There are tons of different sizes and styles of RVs out there, but they fall into two basic categories. Some of them are the kind that you drive while others are trailers that have to be towed behind a separate vehicle. In this article, we’ll explain the different types of towable RVs and tell you what’s good about them and what’s not so great.
Overall, we understand that sometimes the terminology can be a little confusing. Getting a clear idea of these different classifications and their pluses and minuses can help you decide what kind of towable RV is right for you.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Towable RV?
Unlike a motorhome, which is a self-contained camper with its own engine, a towable RV is one that you pull behind a car, truck or SUV. It takes a heavy-duty truck to pull the bigger ones while others are less of a load. Let’s take a look at the different classifications, from lightest to heaviest.
Types of Towable RVs
Tear Drop Trailers
Teardrops are of the smallest towable RVs on the market and get their name from the distinctive shape. Sometimes called a “tiny trailer,” a teardrop is light enough (usually 4,000 pounds or less) that you can even pull with a sedan for a quick weekend getaway.
However, don’t expect much in terms of space or amenities. A teardrop trailer is usually little more than a bedroom. If you’re considering one of the smallest towable RVs, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with truck stop showers. However, the larger ones can also have a kitchen/dining area and a wet bath.
Pop Up Campers
This classic style is also fairly light because of the canvas sides that extend (or pop up) for more space. Pop up campers have been a reliable and affordable option for decades.
The walls collapse when you’re not camping, so it becomes a tight, compact trailer that’s easy to tow and doesn’t need much storage room. A downside to them is that they usually don’t have a bathroom or shower.
Traditional Travel Trailers
These are the most common types of towable RVs on the market. They range greatly in size and style, from bare-bones to luxurious. They use a standard hitch, so they can be hooked up to any type of passenger vehicle, but you need to pay close attention to weight ratings and towing capabilities to make sure you don’t haul something that’s too heavy!
Fifth Wheel Trailers
The biggest (and heaviest) of the towable RVs are fifth wheel trailers, which connect via a special type of coupler that’s located in the bed of a pickup truck. They have better stability because the weight is centered over the rear axle. Above the hitch is usually a raised section that’s typically a bedroom or living room.
A fifth wheel can have one, two, or three axles, and some are over 40 feet long. A subcategory of fifth wheel trailer called a “toy hauler” has a special cargo area to accommodate adventure gear and vehicles such as motorcycles, side-by-sides, snowmobiles, and kayaks.
Truck Bed Campers
Technically, a truck bed camper isn’t “towed,” but we’ll let it ride piggyback in our category of towable RVs. This type of camper fits into the bed of a truck. Some of them are surprisingly spacious inside, often with built-in bathrooms and kitchens.
Benefits of Towable RVs
One of the biggest advantages to having a towable RV is cost. They can be a lot less expensive than drivable RVs, especially if you already have a vehicle to tow it.
You can be more mobile, too. When you unhitch it from your tow vehicle, you’re free to roam away from the campsite. On the other hand, a drivable RV can be cumbersome when you just need to run a quick errand.
Additionally, another benefit is more space. Towable RVs tend to have more of it for separated sleeping quarters for multiple people on a trip. You can also carry more people and more supplies in equipment in your truck or SUV.
Lastly, one more thing to keep in mind is that having a vehicle that’s four-wheel-drive can get you into some places that a drivable RV cannot. This is especially true if you are planning to do lots of boondocking in more remote areas.
Challenges of Towable RVs
One frustration we’ve experienced with a towable RV is that you can’t easily access something inside the RV while traveling. You have to pull over to get anything out of the camper, whether it’s some snacks or just the opportunity to step quickly into the bathroom. It’s definitely something you have to plan for and get used to.
Another difference is it takes more time and preparation to make the transition from traveling to camping (and vice versa). For instance, you can’t just roll out of bed, hope into the driver’s seat and take off like you can in a motorhome.