Is an RV with a Side Patio Worth It? *Pros & Cons*

Are you contemplating on buying an RV with a side patio? While there are some wonderful things an RV with a side patio can offer, there are also so downsides to owning an RV with a side porch.

RV Side Patios - Always On Liberty

This blog article contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.

Is an RV with a Side Patio Really Worth It?

RV with Side Patio - Always On Liberty

How does an RV side patio work?

You may be quite familiar with RVs that have patio decks on the back of the RV. Those are actually loading ramps that RV manufacturers ingeniously figured out how to make into a multi-functional piece of equipment.

Thus, bringing you the ultimate camping party deck!

Unlike the rear entry ramps that convert into a raised patio, RV side patio decks are for no other purpose than entertainment. The side patio extends off of the main living area and kitchen of the RV providing an instant outdoor room separated by a sliding glass door (tempered glass).

When lowered, the deck suspends by two heavy duty cables that attach to the top of the RV. Once the deck is lowered, the deck railings get pulled up and locked into place.

Voila! Now you have the perfect play area without having to step foot on the ground.

In fact, we can speak from actual experience of owning a fifth wheel toy hauler that had a back patio deck.

We loved it and so did our cats! They could come and go as they wanted through the garage without having to worry about getting picked on by loose dogs.

We did however, have to still be careful when camping where there were birds of prey. But, we never left them alone out there.

So, now we know how an RV deck deploys and stows, let’s talk about the pros and cons of owning an RV with a raised patio deck.

How much weight can a side porch withstand?

When we spoke with A.J. Jones, Director of Sales and Innovation at Heartland RVs, we asked how much weight can you put on these type of side decks.

He said the maximum weight you can put on the side patios (at least on the Heartland products) is 1500 pounds. That’s a combined weight that includes chairs, tables, people and even pets.

So, you could have 4-6 average size adults and regular camp chairs on it and still have a little load capacity to spare.

He did also mention that both of the Heartland toy haulers that have the side patio also come with a fold out center brace to help support it.

I also asked him if these type of RV’s require re-leveling after deploying the side deck. He said, “no need to re-level once rams (leveling jacks) are extended it pick the unit off the ground”.

But, I do highly suggest checking with each RV manufacturer that offers these side decks as there may be a slight variance in load capacity per model.

Pros of an RV with a side patio

Bring the outdoors in!

An RV with a side patio deck literally brings the outside in! They are a welcoming feature for those campers who want to enjoy sitting outside yet still be in their own private space.

RV porches also offer extra living area but it’s outside. Some RVs may not have ample seating for large families to spread out, dine or entertain guests inside.

These super cool party patios are great for just that. They also make it super easy to serve meals or get a snack without climbing up and down the RV steps.

Enjoy camping off the ground

Also, those RV models with a side porch are great for going out to enjoy your coffee or catch some rays without actually stepping onto the ground.

This is especially beneficial when camping in rattlesnake country or where other small critters crawl around.

Sleep outdoors without worry

Wouldn’t it be nice to let the kids sleep outdoors under the stars without setting up a tent? With an RV that has a side porch, all they need are a camping air mattress, sleeping bag and pillow. Of course, this only works if the RV isn’t in bear country or slithery things that fall out of the trees.

RV patios are great for children & pets!

“Do side porches really keep your kids and pets safe at your campsite?”

RVs with a patio on the side are also fantastic for those families with small children. The deck rail helps keep them confined to the area as well as prevents them from falling off.

As well, RVs with side porches are also great for those with pets. They provide a safe place off the ground where your dog or cat can lay around or watch everything go by while being constrained within the RV’s patio deck railing (with supervision, of course!).

✰ READ MORE   Camping in Bear Country – Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

Cons of an RV with a side patio

If you are on the fence about buying an RV with a side patio deck, there’s some things that may not work in your favor or even utilize your patio deck.

RV side patios can be heavy

Speaking from experience, those patio decks on RVs are heavy. Oftentimes, you’ll need more than one person to lower it, to set it up, or to raise it to a closed position.

So, if you’re a solo RVer or have physical limitations that prevent you from lifting heavy loads, then these type of RVs with side patios won’t work for you.

Campsites may not accommodate an RV with a side patio

Campsites are not always big enough to accommodate an RV with a side patio. But even if they do, you have to be mindful of obstacles that may impair the ability to lower the deck to usable space.

When an RV has its’ porch deck fully deployed, it takes up campsite space where you may want to set out a small camp dining setcamp chairs, your grill, or portable fire pit.

✰ READ MORE   RV Pest Control Products: Prevents Snakes, Spiders, Mice & Bugs!

Darkens the interior space of the RV

When the RV patio is stowed on cold or rainy days and travel, it creates an unsightly wall through the slider.

And, it makes your indoor space appear dark because the slider window view is the decking and rails.

Not completely weatherproof

If you buy an RV with a side porch deck, know that manufacturers do not recommend leaving it out in the rain or inclement weather. RV toy hauler ramps and patio decks are only water resistant.

While some surfaces may be able to sustain some weather moisture, they are not totally waterproof.

Water can seep into the edges and seals of the deck platform and that leads to water intrusion. In no time, the owner can expect delamination of the deck’s outer side fiberglass to happen.

Delamination is a separation along a plane parallel to a surface, as in the separation of a coating from a substrate or the layers of a coating from each other, or in the case of a concrete slab, a horizontal splitting, cracking, or separation near the upper surface.

Requires extra setup and take down

Anytime you park your fifth wheel with a side deck, realize it’s going to take a little longer to set up your RV as well as taking it down. There are cables and railings with pins that need securing.

And speaking of weather, if a sudden storm or torrential downpour comes barreling down, it can get a bit tedious trying to stow your deck to the closed position.

Unwelcome visitors

When we had our fifth wheel toy hauler with back patio, we had a few instances where unwelcome visitors literally dropped in for a visit; right on our deck patio!

We’ve had tree snakes, tree frogs and even a squirrel land on our deck patio causing all kinds of yikes and panic.

And because the slider to the patio deck was open, you can imagine how fast we scampered to shoo them off the porch deck.

Can’t have your fire pit or grill on it

While I’ve seen some campers put propane powered fire pits and even charcoal grills on their raised patio, it’s a bad idea!

There’s no telling what can happen should a burning ember or heat from the fire cause a problem. Therefore, one of the negatives of a drop down side patio on an RV is you can’t enjoy your campfire (even propane powered) or BBQ on your RV side deck.

Which RVs have a side patio?

Here’s the most prominent and popular brands that offer a fifth wheel with a side deck.

Some may be current models (2023) while other manufacturer’s models may be obsolete models that still may be available in the preowned RV market.

“What are some RVs that have side patio decks?”

Fifth Wheels with a Side Deck

Forest River XLR Thunderbolt 422AMP

Forest River XLR Thunderbolt 422AMP

Kick back and relax on the side deck of the Forest River XLR Thunderbolt 422AMP!  

This one and a half bath toy hauler with king size bed comes in at an impressive length of 44′ 6″ and width of 102″. It has a hitch weight of 3643 pounds and cargo capacity of 4636 pounds.

But, the star of Forest River’s toy hauler lineup is its’ huge 12′ wide side patio deck to accommodate a few more camp chairs. It includes an outdoor LED television and cozy electric fireplace for cool evenings while watching the game.

Heartland Road Warrior 4275

Country Coach Veranda with Slide Out Side Deck Porch - Always On Liberty

The Heartland Road Warrior 4275 comes in with a dry weight of 15,244 pounds and GVWR of 21,000 pounds. It has a hitch weight of 3416 pounds and cargo capacity edging in at 5751 pounds.

This toy hauler, not only has a back deck that can be used as a ramp but also, it has a side balcony! It’s also Heartland RV’s 2nd longest toy hauler with  a 13′ garage and, best of all, has a cool side porch deck.

✰ READ MORE   Understanding RV GVWR: How to NOT OVERLOAD Your RV

Heartland Cyclone 4270

Heartland RV CYCLONE 4270

The Heartland Cyclone 4270 is the storm king of all toy haulers makes its’ presence know by its’ 46′ 4″ length and a standard width of 8′ 5″. It’s standard height towers at 13′ 6″.

This monster storm-of-the-century RV can sleep up to 7 adults in 459 square feet.

If you’re only hauling fun outdoor toys or turning the garage in a kids room or office, this 3-axel King of the Road may be what you’re looking for in a fifth wheel with a side deck with power awning!

Check out Adventures in Reality video tour on their Heartland Cyclone 4270

Highland Ridge Open Range Roamer

Country Coach Veranda with Slide Out Side Deck Porch - Always On Liberty

In 2017, Open Range RV Inc. introduced their a 60-square-foot drop-down hinged patio with railings and an awning as an option on several of its fifth-wheel models.

Campers could access the patio from inside the coach through a sliding glass door which made it easier for physically impaired people who struggle with steps.

However, it wasn’t a standard. It was an option costing one another $4000 coupled with an electric assist doorway lift.

But, that was short-lived and those RVs with a  side deck were discontinued.

Keystone Fuzion 424

Country Coach Veranda with Slide Out Side Deck Porch - Always On Liberty

The Keystone Fuzion 424 shows well and wears even better. It has a hitch weight of 3525 pounds and carrying capacity of 3640 pounds. And it sleeps up to 8 adults!

Measuring in at 44′ from stem to stern, this side deck toy hauler comes with its’ standard back patio with 8′ MorRyde Zero “G” water resistant ramp door leading to the 13′ garage.

But, it also comes with a fun-size, open-air side balcony to enjoy side views of the campsite.

And for game days, there’s an LED television where you can stay outdoors yet be within arms’ reach of the snack pantry!

Check out Myle’s RVs video tour of the Keystone Fuzion 424 toy hauler

 

Keystone Raptor 429

Keystone Raptor 429

The Keystone Raptor is a popular toy hauler for adventurous RVers who love their big toys. They’re also sought after by full-time families who need the 13′ garage space to make into a bedroom for the kids.

The Keystone Raptor 429 checks all the blocks including the side deck. It’s dry weight is 16,250 pounds.

But, even though it measures at a whopping 44′ 6″, it’s on the lighter side of fifth wheel toy haulers with a hitch weight is 3600 pounds and carrying capacity is only 2750 pounds.

But, make no mistake, the side deck offers a little more outdoor space without ever leaving the RV. The kids can play on the side patio without getting dirty or getting bit by critters in the desert while boondocking in the desert.

Tiara RVs shares a video tour of the 2023 Keystone Raptor 429  toy hauler with side deck

Momentum 399TH

Country Coach Veranda with Slide Out Side Deck Porch - Always On Liberty

Grand Design leaves no stone unturned when it comes to their toy hauler division. Their Momentum 399TH was manufactured for those who just can’t say no to the outdoors and the toys they bring.

You’ll be amazed at the space inside but equally wowed outside at their two raised patios! And, let’s just say, you’ll never miss the game as they both have televisions!

With a GVWR of 20,000 pounds, it’s a doozy of a toy hauler. It measures 43′ 1″ long with a height of  13′ 6″ (with optional AC). This fifth wheel with side deck sleeps up to 5 adults. So, load ’em up and let’s go!

Wandering Weekends shows you the Grand Design Momentum 399TH with side deck with awning

 

 RV PRO TIP   Want to see different RVs with side decks? Head to your closest RV Show! Here’s where you can find RV shows near you:  RV SHOWS in the U.S. – Complete List of Every RV Show

Class A Motorhomes with a Side Patio

Also, a couple Class A motorhome manufacturers have also stepped up their game by presenting different Class A models with a side patio.

Country Coach Veranda 300 and 600

Country Coach Veranda with Slide Out Side Deck Porch - Always On Liberty

Although Country Coach no longer manufactures the super luxurious Veranda 300, 400 or 600, you may still be able to score a gently used one on RV trader or independent sale from an owner.

But, I can’t help to still tell you about the super fun, classy and rare Veranda because it’s one of the only Class A motorhomes that came or comes with a slide out side balcony.

With a push of a button, the side patio deploys outward and down. And, the railings are set up for convenience and ease of use. Tempered glass doors that lead out to the side patio separate the indoors from the outdoors for security and weather.

This beautiful tag axel motorhome that comes with a hydraulic drop down side balcony was only manufactured by Country Coach in 2009 & 2010. But perhaps you can luck out on getting one in pristine condition.

But be wary that because of it’s length, buyers may be hard pressed to find a site, not only long enough for he 45′ motorhome but wide enough to enjoy its’ side patio in tight RV parks.

Check out Brian’s RV Videos of the Country Coach Veranda 300 to see how the side patio retracts (it’s pretty cool!)


Thor Outlaw 37GP

2019 Thor Outlaw 37GP

Thor Motor Coach made a statement when they came out with a Class A motorhome toy hauler called the Outlaw.

However, unlike all other motorhomes, the loft-type bedroom was over the garage; allowing for more living space in a shorter Class A motorhome.

But then, even though the Outlaw already had the rear ramp deck, Thor decided to expand the garage space to also include a side deck to make it the Outlaw 37GP.

The 37GP had a GVWR of 26,000 lbs and GCWR of 30,000 lbs.  It’s length measured in at 38′ 9″, width of 8′ 5″ and a standard height of 13″ 3″.

All of that said, this is another motorhome with side deck that didn’t really survive the needs and wants of motorhome buyers.

So, the model reigned for only 2 years and was discontinued in 2019. Good luck finding one as there weren’t very many manufactured.

If you can find a 2019 Thor Motor Coach Outlaw 37GP, know that it’s approximately 38′ 9″ in length with 2 slide-out rooms, 2 drop down patios (1 in the rear and 1 on the side) with entry steps. It’s also on a Ford 26-Series chassis with Triton V-10 gas engine.

Just one last note though, because the Outlaw is a gas powered motorhome, it can make it a bit more challenging finding regular fuel because of low clearance fuel station canopies.

Watch Thor Motor Coach showcase their Outlaw 37GP toy hauler with side patio

Does an RV with a side patio fit your and your family’s needs and wants?

Now you know the pros and cons and some of the amazing RVs with side decks.

As you’ve just seen, RVs you see with drop down side patio decks are mostly fifth wheels. Adding in, they’re almost always on toy hauler models with just a couple exceptions.

The reason is because toy haulers are intended more for off grid camping or to park in big wide open spaces to load and unload the big toys.

Which means, there’s extra space required to open up the side deck without worrying about your neighbors gawking in or hearing your conversations.

The side patios are always located on the entry side of the trailer. And actually, the deck sizes range in 10-12′ wide.

So there’s plenty of space to set up a camp dining set to dine or a couple zero gravity chairs to stargaze, take a nap or just relax and chat.


 OUTSIDER TIP 

Choosing the right campground is important. It can be the difference between an RV trip and a great RV trip. RV LIFE Campgrounds is the most trusted source of campground information in the industry. Millions of RVers use and trust Campground Reviews, which also provides the vast resources available in RV LIFE Pro, the best tool for planning and navigating your RV trips.

Learn more by signing up for the FREE 7-Day Trial.

RV LIFE RV Trip Wizard RV Trip Planner Banner Ad


Final thoughts on an RV with a side patio

As you see, RV side patios are a love ’em or hate’ em feature on RVs. While there’s a list of great things about an RV with a side porche, there’s also the cons that can make them more trouble than they’re worth.

We hope this helps you decide if an RV with a side patio will serve your family well.

More from our blog library

RV SHOWS 2023 in the U.S. – Complete List of Every RV Show!

RV SHOW TIPS for Attendees – What to Plan for and Expect at an RV Show

Must-Have Boondocking Gear for Off Grid RV Camping

Types of RV Batteries for Motorhomes & Campers

Top RV Step Covers and Entry Step Rugs for RVs

Best RV Outdoor Rugs and Campsite Mats

RV Side Patio Decks - Always On Liberty


Amazon RV Parts AccessoriesThis website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *