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Towable Recreational Vehicles

July 16, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Happy family
Hitching a Ride to Paradise

Towable recreational vehicles offer a separate towable unit designed to be hitched behind a motorized vehicle. Because it is a detachable trailer, owners are able to park it at their destination and use the powered vehicle for sightseeing and local travel. This is a great option to have if you’re fond of exploring narrow, twisting roads or plan to visit a major city while on vacation.

Fifth Wheel Trailers

These are the biggest of the bunch. In fact, some fifth wheels are so big that even heavy-duty pickup trucks don’t have enough power to tow them. While others are featherweights, you’re still going to have to hitch them to the bed of a truck.
  • Price range: $15,000 to $100,000.
  • Handling: They can be something of a challenge to maneuver and are more difficult to park than motorized RVs.
  • Towing: You’ll need a truck, since most cars and vans lack the necessary power. Also, be sure to check your fifth wheel’s weight rating before buying.  
  • Gas Mileage: Not good. Mileage will depend on the size of your fifth wheel as well as the truck pulling it.
  • Amenities:
    • You’ll have a kitchen, eating area, living room, bedroom and self-contained bath. 
    • Capable of sleeping two to six people.
  • Disadvantages: Passengers are not allowed to ride in the trailer when this RV is being pulled, so you must have a tow vehicle with enough seating capacity for everyone.

Travel Trailers

These RVs come in a variety of sizes and weight classifications. Depending on their mass, they can be towed with a truck, van or car. Travel trailers are less expensive than fifth wheels and they usually don’t require a special tow vehicle. You get a lot of inside space to use too!
  • Price Range: $10,000 to $65,000.
  • Handling: Some of the longer trailers tend to sway, can be difficult to back up and require wider radiuses for turning.
  • Towing: Depending on your trailer’s size, you may be able to use a SUV or a light truck for towing.
  • Gas Mileage: Varies with the size and weight of trailer and efficiency of the tow vehicle. Of course, gas mileage is sure to improve once you drop off the trailer at your campsite.
  • Amenities:
    • Standard kitchen, eating area, living room, bedroom and self-contained bath. 
    • Some can sleep as many as ten.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Lack of underneath storage space. 
    • All the members of your party must ride in the tow vehicle. But, because this vehicle is often times the family car, it’s better suited to passengers than the fifth wheel’s truck.

Pop-Up Trailers

These trailers collapse to a compact size for towing and ‘Pop Up’ to a surprising size when they’re ready to use. You unfold the front and back, and in some cases both sides, for an instant home in the wilderness. The sides can be made of canvas or fiberglass, and they are lightweight enough to tow with a car or van. The cost may strike some potential buyers as pricey, but Pop-Ups are capable of comfortably serving a large family.
  • Price Range: $3,000 to $15,000.
  • Handling: Easiest among the trailer type RVs. But backing up takes practice.
  • Towing: There’s no need to invest in a heavy-duty truck. Just use your family car or van.
  • Gas Mileage: Pretty impressive for an RV.
  • Amenities:
    • Most models are equipped with a 2/3 burner stove, cold water sink and a small refrigerator. 
    • Some models feature slide-out dinettes which dramatically increase the living area. 
    • Capable of sleeping two to ten people.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Not much space for storage. 
    • Basic units don’t offer many conveniences.
    • The time required for set-up and take-down makes one day stays a hassle.
    • The canvas sides aren’t all that waterproof in rain storms.

Truck Campers

This unit fits into the bed of a standard sized pickup truck. It’s a great choice for campers who like to trek off to remote locations and people who want a multi-purpose vehicle that doesn’t always have to be an RV. As a bonus, some of these campers come with slide-out options that allow you to quickly and easily increase living space.
  • Price Range: $4,000 to $30,000.
  • Handling: Exactly like your truck but with increased wind resistance.
  • Towing: There’s no need to tow anything, although you can pull a boat or storage trailer.
  • Gas Mileage: Not exactly terrific. But mileage will improve once you off-load the camper when the trip is over.
  • Amenities:
    • A stove and sleeping space are standard. Other features are available on models with slide-outs.
    • Loading the camper on and off your truck is fairly simple.
    • You’ll be able to comfortably sleep two to four people.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Far fewer features than Class ‘A’ and Fifth Wheel RVs offer. 
    • Not suited for large families.

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