In this article, we will explore the different types of RVs and their pros and cons, so that you can make an informed decision when choosing an RV that suits your needs. We will also dive into the key considerations when choosing the right type of RV for you!
What are RVs?
Recreational Vehicles, or RVs, are a popular choice for people who love to travel and explore the great outdoors. An RV is a type of vehicle that is designed to provide a comfortable living space while on the road. RVs come in various sizes, shapes, and styles that greatly affect their best use cases.
Types of RVs
Class A Motorhomes
Class A Motorhomes are the largest and most luxurious RVs on the market. They are built on a commercial bus chassis and are typically between 25 and 45 feet long. They feature all of the amenities of a home, including a full kitchen, bathroom, and living room.
Pros – Spacious living quarters – High-end amenities and features – Plenty of storage space
Cons – Expensive to purchase and maintain – Difficult to maneuver and park – Poor gas mileage
Class B Motorhomes
Class B Motorhomes, also known as camper vans, are the smallest and most compact RVs on the market. They are often built on a standard to large van chassis and are typically between 16 and 22 feet long. They feature a sleeping area, small kitchen, and a bathroom.
Pros – Easy to maneuver and park – Good gas mileage – Can be used as a daily driver
Cons – Limited living space – Fewer amenities and features – Expensive for their size
Class C Motorhomes
Class C Motorhomes are built on a truck or van chassis and are typically between 20 and 30 feet long. They often feature a sleeping area above the cab, a full kitchen, bathroom, and living area.
Pros – More spacious than Class B Motorhomes – Good gas mileage (compared to class A) – Easy to maneuver and park (but variable depending upon size)
Cons – Not as spacious as Class A Motorhomes – Limited headroom above the cab – Poor gas mileage when fully loaded
Travel Trailers are towable RVs that are typically between 12 and 35 feet long. They feature a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and one or more sleeping areas.
Pros – Affordable compared to other RV types – Can be towed by a variety of vehicles – Can be more spacious than Class B and Class C Motorhomes (size dependant)
Cons – Requires a towing vehicle – Limited maneuverability when towing – Setup and breakdown can be time-consuming
Fifth Wheels are towable RVs that are designed to be towed by a pickup truck with a fifth-wheel hitch. They are typically between 22 and 40 feet long and feature a bedroom, living area, kitchen, and bathroom.
Pros – More spacious than travel trailers – Stable and easier to tow than travel trailers – Separate living and sleeping areas
Cons – Requires a heavy-duty pickup truck with a fifth-wheel hitch – Limited maneuverability when towing – Setup and breakdown can be time-consuming
Pop-Up Campers, also known as tent trailers, are a type of RV that can be towed by a variety of vehicles. They feature a sleeping area, kitchen, and sometimes a small bathroom. The walls and roof are made of canvas or other lightweight materials that can be raised and lowered as needed.
Pros – Affordable compared to other RV types – Lightweight and easy to tow – Can be stored in a garage or other small space
Cons – Limited living space – Fewer amenities and features than other RV types – Less insulation and protection from the elements
Truck Campers are designed to be mounted on the bed of a pickup truck. They feature a sleeping area, kitchen, and bathroom, and can be removed from the truck for off-road adventures.
Pros – Can be used for off-road adventures – Easy to maneuver and park – Can be used as a daily driver
Cons – Limited living space – Requires a pickup truck for transportation – Can be top-heavy and affect the stability of the truck
Considerations When Choosing an RV
When choosing an RV, it’s important to consider your budget. RVs can range from a few thousand dollars for a used pop-up camper to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a luxury Class A Motorhome.
Storage and Parking
You’ll also need to consider storage and parking for your RV. Larger RVs, such as Class A Motorhomes, may require a special storage facility, while smaller RVs, such as Class B Motorhomes and Pop-Up Campers, can be stored in a garage or driveway.
Purpose and Usage
Determine the purpose of the RV and how you plan to use it. Will you be using it for weekend trips, long road trips, or full-time living? Knowing this will help you determine what type of RV to buy and what features you’ll need. As you can imagine, longer trips may require a larger space, and shorter trips you can get by with less space.
Size and Floor Plan
Consider the size and layout of the RV. Make sure it’s large enough to comfortably accommodate everyone who will be traveling with you, while also being small enough to maneuver on the road. The floor plan should also be practical and functional for your needs. Examples would be having a king bed, two twin beds, a table that can turn into a bed, etc.
If you’re considering a travel trailer or fifth wheel, make sure your vehicle has the appropriate towing capacity. You don’t want to end up with an RV that you can’t safely tow.
You’ll also often see Class A motorhomes towing other vehicles behind them, and knowing what you may need to toe is important.
Maintenance and Repairs
Like any vehicle, an RV will require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. Consider the cost and availability of repairs, as well as the ease of finding replacement parts.
Amenities and Features
Determine which amenities and features are important to you. Do you need a full kitchen, a bathroom, or a bedroom with a comfortable mattress? Are you looking for high-tech gadgets, like a smart home system or a built-in entertainment center? Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves to help you narrow down your options. Do you need solar panels? A heating system? A Shower?
If you’re considering a motorhome, be aware of its fuel economy. RVs can be notoriously gas-guzzling, so factor this into your budget and travel plans.
Insurance and Registration
RV insurance and registration can be more complicated than traditional vehicle insurance and registration, so make sure you understand the requirements and costs before you make your purchase.
Are you a big hiker, skier, snowmobiler or dirt biker? Toy trailers are needed for some, whereas others simply need storage for skis, a kayak, or surf boards.
Buying an RV can be a major investment, so take your time, do your research, and consider all of the key factors before making a decision.
For more information on RVs, check out resources such as RV magazines, online forums, RV dealerships, and most importantly, friends, family, or colleagues that have some experience using RVs.
One other great tip is to invest in rental RVs before you make a decision on an RV type, let alone a specific model. Renting will give you a great idea of what works for your needs while staying within budget, but still having a great time.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about