RV Life – What Kind of RV?

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Preparations

Making preparations for the RV Life presents many questions.

Here’s an important one …

What Kind of RV Do I Want?

Making the decision to Go RV is hard enough. Choosing which RV to do it in can take you to the next level of difficulty. Equally fun as it is challenging, the RV industry delivers a vast menu of styles, options, models, and features that will have your head spinning.

Since there are endless options on the market for occasional campers doing vacations, holidays, and weekend getaways, let’s narrow the list to a few common options that are suitable for long-term or full-time living.

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This is the all-in-one style of RV. It has its own engine, so it doesn’t have to be towed around. You have access to the interior while moving, which can come in handy for passengers needing a restroom break. A downside is, unless you are towing a car behind you then you will have the hassle of breaking down camp and setting up again every time you leave. I experienced this during A Trial Run.

Another factor is cost. Most motorhomes have a higher cost point (luxury features, the motor). This brings along other considerations, such as maintenance, DMV requirements, potential licensing to operate, and increased insurance costs.

Motorhomes come in a variety of styles, called “class” …

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Preparations
An example of an A-Class motorhome.


These are typically the largest of the motorhome styles, often referred to as a bus or a motorcoach. Sometimes called “diesel pushers“, these models tend to be on the high-end of the market, attracting buyers with a healthy budget reaching 7-figures. Popular brands include Winnebago, Tiffin, and Newmar.

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An example of a B-Class motorhome.


At the small-end of the scale are the B-Class models. Sometimes referred to as “conversion vans“. Personally speaking, I don’t think these are suitable for full-time living, but many people do and seem to love these tiny homes. Some popular makers include Pleasure Way, Roadtrek, and Leisure Travel.

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An example of a C-Class motorhome.


These are the mid-sized motorhomes, often built on a large truck frame. C-Class models tend to be the most popular, offering great overall value with an attractive price point and tons of great features. Some popular manufacturers include Thor, Jayco, and Coachmen.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - What Kind of RV
Stock photo of a Super C-Class model from Dynamax.

Super C-Class

Relatively new in the world of motorhomes, the Super C-Class is basically as-named … a super-sized C-Class model.

Super C-Class models are typically built on a commercial grade truck frame. Beautifully crafted and built to last these motorhomes are quite expensive. Some great Super C brands include Thor, Newmar, and Dynamax.

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This is the trailer style of RVs. One of the most important factors in choosing an RV trailer is the power and capacity of your tow vehicle. Hitch options will also be a big factor.

The truck and trailer combination is my personal favorite. I like the convenience of parking the trailer at my campsite and disconnecting the truck so I can explore the area without the hassles of unhooking the service connections every time I leave (water, power, sewer). Also, who wants to navigate a scenic mountain road in a huge motorhome? Not me.

Let’s focus on the 3 most common trailer configurations; Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, and Toy Haulers.

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Here’s a common Travel Trailer model.

Travel Trailers

This is the type of trailer that connects to a standard bumper hitch. They tend to be shorter in height and more uniform in shape.

Travel Trailers typically have a lower price point while still offering some excellent features. Some popular brand names include Airstream, Dutchmen, and Jayco.

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A typical Fifth Wheel truck and trailer combination.

Fifth Wheels

This style of trailer connects to a specialized hitch mounted inside the bed of a truck. The weight of the trailer rests on the bed of the truck rather than on the bumper. This provides a more stable towing experience.

Fifth wheel trailers are taller than travel trailers and have a signature shape where the front end connects to the truck. Popular brands include Keystone, Forest River, and Grand Design.

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This big rig Toy Hauler is a heavy 3-axle model, pulled with a dual-wheel truck

Toy Haulers

This kind of trailer is basically a mobile garage. A large portion of the interior space is designed to carry your “toys“, such as motorcycles, ATVs, and golf carts.

Toy haulers can come in all styles; Fifth Wheel, Travel Trailer, and Motorhomes too. The most common Toy Hauler configuration I’ve seen on the road is the Fifth Wheel style.

Most of the major RV manufactures offer Toy Hauler options. Toy Hauler Adventures is a great resource to learn more about these unique rigs.

Two important things to consider with a toy hauler are Weight and Space.

Weight: Besides the added weight of the toys themselves, Toy Hauler trailers are built with sturdier materials to handle the added weight. This often means a third axle on the trailer. The heavier the trailer, the bigger tow vehicle you’ll need.

Space: You will likely lose some living space with a Toy Hauler. However, there are many smart options on the market that allow you to dual-purpose the garage space into living space once you unload your toys at the campground.

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If you’re considering Going RV and have no viable tow vehicle, a motorhome with a “toad” might be an option for you. What’s a “toad“? In the RV world it’s a cute name given to the vehicle that’s “towed” behind the motorhome. See this article on Winnebago.com for some great insights on the topic.

How did I decide which way to go?

Since I already owned a truck I knew I wanted to leverage that investment. This put me on the Towables side of the equation. I also knew I had no toys to haul around, so I wouldn’t be needing a heavy toy hauler. This pointed me to a Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel.

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My 2011 Toyota Tundra. A great truck, but kind-of weak as a tow vehicle.

Before I could start narrowing my focus to some trailer models, I needed to understand what my truck could handle.

I had some concerns right away, simply because I knew my truck was on the low-end of the scale for power and capacity. A standard half-ton Toyota Tundra with a V6 would limit my options.

I needed some expert opinions.

Besides the obvious choice of visiting my local dealers and browsing their inventories, one of the best things we did was go to a local RV & Boat Show. Like most metro areas in the US, Nashville hosts an annual EXPO with hundreds of RV models to explore and dozens of experts to talk with. We spent hours browsing some amazing options and picking the brains of several seasoned RV professionals.

Another option I could suggest to you is “try it before you buy it“. I benefited greatly from my experience of A Trial Run, gaining some valuable insight to life in a C-Class motorhome. You may want to rent an option or two and try it out for a weekend at a local campground.

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Another idea I can offer is to take a drive through a few campgrounds and view all the various RV configurations. You will be amazed by so many different models and styles. You will likely begin to notice which ones are the most popular. If a lot of people are buying those models then they must be good ones! Most RV people are very friendly and often willing to chat with you for a few minutes about their rig. Ask them what they like and dislike.

Here’s another useful resource providing links to dozens of RV manufacturers. So many options!

We found answers at the EXPO, but also found more challenges. In particular, we found the perfect model while also learning that the Tundra would not be enough truck to pull it. So, we needed to go truck shopping too!

Fortunately for us, we had a highly knowledgeable family member well experienced with RVs and trucks who helped us narrow the decision to a RAM 2500 Cummins Turbo Diesel. This is plenty of truck for nearly any RV trailer option. Most importantly, it was the perfect machine for the RV model we had already found at the EXPO.

Equipped with the knowledge of the truck and trailer configuration we wanted, the next question to figure out was, “Can we afford it?

Proverbs 3:5-6

Explore the next article … Can I Afford It?

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Steve Coryell