RVs Kinds in a Nutshell
RV campers are known for using a lot of technical jargon when describing RV types. Add to that all the slang names for RVs and you have a confusing jumble of terms being used for various recreational vehicles types. This guide give you a quick tutorial as to the various RV types, styles, and names for them.
RV Types and Names
RV (Recreational Vehicle)
RV applies to any motorhome, camper van, truck camper, trailer, toy hauler or fifth wheel. If it is a vehicles that you a can camp in, then the term RV can describe it.
Another term for any type of RV. When applied to towables (trailers and 5th wheels), it can also sometimes include the entire setup of the tow vehicle and the towable.
This one will depend on who is using it. Some will use it as another term for motorhome. Some will use it to describe a trailer. And some will mean it to be specifically a truck-bed camper. So for this one, you may need to clarify with the speaker if you need to know more details other than it is some sort of RV.
This is the technical designation given to a motorhome that is built on a heavy-duty frame that is a commercial bus chassis, a commercial truck chassis, or a motor vehicle chassis. They typically have a flat front, and a large amount of storage under the unit.
This is the technical designation given to a camper van. A class B is built within the standard stock framework of a van, with only minor exterior modifications, with all the camping conversions done inside. Some will however have a raised roof and/or a dropped floor to provide additional headroom.
Class Super B or B+
A Super B is vague designation given to a camper van that is still a van conversion but typically has additional exterior modificatons and may extend beyond the stock width in the living area. They do not have over-cab sleeping areas like a Class C.
This is the technical designation given to a motorhome that is built on a van or truck chassis. The driving cab still uses the standard van or truck structure, with the camping portion built on the cargo section. They are typically easily identified by the cabover sleeping area about the driving cab.
Class Super C
A Super C is similar to a Class C, but is built on a much larger chassis and has larger engine, such as an F-550 or E-450. But it still has the stock driver cab and usually the overcab sleeping area.
Motorhome (Gas and Diesel)
A motorhome is a camping vehicle that is self powered with an engine. The variety can be significant, but the consistent theme is the driving area and the camping area are directly connected by access and area single vehicle. This section and our glossary covers some of the variety of motorhomes and names.
Travel Trailer ( TT ) – Camper Trailer
A trailer is a separate camping unit from the tow vehicle and can be pulled by a car, van or truck. Typically a trailer is used to described by a unit that is pulled by a hitch located below the back bumper, hence the nickname, “bumper pulls.” They can be very small, like the Airstream Nest, or quite long with multiple doors and slideouts.
5th Wheel ( Fifth Wheel, 5er)
Technically also a trailer, fifth wheels get their name from their special method of hitching. Hitches are placed in the bed of a pickup truck using a large pin that pivots on a flat plate, hence the idea of an “additional” wheel. They provide exceptional stability and turning characteristics by placing the front weight on the trailer between the tow vehicles axles as opposed to behind the vehicle like other types of trailers.
A toyhauler includes a large multi-use area called a “garage” that can carry “toys” such as motorcycles, ATVs, kayaks, bikes, etc. Typically once set up, the toys are removed and the garage is converted to additional camping/sleeping space. Most toyhaulers are trailers or fifth wheels, but there are a few motorhome toyhaulers like the Thor Outlaw.
In the US, this typically refers to a group of vehicles traveling together, but in British English, a caravan is a trailer that is towed by a standard vehicle.
And extremely small trailer that gets its name from usually being shaped like an aerodynamic teardrop. They typically do not include a bathroom and have an exterior kitchen in the rear. The main area is often just a sleeping area and some small amount of storage. They are good for vehicles with very small tow ratings, but are a nice step up from sleeping on the ground in a tent.
A-Frame Popup Trailer
A type of popup trailer typically with opposing hard roof panels that fold up to meet and form an “A” shape. They have the advantage over tent-style popups in that they have a hard exterior when extended, but they do sacrifice some headroom space with that design.
Pop Up (Tent Camper, PUP)
This is a hybrid trailer that expands once set up, usually using canvas or tent-style areas. Many include some features like cassette toilets and basic kitchens, but they are all located at waist level or below so that the top area can pack up compactly.
This is a specific type of pop up trailer that is all hard sided, but the the upper portion cleverly collapeses down into the lower portion when traveling. This creates some challenges with placement of items withing the trailer, but it does allow for some amazing aerodynamic qualities when towing.
A general term for a motorhome that is built on a bus chassis. This can be a more typical-looking Class A motorhome built on a motorcoach chassis, or sometimes is a custom conversion done to a former school bus, which is slangly referred to as a “Schoolie.”
Also called a Slide-In, Slide-On or Cab-Over, it’s a camper that slides into the bed of a truck, then slides out onto its own legs at the campsite. In spite of the “add-on” nature of these camper, they can be quite luxurious, with some boasting slide-slideouts, nice bathrooms and kitchens and necessary holding tanks.
Also check out…
The Ultimate RV Dictionary and Glossary of RV Slang