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RV 101: A Complete Beginner’s Guide To The Different Types Of RVs

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There are many different types of RVs on the market. And each type will have a wide range of different floorplans, sizes, and price tags. For someone new to the world of RVing, it can be extremely difficult and confusing to figure out the different types and which one will be the best fit for them.

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From motorhomes to pop-up campers and everything in the middle, we are going to take a close look at all the different types and classes of RVs. We will begin to peel back the layers of this proverbial onion layer by layer and by the end of this article, you will have a firm grasp on what makes each RV type different.

In addition to covering the different types and classes of RVs, we will also discuss what sets them apart from one another and how to easily spot the differences.

So, if you’re ready, grab a cup of joe or a tall glass of iced tea.

Let’s jump in…

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What Is An RV?

Before we get too deep into what the different types of RVs are, first let’s discuss what an RV actually is.

The term “RV” is a blanket term that is used to describe any form of recreational vehicle that has a living space or sleeping quarters.

Most people think of something that only retired people drive when they hear the term “RV”. They picture an older, overly tanned couple in a huge motorhome lumbering down the highway in tropical shirts, safari hats, and khaki shorts with black socks.

But that’s just not the case. An RV is anything from the huge Class A motorhomes, like the tropical shirt wearing guy is driving above, all the way down to the smallest of campers.

What Are The Two Main Types Of RVs?

RVs are available in two main types, or categories. Drivable (motorhome) and towable (travel trailer).

Motorhomes

RV Holding Tanks FI

As the name implies, motorhomes have an engine. Because the motor and living space are combined, this type of RV may be more comfortable for beginners that aren’t used to towing a trailer behind another vehicle. Plus, they are much easier to back into a campsite than their towable counterparts.

Motorhomes are divided into classes based on their size, chassis, and engine. More on that below.

Larger motorhomes, and some smaller models, will have all the amenities and conveniences of home, like residential appliances and fireplaces. Heck, some even come with high-end luxury features like heated floors, wood cabinetry, ceiling fans, and porcelain sinks and toilets. Because of their size and comfort, many full-time RVers choose this type of RV for their travels.

Towable RVs

Opus OP15 Camper

Towable RVs, often referred to as travel trailers or camper trailers, are hooked to a vehicle either at the rear bumper or in the middle of the truck bed (fifth wheel). These types of RVs are available in multiple sizes, lengths, and weights. The size of the towing vehicle needed will be solely dependent on the weight of the RV.

Since towable RVs are more popular and often more affordable than motorhomes, there are hundreds, if not thousands of floorplans to choose from. In fact, there is a towable RV on the market that will meet the needs of every RVing family.

What Are The Classes Of Motorhomes?

As I mentioned above, motorhomes are divided into classes. Each class is different, and each has its own unique characteristics.  The five classes of motorhomes are:

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Class B+
  • Class C
  • Super C

The shape of the motorhome is probably the easiest way to tell the difference between the classes.

For example, the Class A motorhomes are big, square, and look like a bus. If you’ve ever watched the classic movie “Christmas Vacation”, you might have noticed that Cousin Eddie’s RV, although unique, is a Class A.

Class B motorhomes, or campervans, are much smaller and resemble your typical Amazon delivery van or small passenger van.

The Class B+ motorhomes look very similar to their Class B counterparts, but they will be slightly larger and have an attached cab. Think of it as the big brother of the Class B, or the smaller brother of the Class C.

The Class C motorhome is right in the middle. It looks like a van in the front with a big box on the back. Its most noticeable feature is the bunk that hangs out over the cockpit of the RV.

A Super C motorhome is bigger and much more powerful than a Class C, thanks to the diesel engine. In addition to the larger size, a Super C RV will have more basement storage space, like the Class A motorhomes. In my opinion, the cab of the Super C looks just like a dump truck.

Now that you know how to tell the difference between the different types of motorhomes by looking at them, let’s take a deeper dive at the characteristics of each class.

Class A Motorhome

Berkshire Motorhome With Many Swoosh Decals

The Class A motorhome is the largest type of drivable RVs. They are available with either a gas-powered or a diesel-powered engine. The diesel-powered Class A motorhomes are often referred to as a “pusher”. They get this nickname because the diesel engine is located at the rear of the coach, so it essentially “pushes” the rig down the road.

These behemoth RVs are built on a heavy-duty commercial truck or bus chassis and range in lengths from around 25 feet up to around 45 feet and weigh as much as 20,000 pounds.

The spacious interiors offer plenty of room for everyday living and can sleep as many as 10 people, depending on the floorplan. Many Class A RVs floorplans even have a separate master bedroom with a king-sized bed and ensuite bathroom.

The kitchens are typically decked out with residential appliances and, depending on the floorplan, can have other luxuries like a dishwasher, entertainment system, fireplace, and washer and dryer for doing laundry on the road.

As far as storage in concerned, Class A motorhomes far exceed the other types of RVs. Since the floor of the rig is built above the chassis, there is more than enough basement storage for things like folding chairs, portable grills, or anything else you need to bring on the road.

If all of this sounds like the RV of your dreams, you might want to hold your breath. Prices for these rigs start out just above $100,000 and go up from there. For the more luxurious, higher-end models, you can expect to pay upwards of $250,000 up to over $1 million.

And if you ever hit the lotto jackpot and want to throw some cash around, you might be interested in the Marchi EleMMent Palazzo. It’ll run you a cool $3 million bucks, but you will be showing up to the campground like a rockstar.

Class B Campervan

Class B Campervan

Class B RVs, or campervans, are the smallest class of motorhomes. They are typically built on a standard van chassis and have an average length of 16 to 21 feet. In addition, Class B motorhomes have an average weight between 6,000 and 11,000 pounds, making them one of the most versatile RVs on the market.

Unlike the other classes of motorhomes, Class B RVs are extremely easy to drive. Their compact size appeals to beginners, retired couples, and those looking for a minimalist RVing experience.

You won’t find many of the luxury amenities of the larger motorhomes and towable campers, but these compact units will offer a small galley kitchen, minimal sleeping space, and a small bathroom.

When I say “small bathroom”, what I mean is the toilet, shower, and sink are all combined into one very small room with the drain in the middle of the floor.

The kitchens are compact but they offer everything you need to cook meals while you’re traveling. You will often find a small cooktop, a kitchen sink, a compact fridge, and a microwave.

When it comes to price, Class B motorhomes typically cost upwards of $100,000, with an average price range of $80,000 to $150,000.

Class B+ RV

Class B+ RV

A Class B+ RV is slightly larger than a Class B. Think of it as the chubby sibling.

It has the same cockpit and van chassis of the slightly smaller Class B, but they are built with a cut-away or box to increase the living space. This design not only increases the overall living space, but it also increases the storage space throughout the rig.

Like the Class B, these coaches are compact making it much easier to navigate through crowded city streets. In addition, the Class B+ will fit into most average sized parking spaces.

They feature all of the same amenities as the Class B, like fully equipped kitchens and a bathroom, but the B+ may offer additional features like a slide-out.

One notable difference between the Class B and B+ is the extension over the cockpit. This area is typically used for additional storage space or an entertainment center.

As far as price, these rigs will cost as little as $100,000 and as much as $300,000, depending on brand and luxury amenities.

Class C Motorhome

Drivable Types Of RVs

The Class C motorhome falls right in the middle of a Class A and a Class B. They are typically smaller and easier to drive than a Class A, but are larger than the compact Class B.

They are often more affordable than the other types of motorhomes which makes them a popular choice for families.

The most recognizable feature of the Class C motorhome is the additional bunk that hangs out over the driver’s cockpit.

This type of motorhome is built on a bare bones commercial van chassis. The manufacturer then adds the living quarters which includes kitchen, bathroom, dinette, and closets to the rear of the frame.

Depending on the floorplan, these motorhomes offer many of the same amenities you would find in a traditional home, like residential appliances, full-sized bathroom, and King-sized beds.

Additionally, Class C RVs are available in gas or diesel models and range in size from 20 feet to 35 feet.

As far as price, you can expect to pay anywhere from around $60,000 all the way to a few hundred thousand bucks.

Super C RV

Super C Types Of RVs

The final class of motorhome on our list is the Super C. Think of the Super C as the robust, larger cousin of the typical Class C motorhome discussed above.

These coaches are built on a heavy-duty truck chassis like Freightliner or International and feature a sturdy built and substantial towing capacities, making them suitable for towing a toad or a trailer.

The Super C motorhome typically features a powerful diesel engine, the same cab-over design as the Class C, and ample storage space both inside and outside of the rig.

On the inside, these motorhomes offer spacious living space and often feature multiple slide-outs to further increase the living space.

The kitchens are equipped with residential appliances, high-end fixtures, and ample cabinet storage.

As far as pricing, you can expect to pay as much as $500,000, however, you can often find used models that are much more affordable.

What Are The Different Types Of Towable RVs?

Now that we’ve covered the drivable types of RVs, let’s take a closer look at the towable models. One thing you will find is the towable RVs are much more affordable than the motorhomes, with many more options to choose from.

The different types of towable trailers are:

  • Travel Trailer
  • Fifth Wheel Trailer
  • Toy Hauler
  • Hybrid Travel Trailer
  • Destination Trailer
  • Teardrop Camper
  • Pop-Up Camper
  • Off-Road Camper
  • Truck Bed Camper

Travel Trailer

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Travel trailers are towable RVs that are available in a wide variety of sizes and floorplans, making them one of the most popular types of RVs on the road.

Unlike fifth wheel trailers, travel trailers are hitched to a vehicle’s rear bumper of receiver hitch, making them towable by a wide range of vehicles, from SUVs to trucks.

Travel trailers will accommodate everyone from solo travelers to larger families, depending on the size. In fact, some models offer opposing slide-outs that maximize the interior living space for maximum comfort.

These RVs typically include multiple sleeping areas, a kitchen, dining space, and a small bathroom. However, some higher-end models will feature residential appliances, entertainment centers, fireplaces, and even outdoor kitchens.

One of the most beneficial aspects of travel trailers is their affordability versus a motorhome, which allows individuals to get into the RV lifestyle without a substantial investment. In fact, the average price of a travel trailer is between $20,000 and $50,000. Of course, brand, size, and amenities will affect the final cost.

Fifth Wheel Trailer

Keystone Avalanche 390DS Two Bedroom Fifth Wheel Camper

A fifth wheel trailer is another popular type of RV that you will find at most campgrounds. These RVs are larger and typically more luxurious than the travel trailer which also makes them more expensive. In addition, you will need a larger truck than you would for other types of towable RVs.

This type of RV is distinct in its design, allowing it to be hitched to the bed of a pickup using a “gooseneck” design and a specialized hitch, instead of being hitched to the bumper.

By connecting to the bed of a truck above the rear axle, fifth wheels are more stable and easier to maneuver than a traditional travel trailer.

The bi-level floorplans of fifth wheels offer spacious interiors, often with multiple or opposing slide-outs making them perfect for large families. Keep in mind, however, that while many fifth wheels will accommodate up to 10 or more people, your tow vehicle will not.

These RVs typically offer full-sized kitchens with residential appliances, multiple sleeping options, and ample storage space.

Overall, fifth wheel RVs blend functionality with comfort, making them an enticing option for those seeking a home-like experience on the road.

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Toy Hauler

Forest River Cherokee Wolf Pack 315PACK12 Toy Hauler

Toy hauler RVs get their name because of the “garage” space at the rear of the rig. This type of RV is available in a bumper pull or fifth wheel configuration and is an ideal choice for those wanting to carry their “toys” on the road.

Some toy hauler manufacturers even offer small gas tanks near the garage for fueling up things like motorcycles, ATVs, and other gas-powered vehicles.

Like the other types of towable RVs listed above, these RVs are available in a variety of lengths and floorplans. What I find to be interesting is the fact that the garage door on some toy haulers will double as a patio. So, after a long day of playing, you can relax on the patio with a “cold drink”.

Hybrid Travel Tailer

Hybrid Travel Trailer

As the name implies, a hybrid travel trailer is a combination of two types or RVs, a traditional travel trailer and a pop-up camper.

On the outside, a hybrid camper resembles a conventional travel trailer, which makes it easy to tow with a variety of vehicles. What sets it apart is the fold-out sections that offer a more tent-like area for sleeping. The tent sections offer an open and airy space for those that prefer to be closer to nature, without the hassle of sleeping on the ground.

Hybrid travel trailers typically feature a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a dinette. In addition, this type of RV also offers other amenities like an air conditioner, heating system, and entertainment systems.

The average price for a hybrid travel trailer is between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on manufacturer and floorplan.

Destination Trailer

Destination Travel Trailer

Unlike traditional RVs, destination trailers are designed for extended stays at a specific location, making them an ideal choice for seasonal camping.

This type of RV will typically feature spacious and residential-style interiors that resemble small apartments on wheels, rather than a typical RV setup. In fact, destination trailers will have features like full-sized kitchens, residential appliances, multiple bedrooms, and large living areas.

These trailers are designed with ultimate comfort in mind. In addition to the amenities listed above, destination trailers also offer other comforts of a traditional home like high ceilings and numerous windows to create an open, airy feel.

What sets these types of RVs apart is their lack of mobility. While they are towable, their primary purpose is to be parked semi-permanently at a chosen site. And to get them to their destination it usually requires a wide-load commercial carrier or a one-ton pickup to transport them.

These trailers are an ideal choice for those seeking the comforts of a vacation home with the flexibility to change their scenery whenever the mood strikes.

Exterior features often include spacious decks and awnings, providing additional outdoor living space. Some models even come with the option for custom additions like screened in porches, turning the RV into a personal retreat.

Factors that will affect the overall price of these units include floorplans, amenities, and available options. However, the average price range for destination trailers is between $30,000 to $75,000.

Teardrop Camper

NuCamp TAB 320 S

Teardrop campers are a compact solution for those seeking a minimalist outdoor experience. They get their name from their aerodynamic teardrop shape. This iconic design also makes them extremely easy to tow and maneuver on the road. In addition, these campers can typically be stored in the driveway of most homes, saving tons of money on storage fees.

Despite their compact size, many teardrop campers offer some amenities you might find in a larger travel trailer. These features include bathrooms, solar packages, and small kitchenettes, which are typically located in the rear of the camper.

This type of RV is geared towards those who prioritize simplicity and mobility. They are an excellent option for solo travelers, beginners, and couples. In addition, this type of RV is a popular choice for adventure enthusiasts who like to hit the campgrounds on the weekends or to use as a “base camp” for other activities like hiking.

The average price for a teardrop camper will vary between $5,000 to more than $20,000. Of course, the overall price will be based on manufacturer, amenities, and selected options.

Pop-Up Camper

Forest River Rockwood R16OTG

A pop-up camper, also known as a tent camper or fold down camper, is a type of RV that offers a unique blend of convenience and outdoor experiences.

When traveling, the camper folds down onto itself, creating a compact and streamlined shape. This design makes these campers extremely easy to tow and maneuver on the road.

When you arrive at the campsite, you unlock the camper and pop it up, hence the name.

The process typically involves raising the roof and extending the side walls, which can hard sided or a screened canvas, depending on model.

This type of RV is usually equipped with sleeping areas, a small kitchenette, storage space, and sometimes a dinette or seating area. Some models even offer small bathrooms and slide-outs.

The main benefits of pop-up campers are their compact and lightweight construction, which makes them not only easy to tow, but also easy to store. In addition, these RVs are much more affordable than a larger towable RV or motorhome.

In fact, the average price of a pop-up camper is as low as $5,000 up to around $20,000.

Off-Road Camper

OP Lite Opus Camper

Off-road campers are rugged RVs that are designed to take on challenging terrains while providing a comfortable living space for outdoor enthusiasts. The rugged design, heavy-duty tires, and beefed-up suspension of this type of RV provides the freedom to go wherever your four-wheel drive vehicle can take you.

With options weighing less than 2,000 pounds, these lightweight campers are a perfect pairing to many Jeeps. In addition, these campers are an ideal choice for those would rather forge than own paths, rather than camp at a traditional campground.

On the inside, some off-road campers typically include either a small kitchenette on the inside, or a convenient pull-out kitchen outside. Some models, like TAXA or Opus Campers, even offer a pop-up section providing additional headroom and living space.

Since these campers cater to self-sufficiency, they are often equipped with solar panels, water storage tanks, and storage options for additional gear.

Truck Bed Camper

Truck Bed Camper

Truck bed campers are a versatile and practical option for those who want the freedom of a pickup truck combined with a compact and convenient living space.

This type of RV is designed to fit securely in the bed of a pickup, transforming it into a fully functional, self-contained living area.

Truck bed campers typically feature a lightweight construction to minimize the impact on the truck’s payload capacity. However, always check the payload capacity of the truck you will be mounting it on to ensure you are below the recommended weight.

The compact interiors of these campers are organized to take advantage of every single square inch of available space. You will find a sleeping area, a small kitchenette (depending on model), and sometimes a small bathroom. In addition, some models may offer a dinette that can be used during the day and converts into a bed for sleeping.

One key advantage of this type of RV is the mobility they offer. Truck bed campers allow for spontaneous trips while providing easy maneuverability.

The price of truck campers, like any other RV, will vary widely depending on manufacturer, floorplan, and amenities. However, for the most basic options, you can expect to pay between $10,000 to $50,000.

Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer the spaciousness of a Class A motorhome or the compact convenience of a pop-up camper, it’s easy to see there is an RV for everyone. Each type has its own characteristics, charm, and functionality that caters to everyone’s unique preferences and travel styles.

As you begin your RV journey, keep in mind that the RV lifestyle isn’t just about the destination, it’s also about making everlasting memories along the way.

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Last modified: March 28, 2024
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