenty of weight, and it’s incredibly lightweight.

Steel

The steel rail mount is a hitch made of steel and it attaches to rails mounted in the bed of your truck, much like a standard fifth wheel hitch would.

They also used to offer a steel version of the gooseneck hitch, but that’s no longer available. If you’d like to purchase that version, you’d have to find it used.

The steel version offers a big cost savings over the aluminum Andersen hitches, but it’s much heavier, so if saving money is what you’re after, you’ll have to deal with packing more weight in the back of your truck.

All Andersen hitches can handle their rated load, no matter the material.

Using the Andersen Hitch

andersen hitches 5th wheel

 

You can pretty much guarantee that this hitch is easy to install and use. Even if you’ve never installed one before, it’s quick and seamless. What you’ll find is that the box is pretty large, but if you purchased the aluminum version, it’s light to pick up.

Putting the Hitch Together

Upon opening up the box of the Andersen hitch, you’ll find the coupler that mounts to the king pin of your fifth wheel and the frame of your hitch zip-tied together. Be prepared with snips to separate them.

The ball also comes installed upside down to save space, so you’ll have to remove it and flip it over. You can choose at which height you want to install it, but installing it higher gives you more clearance between your fifth wheel and the bed of your truck.

Take it from my experience, you want to install it as high as possible to start. You can always lower it later. Simply remove the cotter pin and the large pin that hold the ball in place.

There are 3 holes that allow you to choose the ball height, and they make it easy to adjust. Simply secure the gooseneck ball to the hitch.

Rest assured that the first time you do it, it will take you no more than 30 minutes, and it will only get faster with time. It truly is the easiest hitch ever to install.

Installation of the Hitch

Rapid Hitch andersen hitch

All you really need is a torque wrench to get the hitch secured in your truck. Just store an inexpensive torque wrench and a 15/16” socket with the hitch, and you’ll have everything you need every time you need to install or uninstall it.

You can keep your torque wrench set at 50 pounds all the time and you’ll be ready to go. It makes installing the hitch that much faster. Here’s how you can install the hitch in a matter of minutes:

  1. At the base of the hitch, remove both the cotter pin and the ½” diameter pins.
  2. Position the hitch over the gooseneck ball and make sure it’s centered.
  3. Reinstall the pins.
  4. Tighten the bolt at the top of the hitch.
  5. Tighten the locking screws on the back.

If you leave the hitch in your truck for several months at a time, it’s a good idea to check these bolts occasionally and tighten them again if needed. You’ll also want to connect your camper and retorque the main bolt and set screws because these tend to settle under the weight.

Installation of the Coupler

andersen hitch coupler

Your fifth wheel has a king pin. This is the large knob that faces downward and snaps into the fifth wheel plate in the back of your truck. However, because the Andersen hitch uses a gooseneck ball, you’ll need to convert this king pin to something that sits on top of the gooseneck ball.

It’s actually pretty simple. Insert the king pin into the large hole in the coupler, just as you would back your plate onto the king pin to hook it up. There are two long shoulder bolts that lock the coupler onto the king pin.

Four screws tighten everything down and make sure it’s locked into place. You’ve just converted your king pin to a gooseneck mount.

However, you do have two options for installation. The first one is to mount the coupler so that the ball socket is in front of the king pin. This standard position leaves your fifth wheel set back from the cab of your truck quite a ways.

You can rotate the coupler 180 degrees so that the ball socket is behind the king pin, which moves the trailer roughly 8 inches closer to the cab of your truck. While you may be able to afford to do this on a longer bed, short bed pickups won’t have the space.

The advantage to rotating your coupler to the second position is that it shortens the length of your rig. In certain situations, this can be beneficial.

Connecting the Andersen Hitch to Your RV

andersen hitch wheel connector

When connecting your fifth wheel to your truck, it’s a lot more like connecting a gooseneck trailer than it is connecting a fifth wheel. Traditionally, you would retract your landing gear until the king pin is at the same level as the fifth wheel plate.

Then, you would back up until the king pin slides into place and locks.

However, because your coupler will sit on top of the gooseneck ball, you’ll want to retract your landing gear until the coupler is a few inches higher than the ball. Then, back up until the ball is positioned directly under the coupler.

If you can’t see the ball from the driver’s seat, you may need a spotter for this step. If you don’t have a spotter, it’ll take you a little longer.

Once you’re positioned under the coupler, retract your landing gear until your truck begins to take the weight of your RV. Then you can slide the handle on the latch cable and turn it clockwise to lock it into place. Once you’re sure it’s secure, retract all of your jacks.

To unhook the RV, simply reverse the process.

Remote latch cable assembly

It looks like it might be difficult to push the latch cable assembly in and out or that it might not stay locked in place. Because a traditional fifth wheel hitch has a locking mechanism preventing it from releasing and the Andersen hitch doesn’t, it might be cause for concern.

However, all you have to do is push the handle in and turn it about halfway to lock it in place. It won’t loosen, even on your longest trip. It should still be tight when you get there. It’s also easy to engage and disengage, even when everything is on uneven ground.

Ball funnel operation

The ball funnel is intended to guide your coupler socket and the ball together, even if they’re not perfectly aligned. This is really helpful, since it’s not quite as easy to line them up as it is on a traditional hitch.

Andersen says it will work even if the coupler and the ball are as much as 3 inches off, but that’s probably not the best idea. Get as close as you can before you lower your camper onto the ball, and it should correct itself.

While it might not hurt your hitch or your ball to force the camper up to 3 inches, your camper is still sitting on your landing gear. As you force your camper to the side, your landing gear will slide across the ground, which will put extra stress on your jacks and the mechanisms that control them.

It’s better to pull forward and back up again until you’re better aligned and then try again.

Connecting at an angle

Even if you’re not on even ground or backing up to your camper straight on, you can connect to your Andersen hitch much easier than you could a traditional fifth wheel hitch. This causes a lot of campers to breathe a sigh of relief.

When attempting to back up to your fifth wheel at an angle or on uneven ground, it can be a real pain to get your king pin locked into place.

It’s no problem to get centered on your coupler and then lowered onto the ball.

You can also disconnect on uneven ground because the ball doesn’t bind. You just have to lift and lower, in any position.

Everyday Use

rv hitch anderson

One of the primary benefits to installing an Andersen hitch is the ease of installation and removal. Because you want to use your truck for other things, you can easily remove and reinstall your hitch in a matter of minutes versus a traditional fifth wheel hitch.

This is where the Andersen line of hitches really stands out compared to your other options. Sure, it’s lightweight and you’ll have a better pulling experience overall, too, but you can actually carry it around without help from a dolly or a Bobcat.

Installation time

It literally takes 15 minutes from the time you step out of the house until you’re done hooking up your camper. That’s it. It includes installing the ball, chain anchors, and hitch in the truck, and backing up the camper.

Storage

Most fifth wheel plates are super large and heavy. Not only do you need help uninstalling them, but you need help lifting them, and you need storage room for them as well.

The Andersen hitch is so lightweight and easy to install that you can do it all yourself. It’s really quick, so all you have to do is remove it, lift it, and put it wherever it is that you want to keep it.

Many people actually store the hitch in their camper. Everything is all in one place, and often, it fits in the basement. It’s that compact.

You may not believe it, but a lot of people can actually carry their Andersen hitch with one hand.

Towing

There are a few other quick advantages I think we should touch on before we leave the topic of Andersen hitches. Towing is a breeze for so many reasons.

Ride

The hitch tightens to the gooseneck ball and the bed, so there is absolutely no movement. That means there’s no rattling between the truck and the hitch, or the hitch and the camper. The ball is locked securely into the coupler.

As you’re driving, you won’t feel the normal bucking you would feel with a traditional fifth wheel hitch. You’re getting a level of precision that you would only get with a high-end hitch that would cost you at least twice what an Andersen hitch would.

Turns

With a long bed, you’ll be able to make all of the turns you’d be able to make with a tradition hitch. It doesn’t change your point of turn much at all. Your turning experience would be nearly the same.

One downside you may want to consider is that your turn radius won’t be the same in a short bed truck, but that’s going to be the risk you take when you drive a short bed pickup anyway.

Andersen hitches are fantastic choices for short bed pickups. It is possible, even with a short bed, to make a sharp turn. Depending on your combination, you may be able to turn close to 90 degrees.

Specifications

Here are the specifications for Andersen hitches:

Aluminum gooseneck

  • Max trailer weight: 24,000 lbs
  • Max tongue weight: 4500 lbs
  • Height from bed to ball: 16 ¾” lower position, 17 ⅞” middle position, 19 ⅛” upper position
  • Distance from gooseneck ball to kingpin: 9 ⅜” in front of gooseneck, 1 ⅜” behind gooseneck
  • Weight of hitch only (not coupler) 35 lbs

Flatbed aluminum gooseneck

  • Max trailer weight: 24,000 lbs
  • Max tongue weight: 4500 lbs
  • Height from bed to ball: 12 ⅜” lower position, 13 7/16” middle position, 14 ⅝” upper position
  • Distance from gooseneck ball to kingpin: 9 ⅜” in front of gooseneck, 1 ⅜” behind gooseneck
  • Weight of hitch only (not coupler) 35 lbs

Steel rail mount hitch

  • Max trailer weight: 20,000 lbs
  • Max tongue weight: 4500 lbs
  • Height from bed to ball: 15 ¾” lower position, 16 ⅞” middle position, 18” upper position
  • Distance from gooseneck ball to kingpin: 9 ⅜” in front of gooseneck, 1 ⅜” behind gooseneck
  • Weight of hitch only (not coupler) 40 lbs

Additional Considerations

The only thing that doesn’t come with the Andersen hitch that you should probably consider purchasing is a safety chain kit. It has 2 bolts and large rings that replace the king pin bolts. It also have 2 heave duty chains that connect the bolts and the chain anchors in your truck.

Much like you would connect your emergency breakaway cable to your traditional fifth wheel plate, this kit will prevent your fifth wheel from breaking away from your truck completely, even if it did become separated from your hitch.

While you don’t really need them or have to have them, it will only take you about 30 more seconds to install them and can save you time and frustration.

There have been debates on the laws and safety regarding these types of hitches, and having these kits installed can save you hours of talking to the authorities, having to unhook on the spot, or having your trailer impounded.

Who the Andersen Hitch Isn’t For

andersen hitches

There are really only a couple of cases in which you shouldn’t use an Andersen hitch.

Because the whole point of the Andersen hitch is that it’s lightweight and removable, full-time RVers who have a short bed truck really won’t find any benefit to it. You’re likely leaving your hitch in the back of your truck all the time anyway.

There’s no reason to ever take it out. Instead, you’ll want to look into an auto sliding hitch like a SuperGlide. It will give you more maneuverability in tight places and you won’t have to adust the hitch like with a manual slider.

Those who have beds shorter than 6 feet also should use Andersen hitches because your configuration could limit you to less than 90-degree turns. While it’s possible to make tight turns with a short bed, it really just depends.

If you have a very short bed, use something like the Curt A16 with the Reese Sidewinder pin box instead. The Sidewinder shifts your pivot point back about 20 inches, which gives you more room between your truck and your trailer while turning.

Alternatives

The Andersen hitch truly is unique. There’s no direct comparison, and no competitor. If you’re looking for something that converts your traditional king pin to a socket that fits on a gooseneck ball, Andersen is the way to go.

However, if you’re looking for fifth wheel hitches, here are some of the best fifth wheel hitches you can get.

B&W Companion

b&w companion fifth wheel hitch

B&W makes all kinds of towing supplies. They make hitches, balls, receivers, drops, and everything you might need for pulling any kind of trailer.

The Companion fifth wheel hitch is a high-quality product that offers plenty of value. While you’ll pay quite a bit more for it, you also won’t find these features in any of the budget options either.

It’s built with quality, but the truly standout feature is its fully articulating head. You can adjust it from front to back and side to side. There’s also a vertical adjustment range between 16.25 and 18.25 inches.

It’s versatile enough to pull a heavy trailer and it makes hooking up on uneven terrain super easy. It also works to improve the quality and the safety of the ride. Many other budget fifth wheel hitches will transfer bucking to the cab of the truck, but you won’t feel any of that with this one, much like the Andersen hitch.

This particular hitch is rated for 20,000 pounds, but B&W makes hitches rated for much less or much more, depending on your needs.

Curt Black E16

CURT 16115 E16 5th Wheel Hitch

The Curt Black E16 is rated at 16,000 pounds and is built for extreme durability. It also has a bit more of a streamlined look that people seem to prefer. However, it doesn’t have a fully articulating head, which can make it a bit tougher to hook up on the uneven ground.

You’ll definitely save money here though because Curt isn’t quite as expensive as B&W. It’s quiet and reliable, and it works with trucks that have existing rails, but if you have a professional install rails if you don’t already have them.

Pulliam Superglide

Pullrite superglide

If you have a short bed, you’ll want something that slides. There really isn’t a better option than this. It has an 18,000-pound capacity, which is a lot higher than a lot of other sliding hitches you’ll see.

There’s a lot of wiggle room here for you to decide what you want to tow. However, the best part is that it slides automatically, so you don’t have to mess with it. It will slide to accommodate the turn you need to make as you drive.

The ride is also smooth and quiet. It’s also durable.

FAQs

Question: Are Andersen hitches any good?

Answer: Andersen hitches are excellent products. They’re lightweight, so you can install them and remove them yourself without help. They’re easy to carry, and they’re small enough to store nearly anywhere.
The primary benefit to using an Andersen hitch is that for those who aren’t full timers, you can remove it easily and use your truck bed for something else the rest of the time.

Question: Do Andersen hitches require safety chains?

Answer: Conventional gooseneck trailers are required to have chains because of the nature of the latching mechanism. However, there’s been some controversy as to whether Andersen hitches should require chains or not.
While the Andersen hitch doesn’t come with a latch or provide chains, you can purchase safety chains separately if you feel it’s necessary, and it may be a good idea to ensure your connection is as safe as possible.

Question: Where can I buy Andersen hitches?

Answer: There are a lot of places you can buy Andersen hitches. The first place you should check is Andersen’s website. This is the best place to check out stock, availability, and options. From there, you can check out other online retailers like Amazon.
Other places that sell Andersen hitches include any place that sells hitches. Trailer supply shops, RV shops like Camping world, truck accessory suppliers, and other camping supply stores are great places to look.
You can also look at Andersen’s website for authorized dealers and locations.

Final Thoughts

Not only are Andersen hitches high quality, but they almost sound too good to be true. If you need something that’s versatile, lightweight, and easy to use and store, an Andersen hitch is definitely the way to go.

In addition to that, they also have excellent customer service. You’ll find everything you need, and if you don’t, the people behind the name are there to help you with anything you still have questions about.