Camping is a popular outdoor activity for Americans. About 9 million families own an RV trailer while there are more than 16,000 public and private camping sites for RV owners in the US. Since 1980, RV ownership has gone up to almost 60 percent.
Comfort, convenience, and mobility are just some of the allure to owning an RV. Using an RV also reportedly saves its owners 23-59 percent on their vacation cost.
Also check out 10 Types of Motorhomes and this good RV overview article for all types of RVs and don’t miss my RVezy Review (RV rental marketplace where I rented an RV trailer).
Related: 10 Lightweight Travel Trailers (Under 2,000 Pounds) | 19 Different Types of Trailers | 7 Awesome DIY Teardrop Trailer Projects (Access to Full Instructions) | 7 of the Best Small Travel Trailers
Overview RV Types Chart
1. Regular Travel Trailer
A travel trailer is the largest of all towable RV trailers and is a great option if you want to enjoy the convenience and amenities of being in your own home while on the road. They come in a variety of styles and can either be very plain or fancy on the inside, depending on what you are looking for when you are on vacation.
Because some of these travel trailers are incredibly small, it’s a good idea to look for one that has a section that will stretch out from the main area when the trailer is parked. This is a great way to expand the living space of your travel trailer, but still enjoy the ease of pulling one that is smaller.
You don’t need to purchase a specific vehicle to pull this type of RV trailer, as long as your SUV, truck, or van has a ball hitch and is rated to be able to handle the weight of the trailer. This makes it a great option for people who are on a budget. It can be difficult to set up the travel trailer on the hitch and to keep it level, and many people find that maneuvering with their travel trailer is hard. However, they are a wonderful option if you are comfortable with your driving and your living space being separate while you are on the road.
Airstream is a high-quality type of travel RV trailer. They’re very popular, but expensive.
3. 5th Wheel Trailer
While at first glance these RV trailers may look exactly like travel trailers, there is one major difference that sets them apart. They have a gooseneck connecter that will allow the trailer to attach to the towing vehicle. This does come with its own set of pros and cons, making it important to understand what this would mean for you before you buy this type of trailer.
The gooseneck connector makes towing your trailer incredibly easy and decreases the problems that you may have when trying to connect the trailer to your towing vehicle. Additionally, since the gooseneck extends over the towing truck, there is additional space in this trailer that can be used for storage.
The problem that you will run into if you are interested in a 5th wheel trailer is that you have to have the right type of vehicle to be able to pull it. It’s mandatory that you have a truck with a flat or an open bed, or you will not be able to tow this RV trailer. While they are significantly easier to maneuver than a travel trailer is, it is illegal for anyone to ride in the 5th wheel trailer while it is in motion. This means that you need to have enough space in your towing vehicle for everyone to sit while you are on the road.
4. Truck Camper
This is a self-contained RV Trailer that will actually fit into the bed of a pickup truck, making driving, maneuvering, and backing up all incredibly easy. They have been made to fit in most any type of pickup, and many truck companies have created models that are designed to easily handle the additional weight of a truck camper without sacrificing the quality of the vehicle or how it drives.
Because you can attach the truck camper to the truck itself, you can pull an additional trailer with gear and supplies, if desired, which makes it easy to bring along with you everything that you will need while you are on vacation.
These campers generally have amenities, although not as many as other RV trailers do, so you need to consider what is more important: having all of the amenities that you want or a lower price point and an RV trailer that is easier for you to drive and handle.
Because the room inside is so extremely limited, these trailers are not a great option if you want to bring the whole family with you on vacation. They are not designed for use for a long period of time, but because they have everything that you need, if you want to travel on a budget, then this is an option to consider.
5. Trailer with Pop-Out Tent(s)
This is the least expensive type of RV trailer that you can use to sleep and live in while you are on the road. They are designed to be very lightweight while still making sure that you have most of the amenities and comforts that you expect while you are on vacation.
They are very small, which makes them a great option if you want to pull an RV trailer with your personal vehicle and don’t have a large truck or SUV to use. To ensure that you can easily open and set up your folding RV trailer, you need to make sure that you look for one that has not only a rigid roof but also a lift system.
It is hard to store much of anything in these trailers since they will fold flat when they are not in use, but once opened, they are incredibly spacious and will offer plenty of space for your family to sleep. They generally have space to cook, pull-out beds, and an electrical system so that you can stay comfortable.
Unfortunately, due to their design, they do take a lot of effort to set up and to take back down when you are ready to get on the road. It’s a good idea to practice this a few times to ensure that you can do it smoothly and easily when on vacation.
6. Teardrop Trailer
The teardrop trailer is a cross between a tent and traditional RV trailer. They’re compact, light and in many cases, towed by a car. In fact, the need for a pickup truck is a big barrier to buying a larger trailer because pick up trucks are expensive. The teardrop solves that problem, but as you see below, there isn’t nearly the amount of space as you’d get with a full size trailer. Essentially it’s a sleeping compartment with a kitchen hatch.
7. Sports Utility RV Trailer with Garage
There is generally a small living space in these trailers where you can sleep at night, but many people are not comfortable sleeping so close to motorized equipment and gasoline. It can be difficult to keep the air inside these RV trailers fresh and clean.
Because they can be outfitted with appliances to ensure that you are comfortable while on the road, they are a great option for any family who wants to travel and bring along their motorized equipment. It’s important to make sure that you choose one that is large enough to fit your equipment and other supplies while still providing you with living space, if necessary.
8. Hard-Top Pop-Up Trailer
If you like the light weight of the tent trailer as well as how compact it is, but prefer a hard top, here’s a hard-top style triangular RV trailer.
9. Pop-Up Tent Trailer
These are popular for several good reasons. They’re:
- Lightweight (many cars can pull these)
- Off plenty of sleeping space – you can easily accommodate 4 people.
10. Retro Trailer
If you like retro, here’s a great example. Actually, it’s a popular option buying an old trailer from the 50’s or 60’s and fixing them up to their former glory.
11. DIY Ice-Fishing Camping Trailer
I don’t think you’d want to rip along the highway at 70 mph with this sucker, but if ice fishing is your thing, this is actually a decent option to stay warm. Clearly you can see this is a DIY product, but who knows – maybe RV manufacturers will come out with this in the future.
12. Vehicle-Tent Combos
In recent years, two types of vehicle-tent combos have hit the market. They are car roof tents and pickup flatbed tents. They’re a great option if you don’t want to shell out for a trailer but also don’t want to sleep on the ground. Here are some examples.
a. Car Roof Tent
One interesting option that has become popular in recent years is the rooftop tent. You may not even know what this type of tent is until you look into a little further. This tent is meant to go on top of the roof of your vehicle. It is a popular option for people that own SUVs and other large vehicles.
When you want to be able to experience camping out in a tent, but don’t want to be stuck on the cold hard ground, this option is great. You’ll be able to camp up off of the ground without any hassle. Setting up the rooftop tent is going to be very easy overall. You’ll just have to fold it out and make the proper adjustments in order for it to be secure.
Many of these rooftop tents have a little ladder that comes with it. You can use this to crawl up into the tent and position yourself for sleeping. Of course, you should note that these tents aren’t exactly huge. They will be large enough to fit a couple of people and you might be able to fit three people comfortably, depending on how big everyone is.
You will want to make sure that you bring some nice bedding or bedrolls with you in order to make things as comfortable as possible. As long as you line things properly with blankets, you shouldn’t feel the metal of your vehicle underneath you too much. This solution isn’t going to be optimal for everyone, but it is something that is worth considering. Being up off the ground has its advantages and the tent is very easy to set up.
b. Pickup flatbed tent
Truck bed tents are the exact same idea as the rooftop tents mentioned above. The big difference is that these tents are designed to be placed in the bed of your truck. In some ways, this is going to feel preferable because it is a bit more stable. If you want to be able to camp up off of the ground, then this option will be able to make it easy for you to do so.
The tent itself is nice and will keep you protected from the elements. Even if it starts raining during your camping trip, you should be able to keep from getting wet inside of the tent. It is made out of strong materials that won’t buckle under heavy rain. You’ll be able to sleep comfortably and will be glad to be off of the ground most certainly.
These tents come in different sizes too, so that you can match it up with your specific truck bed. You should be able to find a tent that will match your truck just right. Once you have the right tent, you’ll never have to worry about camping out on the ground again. This option is becoming more prevalent every year, so you may want to start looking into the trend.
Options such as this are different from tent trailers, but they really do go hand in hand. People who purchase these types of tents are looking for a convenient and cost-effective method for camping. Sometimes buying a tent such as this is going to be preferable to owning a pop-up camper. It depends on what you are looking to get out of the experience and what your budget is like.
Depending on the type and size of RV trailer that you are going to buy, you will want to consider one that has a slide-out section. These sections will easily pop out once you are off the road and settled for the night, and they are a great way to increase the amount of living space that you have in your RV trailer. Make sure that you choose one that is easy to operate so that you don’t spend a lot of time trying to slide it in and out and so that you aren’t frustrated.
Primary Bedroom Suite
If you are going to be traveling with your whole family and want to make sure that you can have some privacy at the end of the day, then look for an RV trailer that has a primary bedroom suite. While this will obviously not be as roomy or as comfortable as your room in your home, being able to access a private bathroom and to shut the door at night may give you the privacy and peace and quiet that you crave when you are on the road.
Washing Machine and Dryer
The last thing that you want to try to do is find a place where you can wash laundry while on the road. Not only is it sometimes difficult to find a location and then to navigate their parking lot, but this will also eat up the precious time that you have on vacation. Being able to do to your laundry without having to leave your RV trailer will ensure that everyone always has clean clothes and will keep you from being frustrated with trying to find somewhere to stop.
Rather than opting for an RV trailer with a tub/shower combination that can be cramped and uncomfortable to use, look for one that has a full bath with a walk-in shower. While this may not seem like a deal breaker, especially if you have an RV trailer in mind that you really like, being able to stretch out in the shower can really make traveling more pleasant. This is especially important for people who are going to live in their RV trailers for extended periods of time to consider.
Energy Management System
To make sure that you do not run out of energy while you are on the road, an energy management system is a great idea. Rather than you having to keep an eye on what appliances are in use and how much energy they are drawing, this system will monitor how much current each electrical device draws, and it is able to turn them on and off to limit the amount of energy that is used. This will prevent major problems while you are on the road and reduce the stress that you feel regarding keeping an eye on your energy use.
Some RV trailers can really benefit from these shades so that you can control how much light comes through them. Not only is this a great way to keep the extra sun from beating in your RV trailer, but they can also prevent people from seeing in at night. This is great if you want to make sure that you have privacy while on the road, but you don’t want to have to worry about curtains or hanging up blankets or sheets in the windows.
The shape of the nose of your RV trailer will have a huge effect on how fuel efficient you are when on the road. While many older models have a flat front, this style is not very fuel efficient and can cause you to have to stop and refuel more regularly. If you are able to choose an RV trailer with a v-nose then you can cut through the wind more efficiently and decrease the drag that you experience while traveling.
Auto Leveling System
In general, RV trailers are notorious for being difficult not only to level before you start out on your trip but to keep level. This is not only uncomfortable for anyone who may be inside but makes it very difficult for you to keep your supplies from shifting or falling. If you are tired of dealing with items that have toppled over while you are on the road, then you will want to look for an RV trailer that has an auto leveling system. This will prevent your trailer from being shaky while you are on the road and make it easy for your RV to stay stable.
No matter whether you are going to be riding in your RV trailer or simply hauling gear and supplies, you need to make sure that everything will stay in place while you are on the road. An auto-leveling system is a great idea, but it isn’t something that everyone can have in their trailer. Instead, look for an RV trailer that has numerous tie downs in the space. These tie downs make it easy to ensure that your furniture, boxes, and equipment don’t shift around or fall over, no matter how curvy the roads are where you are traveling.
You are going to lose a lot of heat through your floor and will experience temperature changes throughout the day and the night if you do not opt for an insulated floor. This is especially important if you are going to be staying in your RV trailer at all or are going to be hauling items that are temperature sensitive. Since this is not a standard feature on all RV trailers, you will have to look for one that offers this if you are worried about how well you can control the temperature inside your RV. This will also decrease the amount of energy that your RV trailer requires.
This may seem like a luxury to some people, but if you want to relax at the end of a long and hot day on the road with a cold beverage, then it’s a good idea to look for an RV trailer that has an ice maker. Not only can you easily chill your drinks whenever you want to, but having access to ice means that you can create a cold compress quickly if you have an accident or someone is injured while you are on the road.
Some larger RV trailers come with optional basement storage, and this is a feature that you will definitely want to consider if you are going to be living in your RV trailer for a long period of time. You want to make sure that you are going to be as comfortable as possible and that you will have with you all of the supplies that you need. Ample storage will also decrease the number of times that you have to stop and visit a store, which will help you travel more efficiently while on vacation.
Large Sun Visors
Any RV trailer that you are going to be driving needs to have large sun visors so that you can effectively block the sun that is coming in your front window. Make sure that you opt for sun visors that are easy to adjust and will stay in position when you move them so that you don’t have to worry about them shifting while you drive. Some RV trailers even come with motorized sun visors so that they are even easier to get into place and to control.