RVing

What You Need to Know About the Different Types of Towable RVs

Coleman Lantern LT camper being pulled to a hunting destination

Variety and affordability. That’s what the towable RV market offers you. While motorhomes are divided up into three primary classes, towable RVs are divided up into more distinct types. This means there’s little chance you can’t find a towable RV that fits your needs.

That’s the true key to purchasing any RV. You need something that will meet your needs. It all depends on what adventures you want to take.

With that in mind, let’s take some time to go through all of the different types of towable RVs, so that you can see what’s out there and hopefully determine what type of towable RV is right for you.

Pop Up

pop-up camper
Image from Gander

Pop up campers bring the openness of a tent and some of the features and tow ability of an RV into one special unit.

Most pop ups have limited features and amenities, but just about all will have a small sink and kitchen area. Few come with toilets or bathrooms, but there are a couple larger ones out there that do.

Generally, though, you get two expandable beds on either end of the camper, a dinette and kitchen area in the middle of the floorplan. Beyond that, there isn’t too much to these. Some will come with AC units, but as you can imagine, AC in a pop up isn’t super-efficient.

There are also hard-side pop ups that offer more of a travel trailer feel and some more amenities but with a small overall size and an easy-to-tow design.

Pop ups can range in length from 8 to 14 feet. They can be had for under $10,000 new at their most basic and go up from there.

Teardrop and Small Campers

Small campers or teardrop-style campers have become a lot more popular in recent years. At least I feel like I see more of them out on the road. Like the pop up, they’re small and easy to tow and combine some of the more outdoorsy nature of tent camping with an RV design. 

Small campers and teardrop campers are really little more than a bed and some amenities on wheels. The interior of the camper is often just a bed with some storage areas. Many small campers or teardrop campers offer only an outdoor kitchen.

These campers are lightweight and can be towed by basically any vehicle. They can also be pretty affordable. These two features make them perfect for the folks who want to get outdoors but don’t want to invest in a big rig.

Small campers can range in size from 12 feet or so to about 16 feet. When it comes to price, you can find new ones for a little over $10,000. The same can be said for several other types of RVs, though.

Travel Trailer

Camping with RV in the Redwood Forest
Image from Getty

Travel trailers are extremely common. As the name implies, this type of RV is built on a typical trailer chassis with a conventional trailer hookup. Think of them like a tiny house built on a trailer because that’s essentially what they are. 

Travel trailers come in all sorts of different designs. There are different sizes, some have slide-outs, some offer multiple rooms while others are one-room situations, and the list of features and amenities varies greatly.

At the least, you can expect most travel trailers to offer a bathroom, kitchen and dining area, and a sleeping area. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you’ll find luxury travel trailers, with fine materials, multiple slides, several rooms, plenty of seating, and residential-style features, appliances, and amenities.

Travel trailers can sleep anywhere from two to 10 people. They vary in length from 15 to 40 feet and can vary in weight dramatically, too. Prices vary dramatically as well. You can spend as little as a bit over $10,000 to well over six figures.  

One part of the travel trailer market I need to touch on quickly is the ice house travel trailer. This is a trailer that is designed for ice fishing. They often feature fewer amenities and sleeping space but can be well-equipped. If you’re an ice fisherman, then this is a fantastic choice.

Expandable

Expandable RVs take the idea of the expandable beds from the pop up and the overall design of a travel trailer and combine them into one unit. Basically, you get a hard-side travel trailer with some expandable beds that come with tent walls when deployed.

Why would you want this? Well, it makes the camper much easier to tow because of its smaller size overall and lower weight. It gives you the ability to have plenty of sleeping areas but in a smaller camper.

Expandable trailers will often come with all of the amenities and features you’ll find in a typical travel trailer, giving you a lot of creature comforts. You’ll get a bathroom, kitchen dining area, and seating.

Typically expandable RVs can sleep five to 10 people. They range in length from 19 to 30 and prices are somewhat similar to travel trailers. Expandable trailer prices will be similar in many ways to travel trailer prices. 

Fifth-Wheel

Fifth wheels for couples
Image from Gander

The big boy of the towable crowd is the fifth-wheel RV. This type of RV connects to your pickup truck with a fifth-wheel hitch. This means you have to own a pickup truck (usually a heavy-duty truck) to tow one of these campers. 

In terms of what you get in a fifth-wheel, I can point to similar offerings in travel trailers in terms of features and amenities. There are also levels of interior materials, too. You can get something super budget-friendly, or you can go full-luxury. There’s really something out there for everyone.

One thing to note is that the fifth-wheel design generally makes towing smoother. While it can take some time to get used to, many people find the sturdiness of the fifth-wheel hit preferable to a conventional hook-up.

When it comes to size, fifth-wheels typically measure 21 to 44 feet in length and can sleep between four and nine people. Prices can vary dramatically, too, as you might expect. You can find campers for around $25,000 all the way up to well over six figures. 

Toy Hauler

Toy haulers are less a type on their own and more a type within the options discussed above. That is to say, there are travel trailer toy haulers and fifth-wheel toy haulers.

The defining factor of a toy hauler is that it comes with a garage space in it. This makes them perfect for anyone who wants to bring along a golf cart, dirt bike, several bicycles, an ATV, or some other type of motorized machine or toy.

While most of the camper will be the same as other travel tailers of fifth-wheels, the garage space is very different. It’s also a space that can be used as a living space if you’re not bringing along your toys. There’s often a fold-out or drop-down bed available in the garage space, making these RVs very versatile.

Typically, you’ll find toy haulers sleep between two and eight people and vary in length from 20 to 44 feet. When it comes to price, you can often find these RVs on sale for under $14,000. On the high end, you’re looking at six figures or nearly that. 


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What you need to know about the different types of towable RVs

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