A lot of people talk about the non-motorized types of RVs as “towables”, which is sort of ok, except you don’t tow a truck camper. But if you hear the word towable that is the common wording for RVs without engines.
I show you the major classes in pictures below, but I’ll give a broad brush stroke for each type so you have a nice overview of each category.
The most popular and easiest to get started RVing type of RV is called the travel trailer. The biggest distinguishing characteristic of the travel trailer is that it is hitched directly to the bumper of a pickup or SUV.
If you HAVE a SUV and want to use it to tow an RV, the the travel trailer is your best choice. A downside of the travel trailer is that you MUST be very mindful when towing it as the hitch configuration can cause some instability in certain towing conditions (wind, speed, situational).
The next most popular type of RV is the 5th Wheel RV. The most distinguishing characteristic of the 5th wheel is its unique hitch which is a tiny wheel, hence the term “5th wheel”.
Because it requires a special hitch, which is mounted in the bed of a pickup truck the 5th wheel does eat up some of your truck bed space. In return for this, the 5th wheels can be heavier and they tow substantially better and safer than a travel trailer.
There is a special class of RV called a Toy Hauler. Honestly, I struggled to put it anywhere because Toy Haulers can be added to almost ANY type of RV (Class A, travel trailer, 5th wheel), but I’d say the most common place is to make a Toy Hauler into a 5th wheel configuration.
What is a Toy Hauler? It is an RV with added carrying capacity AND a garage.
The idea is that you, ummm, “haul toys” with it. Tricky name, eh? I’m hoping that if you get a toy hauler you’ll put a nice Harley or Indian in it and not just a bunch of junk. Please? for RV52’s sake – no junk?
The Truck Camper is meant to be placed in the bed of a truck. Advantages are that you get more camper and less support stuff (like axles, brakes, etc.).
The downside is that you have to use up the bed of your truck. I see lots of people use these who are avid hunters or outdoors people. You can REALLY get away from it all in a truck camper. Why? Because you can put it on the back of your 4 wheel drive truck and get to places that would be impossible for something you were towing.
Camping Trailer (also called a pop-up or tent camper)
Finally, there is a class of RV called the camping trailer. There is substantial gray area between travel trailers and camping trailers in my mind. But for me, a camping trailer, done well, could be pulled by a CAR.
If you need something bigger than that, then you might want to ask yourself – why am I buying something too big for a car – and then simply jump to the larger travel trailers. To me, the camping trailer is a “tent on wheels” and I think if you keep it in that mental box you’ll do well.
Again, the camping trailer substantial cross-over with travel trailers. Don’t let it get you down.
Click on any of the images to learn more about that type of RV:
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