While traveling the highways this summer you just couldn't help but notice all the RVs on the road. They range in size from the luxurious Class A to the pop up camper. You feel that pull toward the lifestyle of the RV whether you are a retired baby boomer or a mom & dad who want to make the most of their family time. But you ask yourself, which RV is best for you? Well let's explore the advantages & disadvantages of the towablr RVs as well as the amenities and cost.
Towable RVs: The Pop-up camper
When a young couple starts to vacation in the outdoors, they usually start with a tent and then gradually move off the ground to a pop -up camper trailer. The folding camping travel trailer looks like an inexpensive step into the RV lifestyle. One advantage is how easily this trailer stores between uses. Another of course is the cost. Monthly payments can start as low as $99. The trailer is light weight and can be pulled behind most vehicles, even some compact cars. The quick set up is easy and gives you lots of living space once it is set up. These campers can be equipped with a kitchen, dining area, and sleeping quarters but additional options include furnace, refrigerator, roof air conditioner, shower and toilet, awning, and a water heater. Some even come with a slide-out section to increase the central floor space.
The folding pop-up sleeps 6 to 8 and ranges in price from $6000 - $12,000 depending upon the features you want. They range in length from 8 ft to 24 ft. One disadvantage to the pop-up is that the exterior is usually made of canvas. This creates a few minor problems in the rain and there is no noise barrier from the outside activities, just like a tent.
Many people prefer to utilize their truck and therefore add a truck camper to the bed of their truck. It is an easy and economical option if you already own one. The driving maneuverability is the same as a truck. It is particularly good on rough roads and since your home in on your truck you still have the option to tow a boat or car carriers, ATVs, snowmobiles or even a horse trailer. The detachable camping unit can be set on its own jacks, at home for easy storage or at the campsite which allows the pickup to be used separately. There is an extremely efficient use of space in these units. The newer models have floor plans, including extended cab-overs, popup roofs, and slide-outs, to make the most of the living and storage areas. Additional amenities for these units are toilets, showers, kitchen facilities, and air conditioners.
These truck campers range from 8 to 12 ft in length. The cost can range from $15,000 - $31,000 depending on the features of your truck camper. The truck camper sleeps up to four and can be equipped with all the features of a pop-up as well as a slide-out dinette area, microwave oven, and even a satellite dish. For winter Rving the following options can be included a higher BTU furnace, heated tanks, upgraded insulation and double-glazed windows.
A biggest disadvantage is that there is not much moving around space in your truck camper. Designed to ride in a pick-up truck bed, the compact truck camper will often provide all the conveniences of larger RVs. The small-but-mighty truck camper will surprise you with its comfortable living features.
Conventional Travel Trailer
The most common RV is a travel trailer. Depending on its weight, the smaller models can even be towed by the family car, van, SUV or pick-up. The newest lightweight versions can even be pulled by 6-cylinder automobiles. One its best advantages is that you don't need to concern yourself with mechanical issues. The trailer is relatively easy to maintain, which means that you will have this RV for a long time if you keep the exterior looking its best. The travel trailer provides more protection to its occupants and their belongings than a tent or a pop-up. The travel trailer provides the 'at home' feel with many of the amenities. All the conveniences of home are built into a travel trailer for sleeping, showering, dining, cooking and entertainment. Another big advantage is that the travel trailer is completely detachable from its towing vehicle. When you arrive at a destination, it allows complete freedom from the towing vehicle. You can simply unhitch the trailer, leave it in your campground space, and use the family vehicle to do some sightseeing, go eat, or to shop and buy supplies. As far as prices are concerned, you get a mini-home without the enormous price tag of class A's and class C's because you aren't paying for a motor vehicle. The length ranges from 12 - 35 ft. and sleeps up to eight people, depending on the model.
Trailers of any type (fifth wheel or travel trailer) do not have the luxurious look of the motor coach. Another disadvantage is that in most cases a heavy duty vehicle is needed to pull the weight of the trailer. When deciding which travel trailer is right for you, compare its weight shown in the specification chart to the towing limits of your tow vehicle. The price ranges from $12,000 to $31,000. Another disadvantage for these RVs comes from driving the travel trailer. The larger travel trailers have quite a bit of sway and handling problems. These are the most difficult to steer, drive, and brake of all the RV types. Slow and cautious driving is recommended.
The features and prices of travel trailers are seemingly endless. Trailers now come with garages, roof top patios, bay windows, fireplaces, offices, hideaway beds, expanding sides, lowering roofs. If you can dream it, chances are someone has already built it. There are many slide-out models that simply move the RV wall out three feet or more at the touch of a button.
Expandable Travel Trailer
A recent addition to the travel trailer family is the hybrid. These Hybrid travel trailers combine the features of a pop-up trailer and a hard-sided trailer. These trailers are hard-sided with pop-out ends like their fold-down camper cousins. In their camping configuration, one or more bunks fold down from the side with canvas tent covers. When in travel, the bunks fold up into the side of the trailer leaving four hard sides. These new hybrids, as well as many of the lightweight travel trailers can be towed by many popular family vehicles like mini-vans or SUVs. The primary advantage of a hybrid travel trailer is that it offers a greater space to weight ratio.
The length ranges from 19-29 ft and range in cost from $9,000 to $30,000. They can sleep up to 8 people, depending on the model.
Like other travel trailers, the advantages are that they can be towed by the family vehicle; they provide complete freedom from the towing vehicle because they are completely detachable and they provide all the conveniences of home for a reasonable price. The monthly cost is about $140, considerably less than a time share.
The fifth wheel is a travel trailer that must be towed by pick-up trucks with a special 'fifth wheel' hitch. They usually have taller ceilings and more slide-out rooms with as many as four in some models. They are the most spacious RVs available. The size ranges from 21-40 ft and can sleep up to 8 people depending upon the model. Prices usually start at $18,000 and range up to $80,000.
The fifth wheel costs less than the motorized RVs and provides more square footage than the motorized RVs. Some people like the split level floor plan that is caused by the hitch set-up. This gives the impression of separate living quarters by having the master bedroom upstairs over the truck bed and the kitchen & living quarters downstairs. Some models feature a large picture window at the rear of the RV for panoramic views. The newer fifth wheels have multiple slide outs. These slide out extend the square footage which will allow you to stay in one location for many weeks without wanting to kill on another. Depending on the cost you can afford, many manufacturers offer luxury models that are very spacious and are elegantly furnished. Lightweight fifth wheels have been introduced recently, designed specifically to allow the use of smaller trucks with less towing capacity.
There are a few disadvantages to the fifth wheel. One is that the 5th wheel rides higher than the travel trailer so it tends to be blown around a little on the highways and in severe storms. The fifth wheel hitch limits the use of the truck bed for hauling large items and of course, a fifth wheel cannot be hauled by a car or van. In regards to the towing weight it is very important that you match the weight of the RV to the towing capacity of your truck. Always consult your dealer for the weight specifications of your truck.
The toy hauler is sometimes referred to as an SURV which stands for sport-utility RV. This is the newest craze in RVing because it allows you to take your toys with you to your favorite travel destination. They come in either a fifth wheel design or the travel trailer design. Beds, dinettes and couches are typically designed to fold up against interior walls to maximize rear cargo space or they have a 'garage' that is totally separated from the living quarters. What distinguishes the toy hauler from other towable RVs is a swing-down ramp and cargo space for a variety of off-road vehicles such as jet skis, canoes, kayaks, ATVs, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, or motorcycles. They range in length from 19-39 ft and can sleep up 8 people. The cost starts at $12,000 and ranges to $80,000 as a fifth wheel toy hauler and $55,000 for a travel trailer toy hauler. There are slide-out options available to provide more living space. The fully winterized versions of the toy haulers contain a higher BTU furnace, heated tanks, upgraded insulation and double-glazed windows.
Something to consider if you are thinking about purchasing a toy hauler is if you have a vehicle that can pull the weight of the combined RV and toy hauler with a full garage. The weight of the RV and all of your toys will require the largest eight-cylinder or a heavy duty 250 or even a Cummings diesel.
As a towable RV owner, there are two reasons that I prefer this type of RV. One is the price. The towable RVs range in price from $1000 used to the top of the line at $80,000. The driveable RVs start at $80,000. Even if I could afford a driveable RV, I prefer unhitching the RV and having the truck to use for short excursions away from my camp site.