How Many Types of RVs Are There?
Tons, there are tons of different types of RVs available now.
And the industry is changing every day. RV manufacturers are coming up with new ideas for campers to fit every lifestyle, and it can be hard to know what they’re all called.
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Before I got into the world of RVing I was constantly asking myself “what’s that RV?” as I passed one on the road.
If you’re looking to get into RVing, or you want to see what other options are out there, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, I’m going to go over all of the main types of RVs and the different models that fit into each group.
Hopefully, this RV types guide will help you identify that camper you were wondering about, or maybe give you a good idea of the kind of camper you want to get.
First off is the classic motorhome. This is the most popular type of drivable RV and one that you will see a lot of anywhere you go.
They’re great because they are often spacious, a tow vehicle isn’t required, they can be a tow vehicle, and there’s pretty much always a toilet and shower inside.
If you don’t want to get an SUV or truck to tow a camper trailer, but you still want large living quarters with a full bathroom, the motorhome is a fantastic option.
There are 3 types of motorhomes and they are categorized into different classes: A, B, and C.
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Class A RV
This is the biggest of the motorhomes and as far as weight goes, the heaviest RV you can get. Class A RVs are those great big motorhomes that look a lot like tour buses.
There are smaller Class A campers with just two axles or giant ones with three. They usually have large capacity fresh, grey, and black water tanks.
Because of their large size, many Class A motorhomes have diesel engines, which really ups their price. There are more affordable gas versions available, but the extra large ones are pretty much always diesel.
Class A RVs can have every standard RV feature imaginable, from slide-outs to bunk beds. Some toy hauler versions have a garage area with a ramp going out the back.
There’s even a super luxury Class A on the market that can store a car underneath it.
These road monsters can usually tow a lot as well. You can easily flat tow a car or a boat and sometimes even a travel trailer.
Class C RV
With motorhomes the class rating can be a little confusing, you would think that the second largest type of motorhome is Class B but it’s actually Class C.
The easiest way to remember Class C is to think Cab-Over RV. These are the ones that have a bed that goes over the cab in the front.
This type of RV is one of the most iconic and what most of us think of when someone says motorhome.
Class C RVs can be really short (around 24 feet in total length) or super long (more than 30 feet).
If you want a camper that’s easy to drive around and fit in smaller campgrounds, but still has space to sleep lots of people and have a toilet and a shower, then a Class C will be perfect for you.
Even the smallest versions normally have large fresh water tanks and good sized grey and blackwater tanks.
The main size difference between a Class C and a Class B or camper van is the width. They can be identical in length, but Class C RVs are usually around 8 feet wide.
The width can make them more difficult to park in regular parking lots, and they usually take up the entire lane on a road.
There are some diesel options out there but this type of RV is normally has a gas engine. They are powerful enough to flat tow vehicles and small trailers.
If you have kids or are a boondocker who wants something small but still has good tank storage and lots of beds, the Class C motorhome will be a fantastic option.
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Class B RV
A Class B motorhome is the smallest of the motorhomes, and camper vans actually fit into this RV type as well, but they’re slightly different.
These are normally much wider than camper vans and they don’t have the bed over the cab like a Class C.
Also unlike a campervan, the body of a Class B motorhome is more box like and was built to be a camper right from the beginning. They often have a kitchen area and a full bathroom that’s normally extremely compact.
The smallest version of this RV type doesn’t usually have a designated bed inside. Instead, the dinette or couch will normally fold down into the bed to save space inside.
The largest versions of a Class B RV can have slide outs with a murphy bed that folds up to reveal a couch or kitchen table.
The popular Mercedes campers with diesel engines are usually the largest Class B RVs you can get.
If you want a bathroom inside your camper, and camper vans are a little too small or out of your price range, then a Class B motorhome is an excellent option.
The only thing it’s missing is an actual bed and you will normally only be able to sleep 1-2 people inside.
But because of the aerodynamic front, they get great gas mileage and are perfect for road trips.
While camper vans are also a Class B RV type they are mostly identified as vans so I’m going to give them their own category in this camper guide.
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Sprinter/Airstream/Homemade Camper Van
The most popular camper van is definitely the Mercedes Sprinter. These are normally built using the large cargo version.
A camper van is normally around 19-24 feet long and about 7 feet wide.
The width is what really sets camper vans apart from the rest. It’s much easier to park them in standard sized parking spaces and easier to fit into tiny campgrounds and parking lots.
If you love exploring national parks these are an excellent option.
Many RV manufacturers make camper vans using Mercedes Sprinters as the base. Airstream, which has traditionally always made just travel trailers, even has its own version that uses a Mercedes engine and chassis as well.
Van lifers who make their own camper vans will also often use the popular Sprinter cargo vans but other types of large vans like the Ford Transit are becoming more common as well.
Some people have even converted minivans into campers.
One thing about camper vans is they usually don’t have slide outs or large holding tanks (if any). Many DIY camper vans will have a full sized bed in the back but no kitchen table or couch.
The refrigerators are also often very small with a tiny kitchen area.
These small drivable RVs might have a small wet bathroom that’s a toilet and a shower all in one if it’s big enough.
Normally though, you will need to use a public restroom or invest in a small cassette toilet if you want to be able to have any kind of bathroom inside.
You sacrifice a few comforts for the smaller size, but camper vans are amazing for single travelers or road trips.
Pop-Top Camper Van
If you’re looking for the smallest drivable RV type possible that’s still comfortable to camp in, a pop top camper van is going to be the way to go.
This type of RV is basically a regular sized van with a roof that pops up to increase the height of the camper while you’re parked or create an area for a bed.
It was surprising to me to learn that not all pop-top camper vans have a bed in the pop-top part. Some of them are just to increase the height so you can stand up inside.
One thing you get with this type of RV is a kitchen area, full bed area, rear seating for passengers, and sometimes even a toilet and shower in the back.
There won’t be any holding tanks but there’s normally a small freshwater tank for the kitchen sink and shower if there is one.
Pop-top camper vans are really getting down to the bare bones when it comes to RVs but the small size and extra room make them a great option for long road trips with 2-4 people.
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Now for the most common type of RV, the camper trailer. This category has a ton of different types of RVs in it and I’ll try and go over as many as I can.
You can find anything in this category from large destination trailers for full time RV park living, to tiny teardrop trailers that can be towed by cars.
I’ll start with the travel trailers, which are the kind that use a ball hitch to be towed. Then work my way to the tent trailers, and end with the large 5th-wheels that require a hitch in the bed of a truck to be towed.
The term travel trailer covers a lot of different types of RV camper trailers but the most common version of a travel trailer is a large camper that’s anywhere from 20 to 40 feet long.
There are single and dual axle versions depending on the weight and length. Most can be towed by a truck or SUV and they pretty much always have a refrigerator, toilet, shower, queen sized bed, dinette, couch, and full kitchen inside.
Some of the larger versions can have bunks and these days it’s hard to find a travel trailer without at least one slide out.
If you’re looking for a big camper at a low price point, a travel trailer is going to be the best option for you. They aren’t usually as expensive as 5th-wheels, and they have a wide range of weight options for towing.
There are a lot of lightweight options out there for smaller tow vehicles like SUVs and small trucks.
A travel trailer is a bumper pull trailer with a camper on it. That means your tow vehicle will need a hitch receiver with a compatible weight rating to tow one.
One downside to traveling trailers is they have a higher risk for dangerous trailer sway than 5th-wheels but there are special hitches you can use to help that.
The upsides are you get to save your truck bed for extra storage, they often have large holding tanks and freshwater tanks for boondocking, and the large roofs can fit a lot of solar panels.
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Toy Hauler Travel Trailer
One type of RV that’s starting to show up in campgrounds more and more is the toy hauler travel trailer.
Before you would mostly only see 5th-wheel toy haulers but with the ability to haul ATVs and OHVs inside a camper has become more popular many RV manufacturers have started putting garages in travel trailers.
They aren’t that different from standard travel trailers. There’s usually a full kitchen inside, a bedroom, toilet, shower, and extra large fresh water and holding tanks.
The difference is the back. The entire back wall is a ramp so you can drive your OHV’s into it. You can also make the ramp into a patio on certain models which is really nice.
The garage area needs to be open to fit toys inside but once you’ve taken it out you can normally fold out couches and set up a kitchen table.
There are usually bunks that can be brought down from the ceiling as well.
If you have an OHV, an ATV, or dirtbikes these kinds of RVs are perfect for bringing them with you.
They can sleep a ton of people and you still get all the benefits of a full camper.
Teardrop Camper Trailer
Teardrop trailers are another RV type that covers a wide range of camper sizes.
Many are mini campers that are basically just a bed with a kitchen in the truck. The smallest versions are perfect for towing with smaller SUVs and even some cars.
They are also great for towing with Jeeps on rough roads because they can have high clearance and the single axle lets them move better on rough roads.
They are called teardrop trailers because of the aerodynamic teardrop shape they have.
Most of them are small, but there are larger teardrop trailers out there. The popular R-Pod is a type of hybrid teardrop trailer that combines a sharply curved front with a box shaped back.
These will normally have the RV essential inside like a toilet, full kitchen, and a dinette that can convert into a bed.
One of the pros to teardrop trailers is they are extremely lightweight and the kitchen area that folds open in the rear is normally pretty nice. They can even have small 12 volt fridges, a gas stove top, and a sink.
One thing campers do to add more beds is put a rooftop tent on the teardrop trailer.
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Fiberglass Travel Trailer
There are lots of RVs out there that use fiberglass siding but a fiberglass travel trailer is a name reserved for small campers that are made with a molded fiberglass shell.
They have a unique shape and exterior. It’s pretty easy to spot one in a campground.
This type of RV is on the smaller end of travel trailers but they often still have everything you need inside for a self contained camper.
Normally there’s a tiny kitchen, a refrigerator, a small wet bath with a shower and toilet, and a dinette that folds into the main bed.
One of the benefits of fiberglass trailers is they are more lightweight than regular travel trailers of the same size.
The fiberglass shell is super durable, insulates, eliminates the need for a frame, and just looks awesome.
If you want a lightweight travel trailer that can be towed by a small truck or SUV and you want something a little more unique than a standard camper trailer, the fiberglass RV type is the way to go.
There are even a few companies out there that make mini fiberglass 5th-wheels if you prefer that method of towing.
Destination Travel Trailer
Since 5th-wheels are on the pricy end a fantastic option for a large travel trailer to live in is a destination or residential travel trailer.
This type of RV is made to be moved only a few times in its life and it’s perfect for RV and trailer parks.
A destination travel trailer can be identified by the straight front. They aren’t curved like regular travel trailers because they aren’t made for long trips. So they don’t need to be as aerodynamic.
They’re really long, about 40-45 feet.
These huge campers often have 3-4 massive slide outs with bedrooms, full kitchens, living rooms, and large bathrooms inside. They also have a lot more windows than a regular camper would have.
If you’re planning on living in an RV park for a few years but you want to be able to take your home with you when you leave then these types of camper trailers are a perfect choice.
One nice thing about them is they still have holding tanks if you want to put them somewhere with no hookups. They also don’t require any kind of foundation like a mobile home.
If a giant heavy 5th-wheel is out of your price range and towing capabilities, a large destination trailer is a fantastic option for full-time RV park or campground living.
They even make some with loft bedrooms.
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Airstream Travel Trailer
Airstream is actually an RV manufacturer, but they make what could be considered its own RV type.
Known for the shiny aluminum body and hotdog like shape, an Airstream is a one of a kind camper that’s unlike any other.
They’ve started making van campers as well but originally the only kind of RV Airstream made was a travel trailer.
They have a ton of different size and floorplans options from very small teardrop like campers to extra long travel trailers.
An Airstream has always meant quality parts and excellent design but all of that comes at a premium price.
Luckily this type of travel trailer has been known to hold its value. Even older Airstreams are worth a lot these days and they are considered a classic in American RV design.
The 5th-wheel is the second kind of camper trailer that you’ll see in every campground and RV park. A 5th-wheel is the type of RV that has a tall front section that is connected to a hitch in the bed of a truck.
The term 5th-wheel also spelled fifth wheel, actually comes from the days before vehicles. Back when horse drawn carriages were a thing a 5th wheel was placed under the front of the carriage to make it possible for the front axle to turn.
Today a 5th-wheel is a U shaped coupling that also allows the thing that’s being towed to turn easily. 5th-wheels are used for more than just camper trailers, they’re also what semi trucks use to tow large cargo trailers.
5th-wheel camper trailers are some of the largest RVs made today. They can be a lot heavier than travel trailers because the weight on the hitch can be a lot more when it’s being carried in a truck bed and not on a ball hitch in the rear.
They don’t usually weigh as much as Class A motorhomes of a similar size because they don’t have an entire engine inside, but they are often more spacious and have larger living quarters.
The front of a 5th-wheel is usually where the main bedroom is located with the main living room area in the back. New 5th-wheels pretty much always have a few slide outs and large holding and freshwater tanks.
They will have all of the RV essentials like a full bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen but they can also include a second bathroom, bunks, and even second bedrooms or lofts.
If you’re a tall person who can’t stand up in most travel trailers, a fifth wheel is going to be the better option. They are very tall inside and out, and the main living areas always feel very spacious inside.
Because of the design, most 5th-wheels need a metal frame, which means they’re very durable but also pretty heavy when compared to a travel trailer and often more expensive.
Most heavy duty trucks are going to be able to tow a 5th-wheel since the hitch weight is in the bed of the truck instead of the rear. But the extra weight is something to think about if you have a light duty truck.
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Toy Hauler 5th-Wheel
Since 5th-wheels can be much heavier than travel trailers they make excellent toy haulers. The tall roof helps a lot as well.
This type of RV will normally have a space in the rear that’s both the garage and a bunk room.
If you have a family or normally camp with a lot of people one benefit to toy haulers is the extra bedroom in the back. They also normally have a small bathroom as well as a full bathroom near the front.
Even if you don’t have any toys to haul around the ramp can be made into a patio with a screen door keeping the bugs out of your RV.
This is probably my favorite feature with toy haulers and even if yours didn’t come with a patio kit, you can normally install one yourself. (click here to go to how to turn an RV ramp into a patio article)
Toy haulers are made to be taken to camping areas with OHV trails, which means they are set up for boondocking.
This type of RV will pretty much always have the biggest freshwater and holding tanks available, there’s often an onboard generator, and you can put a lot of solar panels on the roof.
One thing you give up when comparing toy haulers to regular 5th-wheels is a large living room area and kitchen.
Unless you want a back bedroom or a patio a regular 5th-wheel can be better for full-time RVing or RV park living.
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Pop Up Campers/Tent Trailers
The next type of RV trailer is the pop-up camper. These are always going to be tongue/bumper pull trailers which means you can tow them with an SUV or car if the weight capacity permits.
There are two main types of pop-up campers, and I’ll go through both of them separately.
Tent trailers are the ultimate sleeper campers. Most of the time they have large beds on both ends, a dinette that can convert to a bed, and sometimes even a couch as well.
There’s always a kitchen inside with a small gas stovetop and a sink. Since everything must fold down to allow the roof to close the fridge is normally a short mini one.
The beds on this type of RV have always been able to slide out the front and back but they’ve started to put slide out dinettes and kitchens on the sides as well.
Today you can get some pretty large tent trailers that can fit an entire family comfortably.
Traditionally tent trailer campers don’t have toilets or showers in them. But these larger slide out ones might have a small cassette toilet or even a tiny shower inside.
Even if there’s just a sink, pop up campers will have a small freshwater and grey tank.
There are a lot of pros to tent trailers. They’re lightweight and can be towed by lots of smaller vehicles, they also become very short and aerodynamic. You can even add rails to the roof to transport bikes or kayaks.
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The cons are less insulation than campers with walls, smaller living quarters, and less resistance to the weather.
RVs aren’t fun to try and sleep in when it’s rainy or windy outside and the tent part of pop-up campers can really flap around making it hard to sleep.
The wind problem is true with any kind of pop up that uses fabric and it’s something to think about if you plan on full-timing in a tent trailer.
A-Frame Pop-Up Camper
A-Frame, also known as hard side pop up campers is a great alternative to the tent camper if you don’t need space for a lot of people.
The flapping fabric problem is taken care of with this type of pop up camper since the walls are made of hard fiberglass.
It’s also a better shape for rain since the water just falls off the pointed roof instead of collecting on the tent flaps.
Inside hard side pop up campers there’s normally a bed, dinette, small kitchen, and a mini fridge.
There are larger versions that can have king size beds, a second roof pop up to make the dinette roof taller, and even a wet bath or cassette toilet.
What’s cool about A-frame campers is they normally have a ton of windows and skylights.
They fold down to a short and compact size, just like tent trailers, and some models can even have cargo racks on the roofs.
If you’re looking for a short camper trailer that’s lightweight but has hard sides instead of fabric, an A-frame pop up is the way to go.
Now back to some drivable RV types. Truck campers are an excellent option for those who have a truck but don’t want to tow anything.
Truck campers come in lots of different sizes and styles and there are even some large versions for flat bed trucks.
Hard Top Truck Camper
The most common truck camper is the hard top. It’s basically an easy way to turn your truck into a Class C camper with a bed that extends over the cab of the truck.
Inside there’s normally a full dedicated bed area, a small kitchen, a couch/dinette, and sometimes even a small wet bath with a shower and toilet.
One thing to note is that most truck campers come with smaller fridges than standard campers, which means you will be giving up some cold food storage.
The pros of hard top truck campers are they require no setup, they are tall inside (except for the bed area), they have decent sized kitchens, and there’s always some sort of table.
They’re also way better for getting to campsites down rough roads and the clearance is much better than with a Class C RV. It’s also a more affordable way to get a camper with 4 wheel drive.
The weight is the main issue with all truck campers and especially the larger hard top ones. Most 1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks are not going to be able to take the weight of a full sized truck camper with a bathroom or slide out.
Many people overload their trucks with large truck campers but it’s not safe to do that or even legal.
Unless you have a dually or 1 ton truck you will be limited to the smaller hard top truck campers that don’t have a full bathroom inside.
Even with the largest truck campers, another issue is holding and freshwater tank sizes.
They are often very small due to weight and size restrictions. If you are a weekend camper or you mostly stay somewhere with full-hookups this won’t be a problem.
But for long term boondocking it can be hard to camp with less water storage.
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Pop-Up Truck Camper
Since most hard top truck campers require large trucks to transport around a pop-up truck camper is a great smaller version that’s lighter and not as tall, so it’s more stable when driving.
With that being said not all pop-up truck campers are super lightweight. There are some that will still require at least a 1 ton truck but for the most part, they are made for 3/4 and 1/2 ton trucks.
This style of truck camper normally has everything a hard top has, but the roof folds down for travel. There are even some versions that have wet baths inside using shower curtains but it’s not very common.
When you camp in a pop-up truck camper you normally have a bed that extends over the cab, a dinette, and a small kitchen.
The lighter weight and stability are the main draw to pop up campers but they are another RV type that isn’t super fun to use in windy places.
I’ve heard of people having to put down the roof in extra strong winds and the fabric does flap around a lot even in lighter winds.
It’s something to think about if you plan on full-time RVing in one.
Flatbed & Custom Build Truck Camper
If you like the idea of having a truck as the base for a camper there are some custom built options that are pretty fantastic.
They do come at a very high price point and there are only a few companies that are converting truck chassis to campers in this way.
A flatbed truck camper is another lesser known type of RV that can be put on a flat bed truck. The inside is much more spacious and the holding tanks are usually larger.
There aren’t a lot of companies making these either but they are growing in popularity which means there should be more available soon.
Other Types of RVs
There are tons of different kinds of RVs out there, and even more styles of camping. If you don’t want to go the conventional way you can do what many DIY people are doing and convert something else into your own custom camper.
Here are just a few examples of RVs that people are building themselves.
Skoolie (School Bus Camper)
School buses are the perfect vehicle to turn into a camper.
There are usually a lot of used ones for sale, they’ve been professionally maintained for most of their lives, and they have huge weight capacities and interiors that are perfect for filling with the RVing essentials.
It takes a lot of work but many people have the skills to convert them at home which makes them slightly more affordable.
You can also get one that’s already been converted or have a company do it for you if you don’t have the time or know how to do it yourself.
It’s easy to put a full bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen inside and there is often a lot of storage space in the outside compartments.
One cool thing lots of people do is put a deck on the roof that can be used for cargo or just enjoying the sunset from the roof.
If you’re a boondocker you can choose to put extra large holding tanks in the floor or you can build one that has no plumbing inside at all.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the RV possibilities of school bus conversions and they’re becoming one of the most popular ways to build your own camper.
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Unconventional Vehicle Camper
While buses and camper vans are the most popular vehicle to turn into an RV there are other options out there as well.
Many creative people turn things like ambulances, military trucks, search and rescue trucks, fire trucks, and more into campers.
There are even some people turning SUVs and minivans into RVs for weekend camping and sometimes full-time RVing.
If you like projects and are the do it yourself kind of person, turning affordable used vehicles into campers could become a new hobby.
Many tiny homes are built with a trailer base and are on wheels for easy transportation and getting around certain zoning laws.
That means they could also be considered a type of RV even though they are more like destination trailers that are made to be moved only a few times.
With that being said there are some campers out there who have made tiny homes that are a little more travel friendly and they do venture around visiting RV parks and campgrounds.
It’s rare to see one out boondocking since they aren’t always made with fresh water and holding tanks but I’ve seen a few from time to time.
One thing to note about tiny homes being used as RVs is they are heavy when compared to travel trailers and 5th-wheels and you need to make sure everything you are putting on the tiny home can withstand high winds from driving.
If you’re ready to build an RV from the ground up, and you want it to be one of a kind, using the tiny house style could be the best option.
Conclusion About RV Types
I’ve done my best to provide pictures and a short description of every RV type that I can think of.
I’ll try and keep this article updated as new types of RVs come out onto the market. It doesn’t happen a lot but things like tiny houses and toy haulers weren’t common even just 30 years ago.
The RV industry has really grown and will grow more as people start to fall in love with the outdoors.
Especially with the new surge of full-time RVers (like us). RVs are now being made for more than just weekend camping. They’re becoming homes for young travelers who aren’t ready to settle down in one place yet or retired couples.
See Also: How To Set Up At An RV Park Or Campground For Dummies
The best camper choice for you is going to be based mostly on how many people you will be bringing along, the kind of towing or driving you want to do, and the kind of things that are important for you to be comfortable. Like a toilet and a shower.
I hope this guide has helped in your search for the perfect RV.
If you have any questions or suggestions for other types of RVs leave a comment below.