The Ultimate Guide to RV Types: Which RV Type Is Right for Me?

Feb 9, 2022 | Rigs

The Ultimate Guide to RV Types: Which RV Type Is Right for Me?

In this guide for choosing the best RV for your lifestyle, we cover everything from pricing to floor plans for each RV type.

By RV Miles

Little Guy Teardrop Travel Trailer. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Purchasing an RV is an exciting but overwhelming endeavor. With so many types to choose from, the process of narrowing down the right one can be daunting without a roadmap. Here’s an overview of different RV types and their pros and cons in order to help you decide which one best fits your lifestyle. 

In this article: 

There are three major RV brands in the U.S.: Forest River, THOR Industries, and Winnebago Industries. Each of these manufacturers has subsidiaries, which you can learn more about on each company’s website. You’ll also find plenty of smaller, niche RV manufacturers, which we discuss more under applicable sections. 

Related How to Research Buying an RV

RV stands for “recreational vehicle,” which includes motorhomes, trailers, and more—any camping unit on wheels. The easiest way to start is to understand the two general RV categories: motorhomes and towables.

Motorhomes vs. Towables

A motorhome is an RV that’s powered by an engine. Towables are RVs that require another vehicle, usually a pickup truck, to tow them. Many people are drawn to motorhomes when they begin their search, but the vast majority of RVs sold—around 90 percent—are towables.

Towables are popular because they’re dramatically cheaper than a comparably-sized motorhome. You need a vehicle, in most cases a truck, to tow them, which can be expensive. But if you already have a daily driver to trade in, that can mean big financial savings. 

A towable also comes with the benefit of traveling with a vehicle that allows you to easily leave the campsite. With a motorhome, you’ll have to tow a car behind you if you don’t want to break camp every time you leave your campsite.  

Some of the advantages of motorhomes are that they’re faster to set up at camp and that the ride is more enjoyable for passengers. 

Types of Motorhomes 

Motorhomes are further broken down into three categories based on their chassis. Class A, B, and C motorhomes range from small vans to 45-foot-long motorcoaches. 

Large Class A motorhome parked at an RV show
Thor’s Venetian Class A motorhome. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Class A Motorhomes

Class A motorhomes are constructed on a chassis that has a bus-like shape. They can be the most expensive and luxurious of all RV types because the chassis can handle the added weight of expensive finishes and heavy appliances. 

Some class As are known as “diesel pushers,” meaning a diesel engine is at the back of the vehicle. This allows for a smooth, quiet ride, and easy access to the engine bay. The more affordable gasoline-driven models typically have the engine located in the front.

Size and Cost:

Class As range in length less than 30 feet to a maximum length of 45 feet. Prices start around $100,000 and reach all the way up to millions of dollars for a custom luxury motorcoach.

Typical Floor Plans:

Class As are often designed for the traveling couple, usually with one queen- or king-sized bed. Some models have a bed that drops down over the cab or a set of bunk beds, but most additional sleeping space requires converting a dinette or sofa. 

Generally, Class As can accommodate up to six sleepers and have multiple slide-outs that expand the cabin space when parked. Some floor plans have more than one bathroom, or come equipped with a washer/dryer combo in the unit. You’ll also get lots of storage in the “basement” underneath the coach.

Considerations: 

It’s important to remember that Class As are the heaviest of motorhomes, and require a truck or RV service center for repairs and maintenance. In some states, an RV that weighs more than 26,000 pounds requires an upgraded driver’s license. Usually, only Class A motorhomes will fall into this category.

Class A Manufacturers Include: 

Coachmen, Entegra, Fleetwood, Forest River, Holiday Rambler, Newmar, Thor Motor Coach, Tiffin, and Winnebago.

Exterior of a white Class B RV.
Storyteller Class B RV. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Class B Motorhomes

Class Bs are vans that have been converted into living spaces. They’re easy to drive and often fit into a regular parking space. Class B travelers rarely tow anything, opting to break camp when they need to relocate. If traveling light and fast is appealing, a Class B might be for you. 

Related Rig Roundup: Innovative Class Bs for Vanlifers

Size and Cost: 

Everything is smaller in a Class B and space is limited, but designs have become more innovative with layouts utilizing every single nook and cranny. Fuel mileage is outstanding compared to other rigs, and people often use them as a second vehicle. Class Bs typically cost between $80,000 and $200,000.

Typical Floor Plans:

Class B motorhomes are built inside a commercially manufactured van shell, with space for two adults to sleep comfortably, and four people max. The bed usually converts to a seating area during the day. Most Class Bs are equipped with a bathroom, often with a shower and toilet combination (known as a wet bath) and smaller holding tanks for fresh and wastewater. 

Considerations:

Some municipalities and homeowners’ associations don’t allow RV parking in driveways, but Class Bs often circumvent the rule since they might be registered as a van instead of an RV. And since they are built on a major brand-name chassis, like Mercedes-Benz, Ram, or Ford, finding service is much easier. 

Class B Manufacturers Include: 

Airstream, Coachmen, Jayco, Leisure Travel Vans, Pleasure Way, Thor Motor Coach, and Winnebago.

Exterior of a Class C motorhome parked at an RV show
Jayco Greyhawk Class C RV. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Class C Motorhomes 

Class Cs are usually built on a medium-duty truck chassis and typically have an area above the front cab that serves as an extra bunk or storage space. Like Class As and Bs they offer a more comfortable ride and serve as the middle ground between a larger motorhome and a van.

You may hear people refer to a category of motorhomes called “B Plus.” These are technically Class C motorhomes since they’re not built within the shell of a van. Instead, a B Plus uses a cutaway van chassis and the exterior is built to create an RV that bridges the size gap between a typical Class B and C. 

There are also Super C motorhomes, which are Class Cs built on a diesel-powered, heavy-duty truck chassis, like a Freightliner or Ford F-550. They can haul a significant amount of weight, making them perfect for towing a large trailer behind. 

Size and Cost:

Class Cs are typically smaller and more affordable than Class As. Both gas and diesel models can be found and service on the engine portion is straightforward. Typical Class Cs are usually less than 30 feet and cost between $50,000 and $100,000. 

Typical Floor Plans: 

Class Cs often have a boxy appearance with an overhang above the driver’s cabin and the hood, which is usually a bunk space. Most Class Cs have open floor plans and you’ll find some with dry bath options. 

Considerations: 

Class Cs can be ideal for those looking to have a more spacious motorhome and camp at national parks, which typically require RVs to be less than 30 feet long to properly fit at campgrounds. 

Class C Manufacturers Include: 

Coachmen, Forest River, Jayco, Tiffin, and Thor Motor Coach.

Class C RVs with a Class A motorhome in the background
Jayco Redhawk Class C RV. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Gas vs. Diesel Engines 

Gasoline-powered motorhomes are more affordable than those with diesel engines. However, diesel engines last longer and have more power to drive up mountain passes, and engine brakes to navigate steep grades. 

Diesel engines also get better fuel mileage, though fuel and repairs are more expensive. When deciding between a gas or diesel engine in a motorhome, it’s usually a budget-driven decision.

Types of Towables 

Towables are RVs that are pulled behind a truck or a smaller vehicle, like an SUV. They range in size from small teardrop trailers to massive 45-foot trailers with multiple slide-outs and large living spaces. 

Related What’s the Best Truck for Towing a Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel?

You’ll need a heavy-duty truck to pull serious towables. Most are too heavy to be towed by a car or SUV. Even half-ton pickup trucks like the popular Ford F-150 or Chevy 1500 will struggle with most medium- to large-sized towables. 

Check weights and published towing charts from auto manufacturers to make sure the trailer’s weight is well within the limits for both towing capacity and payload. Give yourself some leeway so that your vehicle doesn’t struggle. 

Exterior of a travel trailer with an awning extended
Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Conventional Travel Trailers 

Conventional travel trailers are pulled from a mounted hitch located below the bumper on a truck. Trailers are extremely popular, so there are tons of brands and options. 

Size and Cost:

Travel trailers can range from $12,000 to $120,000 and come in a wide array of sizes, amenities, and floor plans.  

Typical Floor Plans:

Some trailer models have slide-outs and separate living spaces, depending on the length of the trailer. In mid-sized trailers, you’ll find a variety of front and rear living floor plans, which typically have a dry bath. There are specialty trailer categories as well, which we’ll discuss more below. 

Considerations:

Highway sway can be an issue with conventional travel trailers, especially if pulled by undersized vehicles. If you go the travel trailer route, it’s highly recommended to use a sway control system.

Travel Trailer Manufacturers Include: 

Airstream, Forest River, Heartland, Jayco, Keystone RV, KZ Recreational Vehicles, nuCamp, Rockwood, and Venture RV.

Fifth wheel RV being towed by a truck
Arctic Fox Fifth Wheel RV.

Fifth Wheels

Fifth wheels are named for their hitch, which is located in the bed of the truck and bolted through the frame. Part of the trailer overhangs the truck bed. Fifth wheels can be much heavier and taller than a conventional travel trailer. 

Size and Cost: 

Large fifth wheels are spacious, with multiple bedrooms and open common areas, but there are some fairly small fifth wheels, too. They range in price from $25,000 up to more than $200,000.

Typical Floor Plans: 

Most fifth wheels feature the main bedroom in the front part of the trailer. 

Considerations:

You’ll need a special type of hitch and a truck to tow a fifth wheel. Sway is improved due to the load riding right over the truck’s rear axle.  

Fifth Wheel Manufacturers Include: 

Alliance, Coachmen, Grand Design, Heartland, Jaystone, Keystone RV, Montana, and Redwood. 

Large toy hauler RV with patio extended in the rear
Vengeance Rogue Toy Hauler RV. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Toy Haulers

Toy haulers, or “sport-utility RVs,” are a type of RV that has a garage space inside meant for dirt bikes, dune buggies, ATVs, golf carts, or motorcycles. 

Related Rig Roundup: 6 Toy Haulers for Your Adventures

Size and Cost: 

There are toy haulers of all RV types—motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels—so you can choose which type of RV fits your needs and toys. Size and cost range greatly depending on the type, but the most common type of toy hauler is a fifth wheel, with prices starting around $30,000 to more than $100,000.

Typical Floor Plans: 

Toy haulers have seen increased popularity recently due to the customizable garage space. Many full-time RVers convert it into additional sleeping or living space. Some models also have fold-out party decks and additional fuel tanks for gassing up your toys.

Considerations:

If you’re purchasing a toy hauler to carry specific toys, make sure you measure them ahead of time and select an appropriate-sized garage. 

Toy Hauler Manufacturers Include: 

Dutchmen, Eclipse, Forest River, Grand Design, Heartland, Jayco, and Keystone RV. 

Aliner pop-up RV with extended roof
Aliner pop-up RV. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Expandable Camping Trailers

Commonly referred to as “pop-ups,” expanding camping trailers offer the tent-camping experience with the convenience of quick set-up, electricity, and (sometimes) heat and A/C. Some pop-ups come with hard-sided walls that create an A-line shape. 

Size and Cost:

Expandable camping trailers are usually the least expensive RV types available, with new models starting as low as $7,000. They’re generally very light, and can often be pulled behind an SUV or minivan.

Typical Floor Plans: 

Pop-ups are essentially a tent on top of a trailer frame. Usually, the roof lifts up and beds swing out, all encased in soft canvas and mesh screen material. Most don’t have private bathrooms or kitchen facilities. 

Considerations:

Pop-ups don’t have much storage and they’re more exposed to the elements. Just like tents, proper upkeep of the canvas is necessary. Pop-ups can make for a great first RV and intro to the lifestyle due to their smaller size, lighter weight, and easy setup. 

Pop-up Manufacturers Include: 

Aliner, Forest River, Jayco, OPUS Camper, and Taxa Outdoors.

Hybrid RV with a cannas slide-out
Forest River Flagstaff Hybrid RV. | Photo courtesy Forest River

Hybrid Trailers

Hybrids are like a typical travel trailer but instead of slide-outs, they have expandable canvas areas like a pop-up. 

Size and Cost:

Hybrids usually have the same amenities as a travel trailer, but are less expensive than a trailer of comparable size. They’re usually priced at about $10,000 to $30,000.

Typical Floor Plans: 

The sections of the trailer that pop out are normally sleeping areas. You’ll find a range of options, including models with dry baths and kitchen appliances. 

Considerations:

Like pop-ups you need to upkeep the canvas tents properly and temperature control is more difficult in the sleeping areas. Also like pop-ups, hybrids are great entry RVs for the price, size, weight, and ease. 

Hybrid Manufacturers Include: 

Forest River and Jayco.

Blue teardrop trailer exterior
T@g Teardrop Travel Trailer. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Teardrop Trailer 

A teardrop trailer is a very small, lightweight trailer that can be towed behind a variety of vehicles. 

Related Rig Roundup: Lightweight Trailers That You Can (Probably) Tow with Your Current Vehicle

Size and Cost:

The teardrop name comes from the shape of the trailer, which is essentially a tear or pod. The price for these specialty trailers ranges between $5,000 and $30,000 depending on the size and amenities. Teardrops are usually less than 10 feet long with some larger models around 15 feet.   

Typical Floor Plans:

With a curved shape, there’s usually just enough space inside for a bed or small dinette, with an outdoor kitchenette located under a hatch. Luxury models might feature a wet bath. 

Considerations:

Most models don’t have a tall clearance or roomy interior, so these types of trailers are best suited for weekend warriors and most comfortable for one to two people. Teardrops are also popular for off-roading, with some models built specifically with higher wheel clearance and rugged-terrain tires. Due to the small size, there’s minimal maintenance in comparison to other types of RVs.

Teardrop Manufacturers Include: 

Bean Trailer, nuCamp, and Safari Condo.

Vintage fiberglass travel trailer parked in the woods
Vintage fiberglass travel trailer.

Fiberglass Trailers

Fiberglass trailers are a niche type of specialty trailers that are molded from fiberglass instead of traditional wood or aluminum siding and framing. 

Size and Cost: 

Due to the material, they’re lightweight and easy to tow. Fiberglass trailers are typically less than 20 feet long. Prices range from $15,000 to $30,000. 

Typical Floor Plans: 

Fiberglass floor plans vary by RV type but they’re typically smaller trailers, although they can be seen in fifth wheels and truck campers too. Smaller models will typically have a wet bath or no bathroom at all while larger ones can have dry baths. Many fiberglass manufacturers offer lots of customizations. Because of the fiberglass mold, there are no slide-outs. 

Considerations: 

These specialty trailers are considered high-quality and long-lasting, giving them a higher resale value than most other RVs. 

Fiberglass Manufacturers Include: 

Bigfoot RV, Casita, Escape Trailer, Oliver, and Scamp. 

Exterior side view of a truck camper.
Lance 960 Truck Camper. | Photo: Amanda Adler

Truck Campers

Truck campers physically slide into the truck bed and ride on top of it. Like Class Bs, you can drive and park them pretty much anywhere. 

Related Ready to Downsize? Here Are the Pros and Cons of Smaller RVs

Size and Cost: 

Though compact, truck campers offer quite a bit of space. Truck campers range from $8,000 to $60,000.

Typical Floor Plans:

The sleeping area is usually located in the cab area and elevated from the rest of the space by a few steps. Below, living area layouts differ but usually include a sitting area, kitchen or kitchenette, and wet or dry bath. Some models even have slide-outs to expand the interior space. 

Considerations: 

Truck campers typically have retractable legs that allow the truck to be driven out from underneath the camper, so you can leave it at the campground, though this can be time-consuming. 

Truck Camper Manufacturers Include:

Hallmark, Host Industries, Lance, and nuCamp.

Emerging Types of RVs

Exterior of a rugged Class B RV built for off-roading
Jayco Terrain Class B RV. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Off-Road and Rugged Campers

This popular new RV category allows RVers to camp and travel longer distances off-road. Options range from Class Bs with four-wheel drive to tank-like overlanding vehicles. There are many trailers built for off-roading, too, with upgraded suspensions and hitches, large tank sizes, and solar power systems.  

Related Rig Roundup: The 6 Best RVs for Going Off the Grid

Many RV manufacturers are releasing more rugged models, including Black Series, Ember, inTech, Jayco, and Winnebago.

Airstream trailer at RV show
Airstream eStream Electric Travel Trailer. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Electric RVs

While electric vehicles are becoming more and more common on the roads, it’s still a bit of a challenge to build something as heavy as an RV on an electric vehicle chassis. And towing a trailer can cut the range of an electric truck in half. But there are big advancements on the horizon in this space—from small electric camper vans to trailers that have additional batteries and built-in motors. Be on the lookout for electric RVs to become available sometime after 2023. 

Both THOR Industries and Winnebago recently revealed concept vehicles for electric motorhomes. THOR also unveiled the Airstream eStream, an electric-powered trailer concept. 


The most important thing to remember with any RV purchase is that there’s no “perfect” RV that will meet all of your needs for the rest of your RV life. But there is an RV that will meet the needs of your current lifestyle. 

Use this as a guide to figure out which RV type you’re most interested in. When you’re ready to start shopping, check out Togo University’s free Guide to RV Shopping course in the Togo RV app. It features a lot more information about the RV buying process, how to negotiate with RV dealers, tips on buying used, and more. 

Togo RV is part of a joint venture, partially owned by Thor Industries, Inc., of which Airstream, Dutchmen, Heartland RV, Keystone RV, KZ RV, Jayco, and Thor Motor Coach are subsidiaries.

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The RV Miles Network is a network of resources for the North American RV enthusiast and includes a website, a popular YouTube channel, numerous social media channels (including founders Jason and Abby's personal full-time travel journal - Our Wandering Family), and three weekly podcasts (RV Miles, America's National Parks, and See America).

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