When Outdoorsy co-founder Jen Young sets out to learn something new, nothing gets in her way. This breakdown of the RV Classes she created when was first learning the biz is the stuff of legend. We use it to help beginners find their way. Now you can use it to help orient yourself on your journey, too.
The most important thing to know: the world of RVs seems huge, but when you boil it down, there are really just two major categories of RV’s: Motorized and Towable.
Within the Motorized category, you’ll find the RV Classes you’ve likely heard about: A, B, and C.
Self-contained units you drive–or even live–in.
Breaks Down into 3 Types:
1.CLASS A Motor Home (The Biggest Guys)
- Overall: one of the biggest and often most luxurious and expensive, great for extended stays at one location
- Amenities: Usually fully loaded with all the amenities of home with usable living space while driving
- Sleeps: 1 to 8 people
- Driving: relatively easy and doesn’t require a special license.
- Size: 21 to 45 feet.
2.CLASS B Campervan or Conversion van (The Smallest Guys)
- Overall: the smallest fully enclosed motor home, great choice due to the price, versatility, and ease of operating.
- Amenities: cooking facilities, a small refrigerator, heating unit, folding beds but limited living space. Sometimes they have a self contained toilet and a fresh water tank, but not always.
- Sleeps: 1 to 4 people.
- Size: 17 to 19 feet.
3.CLASS C Motor Home (The Middle-Sized Guys)*
*Yes, it’s weird the classes aren’t linear and it go from BIG to SMALL to MEDIUM-SIZED.
- Overall: a smaller version of the Class A motor home.
- Amenities: Most likely the sleeping quarters will be above the cab and also another one in the back, a slide out feature that will increase the living space when parked. Equipped with many of the same features as their bigger counterparts such as refrigerator, cooking facilities, self-contained toilet, heating and air conditioning, and an array of appliances and entertainment equipment.
- Sleeps: 1 to 8 people
- Size: 20 to 31 feet in length
Pulled behind a vehicle. Simple as that.
Breaks down into:
1.FOLDING TRAILERS (aka pop-up campers)
- Overall: smaller in size and can be easily towed by an average size car or SUV. The sides fold down for easy storage and towing. They are usually inexpensive in comparison to other RVs, but provide a nice enhancement to the camping experience.
- Amenities: a couple of double beds, screened in sleeping place, sink, faucet, cook top, and small dining area. Bigger units may have a toilet or shower.
2. TRAVEL TRAILERS
- Overall: require a vehicle such as an SUV, pickup truck, or van and a special hitch that controls the sway of the trailer when in motion.
- Amenities: usually provide all the living amenities that motorized RVs do
- Sleeps: 1 to 8 people depending on model and floor plan
- Size: a variety of sizes, ranging from 10 feet (a small bedroom) to 35 feet long.
3. FIFTH-WHEEL TRAILERS
- These RVs get their name because they have an extension on the front that extends over the tow vehicle and end with a plate that looks like another wheel. The ‘wheel’ attaches to the cab of a full sized pickup truck that tows it. It is important to have the correct tow vehicle when using a fifth-wheel.
- Amenities: There is plenty of room on the inside, and some often include slide outs for a larger living space. The trailer usually includes a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Because these trailers provide the best comforts of home, these are great choices if you are staying in one spot for an extended period of time.
Same Info, Illustrated.
The 3-Question RV Checklist
As each RV has unique qualities that offer traveler tools for an incredible vacation. Choosing the right RV is based on these key factors:
How many travelers (people needing beds)?
Your travel itinerary (touring many locations or staying in one location for an extended period of time?)
Vacation budget (consider insurance and mileage expenses as well)?
How do RVs and driver’s licenses work?
A great majority of RVs can be driven with a regular driver’s license.
Some states require a special license for large RV’s.
Since licenses are issued by each state (as well as Washington D.C.), the can rules vary for different types of RVs. For example:
- In Connecticut, a different type of license, called a Class 2, is required for trailers above 10,000 lb.
- In Hawaii, Class 4 license required for trailers weighing more than 15,000 lb and less than 26,000 lb. So you need a commercial driver’s license above 26,000 lb.
- In Wisconsin, there’s an RV exemption in the commercial driver’s license manual: “motor home, fifth wheel mobile home,…provided it isn’t longer than 45 feet“