8 types of RV explained, from Class A to camper vans

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RV sales have been increasing as people have started looking for ways to travel during the summer while still social distancing.

There are several RV and RV trailer types available on the market.

For those looking to purchase or rent an RV for summer trips, here’s a guide explaining the different RV class and trailer types.

RVs and RV trailers are no longer just for older folks looking for post-retirement travel plans or suburban families looking for a summer getaway.

RV sales started skyrocketing when states started their first rounds of lifting stay-at-home orders. And now, RV interests have been hitting new customer segments, such as millennials looking to fulfill their “digital nomad” dreams.

But for first-time home on wheels buyers and renters, the RV and RV trailer market may seem daunting. 

Each RV and trailer type differs from the other in size, floor plan, weight, and design to fit the needs of different customers. For example, large toy hauler trailers allow families to bring both their children and their ATVs and kayaks on the trip. But other trailer types, such as the teardrop, may not even include an interior kitchen due to its smaller size. 

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first RV, or you’ve been browsing RV rental platforms Outdoorsy and RVshare for a weekend RV getaway here’s a list of different RV and trailers, explained:

Class A: the largest RV.

Goss RV.
Goss RV.

Courtesy Goss RV

Class A RVs are the largest of the three RV classes.

According to Outdoorsy, Class As are typically built on a diesel or gas-powered vehicle, commercial truck, or commercial bus chassis. This expansive size allows its interior to have the same amenities as any traditional foundation-based home, although this often means it can be the most expensive RV type. 

Because of this, the Class As are a popular choice for people who want a luxuriously large RV for full-time living on the road, according to General RV

Class B: the smallest RV.

Boulder Campervans' build.
Boulder Campervans’ build.

Boulder Campervans

The Class B is the smallest motorhome of all three classes.

This segment is commonly otherwise known as a camper van or a converted van. It’s also currently popular among many millennials looking to pursue #VanLife, and recently, many van conversion companies have seen a skyrocketing request in builds.

Because Class Bs are often small, the vehicles typically don’t include the same spacious amenities as a Class A. However, it’s still possible to have the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and dining area basics with the right floor plan by being creative and integrating multi-purpose furniture, such as a dining table that can be flipped into a sleeping space.

Class B’s are also easier and cheaper to operate and don’t require any kind of special driver’s license. 

Nowadays, many Class B RVs in the US are built on Ford Transits, Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, and Ram Promasters.

Class C: the in-between RV size.

A parked RV across from Google headquarters on May 22, 2019 in Mountain View, California.
A parked RV across from Google headquarters on May 22, 2019 in Mountain View, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As counterintuitive as it is, the Class C RV is smaller than a Class A, but bigger than a Class B.

Class Cs are known as “versatile” RVs that have more space for amenities and beds with its average length sitting between 20 to 31 feet, according to Outdoorsy. The class can also often be identified by the over-cab sleeping area, according to Expedition Motor Homes.

Class C RVs are often built on the chassis of pickup trucks or vans, making it more fuel-efficient and less expensive than the Class A.

Pop-up camper: the camping tent on wheels.

A boy next to his family's pop-up trailer at the Occupy Las Vegas camp on October 23, 2011.
A boy next to his family’s pop-up trailer at the Occupy Las Vegas camp on October 23, 2011.

George Rose/Getty Images

Pop-up campers are towable units that can be expanded by unfolding its sides, which are often made of canvas, according to RVshare. This makes it similar to a more structured, above-ground camping tent that’s more affordable than other RV or trailers, according to Outdoorsy.

And because the pop-up campers have lightweight foldable components, they can often be easily towed.

Pop up campers typically range between eight feet to 16 feet, although this size expands when the roof is popped up and unfolded, according to Popup Advice.

Travel Trailer: the most popular trailer.

Lee's Family Trailer Sales and Service employee in a travel trailer Thursday, May 28, 2020.
Lee’s Family Trailer Sales and Service employee in a travel trailer Thursday, May 28, 2020.

Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The travel trailer category is relatively broad, but this versatility means it can fit many sizes, floor plans, amenities, and budget requirements that customers may have. According to Thor Industries, it’s also the most popular towable with a length between 13 to 40 feet.

Travel trailers often require a pickup truck, SUV, or van with a hitch to be towed, according to Outdoorsy.

Fifth Wheel Trailer: the largest trailer.

Marian and Frank Pladson of Glenwood, Minnesota sitting by their 32-foot fifth wheel trailer in 2007.
Marian and Frank Pladson of Glenwood, Minnesota sitting by their 32-foot fifth wheel trailer in 2007.

Dennis Anderson/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Fifth wheels are the largest RV trailer segment available and can often be identified by its raised extension like that of an over-cab in the Class C RV segment. This extension then hangs over and attaches to the vehicle that is towing it, which is often a pickup truck, according to Thor Industries.

Fifth wheels average between 25 to 40 feet. Due to this size, fifth wheels often have plenty of space for rooms and amenities. This also makes it a good trailer for those who want to travel with a larger group of people or folks who plan on camping at a single site for a longer time.

Teadrop Trailer: the tiny rounded trailer.

Sydney and Forrest Faulkingham with their TAB teardrop trailer.
Sydney and Forrest Faulkingham with their TAB teardrop trailer.

Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Teardrop trailers fall on the lighter and smaller end of the RV trailer spectrum, according to Camp Addict. Because of this, the pint-sized trailers can often be easily towed, although the interiors won’t be as decked out with amenities as a Class A RV. 

To accommodate this, teardrop makers have to be creative, either by offering a larger trailer size and floor plan, or using pull-out units and tables — such as a pull-out kitchen — to utilize the exterior space of the trailer. 

Toy Haulers: the trailer that has room for extra outdoor or water toys.

Jayco's 2016 Seismic Toy Hauler.
Jayco’s 2016 Seismic Toy Hauler.

Jayco

Toy haulers are built like a home on wheels with a large garage to store outdoor gear and toys like motorbikes, snowmobiles, or kayaks.

However, it’s not technically its own trailer segment. Toy haulers — which are generally 21 to 40 feet long — often come in the form of a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or one of the motorhomes, according to Thor Industries

Source: Business Insider

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