If you’re confused about the difference between a fifth wheel, a pop-up, and a travel trailer, you’re not alone. There are lots of different types of RVs out there.
Different types of campers, trailers, and motorhomes are suited for different purposes and people. As you shop around, consider how you plan to use your RV, what accommodations you can’t live without, and, of course, your budget.
These RVs are smaller, lightweight, and 2 out of the 3 can be towed by almost any kind of vehicle.
If you’re new to the RV lifestyle or on a tight budget, you might consider one of these 3 options. They’re best for weekend warriors and people who only camp occasionally.
Truck campers affix to the bed of a pickup truck, so they can go pretty much anywhere a standard pickup truck can go.
To give you a little more room, truck campers often have slide-outs and high ceilings so that you can spread out and feel more comfortable in your space.
Since they’re made to attach to a pickup truck, there’s not space or hookups for things like kitchens, appliances, and bathrooms, so think of this as a place to set up camp while you cook and clean outside.
Fold Downs/Pop Ups
You might have heard these referred to as fold downs, pop ups, tent trailers, or camper trailers. They all mean the same thing.
A pop up camper is towed behind your vehicle on a regular hitch, and they’re light enough that most vehicles can handle the load.
For small families, these are great starter campers.
These are called pop ups (or fold downs) because the sides are made of a tent-like material and they fold to a smaller size while you’re towing, then “pop” up to give you some room to move when you’re ready to camp.
Some come with options such as hot water, appliances, kitchens, and even bathrooms.
An expandable is essentially an upgraded pop up – instead of soft sides, they are hard-sided with expandable tent ends, thus the name.
Since expandables are a little heavier than pop ups, a mid-sized vehicle is a better choice for towing.
All of the features available in pop ups are also available in expandables, and you can also get slideouts for a little more room while your family is sharing space. These are often the camper that families choose when they’re ready for something a little nicer than their pop up.
RVs For Regular Campers
If you camp often or travel long distances in your RV, you probably want something that’s a little more comfortable to spend a lot of time in.
These 2 types of campers are also towed behind a vehicle, but since they’re larger and heavier, you’ll need a truck with reasonable towing capacity to haul your RV around the country and over hilly terrain.
Fifth wheels are thus called because they’re towed by a pickup truck with a special fifth wheel hitch.
Given their generous size, fifth wheels are surprisingly easy to tow because of the unique hitching system. They’re a good transition point from towing a smaller camper, and they’re large enough that you get all the amenities you need while you’re on long trips.
When you say “camper,” this is what most people think of.
Travel trailers are big RVs that are towed by a bumper hitch or a frame hitch, and they come in multiple floor plans from basic to downright opulent.
RVing in a travel trailer can be like taking your home with you as you cruise across the country. These are great choices for people who take frequent, long road trips with family, as they’re big enough that everyone has some space.
When you start looking into RVs that aren’t towed behind a vehicle, but are actually vehicles themselves, then you’re looking at motorhomes.
Motorhomes come in three basic types.
Class C Motorhomes
The smallest motorhome option, Class C motorhomes are built on a truck chassis and have the cab-over profile that makes them easy to distinguish from the Class A types.
Since Class C is a little smaller, these are great for singles or couples that want to go on adventures to more remote places. They can get around tight corners and narrow roads that some of the larger options can’t navigate.
Most Class C motorhomes have all the amenities you’d expect in a travel trailer or a Class A. Everything is just on a smaller scale.
Class A Gasoline Motorhomes
If you’re a full-time RVer, or you go on frequent long trips, this is a popular option.
Class A motorhomes generally come with residential-size furniture, slideouts, full-size appliances, and sometimes even a washer and dryer.
These are the kinds of motorhomes that you can comfortably live in.
Class A Diesel Motorhomes
Class A Diesels are frequently called ‘diesel pushers’ because the big diesel engine is at the back of the coach pushing it down the road.
Since the engine is in the rear, these are quieter, more powerful, a little more durable, and tend to have a smoother ride than their gasoline counterparts.
For most people, diesel pushers are the ultimate in luxury motorhomes.
Features and extras are available in almost every RV type, so keep in mind that a more compact option isn’t necessarily a lower price or quality than a larger motorhome.
When you’re ready to hit the road, there are plenty of choices to suit your style and your family.