Different Types of RVs to Consider When Buying an RV!

If you’re shopping for a new or used RV, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the different types of RVs out there.

The awesome thing is there’s an RV for everyone but it all comes down to which type of RV will suit their needs, wants and wishes.

Whichever RV type you’re wishing for may not be the actual camper you end up buying! 

It will all come down to personal preference and what RV you and your family can make incredible bonding memories in that will last a lifetime.

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Different Types of RVs to Consider Before Buying an RV

Type of RVs Class A Motorhome with Travel Trailer - Always On Liberty

Recreational Vehicles come in all different shapes and sizes. There are RVs you drive and RVs you tow.

Campers and motorcoaches can come with simple to elaborate amenities depending on the RV type and appraisal value. 

You can buy an RV that’s designed for off grid camping. Or, you can buy an RV made to park for long periods of time without moving.

There are RVs for solo campers or couples. As well, there are even some recreational vehicles that can pack in a family of 8 to 10 along with a dog or two.

But, let me preface in saying this. Just when you think you’ve decided on one RV type, you’ll see a different one that will peak your interest. It might be better suited for mobility or be the envy of the campground with it’s massive setup.

Until you actually sign papers on your new or new-to-you RV, your mind will be spinning at all the different options and types of RVs.

So, without further ado, let’s hit the road running. We’re going to show you all the different types of RVs out here for an educated preview of what you may wish to buy.

What is an RV?

RV, short for Recreational Vehicle, is a motorized vehicle or non-motorized towable trailer designed for living in, camping and traveling.

RVs are super popular for road trips, camping, and extended travel. They provide a mobile and self-contained way to explore various destinations without having to fork out tons of cash for hotels.

An RV allows you and your family the ability to ‘take your home with you’ on vacation, camping, visit distant friends and family.

But RVs can also be used for short term and long term residential living. They can be used for workers who travel extensively such as traveling nurses, emergency response teams, pipeline and highline workers, etc.

Typically, RVs include comparatively-sized living quarters with amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area(s). 

RVs come in two categories; RVs you drive and RVs you tow. An RV that you drive is characterized as motorized RV. Whereas, an RV that you tow is characterized as a non-motorized RV or towable RV

So, should you be in the market of buying an RV, the first question to ask yourself is “do I want to drive my RV or do I want to tow my RV”?  

Is an RV the same as a Camper?

“RV” (Recreational Vehicle) and “camper” are often used interchangeably. But, there can be subtle differences in their usage.

“RV” is a broad term that encompasses a variety of recreational vehicles, including motorhomes or motorcoaches, fifth wheels, travel trailers, truck campers and camper vans.

The term “camper” though, is a more general term that is more often used to refer to a type of RV designed for camping, such as camper vans, popup campers, and truck campers. It can also include travel trailers, teardrop and overlanding campers.

So, while all campers are RVs, not all RVs are specifically referred to as campers.

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When was the first RV manufactured

The first RV can be traced back to the early 20th century. However, the first mass-produced motorhome was introduced in 1910 by Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau.

This luxury overnighting vehicle featuring a self-contained living space and amenities, set the foundation for the development of modern day RVs.

Since, various RV manufacturers contributed to the evolution of RVs, with the industry experiencing an intense growth in the mid-20th century.

Today, there’s more than 800 different RV brand that are built by more than 280 manufacturers in the United States. The top 3 RV companies swallowing up almost 90% of the RV market are Thor Industries, Forest River, and Winnebago.

Of those figures, more than 80% of the RV vehicles sold in the U.S. are manufactured right in Elkhart, Indiana and surrounding area, according to the RVIA (RV Industry Association). 

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What are the different classes of RVs?

If you’ve been around RVing, you’d know there are three main class types of motorized RVs; Class A, Class B, and Class C. All of which cater to different preferences and travel needs.

Class A RVs are large and luxurious motorhomes. Class B RVs are classified as a typical camper van. And, Class C RVs are characterized by a cab-over design and come in a range of sizes. 

Our Winnebago View, for instance is considered a Class C motorhome. Though built on a Sprinter Van chassis, it’s designated as a Class C type of RV because of the cab-over bunk sleeping area. More about Class C types of RVs as you read further.

Motorized RVs

Class C Motorhome RV - Always On Liberty

We talked about the three classes of RVs above; all of which are motorized RVs. They are fueled by either by diesel or gasoline depending on the engine.

If you’re an avid movie watcher, it’s a given that most RVs used in films are mostly motorhomes. I guess it’s because of the allure of traveling all together in the same vehicle comfortably instead of being strapped into a pickup truck.

But, while inclined to ‘roam about the cabin’, it’s important that all passengers need to be safely secured in a motorhome when in motion. This is to help prevent injury and even death in the event of a crash.

Now let’s talk about the motorized RV types that you drive.

Class A Motorhome

A Class A motorhome is a large and luxurious type of recreational vehicle that resembles a bus in appearance. These type of RVs are amongst the largest vehicles on the road. They are primarily built on a heavy-duty rail (or bare) chassis using the same construction and framing as commercial buses and trucks. Class A’s are powered by either, a rear diesel engine or front position gas engine.

Depending on size, Class A motorcoaches offer spacious living quarters, a full kitchen, a full bathroom, and comfortable sleeping quarters.

Class B Van

A Class B motorhome, also known as a camper van, is a compact and more mobile RV that’s typically built on an automotive manufactured van chassis.

Despite their smaller size compared to motorized RVs, a Class B van typically includes basic and much smaller living quarters including a tiny-size kitchen, wet bath and sleeping area. Now, you may have heard of a Class B+ van. 

A Class B+ is a hybrid between a Class B and a Class C RV. It features a van chassis combined with an extended camper cabin. I call a Class B+, a ‘van on steroids’.

B+ vans offer a more spacious interior than a traditional Class B van but with additional amenities. While a B+ does a higher over-cab profile, it’s just for looks with a little more storage area than a B. But, some B+ camper vans may have a slideout to accommodate a little more living space.

Generally smaller than a Class C motorhome, a Class B+ van is more streamlined with a bit more mobility and versatility in use.

Class C Motorhome

A Class C motorhome is a mid-sized RV that’s built on a cut-away truck chassis with an attached cab portion and camper cabin.

You may recognize a Class C by its’ distinctive over-cab sleeping area. Class C RVs typically provide a comfortable living space with the same amenities as a Class C van but with a larger kitchen, dinette, bathroom, and segmented sleeping quarters to fit up to 6 people.

Truck Camper

A truck camper is an RV type that you don’t drive nor pull. It’s a portable living unit designed to be mounted onto the bed of a pickup truck.

The truck camper design provides a compact yet mobile living space with a sleeping area, small kitchenette, and bathroom.

They are great for off-road adventures and camping while maintaining the flexibility of using the truck separately.

Skoolie

A skoolie is a converted school bus that has been repurposed into a makeshift RV type. Creatively customized to personal likings, a skoolie bus usually is designed with a living space that include bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounging area.

They are popular among individuals seeking a unique travel experience or living on the road. Skoolies can often be used as a permanent mobile home, tiny house or even AirB&B.

Multi-Purpose Vehicle

An MPV, short for Multi-Purpose Vehicle, is a versatile 4-Wheel Drive Truck designed for off-road capabilities with utility features. Multi-Purpose Trucks are equipped with four-wheel drive systems. This makes them suitable for diverse tasks such as transportation, towing, and off-road adventures and camping.

Commonly called a Unimog, these type of RVs date back to the World War II era. They were produced by Boehringer from 1948 until 1951, and by Daimler Truck since 1951.

Today, modern Unimog MPVs are popular amongst adventurous nomads who dare to be different in RV type preference and off road adventures.

Towable RVs

SUV towing camper trailer RV - Always On Liberty

if you already have a truck or car that has the ability to tow heavier loads, you may want to consider getting a towable RV type.

However, before running out to buy a camper to tow, always consult your towing vehicles tow ratings.

You read it here; not all vehicles can tow all campers.

Fifth Wheel

A fifth wheel is a type of RV trailer that is towed by a pickup truck. It uses a specialized fifth wheel hitch that mounts in the bed of the truck forward of the truck’s rear axel.

Fifth Wheel RVs are characterized by its’ protruding, elevated front cap section that extends over the bed of the truck.

These towable RVs provide an incredible amount of living space that can accommodate more persons. They have all the amenities such as bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom.

Depending on length and floor plan design, they may come equipped with an added bunk house for the kids. Fifth wheel toy haulers have a garage to carry all your adventure toys such as motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, kayaks, etc.

Travel Trailer

Also called a bumper pull trailer, a travel trailer is a non-motorized towable RV that’s designed to be towed by either a truck, large SUV or a car. Travel trailers are constructed on a rigid frame with a floor, sidewalls and roof.

Travel Trailer RVs have an ample-size living space and sleeping quarters. They also have various amenities such as a kitchen and bathroom. These campers offer a more affordable, mobile accommodation option for camping and travel.

Some travel trailers may even be equipped with backend storage in the form of a garage to carry ATVs, small motorcycle, personal watercraft (kayaks, etc.) and bicycles.

Hybrid Camper

A hybrid camper is a travel trailer that combines tent elements into an expandable or pop-up camper.

Hybrid campers have hard-sided fiberglass walls and roof. But it also has fold-out bunks or tent sections that protrude from the ends or sides of the camper; allowing for more sleeping arrangements while maintaining its’ compact and towable design.

Pop Up Camper

Also known as a pop-up trailer or tent trailer, a pop-up camper is a towable RV that collapses down for compact storage during travel. When parked, it expands into a full living space to accommodate a family.

Pop up campers feature fold-out sides or sections with canvas walls. These super affordable popups are lightweight and offer a versatile camping experience.

Teardrop Camper or Bean Camper

A teardrop camper or bean camper is just as their name implies. A teardrop camper is shaped like a tear drop with the point towards the rear. A bean camper is oval shaped flattened slightly on the bottom.

Bean and teardrop campers are streamlined and compact camper trailers that are designed for smaller tow vehicles. Therefore, they are lightweight and easy to maneuver.

These cute little overnight campers typically include a sleeping area and a basic kitchenette. They provide a minimalistic yet functional camping experience which makes them great weekend campers.

A Frame Camper

An A-frame camper is just as the name applies also. It’s a towable RV that features its’ distinct A-shape frame when fully extended. When collapsed and hauled, they look similarly to a popup camper.

These small towable campers are known for compact design and super easy setup. They also provide a comfortable protected living space with the convenience of quick assembly and towing.

Overland Trailer

An overland trailer is a an off-road-ready trailer designed to accompany vehicles on extended off-grid adventures. These rugged trailers typically feature a higher profile suspension to clear obstacles on trails and dirt roads.

This overland type of RV is durably constructed to withstand the rigors of off-roading travel with rugged tires and suspension.

Overland camping trailers are equipped are designed to support self-sufficiency, allowing outdoor-minded adventurers to explore remote locations with mobile base camp convenience.

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Destination Trailer

A destination trailer is a type of RV that’s designed for long-term stays at a particular location. This type of towable RV that is much heavier than a travel trailer. It’s mounted on a heavy duty frame and is intended to be towed to longer stay destinations.

These house-like trailers usually offer spacious, residential-like interiors. They come equipped with a comfortable living area, full kitchen and separate bathroom, and even multiple bedrooms.

This type of RV is the perfect ‘home away from home’ that’s intended for seasonal use or extended vacations at permanent destinations.

Try before you buy

Couple Driving Motorhome - Class C Motorhome RV - Always On Liberty

It’s hard to picture you and your family in any RV sight unseen. While you could get a general feel of a motorhome or trailer at an RV show or dealership, that five minute experience may not be enough to really make that costly decision.

If you’re on the fence or can’t make a decision about buying a specific RV type, consider renting an RV. Renting will give you a broader scope of experience. You can physically see how you and your family adapts to living in a smaller space.

But renting an RV also allows you the opportunity to see if a particular RV type or size is something you can handle in drivability, setup and take down.

We use RV Share. It’s an RV rental platform that connects RV owners with people who want to rent their motorhomes or campers. Simply put, renting an RV is a sensible way to try different types of RVs without full committal of a sale.

How to plan your RV trips

Once you’ve decided on which RV type you’re going to buy, it’s time to start planning your vacations! But don’t go alone without the help of a good RV trip planner. 

Anytime we plan our RV trips and camping adventures, we use RV LIFE Trip Wizard. This awesome platform and mobile app gets you to your camping destinations by utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your travel preferences, RV types and size. You can try it FREE for 7-Days!

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Wrapping up

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I know that’s a lot of RV types to sift through. But, by these definitions, we hope this will help you hone in on what type of RV you’re looking for. Equally important, you’ll need to know how often and how you will be using the type of RV you’re considering. Once you jump through those hoops, you’re on your way to picking out the type of RV that you and your family will enjoy for years to come!

More RV Lifestyle Tips

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