There are a lot of Options
Choosing the Type of RV

Which type of RV is right for your yondering? You're probably already aware of it, but I'll take a chance and repeat it anyway!

There are four main kinds when you start thinking of what variety of RV to buy for RV Boondocking. Just enough to confuse the issue! Class A, Class C, Fifth Wheel and Travel Trailer.

There is a fifth, but I don't think much of Class B "motorhomes". At least not in respect to full-time or long term RV Boondocking. Since all they are is a van with some hardware stuffed in, they offer little room. If what you prefer to do is really best described as camping, they fit fine. But when it's been raining for three days, you've read every book you have along and your significant other has no notion of killing time with a little whoopee! The close confines of that type of RV get old pretty quick!

~~~~~~~~A small sidebar ~~~~~~~~

Remember one thing when you are talking to friends and family: If you are hauling the type of RV with 5 slides, a refrigerator, 2 air conditioners, a generator, solar power system, two twenty five inch televisions, a washer and dryer, an oven, marble floor, shower, stereo, computer system including satellite dish, a queen size bed, a couch, dinette, and a patio awning, you cannot call it camping!

You can call it a road trip, going to the mountains, RVing, full-timing or Boondocking, but, you cannot call it camping!


After type, it gets into the "grade" within the class or type of RV. You can go from maybe $75,000 to $500,000 and more for a motorhome. Fifth wheels start below $20,000 for the smallest and most austere and go to over a $100,000 for a custom rig with every bell and whistle.

Of course, the cost, for a lot of us, is a heavy factor. You buy what you can afford, not just what type of RV you want!

So how are you going to sort out this deal? Most folks, I think, don't really think it through. (I've been guilty too!) They go to a show or to a dealer and just buy the type of RV that looks nice sitting there on the lot.

They make a serious goof in my mind by not really thinking about how they live and how they figure to use the rig. The fashion and hype get to them and many wake up only to realize that oops, this type of RV don't fit.

How in the heck are we gonna get this gorgeous diesel pusher up that twisty little road to the place we really want to camp?

We're also conditioned by the Madison Avenue wizards to think that bigger is always better. We put that conditioning to work, frequently, when we choose what type of RV.

Think about it, when you're at an RV show, which rigs do you go through first? The simple, shorter, functional rigs, or the double plated, triple axle, five slide, land yacht, show boat type of RV?

Yep. Me too. Let's face it. I didn't buy Big Red because that good ol' '98 wasn't doing a good job! I'm not invulnerable to the seduction of the Madison Ave boys either. And let's be honest, whether you argue that the dual wheels gives greater stability or not, it looks muy mallo!

So don't always do what makes sense! Have a little fun too! Just don't splurge on stuff you don't need, without thinking on it at least for a bit. Then, if being a little goofy fits what you need, go for it!

That way you don't end up regretting something you didn't expect. If you can live with the limitations imposed by a little frivolous fun, that's all that counts!

Point is, sit down and really think about what you want. Put it down on paper. Once you have the outline of what you want your type of RV to include sketched out, you can look at the differant types of RVs available out there. You should have a lot easier time of finding the type of RV that's going to suit your way of going after doing a little prior preparation and cogitating.

There are several questions I'd ask myself as I began considering what type of RV we wanted:

  • How do you live. What do you require in your life? Do you need a lot of people around or a lot of solitude?
  • How do you intend to travel? How far? How fast?
  • Do you want to use RV Parks or Go RV Boondocking?
  • If you are going to go RV Boondocking, how "deep" do you want to get?
  • How long do you want to stay?
  • Do you need a shower every day?
  • How much personal privacy/space do you require?
  • Do you travel with pets?
  • Do you want a "toad" (pulled behind your motorhome) or your unhitched tow vehicle to daytrip with?
  • Do you have any security concerns?
  • How many "toys" are we going to carry? What kind of storage capacity will we need?

If you are going to Boondock, you really want to look for a type of RV with larger tanks. Both fresh water and waste. Too small tanks are the biggest shortcoming of our Jayco, if I had to make a list. Easy enough to deal with, but it would be easier if the tanks were bigger!

You could either change out the tanks for bigger, IF, there is room, or do as we have to do and carry either 5 gallon water cans or one of the collapsable "bladders" made for the purpose. Some of those get up around 40 to 50 gallons.

Also, if you want to do some serious back road RVing, the bigger the rig, the more places you are going to have to scratch off theaccessibility list. At least to haul the big rig itself to for parking. You can still go there, of course, with your toad or tow vehicle on day trips, but driving that diesel pusher, or pulling that 40 foot, triple axle rolling mansion into a little mountain meadow on the backside of beyond is probably off the list of places you can go with it. They just don't fit well up a single track forest road very well.

Truth is, there are a lot of places I'm kept out of with my 30' fiver. But not many. With a little careful wiggling, I can get it into some pretty tight squeezes. If it was any bigger though, the list of places I couldn't go would lengthen quickly.

If you want to set long, quiet RV Boondocking camps you'll likely want to install a solar power system to supply your electrical power. To make that work, you'll need space somewhere on the rig for a battery bank to store up that collected power. Consider that when you are looking at a type of RV. Where can I put the batteries. The typical factory setup is just two, in a small box insufficient to add more. You''ll need space somewhere else on the rig, to add the batteries.

A heavy percentage of full-timers utilize some brand of class A motorhome. I expect that the vast majority of those that arefull-timing are pulling a toad. Huge change in convenience over having to move the big rig anytime you want to go somewhere.

The only real drawback to them that I can see would be if your desire is to sneak back into some back road camps. The length of some of those rigs limits them, to some degree, in where they can go. Mostly in the ground clearance. They have such a long wheelbase there is more of a tendency, especially on the lower sitting rigs to high center.

The "other" motorhome in regards to type of RV is the class C. I don't think much of the class B's when talking about full-timing. Unless of course you are really into minimalism and austerity!

The class C motorhome is generally not as tall or as long as the class A. That's changing a mite now though. I see more and more being built on MDT truck chassis. They look pretty rugged, and just might fit into a full-timers world!

The other negative (personal opinion) is the class C rigs have always been underpowered. That is changing too with, and many are now being built with the same diesels that are in the pickups. No lack of power there!

The other two rigs for RV Boondocking would be the fifth wheel and the travel trailer. Hands down, I have to say that a fifthwheel, with the ability to really get under it and jack-knife when manuvering, is going to out handle the travel trailer. Theysure handle better on the highway in my mind.

Another thing with the fivers. At least in the shorter units (ours is about medium at 30') you usually have a lot more groundclearance than with motorhomes. If you need more (as we did!) you can also do a pretty simple modification called "flipping the axles" . On our Eagle, we gained about 6" of added clearance, which will be nice when manuvering around backwoods camps ................ and hopefully avoiding the low hanging trees we are now 6" closer to!

That said, the travel trailers have a lot going for them. If you want to haul an ATV, or motorcycle, you can do that in the bed of your pickup, since it is left open with a travel trailer type of RV. Likewise, a small boat can be carried on an overhead rack ................. kind of problematic things with a fiver! It's an area I'm working around as I try to squeeze my "toys" into our truck and fifth wheel outfit.

That's the only flaw, for me, in the fifth wheel type of RV. If you carry many toys, it can be a challenge to get them all squeezed in. They do make the toy hauler style, but once again, those are getting into some pretty sizable rigs.

For long term living, the fifth wheels have more usable living space than any of the other rigs. Sometimes it gets down tosplitting hairs, of which I have few left to split! But generally that's true.

Of course, a 45' diesel pusher with 5 slides and a basement is a hard type of RV to beat for living space. But I'll challenge the folks living in a gorgeous type of RV like that, to squeeze it into some of the places I've drug my Eagle!

My comfort zone, hauling a fiver with a pickup, is about 34'. Bigger than that and I think you really need to seriously consider going to an MDT truck to handle the weight better. But ........ the trade off is, once again, the sheer size. Nice to live in, but it's not going to squeeze in where I can go with my more modest sized type of RV outfit.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ a quick sidebar ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Speaking of trucks, there is a lot of discussion about single wheel versus dual wheel pickups. All sorts of opinions. I've had and really liked both. I am actually driving the first dually I've owned. I haven't seen any degradation of fuel mileage. I'll say this about cargo capacity. (seems obvious to me that 4 tires are going to have a greater carry capacity than 2. AND that the extra weight is UNSPRUNG weight, ie not carried on the suspension ........ the tires are sitting on the ground!)The one thing I can say, that I have noticed is that in bad windy conditions, this dually is a lot more stable on the road.

Coming back across Nebraska a couple months ago, with an evil side wind, the trailer was moving around quite a bit. The truck just went down the road without a problem. It really resisted the wind better than the old single wheel. In my senile opinion anyway!

But mostly, lets be honest, I like the way the truck looks! Whether or not it is stonger, faster, can jump tall buildings,etc. It looks like it can!


Thats one of the big questions I go back to a lot. Just how "Boondocks" do you want to get? If you want to get way outon the fringes, you really need to keep the size down. Out on the Arizona and Nevada deserts you can take the big rigsout with little problem. Get up into the mountain forest roads in Colorado, Idaho, Washington etc. and you'll find things can get a little cozy with a big rig type of RV.

You've just got to figure out what you aren't willing to sacrifice and find the rig that fits that way of going!

The point of this windy disertation is that there is a lot to think about when you are trying to decide what type of RV youare going to buy.

My advice to those who are new to it, or are just looking for their first rig, would be to really take a little while to honestly look at what you want to do.

Really look at a rig and do a "visualization" exercise. Actually try to "see" yourself, living in the rig and doing your daily chores. You may spot problem areas for your unique way of doing things and want a different type of RV.

Taking the time up front can save you a lot of dinero! Those of us who jumped in with out thinking a lot, have often found that we had to jump back out, and jump into another type of RV to find what we needed! All that jumping can wear a fella out! Not to mention emtying your wallet in a jetsetter hurry!

Word to the wise. Take a little care if you are "visuallizing" at an RV show or on a dealers lot. They may think you're hallucinating and call the para-medics!

Anyway, there's a lot to think about before you plunk down that hard earned cash. Every type of RV is used everyday, successfully, for RV Boondocking. I don't know that when all is said and done, that one is any better than any of the others. The only thing (only? yeah right ........... I keep warning you I get windy!) I can say is that there is most likely one of the types, that you will find, fits your lifestyle and personality better than the others.

A little cogitation on the issue and I'm sure you'll figure out which type of RV is the right one for you!

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