RV Classes and Types: a No Nonsense Guide for New RV’ers

When my wife and I started our journey into the RV Lifestyle, we were most confused about all of the different types of RV's. Why is a Class B smaller than a Class C? What is the difference between a 5th Wheel and a Travel Trailer? What the heck is a Teardrop Trailer? I thought it would help some of you facing the same frustrations as we were. I created this guide for the Newbie RV'er. And maybe some of you old-timers that need a refresher course 😉

What are the Different Types of RV's? There are three main types of RV's — Motorhome, Towable and Truck Camper. Motorhomes are fully self-contained campers with an engine. Towables are campers that require a tow vehicle to move them from one place to another. Truck Campers are RV's that are physically mounted onto a vehicle.

To start ones journey into the RV community, the first item to learn is the lingo. Knowing what camper fits your personal mission will help avoid making costly purchasing mistakes. This article will discuss the #1 most confusing topic — the Different Types of RV's


Table of contents

Motorhomes

Towable Campers

Truck Campers

  • Slide in Truck Campers
  • Pop-up Truck Campers

Conclusion


Motorhomes

Motorhome classifications -- Class A, Class B, Class C image

The first category of RV's we will review is the Drivable Camper that is most commonly referred to as the Motorhome. As the name infers, MOTOR-homes have an engine. Motorhomes are also sometimes referred to as a Motor Coach. Motorhome and Motor Coach mean the same thing in the RV Industry.

You will see Motorhome written as one word and sometimes as two — Motor Home. The most common way to spell it in the USA is as one word. Outside of the US they usually use two words. Either way you decide to write it is acceptable.

Motorhomes are self-contained engine-driven recreational vehicles (RVs). When you hear terms like Class A, B and C, they are referring to self-powered vehicles that contain both a living and driving space. All of the other types of campers we will review require a tow vehicle to move them form point A to point B. Motorhomes can move themselves without any external vehicle. 

The Motorhome Class-type RV's start off life as either a truck, bus or van. The driving part of the RV is built on the exact same assembly line as any other vehicle. Mercedes and Ford build many of the small to mid-sized Motorhome frames we see on the road. The larger Motorhomes are generally made by heavy duty truck builders such as Freightliner, Volvo and Prevost. 

Due to the nature of how Motorhomes are built in two assembly plants — the engine and frame are built on one assembly line, and the body and camper portion are built somewhere else — it is common to see a newer camper on an older truck chassis.

It is important to keep this in mind if you are looking for an engine/powertrain vehicle that was released in a certain year. The model year of the camper may be newer than the model year of the truck it sits on. 

Motorhomes are segmented into 3 main Classifications (a.k.a. “Class”). Next up we will review each class and how to differentiate one from the other. 

Class A Motorhomes

The most commonly discussed Motorhome classification is the Class A. The reason we hear the term “Class A” so often is because there is a wide range of RV's that fall into the category. Class A's range from multi-million dollar touring buses we see musicians and politicians traveling the country in to old Winnebago's that can be purchase for a few thousand dollars. Further, the cost for a new Class A is wide ranging as well. One can buy a new Class A such as the 2020 Forest River pictured below for $80,000 to a $2.5 million Featherlight Prevost. 

New Class A Motorhomes listed for sale on RV Trader

What Makes a Class A Motorhome a Class A? 

A Class A motorhome is a self-contained vehicle that has a continuous body from front to back/left to right/top to bottom. They have a rectangular shaped appearance that looks like, and sometimes is, a bus. Another common characteristic of a Class A is they generally only have one entry door on the right-side that is used to access the living and driving areas. 

THOR Class A examples.  2020 Challenger and 2016 Axix RUV.

Both of the above photos are Thor Class A Motor Coaches. Although they are different sizes and prices, their overall shape is rectangular. Also notice that both coaches have single side entry doors that is a tell-tell giveaway that you are looking at a Class A Motorhome. 

What Makes one Class A different than Another Class A? 

There are several factors that that make Class A's different. The obvious ones are:

  • The manufacturer's reputation and brand recognition — A Prevost is going to have a higher perceived value than a Thor or Winnebago 
  • The length of the coach — longer vehicles are more expensive to manufacturer
  • The interior and external finishes — higher end components and custom full-body paint cost more

There are many other features that can make a huge difference in the purchase price of a Class A:

  • The Engine and Powertrain are expensive components. Diesel-engine coaches always cost more than their gasoline-powered cousins. Diesel engines are used in semis and locomotives for a reason — they are more efficient pulling heavy weight.  Expect to pay significantly more for a Diesel-powered Motorhome. 
  • The Plumbing System is not always seen, but it can exponentially increase the cost of building a coach. Most coaches have flexible plastic water lines called PEX. The more expensive coaches often have hand fitted plumbing systems similar to what is found in a home, commercial-style water filtration, and 100 gallon+ holding tanks. When you see a coach that has hard-line plumbing in the service bay with shut-off valves, detailed labeling, etc. then you are likely looking at a more expensive coach. 
  • The Electrical system is not always seen, but it is a major contributor to cost. Larger coaches require more power. On-board generators, for example, add cost. Generators are rated for power output. An Onan 12,500W generator that is common in higher-end Class A's costs more than an Onan 5500W generator that is often found in smaller campers. 

The advantage of a large generator is they can run Air Conditioning and other high-draw devices. Smaller generators will stall if overloaded, which turns off all power inside of the coach that can damage electronics. 

Onan Generator Comparison Graphic
Onan 12500 Watt Generator Vs Onan 5500 Watt Generator

Class B Motorhomes

The Class B Motorhome is a perplexing classification because they are smaller in size than Class A's and Class C's. We are use to seeing ordered lists of numbers in letters and think small, medium and large; however, in the self-driven RV world the Classes do not represent the size of the vehicle. Class types are determined by the underlying vehicle structure. A Class B Motorhome is built on a Van body and frame, which is what defines it as a Class B. 

Airstream Class B Van Conversion
Airstream Class B Van Conversion

Class B's are frequently called Van Conversions because they start life as a cargo van. Unlike the Class A's that are built up from an engine and frame only, Class B's leave the automobile factory as a complete cargo van. The front drivers section in most Class B's is exactly the same as one could buy off of a showroom floor. The dashboards, entertainment systems, GPS, windshield wipers, etc. are OEM installed and more importantly warranted by the vehicle manufacturer, not the RV company. 

What are the Advantages of a Class B Motorhome? 

The biggest advantage of a Class B Motorhome is they are small and nimble. Class B's are built inside of a standard Van. The Van form-factor makes a Class B easy to drive and park. They can get into areas that would be inaccessible by other types of motorhomes. Class B's tended to have better fuel-efficiency as well because they are smaller and more aerodynamic. 

Another factor to consider is a Class B Motorhome can be serviced at a normal automotive dealership and most service locations such as Jiffy Lube. The vehicle portion of a Class B is treated exactly the same as any other Van sold by the automobile manufacturer. Simple service like oil-changes, warranty repairs, recalls, alignments, tire changes, etc. can be performed practically anywhere. 

When shopping for a Class B Motor Coach you may hear the term “Super B.” A Super B is larger than a Class B, but most insurance company's consider a Super B a Class C. Manufacturers will use branding terms like Super B to confuse buyers. When comparing a Super B to Standard Class B the price may be competitive for more room, but what they are actually selling is a Class C on a Van frame. Whatever the Insurance agent calls it is what it is… Ask your insurance agent before buying. If you need a Class C it may be more cost effective to buy a Class C. A Class C will be able to carry more weight and usually has better amenities.

Airstream Super B Camper
Airstream Super B

What are the Disadvantages of a Class B Motorhome? 

There are several items to consider when thinking about purchasing a Class B Motorhome; however, the primary disadvantage of buying a Class B is the acquisition cost. Class B's are more expensive than most Class C's and in some cases they cost more than Class A's! 

The small size and direct-support of the automobile manufacturer actually make Class B's more expensive. New RV'ers are generally use to driving cars. Many of them are intimidated by the size of the other campers. They want to start out with something they feel comfortable driving, which increases the demand for Class B's and drives the cost up.

We have been speaking about the advantages of the small form-factor of a Class B, but the small-size can also be a disadvantage. There simply is not enough room in a Class B to install all of the comforts of home. The size forces compromises that may be a show-stopper for some. A good example is Class B Motorhomes almost always have what is called a Wet Bath if they have a bathroom at all. A Wet Bath has a shower over the toilet. The bathroom area is small as well. Large-body people may not fit or be comfortable in the bathroom of a Class B. 

RV Wet Bathroom
RV Wet Bathroom

The mechanical systems in a Class B are also smaller than their Class A and Class C counterparts. Class B refrigerators are small; the stove may only have one burner; and they are limited in storage space. The water and sewage holding tanks are small as well. Most Class B's only hold 20-ish gallons of fresh water and have small waste-water holding tanks. The size of the tanks limit how long one can operate off-grid (a.k.a. dry camp). When dry camping in a Class B it is common to have to break camp to drive somewhere to drain waste tanks and fill with water several times a week. 

Breaking camp is not always considered an inconvenience for Class B owners because they are using their camper for basic transportation in addition to living space. When Class B owners drive into town they can top off their water and flush the gray/black tanks. 

Class C Motorhomes

The Class C Motorhome is one of the most popular choices for RV'ers with families. Class C's are built on a heavy-duty pickup frame. Like the Class B, the Class C leaves the factory as a drivable vehicle; however, the main difference is the back section of the truck is a wide-open frame. 

The vehicle manufacturers call the Class C vehicle configuration a Cutaway truck. Cutaway trucks are designed for many use cases. They can be ordered with single or dual wheel rear axles, gasoline or diesel engines, and a variety of frame lengths. The most common cutaway is made by Ford and is based on the F-350 or F-450 truck configuration. 

Class C's also have a configuration that is called a Super C. Don't confuse a Super C with a Super B. Super C's are legitimately a unique subcategory of the Class C Motorhome. Super C's are built on a Semi chassis with an extended frame. When you see a Super C, you will recognize truck manufacturer as the exact same ones we see pulling 80,000 lbs trailers. MAC, Peterbilt, and Volvo are some examples of heavy duty semi truck manufacturers that are used for Super C's. 

Super C Motorhome
Super C Motorhome

Super C's can be the same size as a Class A, but they are often more expensive because they are built on a Semi Truck frame and most have high-end finishes. Semi's are designed to pull 80,000 lbs loads and designed operate 24×7. The Class A's that are built on a Bus frame like the Prevost is the only version that is comparable to the Super C. 

A Super C is worth looking at if you are considering a high-end Class A. They are less expensive to service and are more versatile than other types of motor coaches due to their significant towing capacity. 

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What are the Advantages of a Class C Motorhome? 

Class C's are popular because they combine many of the advantages of a Class A and a Class B. Since Class C's start their life off like a standard truck, they can be serviced at dealerships that can accommodate large vehicles. 

Not every dealership can service large trucks, but there is generally a dealership within driving distance from most places in the country that can service a Class C's. Automotive manufacturers are required to service vehicles they sell nationwide. 

Class C's are built on larger truck frames. They can carry more weight than a Class B. The extra carrying capacity equates to better accommodations. Class C's generally have larger refrigerators, bigger holding tanks and normal sized showers. Another advantage of a Class C is they extend the living compartment over the cabin of the drivers section of the vehicle. 

The Class C extension over the cab provides more room for sleeping or storage. The extra usable space makes a Class C a perfect fit for travelers that need room to sleep more people comfortably or store items needed for longer trips. 

Class C Motorhome
Class C Motorhome

What are the Disadvantages of a Class C Motorhome?

The carrying capacity of a Class C is limited. Most Class C's are built on a heavy duty pickup truck frame that has a weight and length restriction. The limits on weight result in manufacturers cutting corners. Unless one moves up to the larger and more expensive Super C, the standard Class C will not accommodate large residential-sized refrigerators or holding tanks. They also generally have small bathrooms, beds and kitchens. 

Another consideration when looking at standard Class C's is that they typically ship from the RV factory very close to their max weight limit. A vehicle can only legally carry up to its max Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that is designated by the vehicle manufacturer. It is a good idea to calculate the weight of a Class C to ensure you can carry what you need. To calculate the payload, take the GVWR max weight minus the as configured weight. The difference is the vehicles payload which is the max weight that can be legally added to the Class C when traveling (e.g. people and stuff you can carry with you). 

Super Class C's don't tend to have an issue with GVWR since they are built on semi truck chassis that are rated to carry 80,000 lbs. 

Towable Campers

Towable Campers -- 5th Wheel, Travel Trailer and Pop-up image

Towable campers are the most common type of Recreational Vehicle (RV). According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), 289,000 of the RV's sold in 2018 were Travel Trailers in addition to 94,000 5th Wheel trailers. There were 62,000 Motorhomes (Class A, B & C combined) sold during the same period. Approximately 86% of all RV's sold in 2018 were towable campers. 

2018 RV Sales by Type Pie Chart
2018 RV Sales by Type Pie Chart

Why are Towable Campers so Popular?

The primary reason why towable campers are popular is because they have a lower up front acquisition cost. Towable rigs need a truck or an external vehicle to pull them from Point A to B; whereas, a Motorhome is self contained. When RV manufacturers eliminate the engine, transmission and all of the systems required to make a vehicle drivable the cost to build decreases substantially. The entry cost savings opens up camping to a wider group of people and the market drives significant sales. 

What are the Disadvantages of Towable Campers? 

The main disadvantage of a towable camper is the vehicle needed to pull it. Salespeople that represent the truck sales side and salespeople that represent the RV sales side are both intensified to sell vehicles. The common phrase is, “sure that truck will tow this camper,” but the reality is most trucks on the road are not designed to tow large trailers. 

What ends up happening is a person may buy a travel trailer that doesn't have all of the amenities they want hoping their truck will pull it. Far too often they end up discovering the truck they have is not sufficient and they need to upgrade their tow vehicle. After upgrading the tow vehicle they start to think about all of the amenities they wish they had and they upgrade the towable trailer. This cycle can go back and fourth for years until the RV owners finally land on a workable truck/towable camper combination. 

The best solution is to do the math up front. Decide what camper you need then buy the truck/camper combination that fits the mission. Don't try to fit a round peg in a square hole. It never works and it can be a costly mistake. 

What are the Advantages of Towable Campers?

There are dozens of reasons why towable campers make the best choice for most people. By separating the engine/tow vehicle from the trailer servicing both becomes less complex and expensive — the tow vehicle can be disconnected and taken in for routine maintenance at an auto dealership and the trailer can be left at a RV dealer for maintenance. Accordingly, when one portion is down for maintenance the other is still available. For example, if the tow vehicle is in the shop the trailer can continue to be used. Conversely, when a trailer is in for maintenance the owner still has a vehicle to drive.

Another advantage of separating the tow vehicle form the trailer is upgradability. Trailers can last for a decade or more while tow vehicle operating cost increases as mileage and time pass. When it is time to upgrade a Motorhome the entire unit needs to be traded in. A towable configuration can be exchanged at different times. Further, Trucks tend to have higher resell values than a RV. Motorhome owners often take a significant depreciation hit when trading in their vehicles because they have to sell to someone that wants a Motorhome. Truck owners can sell to anyone wanting a truck. 

5th Wheel Trailers

A 5th Wheel trailer is one of the most desired campers because they have more living space than any other type of RV. Most 5th Wheels come with all of the amenities of home. Most have large kitchens, roomy master bedrooms, washer/dryer hookups and ample storage. Toy Hauler Fifth Wheels can even have a second full-bathroom! 

A large percentage of full-time RV'ers have 5th Wheel campers because they are the closest to living in a house than any other type of RV. 

Grand Design 5th Wheel Toy Hauler
Grand Design 5th Wheel Toy Hauler

The reason 5th Wheel Trailers are called 5th Wheels is because they connect to the tow vehicle in the bed of the truck. The mounting point in the bed simulates an extra wheel on the truck. A 4-wheeled truck now has a 5th Wheel. 

The hitches that connect in the bed of the truck need to be directly mounted to the frame. Pickups that are ordered form the factory with the 5th Wheel configuration will have mounting points on the floor of the bed that 5th Wheel hitches are mounted too. Trucks purchased without the 5th Wheel hitch option will require significant work to safely mount a 5th Wheel hitch. 

Companion Fifth Wheel Hitch
Companion Fifth Wheel Hitch

What are the Advantages of a 5th Wheel Trailer? 

Space is the main advantage of a 5th Wheel Camper. Similar to a Class C, there is a large portion of the 5th Wheel that is designed to hang over the bed of the tow vehicle. The living area is bigger in a 5th Wheel than any other RV. 

The extension space of a 5th Wheel hangs over the bed of the truck. This extra space doesn't count toward the overall length on the road because DOT measurements are taken from the front of the Tow Vehicle to the back of the Camper. The overhang enables manufacturers to get more living space out of a 5th Wheel without exceeding the max RV towable length allowed on the highway. 

Another advantage of the 5th Wheel Trailer is they have room to add upgrades that make them more usable for full time living. The large roof, for example, makes a perfect installation point for solar panels and external antennas needed to pull in internet or satellite TV. 

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What are the Disadvantages of a 5th Wheel Trailer?

The main disadvantage of a 5th Wheel trailer is its size and weight. 5th Wheel trailers generally range between 38 to 43 feet in overall length and have a gross vehicle weight of 15,000 to 20,000 lbs. To legally tow a large trailer one needs a vehicle that is rated to handle the weight.  Upgrading a truck does not increase its payload! A truck is rated for a capacity when it is build that cannot ever be changed no matter what upgrades are performed. 

In most cases the weight of the front of the trailer in the bed of the truck pushes 5th Wheel owners into a dual wheel truck. Single-wheel axle trucks tend to cap out at 3,000 lbs in the bed while dual wheel trucks can carry 8-10,000 lbs in the bed. It is common to pay as much or more for a truck as one would pay for a 5th Wheel Camper! 

Expanding on the length complexities of a 5th Wheel Camper, they will not fit into all campgrounds. In fact, most National and State Parks have length restrictions that preclude 5th Wheel owners from entering the park with their camper. The height of a 5th Wheel is also a limiting factor. In most cases, a 5th Wheel camper can only be towed to places where a Semi truck can go. Low bridges and trees can cause significant damage to a trailer. Fuel stops can also be challenging. Most gas stations are not set up to accommodate large vehicles with trailers. Accordingly, truck stops are designed for diesel trucks. 5th Wheel owners with gasoline tow vehicles cannot use the truck lanes at most truck stops. 

Travel Trailers

The travel trailer is the most common camper on the road. A travel trailer hooks up like a normal trailer with the tow point on the front of the trailer that connects to a standard trailer hitch mounted on the rear of the tow vehicle. Auto parts stores sell hitches and parts that will enable someone with a standard 2×2″ hitch receiver to connect to a Travel Trailer. 

2x2 Hitch Receiver
2×2 Hitch Receiver

Travel Trailers range in size and length with many of them having accommodations similar to a home. The most popular travel trailer manufacturer the Airstream who gained popularity because of their lightweight aerodynamic design. Airstreams have an aluminum body that decrease the overall weight. The weight reduction of the Airstream enables them to be pulled by smaller vehicles such as a quarter ton pickup truck. 

Airstream Travel Trailer
Airstream Travel Trailer

What are the Advantages of a Travel Trailer? 

The main advantage of a Travel Trailer is that they can be pulled by smaller tow vehicles. Most towable trailers can be pulled with a single-rear wheel vehicle. Travel Trailer buyers that already own a daily driver with a hitch receiver can often use their existing vehicle to tow a Travel Trailer, which reduces the up front cost substantially. 

Another advantage of a travel trailer is its size. Most are 20-30 feet in length making them easier to get into more campgrounds. A Travel Trailers shore power connection is also generally 30 amp or less making them more compatible with State parks and older campgrounds — larger RV's require 50 amp circuits that are not as common. A travel trailer can connect to power and be fully operational in more locations than a Class A or Fifth Wheel Trailer. 

What are the Disadvantages of a Travel Trailer?

Bumper pull trailers are easy to connect, but they come with some issues that 5th Wheel Trailers do not have. The entire weight of the front of a Travel trailer sits on the back of the tow vehicle at the bumper. Weight distribution inside of a travel trailer is critical. If too much weight is stored forward of the trailers wheels that weight is transferred to the bumper of the tow vehicle. An uneven distribution of weight will cause a trailer to sway when being pulled at highway speeds. The back and fourth movement can cause the tow vehicle to loose contact with the road and skid out of control. 

Loss of control due to trailer sway may not be covered by insurance. The driver may be held responsible for not operating the vehicle safely. Trailer sway is most often attributed to improper loading of the trailer. 

Trailer Sway Example

There are sway and load distribution systems that owners of Travel Trailers often use to help combat the problem with sway related accidents. These systems, however, are expensive and not 100% effective. A tow vehicle pulling a misconfigured trailer can cause an accident even when a weight distribution system is used. 

Another challenge with a travel trailer is backing into tight spaces. A 5th Wheel trailer connection is directly over the rear wheels of the tow vehicle. A 5th Wheel Trailer and Truck can be turned 90 degrees to each other enabling them to get into very tight spaces. A travel trailer is connected to the rear of the tow vehicle. The swing is limited to approximately 35 degrees. A tight turn may swing the front of the trailer into the rear of the tow vehicle. 

The diagram blow shows the backing angle increasing as the angle between the truck and the trailer increases — the force pushing the trailer toward a jackknifed angle. The greater the angle the more force is diverted outward. The outward force pulls the vehicles together rapidly, which will cause a collision if not corrected immediately. 

Travel Trailer Backup Angle Diagram
Travel Trailer Backup Angle Diagram

Pop-up and Teardrop Trailers

We combined Pop-up and Teardrop Trailers into the same category since they are both small towable trailers. The main difference is a Pop-up trailer requires setup before they can be entered and used. As the name suggests, pop-up trailers are closed down during travel. The top portion of the trailer needs to be raised up before being able to get inside. 

Pop-up Camper

A Teardrop Trailer gets its name from its shape. When looking at a Teardrop Trailer one form the side it looks like a Teardrop where the front is taller and the roof profile angles down toward the back in the shape of a teardrop.

Teardrop Camper

What are the Advantages of a Pop-up and Teardrop Trailer?

Pop-up and Teardrop Trailers are in a category all on their own. They are unlike anything we have been discussing thus far. The main advantage of these types of campers is their size and weight. They can be pulled by virtually any vehicle, which makes them a perfect fit for someone that wants to camp while continuing to use their tow vehicle as a daily driver.

Pop-up and Teardrop Trailers can be pulled by virtually any type of vehicle that can be outfitted with a trailer hitch. 

Prius Towing a Teardrop Trailer
Prius Towing a Teardrop Trailer

A key advantage of the Teardrop trailer is that they have axles that have a high ground clearance and they can be outfitted with off-road tires. It is common to see Jeeps and other overland tow vehicles pulling Teardrop trailers far into areas that no one else can get too. A Teardrop makes a perfect getaway trailer for those that want to immerse themselves into nature (assuming their tow vehicle can get there ;). 

An advantage of a popup trailer is they can have amenities such as air conditioners that a Teardrop can't have due to the shape of their roof. Pop-up trailers also have more living area inside. Teardrop's generally only have a bed inside with a hatch on the back that opens to get to the stove. Most Teardrop do not have a refrigerator. Pop-ups usually have a small refrigerator, propane stove and fold out sections in the front and rear that can accommodate 4 people comfortably. 

What are the Disadvantages of a Pop-up and Teardrop Trailer? 

Although Pop-ups and Teardrops can be towed into a lot of places, they do not have much room to carry camping accessories needed once arriving. Both of these trailer configurations are more like tent camping than the others we have been discussing. These types of trailers do not generally have showers, toilets or many comforts of home. Both are a clear upgrade from sleeping on the ground of a tent, but the experience is closer to traditional camping than any of the other RV configurations that are often referred to as Glamping. 

Another disadvantage of the the small form-factor trailer is that many RV parks will not allow camping in pop-ups or teardrops. Harvest Hosts, which is a popular overnight option for RV'ers transitioning across country, does not allow these types of campers to be used in their network. Harvest Hosts says on the front page of their website that they are “A membership network that invites self-contained RVers to stay overnight for free.” Anyone using a Harvest Host location must be staying in a fully self-contained RV that has a bathroom and inside kitchen. Overnight stops such as Walmart has restrictions on using Pop-up and Teardrop Trailers in their lots as well. 

Truck Campers

Truck Campers and Pop-ups icon

Truck campers are wildly popular in the Overlanding community. They are called Truck Campers because they are directly installed in a truck. Slide in Truck Campers are very popular because they have many of the amenities of home in a self-contained unit that sits in the bed of a pickup truck. Accordingly, Pop-up Truck campers are also popular because they are lightweight and can be fitted to smaller trucks. Pop-up Truck campers are commonly used by people who off-road. 

Truck Camper
Truck Camper

What are the Advantages of a Truck Camper?

Slide-in Truck Campers are a terrific option for those that have a truck that can carry them. They are generally heavy so they usually require a dually truck designed to carry the weight. The advantage of a Truck Camper is the unit is fully self-contained. Most have full kitchens, bathrooms and comfortable beds.

Designers of Truck Campers come up with very creative ways to make use of the small space. Beds, for example, can fold up and out of the way to make the space they occupy used for dining rooms or couches. Kitchen counters can fold up over the stove when not in use or opened to make more room for food preparation. Everything has a place in a Truck Camper.

Inside of a Truck Camper
Inside of a Truck Camper

Pop-up Truck Campers and Pop-up Travel Trailers are similar in design — both are engineered to be compact and lightweight. Pop-up Truck Campers can be installed in smaller vehicles that are easier to use when off-roading. When needed a Pop-up Truck Camper can be folded out to provide a surprisingly large amount of living space. 

Pop-up Truck Camper
Pop-up Truck Camper

Pop-up Truck Campers do not have all of the amities of the Slide-in versions, but what they do offer is the ability to get to places that virtually no one else can. It is common to see trucks with heavy off-roading capabilities fitted with a Pop-up Truck camper. Poop-up owners can take their vehicles out to distant places that would be virtually impossible to get to any other way. 

What are the Disadvantages of a Truck Camper?

The main disadvantage of Slide-in Truck camper is their weight. They are very heavy and require a large dually truck to carry them. The challenge for Truck Camper owners is that dually trucks are not designed to be off-road vehicles. They can get onto some beaches with tightly packed sand and can follow off-road paths made by others, but they cannot be taken as deep into the woods. There too simply too big and wide to be an effective off-road vehicle. 

Pop-up Truck Campers are dependent on the truck they are installed on, but in general they can be taken deeper into the woods than any other type of trailer. Pop-up Truck Campers are designed for sleeping and getting out of the elements. Most Pop-ups do nt have a built-in stove, refrigerator, toilet, or shower. All amenities need to be carried separately in the tow vehicle. The extra parts needed to camp take up space and add weight to the vehicle, which can defeat the purpose of having the pop-up on the first place. A common use case is that people with pop-ups often pull a small trailer with them to carry the items they cannot fit inside of the truck. Some even have Teardrop trailers and pop-up truck campers on so they have more sleeping area for their children and guests. 

Conclusion

Congratulations if you made it this far in the Article! Hopefully you found the information we provided useful. 

Our final thought is to take time to think about your use case. How will you be camping? What type of vehicle will you be using to tow with? Are you going to be staying primarily in campgrounds or camping off-of-the-grid? Are you going to be a weekend warrior camping a few times a year or living in your RV full time? 

Our recommendation is too think carefully about how you intend on using your camper before sitting foot in a dealership. Salespeople will try to convince you to buy whatever they have on their lot. Sales people are employed to sell campers. Their goal is to close the deal, not to discourage a sale because they don't have what you need in stock. Being armed with the knowledge of what exactly you need will help keep you on the track to purchasing the right camper that will provide years of enjoyment. You do not want to end up buying something that does not work for your use case. Campers lose value at a faster rate than cars. Discovering you bought the wrong RV is a very costly mistake. 

Jim Kerr

Jim Kerr is a entrepreneur that has founded several businesses including Orbitz, Team Convergence, Assure Flight, and Passion Highway. He is an airplane pilot, PADI SCUBA Dive Master and adventure traveler. Along with his wife Lisa, they travel North America in their 2020 Grand Design Momentum 397TH Toy Hauler with their cat Dexter. To find out more about Jim, visit JamesNKerr.com

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