If you’re new to the RVing world and thinking about purchasing an RV, you’re probably saying to yourself “what type of RV is right for me”? There are several options for you to consider.
That’s why Grove RV put together this handy guide that outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each RV type. It will help you narrow down your options and decide which RV type is right for you. After reading this, your eyes won’t glaze over when an RV sales associate first asks you what type of RV you’re looking for!
You can break down recreational vehicles into two broad types: those you can drive (motorhomes), and those that require a vehicle to tow them (non-motorized towable RVs). To complicate matters, there is the truck camper, which is hauled on the bed of a pickup truck (it’s not motorized or towable).
The type of RV you buy will depend on a variety of factors, such as how you plan to use your RV, how often you plan to use it, your budget, the size of your family, etc.
Let’s get started!
Motorhomes (Motorized RVs)
Without a doubt, motorhomes are often the first thing people think of when it comes to RVs.
One of the great things about a motorhome is that you can use them as a tow vehicle. Depending on the size and power of the motorhome you choose, you could tow a small vehicle, boat, ATV or trailer (that holds extra gear), an option you don’t necessarily have if you decide on a non-motorized RV.
There are three types of motorhomes that you need to know about: Class A, Class B and Class C.
Class A Motorhomes
Class A motorhomes are typically the largest RVs around. They have lots of room and vary in length from 20 to 45 feet. You can find them with gas or diesel engines (the later is often referred to as a diesel pusher).
One could live in a Class A motorhome year round, and many have winterization packages available. You’ll find that most of the newer Class A motorhomes have useful features such as a combination washer/dryer, full size refrigerator, central air conditioning and even a central vacuum. It’s literally a house on wheels!
Slide outs add room to any RV by sliding out from the vehicle, while parked, giving you more floor space and living room. There are often multiple slides on Class A motorhomes. Class A motorhomes can sleep up to eight people, depending on how they’re laid out.
Another advantage of the Class A motorhome is the amount of storage underneath the floor. This storage is accessible from the outside, so you can haul your recreational and camping gear.
Class B Motorhomes
A Class B motorhome is often referred to as a camper van, or sometimes a conversion van. They’re typically built on a van chassis, usually a chassis for a domestic van, but also can be built on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis.
These camper vans are often lengthened, widened and the roof is raised, giving you much more living space and room to stand up. You’ll often find Class B motorhomes with a full bathroom, cooking facilities, a lowered floor and room to sleep up to four people.
Some of the newer Class B motorhomes can actually get quite larger; up to 31 feet in length! They’re not always that large though, and can be as short as 16 feet.
Advantages of the Class B motorhome are that they’re not as tall as other RVs and they’re typically shorter length can save you some money if you’re travelling on a ferry. Also, you’ll generally find it easier to get around in cities and a smaller motorhome will usually be better on gas.
Class C Motorhomes
The Class C motorhome is quite distinctive, with the bunk over the cab of the motorhome.
With the lengths of the Class C ranging from 20 to 35 feet, you’re sure to find one that will suit your needs and they can sleep up to 8 people. The bunk over the cab is pretty handy, and if you don’t need the extra bed it can be used for storage or even for an entertainment system.
You’ll find that they have similar features to Class A motorhomes, like slide-outs, but a Class C is smaller and less spacious.
Trailers (Non-Motorized RVs)
Out on the roads you’ll see more travel trailers than any other type of RV and you’re sure to find a floor plan and type to suit you and your family.
Travel trailers differ from motorhomes in one major way – they have no motor! No matter if you have a car, SUV or truck, you will be able to find a travel trailer for your tow vehicle, whether it’s a micro trailer that’s 10 feet or a 40 fifth wheel that’s 40 feet.
A key thing is to make sure you get a travel trailer that is right for your tow vehicle. Check with your dealer to find out your vehicle’s tow limit and what you might be able to do to increase it. A proper hitch and brake light wiring will also be necessary.
One of the best things about a travel trailer is that once you find a place to camp, you can unhook it and use your tow vehicle to explore the area!
Many travel trailers can be winterized, so your outdoor fun can be year round.
There are 4 types of non-motorized towable RVs / travel trailers: travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers and tent trailers.
There are many different floor plan layout options and sizes of travel trailers, ranging from 10 feet on the small side, up to 35 feet.
When it comes to features, you’ll have many choices from slides to roof top patios! They can typically sleep up to 10 people, depending on trailer length. Some trailers have slide outs for added room, and there are others with roofs that can be lowered.
One thing you’ll appreciate about camping in a travel trailer is the protection it offers from the great outdoors. All it takes is a heavy rainstorm to get you thinking about ditching your tent for a dry and warm trailer!
Fifth Wheel Trailer
Fifth wheel trailers are one of the most distinctive types of RVs you’ll see out on the roads. You’ll definitely need a pickup truck to haul them, as the hitch is in the bed of the truck, which is where they get their name “fifth wheel.”
With lengths ranging from 20 to 40 feet, you can easily find the right size for you and your family.
There are a number of advantages to having a fifth wheel, which is why they are so popular. One of the main advantages is stability when driving, mainly due to the fifth wheel hitch’s placement over the rear wheels of the pickup truck.
The split-level on a fifth wheel also leads to interesting floor plans, with a bedroom most often being located over the hitch. This arrangement works especially well if you’re interested in a fifth wheel toy hauler, which we’ll discuss next.
By adding slide outs, one can add even more room to the already roomy fifth wheel, and all the usual features are available in these trailers.
Toy haulers are a subset of travel trailers and fifth wheels, and allow you to park almost any type of off-road vehicle in the back. They have a convenient drop down ramp so you can ride right in!
This class of RV is very popular in Alberta! Albertans love their ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, dirt bikes, etc. What better way to venture into the great outdoors than to bring our off-road vehicles in our trailer?
Toy haulers typically have the vehicle storage bay at the back of the trailer. This space is still usable though as beds, couches and tables can fold up against the walls, or lift up to allow vehicles to be parked inside.
They have all the same amenities available in any other travel trailer or fifth wheel, so you can enjoy all the same comforts after a fun day playing with your off-road vehicle.
A winter package is a popular option in toy haulers, particularly for those who’d like to park their snowmobile inside.
For many of us, tent trailers are the first RVs we ever set foot in. They’re lightweight and can sleep up to 8 people. Though they’re often small, sizes range from 15 to 23 feet long.
A small tent trailer (sometimes referred to as a pop-up) can be towed by almost any car, and tent trailers are ideal for those that are new to RVing. The compact size of most tent trailers mean they’re easy to squeeze into a small campground.
Tent trailers are simple to set up; all you have to do is to raise the hardtop roof and fold out the canvas-sided sleeping platforms. Tent trailer models often have a toilet and shower, air conditioning, refrigerator, stove, etc., and some even have a slide out to increase floor space.
Non-Towable RVs (Campers)
Truck campers are another distinctive RV and are designed to fit into the bed of a pickup truck. They range anywhere from 9 to 20 feet long, and will sleep up to four people, with two of the sleeping spots located in the bunk over the cab of the pickup.
One of the main advantages of truck campers is that your truck can still tow a trailer, boat, etc. If you’re a hunter, it might be easier to get deep into the woods without having to worry about a trailer.
All the usual amenities are available in a truck camper, from a full kitchen to showers and toilets; even slide outs!
Winterized versions are available as well, so you can be sure to be comfortable whether you’re out hunting, enjoying your snowmobile, ice fishing or winter hiking.
Park models aren’t your typical RV at all. They’re not designed to be moved often, and are typically located at holiday resorts.
You’ll have virtually everything you’d have in a regular home and they are often winterized. They also require a specialized tow vehicle, so you’re not going to be towing them everywhere you go!
Available in various lengths from 30 to 40 feet, and sleeping up to 10 people, park models are great for staying at long-term resorts where you’ll have the proper hookups.
Well, there you have it! Your official welcome to the great, wide world of Recreational Vehicles. We hope this helped you to understand a little more about the different types of RVs available, and which one might be right for you. If there’s one thing we know for sure, no matter which type of RV you end up choosing, we’re sure you’re going to have a heck of a lot of fun!