There’s a lot to love about recreational vehicles (RVs). They can serve as your home away from home as you camp and travel far away. It can even be the main house for an adventurer. No one-size-fits-all for RVs – there is a recreational vehicle out there that’s right for you depending on a lot of variables.
When deciding on the type of recreational vehicle to choose, it’s easy to become overwhelmed because there are so many options available. The trick is to have an idea where you plan on traveling, who will be going with you. You also have to determine your budget, identify needed amenities, and do your research. Here are the different types of RVs that are available:
Motorhome RVs are motorized, meaning they don’t require another vehicle to tow them down the road. These RVs run on either gas or diesel engine. These are categorized into three different classes, describing their basic size and shape.
The basic box on wheels, Class A motorhomes are the biggest motorized RVs in the market. They often resemble a bus, as it can be roughly 30 to 45 feet in length, with a vertical front windshield and large windows. They can be simple, or they can offer all sorts of bells and whistles, including amenities like king-size beds, washers and dryers, mobile garages, full bath and shower, and robust home entertainment systems. You’ll often find residential-style appliances and designer furniture with this type of RV. Class A RVs also have enough basement storage for cargo, enabling campers to stock plenty of supplies for staying on the road indefinitely. The large space and the amenities it can offer are the reason why more dedicated travelers prefer them.
While this type of RV is a great option for both full-time camping and a quick weekend getaway, the high expense and large size of Class A RVs are intimidating for many. Also, it’s hard to access narrow roads and twisty mountain passes. Parking it in restrictive camping sites can be a hassle. After setting up on your destination, it might be hard to leave again to run simple errands, so many choose to tow along a smaller vehicle to overcome this concern.
Class C RVs are not as big as Class A, but not as small as Class B. It’s confusing, we know. These are mid-sized RVs that range around 20 to 30 feet and are usually built on a truck chassis. It usually has a separate bathroom area, where a Class B camper might not. It offers many of the same amenities of a Class A RV and more living space than the Class B. Usually, it comes with an adequate kitchen, toilet and shower facilities, and plenty of spaces to sleep. Some larger models come with a master bedroom suite in the rear. Couches and tables can sometimes convert to beds, and the overhead compartment above can be used for storage or as additional sleeping quarters.
This type of RV can be as challenging to drive as the Class A but are usually easier to manage in restricted campsites. Owners usually tow a separate vehicle for errands and excursions due to its large size. The fuel costs, maintenance, and insurance are slightly better than Class A RVs but are still more expensive to operate compared to Class B.
Also called camper vans, Class B motorhomes are much smaller than the big Class A RVs. As the name suggests, camper vans are typically built on a van chassis. They are nimble, and they drive like a standard automobile, making it easy to maneuver even in remote areas. Camper vans usually measure between 17 to 25 feet in length. Though it may be compact, they usually have cleverly-designed interiors that can fit all the essentials. Also, many of the sleeping spaces in Class B RVs convert from seats to beds. It can fit in most parking spots. The compact size of camper vans makes it a popular choice among solo or couple travelers.
Though a camper van may offer different amenities, interior space on these RVs are often cramped. If more than two people are traveling with it, the tight quarters can quickly become uncomfortable. The appliances are also much smaller, and there is no space for luxury amenities like full-size entertainment systems and laundry facilities. It also doesn’t have enough cargo capacity to carry lots of supplies. The great thing is, you don’t need to tow another car for your errands and day excursions.
These types of RVs need another vehicle to pull it to your destination. Towable RVs offer the most diverse and the most popular camper styles. Also known as trailers, these RVs will be disconnected from the tow vehicle during set-up. It provides the convenience of a detachable vehicle that can be used to run errands or explore an area. For every towable RV, it is important that the towing vehicle is rated to handle the weight of the trailer and its contents.
Fifth Wheel Trailers
The largest type of trailer you can buy, fifth wheel campers, is named this way because it comes with a special fifth wheel hitch in the truck bed. Due to this hitch, this type of trailer comes with a raised forward section where you can find a bedroom or a living room. Fifth wheel campers are usually pulled by large pick-up trucks due to their size. It’s a great option for camping with large families or big groups. Due to its spacious interiors, it offers amenities just like a Class A motorhome.
The biggest concern with a fifth-wheel trailer is the type of vehicle used for towing. A truck with an open or flatbed is required. Passenger space in a pick-up truck is typically limited – especially in a truck cab – making it a problem for transporting large families. You can’t put the kids on the vehicle being towed, as it’s illegal. The good thing about it is it’s very stable while being towed.
You’ve probably seen travel trailers on the road or a campground. It’s a conventional type of trailer towed by a frame hitch or bumper hitch that extends from the front of the trailer. Travel trailers offer the greatest range of campers – it can range from 10 feet to 40 feet in length and has lots of floor plans and designs available. Small travel trailers can be pulled by an SUV, while others may need a large truck. Travel trailers are also easier to detach and set up in camp compared to fifth wheels. It provides the freedom of having a vehicle that can serve as a home unit whenever they travel. It’s also easy to store when not in use.
Travel trailers are an excellent choice for someone looking for a low barrier of entry to get into the world of RVs, yet still have all the amenities needed when camping. However, the longer the trailer, the harder it is to park and tow. It can also be challenging to maneuver in restricted areas.
It’s easy to recognize teardrop trailers because of its distinct teardrop shape. These RVs are ideal for weekend travels, and for those who want only the basic amenities. The simplest teardrop trailers are simply bedroom on wheels. Medium-sized teardrop trailers may come with a standard bathroom, while larger ones can contain a kitchen and dining area, plus a wet bath. Like small Class B motorhomes, teardrop trailers use convertible beds, swivel toilets, folding sinks, and more to make the small space highly functional.
Some teardrop RVs don’t have cooking facilities, while others offer an outdoor kitchen that’s accessible by opening the rear clamshell hatch. If you choose an RV with this design, be prepared to cook outside in all weather conditions.
Hybrid trailers are a mix between a pop-up camper and a travel trailer. It offers more space than a pop-up but has a lighter weight than a typical travel trailer. It mixes the features of a conventional travel trailer with added benefits of increased sleeping areas from the pop-out, just like what you will find in a pop-up camper. It offers the feel of sleeping under canvass, making it an exciting choice for tent enthusiasts. The interiors are equipped just like other travel trailers, as you can find a full bathroom, kitchen facilities, refrigerator, interior storage, and seating areas.
It’s best suited for a weekend or week-long adventures, but not for long ones due to the lack of weather protection with the canvas side pop-outs. It also gives less privacy due to the canvas walls.
Toy Hauler RVs
Toy haulers are a unique kind of RV designed explicitly for letting you bring outdoor toys with you when camping. A toy hauler has a large access door that allows the user to put their gear and outdoor toys – motorcycles, dirt bikes, four-wheelers, golf carts, kayaks, snowmobiles, and more. It’s equipped with a large, heavy-duty door that doubles as a rear access ramp for loading and unloading of the toy. Most have a separate fuel station for off-road vehicles and can be equipped with a generator. When the toys are parked outside, the trailer offers additional sleeping and seating areas.
But toy haulers are not just for your big boy toys. It’s also preferred by travelers who want to be creative with their RV space. Some use it as an artist studio, home offices, and large living areas.
Truck campers are the types of RVs that can sit inside a pick-up truck bed, making it a compact recreational vehicle. It’s a popular choice for weekend trips and short getaways. Because it doesn’t have a lot of interior space, it’s not the common choice of RV for long-term camping. Due to its size, it works best for one, two, or a maximum of three people. It offers limited storage and only the most basic amenities. However, its short length makes it easy to maneuver and access campsites and places that a larger RV may have a hard time getting into.
There are two types of truck campers: slide-in truck camper, and the pop-up truck camper.
Slide-in Truck Camper
Slide-in campers are a hard-sided RV sitting on a truck bed. It’s called a slide-in camper that can be removed from the truck at a campsite, so you can use your truck for exploring. It offers the basic amenities of larger RVs, only in a compact package.
Due to its small size, it doesn’t have a lot of storage space or even room in general. The shorter length means your camper will be cramped, making it a viable option for a single traveler up to a trio.
Pop-up campers have the same function as a slide-in camper, but they have the advantage of being lighter in weight and having a lower height when in travel mode. The roof of this camper can be moved up while in camp mode and can be lowered while being transported. This is possible because part of the sidewall is made of canvas material. It’s a family-friendly RV with a hard base and canvas sides that pop-up to provide extra sleeping space, thus the name. It’s affordable, lightweight, and comfortable.
The only downside to having this type of RV is that the interiors are not as cozy and nice as a slide-in camper. The canvas sides also offer little protection from temperature.