RV General

Types of Recreational Vehicles

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Are you ready to take the plunge into the world of Recreational Vehicles, and see the country? There are so many types of Recreational Vehicles on the market now, you can find the perfect fit for you if you know what you want, need and can afford. The two major types of Recreational Vehicles are towables and motorized.

Towables Recreational Vehicles

Towables are any type of RV that doesn’t move on its own. Another vehicle must tow it. What tow vehicle you purchase will depend upon the type of towable you choose, its size, weight and trailer hitch. If you already have a tow vehicle, you will have to choose something that your tow vehicle will have no problem pulling up hills. That being said, there are still many choices out there, no matter what you want to pull with.

These are the most common types of towables on the market today. I am listing them, generally, from least expensive, minimal amenities and smallest, to the biggest and most luxurious.

Tent Trailers, Folding Trailers or “Pop Ups”

These are among the least expensive and smallest of towables. The walls are made either of sturdy canvas or of composite walls that fold down when not in use. These units are good for occasional trips and is a step up from tent camping. While these trailers have some of the comforts of home to make camping more comfortable, most have the bare minimum in the way of bathrooms and kitchens. The upside? They are the lightest, making them easy to pull and manoeuvre, and much easier to store, because of the low profile when closed.

In addition, there are a bigger range of vehicles that can pull tent trailers and the like. Trucks and SUVs, of course can pull these lightweight trailers, but some minivans, station wagons and even certain sedans.

Drawbacks for many people are the minimal kitchen and bathroom conveniences, or the lack of them entirely. Structurally, tent trailers are prone to wear and tear. The canvas can rip or fray and composite joints can weaken and develop leaks. Very little storage compartments for gear. You will need to store most of your belongings in your tow vehicle.

Teardrops Trailers (14-23 ft)

These charming trailers have been around for a long time. You can buy original, refurbished or modern reproductions. Teardrops have that nostalgic look of the 50’s and have a strong following. They have even inspired clubs and have become a social lifestyle with “Teardrop Rallies” across the country. Teardrops can also be pulled with the same variety of vehicles as tent trailers. Even certain motorcycles can pull them! Storage is also an issue in these trailers.

Travel trailers (18-35 ft)

Travel trailers are portable containers that contain all the comforts of home. They range from 18 to 35 ft. long. They can be simple or filled with every upgrade imaginable. Most will have small kitchens, bathrooms, and sleeping for four or more people, water supplies and propane stoves and furnaces. Slide-outs are available with some models. These trailers can also be pulled by multiple types of vehicles.

All of the towables listed above connect using a standard ball hitch receiver. Tow vehicle size should correspond with the weight you are towing. Usually, the towables above are easily pulled with multiple types of vehicles, as well. You just need to make sure you have enough power for your load/weight.

Fifth Wheels or “Gooseneck” Trailers (18-40 ft)

These are among the largest recreational trailers on the road. They range from 18 to 40 ft. long. They are roomy and comfortable for vacationers or a full-timer. King size beds and kitchen islands and full-size appliances, including washer/dryers are not uncommon. Newer models have double, triple or quad slides, making plenty of living space and storage space. Recliners and hide-a-bed couches are standard furnishings.

Many have full-size bathrooms with tubs and full-size showers, as well as full-size residential refrigerators and stoves. Some even have dishwashers for your convenience. These larger trailers require a special fifth Wheel hitch, which is installed into the bed of a truck. This gives more stability when riding down the road. ¾ Ton Diesels will pull anything with two axles. One-ton trucks are necessary for three axle fifth Wheels, because of the extra weight involved.

Horse trailers with Living Quarters these RVs are available in lots of sizes as well. For the horse enthusiast, you have the ability to travel with your equine buddies and still be comfortable for overnight trips. Sleeping quarters may be limited to allow space for the horse trailer. Sizes depend on the number of horses and people that will be traveling. Usually, there is room for feed and tack, as well.

Toy haulers (20-40 ft)

These RVs are the type of travel trailers mainly for outdoor motor sports. They are similar to horse trailers with living quarters. The big difference? Instead of hauling your horses, you can bring your toys, i.e. motorcycles, quads, Razors, Rhinos, dune buggies, jet skis, miniatures planes or cars, drones and more! These also come in varying lengths and sizes. Living areas can be small to make more room in the garage. Some people may be sensitive to fumes and odors coming from the “toys”.

Toy Haulers can be used to haul any big toy, however. Kayaks, Surf Boards, and Boogie Boards, to name a few hobbies with large-sized non-motorize “toys”.

Motorized Recreational Vehicles

Motorized Units are RVs that can move down the road propelled by their own motor. There are several classes of motorized RVs:

  • Class A Motorhomes (Gasoline and Diesel)
  • Class Bs and B+s (Van Conversions)
  • Class C and C+ Mini Homes or Mini Motorhomes

Just like towables, each class of Motorhomes has its own pros and cons. Class A Motorhomes are available in both gasoline and diesel models. They are the largest RVs and the most expensive. For full-time RVers, Class As are the preferred coaches, based on size and amenities. Class A Motorhomes have every imaginable upgrade and option. Roomy interiors and all the comforts of home at your fingertips. Most have plenty of storage inside and in basement compartments that open from the outside of the coach. Single, double, triple and quad slide outs – even 5 slides are available, giving you even more interior room once you park. Most have residential size appliances, full-size bathrooms, satellite TV and surround speakers and LED lighting inside. Outside compartments contain more entertainment equipment for outside entertaining under your automatic awnings. High end furnishing and finishes are all here! There are so many pros, but wait–there are also things to consider. Class A’s are the biggest challenge to drive and maneuver, have a more difficult camp set-up, and are the most complicated and expensive to repair and insure. In addition, excursions and errands can be a hassle if you don’t pull another vehicle behind you.

Class A Motorhomes – Gas (22-37 ft)

Gasoline Class A motorhomes are the smaller and less expensive Class As. The chassis and engine on gas coaches are mainly Ford, and feature hydraulic brakes and spring suspension. The engines are in front, which is called a “puller.” However, with the engine being between the front wheels, it decreases the turning radius. Gasoline Class As have torque less than 500 ft. lbs.

Gas coaches are less expensive to buy new, with initial costs ranging from $60,000 to $200,000. They are usually less costly to maintain and repair as well.

Class A Motorhomes – Diesel (32-45 ft)

These can be anything from a Class A Motorhome, to Custom Tour Buses and even Custom Business RVs. Diesel motors and transmissions are almost bullet-proof. Your diesel Class A should be able to handle over 500,000 miles before you would need to be concerned about performance. Diesels put out 2-3 times more torque than a gas Class A. The average diesel has an output of 1000 ft. lbs. of torque. The engine is in the back of the coach, which is why they call it a diesel “pusher”. These motorhomes are more stable than gasoline Class As. The longer wheelbase gives it more stability in the wind than a gas coach. Diesels feature air-ride suspension and air brakes. They have a better turning radius that gasoline coaches. Diesels are the most expensive of the RVs and have almost every convenience and upgrade you could get in a new, conventional residence. Diesels cost more and are worth it. They range in price from around $150,000 to over $2 million for custom buses.

Class B – Van Conversions (17-23 ft)

“Camper Vans”, as they are often called, Class Bs are the smallest of the motorhomes. Perfect for one or two people, they would be a challenge for bigger families. They are built on standard chassis, and often feature raised roofs to make it easier to walk around. These RVs are usually self-contained units that provide a small refrigerator, sink, hot water, shower, toilets, climate control (A/C and Furnace) and somewhere comfortable to sleep. They are the easiest of the RVs to drive and maneuver; easy camp set up/breakdown; less expensive to fuel and fix; and handy for errands or excursions. However, size is the sacrifice. If you don’t like tight spaces, this one’s not for you. Seating often converts to bed.

Class C Motorhomes or Mini Motorhomes (20-36 ft)

These are the mid-sized motorhomes that are perfect for larger families. Class Cs are more economical to purchase, maintain and insure. They have more living space than the Class Bs, and have many of the same features, amenities and options as the Class A Motorhomes. They are built on truck or van chassis and have the room to sleep more people while being more affordable. There is two points of entry on most mini homes, from the cab door or from a door on the side of the motorhome that opens directly into the living spaces. Fuel costs are generally better than Class As, but not as economical as a Class B.

There is usually extra sleeping or storage in the space above the cab. Dinettes convert to beds and couches will also convert to additional sleeping areas. Not all luxuries are available in Class C Coaches. You can tow another vehicle with Class C RVs, for errands and day trips. Now that you know a little more about RVs, get out there and buy one! Or if you’re not sure, Rent!! Happy Trails.

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