It does not matter if you are a veteran camper or brand new to the world of recreational vehicles; purchasing a new camper can be confusing. Campers and Campfires is creating a series of articles to assist our readers with the camper buying process.
In this first article, we are exploring the different types of campers. There is a lot of decision making when determining which type of RV best fits your needs. In future articles, we will explore topics such as floorplans, insurance, and financing.
There are seven basic types of campers, and each one has its unique advantages and disadvantages.
Class A motorhomes are typically the largest, nicest, and most expensive of all recreational vehicles. They are similar to a bus in design. Class A’s have a flat front end and are designed to provide luxury and space. The least expensive Class A motorhomes begin around $100,000 and can cost up to a million dollars.
Class A motorhomes are drivable, so you do not need to tow a vehicle. However, due to the large size of a Class A, you may want to tow a passenger vehicle for when you reach your destination. A typical Class A runs between 35 and 40 feet, and some are as long as 45 feet. These RVs are large and cumbersome to maneuver, making campsites limited. These RVs are also difficult to back-in to tight spots. If you tow a vehicle, you will need to unhook the tow vehicle before placing the RV in reverse, making pull-through spots your most desirable camping locations.
Class A motorhomes will generally have more storage than other recreational vehicles. Storage is always at a premium in RVs due to their limited size (Check out our article on storage saving ideas). Generous amenities may be available on a Class A that are not available on other types of campers. Class A’s have automatic leveling systems. Most newer Class A recreational vehicles have hookups for a washer and dryer and many have a dishwasher.
Class B recreational vehicles are also known as camper vans. Camper vans are usually the smallest of the drivable RVs and are much easier to maneuver. Class B’s will generally fit into almost any campsite and can be driven just about anywhere, eliminating the need to tow a passenger vehicle. A smaller RV means far less space inside the cabin than other camper types. Most camper vans will have a bed, shower, toilet, and sink. However, Class B’s do not include other luxuries. Often the bed doubles as a sofa, and there may be a small stovetop as well. Camper vans are great for couples who go on adventures. Class B’s often have limited usefulness for larger families.
Class C motorhomes are built on a truck chassis. They are drivable, but unlike a Class A, the front end resembles a truck. Class C’s are typically smaller than most Class A motorhomes. These recreational vehicles are available in lengths as small as 19 feet and as large as 35 feet. However, they usually run from 25 to 32 feet. Class C’s have numerous floorplans and amenities available. These RVs are drivable, but you may want to tow a passenger vehicle if you plan to explore much once you reach your destination. Since Class C’s are a little smaller than typical Class A’s, they are also more maneuverable.
Class C motorhomes offer a wide range of amenities, but not as many standard features as Class A’s. However, luxuries such as automatic leveling and washer dryer hookups are available on some models. Class C’s are generally less expensive than a Class A, many starting under $100,000.
We are often asked about the differences in Class A and Class C motorhomes. Class A’s are larger and typically have more luxuries. The flat front of a Class A lends itself to more room in the cabin. However, many people prefer Class C’s because they are usually more fuel-efficient. Brandi has always preferred a Class C to a Class A due to Class C’s having the safety of the hood or “crash box,” which will ultimately protect you better in a front impact collision.
Travel Trailers/Pull Behinds
Travel Trailers are often known as pull behinds or bumper pulls. These RVs are campers that attach to the bumper of your tow vehicle via a hitch (See our article on weight distribution hitches). A travel trailer is versatile and comes in a broad range of sizes. Travel Trailers are not drivable, so you must have a vehicle capable of towing the trailer. A half-ton pickup truck will pull many travel trailers. Most fifth wheels require at least a three-quarter-ton pickup to haul the rig safely from location to location.
A clear advantage of pull-behind recreational vehicles is that once you are at your destination, you can disconnect the camper from your truck. You have the convenience of your tow vehicle to roam and explore. Travel trailers can range anywhere from 10 to 40 feet in length. The smaller the camper, the easier it is to tow. Nevertheless, there are also fewer amenities in smaller RVs.
Smaller trailers can be towed by smaller vehicles, including SUVs and some cars. Most travel trailers range in size from 22 to 35 feet. There are numerous floorplans and configurations available, such as those with bunks or rear kitchens. You must assess your needs in determining what amenities you would like. Many travel trailers have outdoor kitchens as well as outdoor televisions.
Fifth wheels are campers that attach to a hitch located in the bed of your pickup (Check out our article comparing fifth wheel hitches). They have the same advantage as a travel trailer in that they can be disconnected from your tow vehicle once you arrive at your camping destination. Fifth wheels are generally more expensive and have more storage than their travel trailer counterparts. However, with fifth wheels, you lose the ability to carry much cargo in your truck bed. One advantage of fifth wheels is the livable area that extends over the bed of the truck.
Most fifth wheels are at least 25 feet; however, you can find some that are smaller. Larger fifth wheels are 40 to 45 feet in length. Despite their size, fifth wheels are easier to maneuver and to back up than a travel trailer.
The front portion of a fifth wheel sits up higher than a travel trailer. You have travel upstairs to access this area of the camper. Floorplans vary, but usually, the master bedroom is located in the upstairs portion of the fifth wheel, providing more privacy than a travel trailer.
Toy haulers resemble fifth wheel or travel trailer floorplans. However, they have a large empty room in the rear of the camper that is used to haul your toys, such as golf carts, motorcycles, or four-wheelers.
Due to the amount of space used to store your toys, the main living space and storage is reduced. However, the large rear room can be easily converted into a living space once you reach your destination and remove your toys from this area. Typically, there are two facing jackknife sofas that convert into a queen bed in the toy room. Another queen bed lowers from the ceiling, creating ample lodging space. Many toy haulers have an extra bathroom in this area, and the trailer ramp door often converts into a deck or patio.
Pop-up campers are compact, and take up minimal space. These campers are less expensive than other campers, making them very attractive to purchase. Pop-ups are light enough that small SUVs and some cars can tow them. Their compact size makes these RVs easy to maneuver, and they can fit into almost any campsite. Storing a pop-up is easy because they can usually fit into a standard-sized garage.
Since pop-ups are smaller, you do give up certain luxuries. However, most pop-up campers have at least one queen bed, and many have two beds. They also have a small kitchen sink and a stove. Other amenities are available and include a toilet, shower, small refrigerator, air conditioner, and heater.
There are many types of campers. After you narrow down your perfect RV type, the next step is to pick your floor plan (Check out our article on comparing RV floorplans).
Do you have thoughts on why one type of recreational vehicle is more advantageous than another? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment in the section below.