Tips and Advice for the Outdoors

A Guide to Recreational Vehicles (RVs)

Recreational vehicles (RVs) come in a range of sizes. Some are no larger than the camper shells of the 1950s, others are the size of a large bus. The majority of RVs today are either Class A, B or C. Oddly enough, class C is larger than B.

Class A is the largest type, the oversized bus you’ve seen on the highways. These are really motorhomes and many people do, in fact, live in them full time. So-called snowbirders follow the sun. As the weather gets cool they head for warmer climes, like some migratory birds.

These vehicles have several advantages. A class A RV has plenty of living room for two to four people, with an extensive kitchen, sleeping quarters and many extras. Most will be fitted with a TV/DVD player, wireless computer and other modern ‘essentials’. Small satellite dishes are available that can be attached to the roof, allowing Internet access in most areas.

Class A RVs are not for everyone, nor for every camping trip. Their large size makes them more difficult to drive, particularly since the width lessens visibility and makes correct backing up and turning specialized skills. Some manufacturers exceed the limitations of the chassis and the RV can be less stable on winding or slick mountain roads.

Class B RVs are really just regular consumer family vans that have been outfitted with a small stove and/or sink and a pair of sleeping bunks. For many, and especially for weekend trips, these are ideal. Gas mileage is considerably better than a Class A vehicle and they’re as easy to drive as any other van.

Space limitations mean that more thought has to be given to packing. Also, some don’t have all the desirable power options and connectors that can be handy on a camping trip. Self-contained propane and a generator of electrical power can be a big benefit on longer trips.

Class C RVs are in between the other two in size and features, with some only slightly larger than vans, others almost the size of a large bus. The majority are about the size of a large emergency medical vehicle or armored car.

These RVs make excellent choices for almost all camping trips, provided you don’t intend to live in them full time. They have plenty of space for two people, four if you don’t mind being cramped. They offer moderate-sized stoves and sinks, have space for a TV/DVD and many have fold out awnings and other extras.

Gas mileage is decent on many models, often only somewhat less than a van. In this range you generally have a choice between gasoline and diesel. Which you choose depends on your guess about prices and personal preference. Diesels are noisier and some people are sensitive to the odor of the exhaust.

Keep in mind that finding diesel on the road can be more difficult than finding gasoline. That’s uncommon – there are long-haul trucks all over – but it’s a consideration. Parking a Class C is much easier than a Class A vehicle, but still a squeeze at some smaller campsites.

Give some thought to what type of camping you intend to do and research your choice accordingly.

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