Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Set-up Checklist for 5th wheels - A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide

Monday, August 3, 2015

Set-up Checklist for 5th wheels - A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide

No one likes to look like a rookie when they first get their new RV.  Most people won't have the means or finances to buy a brand new rig their first time around, so to expect to get a full education on how your equipment works may be a little bit much -  Many reputable RV dealers make sure that their buyers are well-educated on how things work, but there are even more out there that could care less whether or not you come back and buy another RV from them, use their service department, or buy accessories - they are all about the sale and that's where it ends.  No matter how you buy your rig or from where, demand that you get a full rundown on how all the systems work, how to operate each of them, and the order for setting up when you arrive at your destination.  This includes campsites with full hookups and dry camping or boondocking.  You need to know how to operate all systems under any conditions!

When we bought our 5er, the maintenance guys (and the sales guys) did a Micro-Machine guy (extremely fast-talking) run-through on how to set up for our equipment for camping.  Fortunately, we took notes and paid close attention.  Since we had to go through this quick set of instructions, I would assume that we aren't the only ones!  To that end, even though this is a short list of how to get things set up correctly, it does a pretty good job of detailing the correct order to keep from damaging something on your fifth wheel.

Don't let this be you!

Once you get acquainted with your rig, it pretty much becomes second nature on the setup and breakdown of everything.  But what about when you first start out?  Many times, the owner's manual doesn't give instructions or the process of how to go about getting everything ready when you arrive at your campsite.  So, based on the way that we set up (opposite for breakdown), here are the instructions that we use in the correct order get ready to camp!

  1. Once you've placed your rig in the space that you are parking, make sure that you can both reach the hookups (electric, water, sewer, cable, etc.) and that your slides, if you have them, will clear both the hookups and any other obstacles.  
    HiJacker Autoslide
  2. Chock all wheels, front and rear, to ensure the trailer doesn't shift to the front or rear when you release it from the pull vehicle.  
  3. Level the rig.  Using your levels (if you don't have levels attached to the side/front of your rig, get some!), ensure that your side-to-side and front-to-rear are both level.  You'll want to make your side-to-side level by using either leveling blocks or by moving the rig from side to side until you've leveled it out.  Front to rear leveling can usually be accomplished with the front landing gear.  NOTE:  depending on your pull vehicle's height, you may have to skip to step 4 before leveling front to rear.  An unevenly placed rig can introduce a host of problems.  In some instances, if your rig is not level, it may cause your refrigerator to fail to work properly.  
  4. Disconnect your trailer from your pull vehicle by dropping the landing gear far enough to allow the disengaging of the kingpin from the 5th wheel in the bed of the truck. Make sure you also disconnect the electric trailer brake emergency line and the 7 pin electric brakes/trailer hookup. 
  5. Connect the electrical cable to the pedestal ensuring that you are using a surge protector to protect your RV from any issues in the campground's wiring.  You'll also want to connect your electric so that you aren't using your batteries' power to put slides out, adjust landing gear, and lowering/adjusting your stabilizer jacks.  
    Pretty sure that Smart is a diesel!
  6. Once you've leveled front to rear, drop your rear stabilizing jacks.  At this point your rig should be solidly planted and ready to put slides out.  
  7. NOTE:  Depending on where your sewer hookup is located, you may want to connect it before putting the slides out.
  8. Circle the trailer and check again to be sure that nothing is going to interfere with the slide-out's movement.  Last thing that you want is to open your slide into a tree, truck, pedestal, etc. Once you've confirmed that all slides are clear, put one slide out at a time - this keeps from overtaxing your electrical system by pulling too much amperage at once.  Also, if you can, try to keep from turning on your AC until you've got all the slides out.  Since the seals aren't designed for halfway-out, you'll be letting warm air in when the slides are being moved anyway.  
  9. If you haven't already hooked up the water, sewer, cable, etc, go ahead and do that now. Once the water is hooked up, you can safely turn on your water heater.  NEVER turn on the water heater unless you're sure that there is water in it.  That's the quickest way to burn out an element!  In addition, if you don't already have one, you should have a water pressure regulator.  This will ensure that the water pressure doesn't exceed the pressure your rig's supply pipes are designed for. 
    What it feels like when a pipe bursts in your RV
      Protect your self from the campground!
  10. That's pretty much it for the outside stuff.  Moving inside, you'll want to check everything inside of cabinets (carefully!) for shifting or movement.  Even though you secure things before getting on the road, they can still have a tendency to move.   
  11. Untie/undo all of your tables, chairs, TVs, computers and anything else that is strapped to keep from moving in transit. 
  12. Make sure your fridge (if it's propane/electric) was set on LP or Auto for when you were in transit.  It should still be cold and ready to use when you get set up.  If you failed to do this, make sure you turn it on ASAP!
  13. Check tanks to ensure they are empty then run water to remove air from lines.
  14. Ensure your black tank has been treated before use. 
  15. Raise TV antenna or put out dish if you are using either one.  
  16. Crack a beer, pour a glass of wine, or mix up a cocktail!  You're home!

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!


  1. Among all this points one of the best point that catch my notice is chock all wheels, front and rear, to ensure the trailer doesn't shift to the front or rear when you release it from the pull vehicle. Really it's very informative article. Thanks for sharing this great informative article.
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  2. I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming!
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