Types of RVs: Which is the Best One For You

RVs come in all shapes and sizes and for anyone newly interested in them, it can be confusing to wade through the dizzying number of RVs out there. From motorhomes to toy haulers, travel trailers and more, we’re going to discuss the types of RVs available in the market today and what’s the best one for you.

Motorized RVs

Motorized RVs have an engine and are driven. The living quarters and driver’s area are one convenient unit and either is accessible through the other.

Class A Motorhomes 


These are the largest types of RVs in general, motorized or otherwise. Class A motorhomes typically range from 21 to 40 feet in length. They’re easy to identify because these types of RVs usually look like buses. In fact, most are converted buses.

Luxury and Comfort

Class A motorhomes are also the most luxurious and roomiest of all RVs. They’re usually equipped with expensive gadgets and some even have two-level floor plans. They also come in two subtypes, the Diesel and Gas Class A Motorhomes.

Two Subtypes

Diesel pushers have a large diesel engine at the rear of the vehicle, while Class A Gas Motorhomes are powered by, you guessed it, gas.  These engines are more durable, last longer and are quieter but this also makes Class A Deisel Motorhomes cost more. Class A Motorhomes are the ultimate in RV luxuries with diesel pushers, a tad even more.

The RV Lifestyle

Class A Motorhomes are the number one choice for long-haul adventures and permanent or long-term RV living. Not only can these homes on wheels be as big as a house, they are equipped with your usual home appliances too, albeit, some in a smaller scale. Class A Motorhomes come with fully-equipped kitchen appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, and ovens, as well as washing machines, dryers, and other high-end electronics. They also have decadent master bedrooms and posh living rooms, entertainment centers, and multiple other amenities. They also have many slideouts and compartments for added space.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • the ultimate in RV luxury
  • comforts, appliances, and furniture like home
  • long-term RV living
  • numerous available floor plans
  • large living spaces
  • plenty of storage space

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • the most expensive of RVs
  • the costly operation, maintenance, and insurance
  • inability to access narrower roads
  • intimidating drives
  • not ideal for day trips



Class B Motorhomes / Camper Vans / B-Vans 


The smallest type of RV motorhomes are the Class B Motorhomes, also commonly known as camper vans or B-vans. They look like cargo vans and drive like a family van. They are typically built on a van chassis and range from 16 to 25 feet in length.

Nimble and Nifty

These nimble little machines are versatile and easy to drive. Because they are the smallest classification of motorized RVs, manufacturers have to be clever with installing amenities and furniture to fit all the essentials. The huge master’s bedrooms on class A motorhomes is replaced by a fold-away bed that can be easily converted into seats for a living/dining nook in a class B.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • day and weekend trips
  • being able to drive in smaller roads
  • easily-driveable units
  • affordable purchase and maintenance costs
  • quick campsite set-ups

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • limited and basic amenities
  • small space
  • limited sleeping capacity

Class C Motorhomes / Mini Motorhomes


Despite being nicknamed as mini motorhomes, Class C motorhomes are actually mid-sized RVs. While a Class A looks like a bus and a Class B usually looks like a cargo van, Class C’s looks like moving trucks. They are typically built on a truck chassis and range from 20 to 33 feet in length.

The Perfect Medium

Class C Motorhomes are bigger than Class Bs but smaller than Class As. The beauty of this perfect medium size is that it has many of the luxury items found in Class As–the kitchens, bedrooms, and extra compartments–albeit in a smaller size, and all the while still as maneuverable and easily-driveable as a Class B. Plus, the extra sleeping or storage space above the driver’s cab is a nice bonus.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • to reach narrower roads where Class As won’t fit
  • have amenities and appliances that won’t fit in a Class Bs
  • numerous available floor plans
  • family-sized units

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • a bit of a challenge when driving
  • still more expensive to purchase and maintain than Class Bs
  • some luxury items will not be available


Towable RVs

Towable types of RVs provide a certain kind of freedom by giving owners the option to travel with an attached home unit to their vehicle but the ability to detach their trailer if they wish to explore an area.

Travel Trailer / Conventional Trailers


These are the most common type of RV trailers and are frequently used by couples with friends and families for camping on weekends, vacationing or even full-time traveling. The hitch point of travel trailers is located down low, with a bumper hitch or a frame hitch. They’re so light that they can be towed by a car, SUV or truck. They can also easily fit in most campsites.

A Sea of Options

Travel trailers or conventional trailers come with a wide range of floor plans, weights, and sizes, with affordable home-like amenities and usually range from 12 to even 40! feet in length. Most come with full kitchens, bathrooms, and gray and black water tanks, while some come with outdoor kitchens and can sleep a lot of people. There’s always a travel trailer out there that can reasonably accommodate all your needs.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • plenty of floor plan options
  • various weights and lengths available
  • more affordable than motorized RVs
  • an easy fit in most campsites
  • can be towed by many varieties of vehicles

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • having to tow a trailer
  • tail swing
  • a bit of difficulty maneuvering in restricted roads
  • almost no driving in reverse

Teardrop Campers / Trailers


Their distinct ‘teardrop’ shape makes Teardrop Campers easily recognizable. Technically, they are a subcategory of travel trailers but with their unique shape and tiny size, they have become a type of their own. They are popular for weekend vacationers or solo RVers who need nothing but the bare necessities.

Small and Simple

Compact, lightweight and easy to tow, most vehicles can pull a teardrop camper. For such a small RV, there are surprisingly plenty of floor plan options available. Some very basic teardrop trailers are used as bedrooms only, while some are outfitted with tiny kitchen nooks, convertible beds, swivel toilets, and so on.

Vintage Chic

Fans of teardrop trailers love their vintage look and would often outfit their tiny campers with vintage, retro-style fabrics, trimmings and decoration. They also have gatherings to show off their cleverly designed teardrop campers.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • day and weekend trips
  • a compact and lightweight trailer
  • a unique design
  • easy fit in campsites
  • can be towed by just about any size vehicle
  • affordable purchase and maintenance costs

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • very basic amenities
  • tiny living and storage space
  • limited sleeping capacity
  • uncomfortable for taller people

Fifth-Wheel Trailers


Fifth-Wheel Trailers are big towable RVs that are extremely similar in many ways to the conventional travel trailer. The biggest difference is that fifth-wheels have a gooseneck connector which allows it to feature a raised front section, providing more living or storage space. They are also usually larger than conventional travel trailers. Some even have two-level floor plans.

Simpler to Tow

Because of the gooseneck connector, fifth-wheel trailers require a pickup truck with an open or flatbed as a towing vehicle. A gooseneck rig is also much simpler to tow because there is more leverage from the center of the vehicle. This same set up also has a stronger connection and is more maneuverable.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • tons of space
  • a better towing connection
  • bigger and easier to maneuver
  • an extra living area in the overhang
  • plenty of floor plan options

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • limited towing vehicle options
  • small campsites can’t accommodate the bigger size

Toy Haulers and Horse Trailers


Toy haulers or sport utility RV trailers are often towable RVs that combine travel trailers with sports equipment utility vehicles. They double up as transport trailers, usually with spacious extra compartments, for hauling various sports tools, gears, and equipment. Many even have a built-in garage with custom-built heavy-duty doors that double as ramps for loading sports vehicles. Horse trailers are the same thing but with a horse as cargo. 

These types of RVs can be motorized or be converted travel trailers, although converted fifth-wheel trailers are more common and much more convenient.

For Sporty Outdoor Enthusiasts

Toy haulers and horse trailers are perfect for sporty outdoor enthusiasts who like their comfortable camping experience with a dose of active sports or vice versa. These RVs can be outfitted with all the necessary amenities for comfortable, even luxurious, RV living. But they are built to have plenty of space so one can travel with ATVs, jet skis, surfboards, motorcycles, horses, golf carts, snowmobiles, small boats, etc.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • dual-purpose RVs
  • traveling with your sports equipment
  • lots of customization option

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • smaller living space, depending on floor plan
  • possible close proximity to equipment and fumes
  • extra toys/passenger make the trailer heavier

Pop-Up Campers / Folding Camping Trailers


Pop-Up Campers are some of the most compact, lightweight and affordable types of RVs. They are built on a hard base with collapsible fabric walls. Tent enthusiasts will feel especially at home beneath the canvas.

Easy Camping and Storage

These folding camper trailers are easy to maneuver and can be towed by almost all types of vehicles. They also fit into any campsite and maximizes any space available.

Because they are extremely compact when folded, pop-up campers can simply be stored in the garage after drying.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • extremely affordable campers
  • lightweight and can be pulled by just about any vehicle
  • less complicated to maneuver because it’s so light
  • can be stored in the garage

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • long setup and dismantling times
  • fabric sides
  • limited storage

Truck Campers / Pickup Campers


Neither motorized nor towable, truck campers are an interesting type of RVs. The unit itself is loaded on the bed of a mid-sized or full-sized pickup truck. This way, you can easily turn your truck into a camper and dismount it when you are not camping.

Most Versatile Campers

Because the units are simply loaded in a truck, these campers handle no differently and can go wherever a pickup truck can go. They can camp wherever a truck can be parked and can also easily boondock off-road. Depending on the size of the truck, you’ll also have the ability to tow another trailer or vehicle.

This RV is for you if you like:

  • no extra set of tires to take care of
  • camping anywhere a truck can take you
  • carrying your detachable living space instead of towing
  • affordable purchase and maintenance costs

It may not be for you if you don’t like:

  • limited storage and living space
  • basic amenities

How to Choose Your RV

Now that you know what types of RVs are available out there, you’re ready for the second part: How to Choose Your RV. 

Expectations

The first order of business is determining your desired camping experience and/or living arrangement. Do you like things simple or do you want all the bells and whistles? Would you prefer to feel at home or are you fine with winging it? Can you survive without a big kitchen or does a simple banana and granola bar breakfast sound good enough? There are all sorts of RV types that can cater to the camping experience you expect, want or can afford to have. 

Some people’s motto is “go big or go home”, some are convinced that “there is luxury in simplicity” while others like a comfortable middle ground.


Budget

After everything’s been said and done, your budget will ultimately have the final say. So we’ll tackle this factor fairly early before anyone can get too excited. 

Motorhomes

Consider that large motorhomes like a Class A diesel pushers or gas motorhomes can be enormously pricey. With their own engines, luxurious amenities, hefty housing, and most likely required special driver’s license, you’re looking at around $60K – $500K in USD.

Class B motorhomes cost around $60K – $120K, while Class C’s are $40K – $200K. As you can see, there’s still a huge range in price, depending on a lot of factors that come into play, like size, floorplan, brand, amenities and the like.

Big Towables

On the other hand, travel trailers can be had at a fraction of the cost at just $5K – $90K, provided that you already have an appropriate towing vehicle.

With a Fifth Wheel trailer, you are looking at around $20 – $160K. Toy Haulers cost as much, more or less, depending on customizations and features.

Budget Towables

The smaller, most affordable RVs like the teardrop trailer or pop up camper starts at about $5K to around $20K. Truck campers start at around $5K too but can cost to up to $50K.

Whatever your expectations, this RV is most likely a luxury purchase for you as it is for most people. Consider this when thinking of adding a new monthly payment plan to the overall budget.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go back to your camping expectations and other factors:

Where you camp

Do you wish to visit big national parks or stay on the beaches? Do you plan on boondocking somewhere in the wilderness or primarily visiting the big cities and luxurious RV parks? Knowing what types of places you’ll be mostly camping in is a big factor in choosing what types of RV is best.

Smaller RVs

If you plan on exploring the great outdoors and wish to stay in national or state parks, you’ll be better off with the medium to small-sized rigs. A 32-feet RV or less is ideal. With an even smaller unit, you’ll be able to go and park virtually anywhere.

Bigger RVs

If you’re more into the RV resorts and parks thing with their spacious parking spots and full amenities, then the bigger motorhomes will be more to your liking.


Who you’ll be camping/traveling with

You’re probably not going to enjoy a holiday as much if you’re living in a cramped RV, especially if RVing for an extended period. 

If you’re a solo traveler, then a teardrop trailer or campervan will have plenty of space. A couple will likely find this cushy space comfortable too. But the game changes real quick if traveling with family, especially with little kids and pets. Living in a campervan with a family of 4 (plus 2 indoor cats) just won’t work for more than a weekend trip.

Here’s a size chart for easy comparison:

Class A Motorhome – sleeps up to 12

Class C Motorhome – sleeps up to 7

Class B Motorhome – sleeps 2 – 4

Fifth-Wheel Trailer – sleeps up to 10

Travel Trailer – sleeps up to 8

Toy Haulers – sleeps up to 8

Pop-Up Camper – sleeps up to 7

Truck Camper – sleeps 2 – 4

Teardrop Camper – sleeps 1 – 2


How long you’ll be traveling for

We’ve mentioned that a cramped RV will not add to your enjoyment, especially if traveling full-time. So get the biggest RV you can afford, right? No big deal. However, there are also other considerations such as where you’ll be parking every night, how often you’ll be moving from place to place and what roads you’ll be taking.

Staying for months in an RV park presents little problem for parking space but if you plan to be on the road for quite some time and staying in different places every few weeks or so, finding a parking space with a big rig can get difficult and tiresome.

Happy Medium

Smaller RVs mean easier parking but tighter living, while big RVs mean easier living but tighter parking. It can get tricky but in the end, it’s better to find the perfect size for where you are right now and figure the rest out as you go along. Finding a happy medium is your best bet. 


Motorized vs. Towable

Here, we’ve summarized the long and short of Motorized vs. Towable RVs.

Motorized – The all-in-one aspect is the biggest advantage of motorized RVs. Passengers have full access to the whole RV so you can visit the bathroom, get some food or change even when on the road. 

Towable – You’ll have to pull-over when you need access to the trailer for bathroom breaks and the like.

Motorized – Motorized RVs are generally more expensive than their towable counterparts.

Towable – They’re affordability and flexibility are the biggest advantage of towable RVs. 

Motorized – Ready to go as soon as you’re up.

Towable – Has to be hitched to the towing vehicle.

Motorized – Extremely low ground clearance and can’t use a 4×4.

Towable – High ground clearance and depending on the tow vehicle, 4×4 capability.


Buying Used vs. Brand New

Most won’t really know if they’ll have the luxury of buying new until they’ve determined the RV they want so we’ve saved this option for last. 

If the budget is a tad short, you can always consider buying used. It’s even the best option, according to some.

Buying Used: Save lots of money with a broken-in rig.

Brand New: Pay top-dollar for that new coach feel and scent, plus warranty. 


Whew, RVs really do come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. Now that you have the different types of RVs down pat, what’s your favorite and what type do you think suits your needs best? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

 

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