A North Trail travel trailer towed by a truck on the road.

RV Types 101: What to know about each category of RV

So you’re curious about RVs, huh? Maybe you’re new to the world of RVing and just looking to decode the jargon, or maybe you’re ready to research and shop for your first unit. Whatever your motivation, we want to help you understand the different RV types a little bit better.

PRIMARY RV TYPES 

RVs, also called campers, motorhomes, or sometimes just referred to by brand name, fall into several primary categories.

Motorized

Motorized RVs provide all-in-one camping solutions. They house a living area inside a vehicle with an onboard motor. A stereotypical tour bus is a motorized RV.

Within that category, you’ll find Class A RVs, Class B RVs, and Class C RVs. Class A’s represent the largest and heaviest RV types. Built on a modified van chassis, Class B’s sometimes also get called camper vans. And Class C’s have a truck chassis and an over-cab sleeping compartment.

Towable 

A Cyclone RV towed behind a truck at sunset.

At Heartland RVs, we only sell towable RV types, or RVs that you tow behind a tow vehicle, typically a truck. Our RVs fall into three main types.

Travel Trailers 

A travel trailer or “bumper pull” is an RV towed behind a towing vehicle, such as a truck or SUV. Travel trailers come in all kinds of floor plans, or interior layouts. Floor plans differentiate one model of travel trailer from another. For instance, one travel trailer floor plan might include a big master suite with a king-sized bedroom while another floor plan might feature more open space with lots of convertible sleeping arrangements. Some travel trailers have full, residential-style kitchens with brand name appliances. And some have slide-outs that provide more space when parked.

Travel trailers come in all kinds of sizes, from micro to small to larger models upward of 36 feet in length. Within that range of sizes, you’ll find hundreds of floor plans to choose from. Travel trailers match well with solo campers, couples, families, or people traveling with friends or pets.

Fifth Wheels

Fifth wheels have a specialized hitch for easier towing. Fifth wheels are RV types that require heavy duty trucks with the hitch connected to the truck bed. This creates more stable towing due to the weight centered over the back of the tow vehicle. Fifth wheels run longer and taller than other trailers, but handle more easily with less sway than other options.

Fifth wheels make a great option for anyone who wants more stability while towing, as well as people looking for a more luxurious RV experience. Since fifth wheels often come with your choice of features and comforts, they can have longer and heavier builds. Fifth wheels match well with families or anyone traveling with several other people, and for full-time or part-time RVers. If you’re looking for an RV type you can take somewhere warm to ride out the winter, consider a fifth wheel.

An older ocuple in the kitchen of a fifth wheel RV.

Big Country is a fifth wheel with lots of luxurious details.

Toy Haulers 

Toy haulers also fall into the RV type category of towable RVs. They have a separate garage space at the back of the trailer designed for motorized vehicles, like motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes, etc. You can also use it to store non-motorized toys, like kayaks, mountain or road bikes, paddleboards and more. The back opens into a ramp for loading toys, and can often convert into a back patio for additional space. Some toy haulers have an extra side patio to maximize the floor plan. Toy hauler models come in both standard trailer and fifth wheel RV types.

Toy haulers work well for people who like to engage in activities that require a lot of gear. Or anyone who wants to travel with their toys. It’s one of the easiest ways to travel with a motorized toy, as the toy sits encased inside the RV. Most toy haulers come standard with welded tie-downs and other features to make hauling gear more secure.

But toy haulers can also provide extra living space to anyone who wants it. Many families with young kids like them because they can convert the patio into a playroom, a classroom or extra sleeping space. And young kids can play in the fresh air on the patio while remaining safely inside the RV.

A view inside a toy hauler garage space without toys inside.

The Cyclone toy hauler has abundant, flexible space to use however you like.

SECONDARY RV TYPES

In addition to the six main RV types mentioned above, campers can come in more personalized configurations.

Ultralite RVs

What does ultralite or ultra light RV type mean? Travel trailer RV specifically designed to weigh less and be more aerodynamic than others earn the name “ultra-lite.” This makes them towable by a wider variety of vehicles. Of course, you can tow an ultralite RV with a heavy duty truck, but some people have found models towable by SUVs. Buying an ultralight RV type may mean you can tow it with the vehicle you already own–so you can get started camping today.

Ultralite RVs make a great model for anyone who wants to RV with a vehicle they already own. Whether you only camp on weekends or you like to travel more often, an ultralight RV still packs a punch.

A view inside the underbelly storage of the North Trail travel trailer.

North Trail may be ultralite, but it comes with generous storage space.

Bunkhouse RVs 

Did you love sleeping in bunk beds as a kid? Then you’ll love a bunkhouse RV. A bunkhouse contains bunk beds, typically in a separate room you can close off from the rest of the camper. Bunkhouses come in all varieties of RV types, from travel trailers to fifth wheels to toy haulers. Bunk beds make an efficient use of floor space and allows campers of all ages to have their own private sleeping area. Many bunkhouse models also contain additional sleeping arrangements, like fold-out couches or convertible dinettes. But bunkhouses maximize floor space, privacy and efficiency inside the RV.

RV types with bunks work well for families with children, particularly young children or children in a range of ages. Because bunkhouses can often be closed off from the rest of the RV, your youngest campers can go to bed earlier than everyone else without being disturbed.

Small Toy Haulers 

Although toy haulers have a big job, they can come in smaller RV types. If you’re looking for an RV that can haul your favorite motorized or non-motorized toys but you’d prefer a shorter unit, a small toy hauler is for you. Of course, you don’t have to use them to haul toys at all. Small toy haulers are still wonderful if you love having a private patio space to yourself.

Small toy haulers are well-suited to both motorized sports enthusiasts and people traveling with children or pets. The back patio space is a great way to keep young kids, cats or dogs contained inside while giving them a bit of fresh air. But you can always convert it into a ramp and load up your ATV, golf cart, side-by-side, BMX bikes or dirt bikes into your small toy hauler.

Small Travel Trailers 

By now, you’ve probably seen those itty bitty micro trailers out on the road. Indeed, travel trailers come in all sizes and configurations, from the extremely small to large. But you wouldn’t be on our site unless you were looking for a travel trailer with a bit more substance than a pop-up camper.

Small travel trailers are a great entry into RVing. With a modest footprint and great towing practice for beginners, a small travel trailer still has everything you need. You’ll enjoy your own private bedroom, bathroom and kitchen space in trailers starting as small as 22-feet long. And if you think a small travel trailer can only sleep two or three people, think again. We have options that sleep from four to eight guests, while still maintaining an efficient, easily manageable size.

Luxury Fifth Wheels 

Some people love to travel in supreme comfort and style. Luxury fifth wheels are for those travelers. To make a luxury fifth wheel, first you start with the sturdy and secure fifth wheel hitch. Then, you build a standard RV, with a bedroom suite, kitchen, bathroom, living area and storage. Only you add in features like solid surface countertops, hardwood cabinetry, custom tile backsplashes, gas fireplaces and more. Luxury fifth wheels have been known to have bathrooms with double sinks and spa showers. Some may even have a full bathtub for soaking. In addition, you can also expect increased weather-proofing and insulation, for people who enjoy prolonged travel. Axles and suspension tend to be heartier in luxury fifth wheels, providing a smooth and comfortable ride. And some luxury fifth-wheels may even be rated for all-season camping, meaning it can endure both hot and cold climates alike.

Inside the Bighorn Traveler RV, with a long shot of the luxury kitchen.

Bighorn Traveler comes with high-end touches and interior decor.

People who buy luxury fifth wheels have an eye for the finer things in life. Some owners may be older travelers, like retirees and snowbirds. Or anyone who enjoys going on trips for weeks or months at a time. Other owners may be people who like to travel constantly, visiting family and friends year round in their RV. And yet another type of luxury fifth wheel owner may just be the camper who enjoys the outdoors just as much as they enjoy their creature comforts. But be warned––luxury fifth wheels are the kinds of RVs that are so nice, you might just find yourself dreaming of owning one, no matter what kind of camper you are.

What about floor plans?

As mentioned above, bunkhouses are just one type of floor plan feature that a travel trailer, fifth wheel or toy hauler can have. But all kinds of towable RVs can be combined with a number of floor plan options to create your perfect model.

For instance, some people love having a master suite with a king-sized bed and walk-in closets. Other people would love to have a floor plan that includes a gourmet, residential-sized kitchen where they can whip up memorable meals. Some campers love having an extra half-bathroom in their floor plan, while others are looking for a private room they can turn into an office on the road.

The Big Country bedroom with a mounted flat-screen TV on the wall.

Some floor plans, like the Big Country picture here, include a second TV in the bedroom.

Whether you’re camping by yourself, with another person, or with nine more people, there are floor plans that maximize the space available. You might be shocked to see which smaller RV units can sleep up to ten people, which is perfect for camping with a crowd. Slide outs expand to provide extra space in many floor plans, while some units take advantage of vertical space with lofts.

No matter what you’re looking for in a towable RV, Heartland has something to suit your lifestyle, your needs and your wishlist, too. Overwhelmed with options? We can help you find your perfect RV model right now.