The Different RV Classes & What They Mean

Published Categorized as RVs

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Are you thinking about buying a travel trailer or motorhome and living life on the road as a full-time RVer? Are you confused with what the “classes and types” of recreational vehicle mean? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one that is confused about what type of RV is best for your situation. Let’s walk through the different options.

The Class A Motorhome

When I began looking for an RV to live in full-time, I too was confused about the different classes and types of RVs. I did some research and I quickly discovered that a Class A motorhome was well out of my price range. Prices for these types of motorhomes can vary from $80,000 to well over a million dollars. However, with the higher price of a Class A motorhome there comes some added luxuries and amenities that you won’t find on the lower end models.

Once, while I was at a campground in Northern Michigan, I met a very nice retired couple from Georgia that was traveling in a high-end Prevost motorhome. They stayed for two weeks and during that time I got to know them quite well and we would often have drinks outside under their canopy. When they invited me inside to take a look at their coach I was amazed by what I saw. There was an island kitchen with granite countertops, a convection stove and microwave, they had a dishwasher and a small wet bar. The living area had a slide-out on both sides that when fully extended, made the room nearly 15 feet wide. In the bathroom there was a full size bathtub and next to that room was a small pantry and a stackable washer and dryer. The bedroom also had a slide-out and came equipped with a king size bed.

Because motorhomes sit high on a single chassis, there are a lot of storage compartments in a Class A and their Prevost was no exception. Behind the driver’s seat there was a compartment on a slide that when pulled out revealed a full size box freezer. On the passenger side next to the door there was another compartment that had double doors that when opened revealed a 36 inch wall mounted flat screen TV and with another smaller mini-bar and a small refrigerator that they used to keep beverages in. They also towed a cargo trailer where they stored their BMW car and a golf cart while they traveled. So if you are looking to travel in a more luxurious fashion a high-end Class A motorhome is the way to go.

For specific recommendations, read our guide on the best class A RVs.

The Class B Motorhome

Now here’s where some of the confusion came for me. I naturally assumed that the largest and the nicest motorhomes were the Class A which was correct. However, I soon discovered that the Class B was actually smaller than a Class C, which to this day still doesn’t make sense to me.

With that being said, a Class B motorhome is what are referred to as campervans. These units are much smaller and are basically a van with some amenities like a very little stove, mini-refrigerator, bed, and limited storage areas making it good for one or two people. Some are equipped with a bathroom but that too is tiny and I immediately knew a Class B was not in my future. While these are suitable for one person, as an artist, writer, and photographer that travels with a lot of equipment and supplies, I also have an 80 pound hound dog that shares my journeys, so this class of motorhome would not work for me.

For specific recommendations, read our guide on the best class B campervans.

The Class C Motorhome

As I said earlier, this class is actually larger than a Class B and far more comfortable. These units come with a small bedroom in the rear and have a small bathroom with a shower unit and sink. Above the driver and passenger area, they build an area where two more people can sleep and the table top in the kitchen can be dropped down to accommodate two more people. These are probably the most popular units because of their space and storage compartments and because they are much more affordable. I have seen many couples traveling in these and they usually convert the bed above the drivers to storage cabinets.

For specific recommendations, read our guide on the best class C motorhomes.

What Are My Choices For Trailers?

Trailers don’t have classes like motorhomes do, but they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes from the tiny teardrop style or pop-up camper to the more roomy and spacious models such as fifth-wheels. They also design some trailers aimed at certain niches and these are commonly referred to as toy haulers.

The Teardrop

A teardrop camper is about as minimalist as you can get. Shaped much like their name implies, they are low profile with a sleeping area up front that you cannot stand up in, and the rear usually opens up from outside to reveal an area that you can utilize for a small cooking space and limited storage.

The Midsize

This size varies by factor such as length, manufacturer and accessories or amenities you may want on your model. If you are looking for more storage space then you will need a larger unit. These trailers all have a bathroom, living area, and a kitchen space. With length, you are going to gain more storage and living space so the options are really up to the buyer as to their choices. Some are good for towing a car or small SUV while others are too small to tow a vehicle. These are all decisions you will need to explore before you decide what RV is best for needs.

Towable Fifth-wheel Trailers

A 5th wheel unit is usually larger than the ball-and-hitch trailer. It weighs more and it has a receiver located within the bed of the pickup truck pulling it that is exactly like the design they use on semi-trucks. It reduces your turning radius and utilizes the space above the towing vehicle into a bedroom. These models can vary in length and amenities, but most come equipped with the same features you would expect at a traditional home. They often times have multiple slide-outs that expand your living area and include numerous storage areas.

Toy Haulers

These are one of my favorite types of RVs. I love when people design an RV based upon their needs and interests. In fact, during my former career as a chef, I once worked for a lady that ran her own hunting and fishing excursions business that included meals and horses. My quarters and cooking space were in the forward area of a 5th wheel, and in the rear was a dropdown ramp/door with stalls that accommodated four riding horses. I loved working for that lady and it is a highlight in my career as a chef, traveler, artist and writer.

Whatever your choices may be, if you plan on being a full-time RVer, you should look for an RV that will work well with your interests and passions. Once you have figured that out, you will be well on your way to hitting the open road with your fishing or hunting gear, your surfing or diving gear or even your photography gear. That’s where the real adventure begins.

Related reading: How to understand your RV VIN

By Brian

Born and raised in Michigan, contributing writer Brian C. Noell is a retired hospitality industry professional that now works remotely as a visual artist, writer and photographer as he travels around the United States in an RV with his dog Lizzy, an eighty pound Appenzeller hound dog.