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  • Meagan Butler

What Does RV Stand For? A Quick and Easy Guide

Class C RV driving on a road outside of Grand Teton National Park
Photo © by Meagan Butler

Originally published on RVezy

What does RV stand for?

RV stands for recreational vehicle.

What is an RV?

An RV is a vehicle designed for human habitation, providing comfort and convenience for leisure, sport, hobby, or entertainment.

What is an RV class?

Only motorhomes (drivable RVs with engines) have specific classifications. The RV industry uses the word class because it's a shorter way to say classification.

What are the different RV classes?

Motorized RVs (motorhomes) are classified by the type of chassis (vehicle frame) they are built upon. The three different RV classes are Class A motorhomes, Class B motorhomes (campervans), and Class C motorhomes.

Class A

Class A motorhomes are the largest, most luxurious drivable RVs, built on a truck chassis and available with gas or diesel engines. They offer residential-style amenities, ample storage, and larger tanks for water and waste, providing a comfortable, home-like experience for travelers. Class A motorhomes are approximately 26 to 45 feet long and must be parked in bus or oversized parking spaces.

Class B

Class B motorhomes, also called campervans, are compact, drivable RVs built on a van chassis and available with gas or diesel engines. They are small, maneuverable, and easy to park. They include a flexible living and sleeping area and sometimes even a toilet and shower.

Class C

Class C motorhomes are built on a van chassis and designed for versatility and easy driving. Typically gas-powered, they range in size from approximately 25 to 36 feet long and have a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and convertible sleeping space. Class Cs are easy to recognize with their cab-over bunk and boxy shape.

What are the different types of RVs?

RVs with similar structural or physical characteristics are grouped by RV type and are either drivable, towable, or portable.

Drivable RVs

Drivable RVs, often called motorhomes, are recreational vehicles that combine transportation and living quarters in a single unit. Motorhomes are built on a motorized chassis, allowing them to be driven from place to place without needing a separate towing vehicle. Motorhomes have an assigned class: Class A, B, or C (as described in the previous section).

Towable RVs

Towable RVs attach to vehicles using a hitch system. The hitch systems provide a secure connection, allowing the trailer to be safe and stable behind the tow vehicle. Some towables attach to towing vehicles using a ball hitch mounted on the rear of the tow vehicle, while fifth wheels require a special hitch mounted in the bed of a pickup truck.

Fifth wheel

Fifth-wheel travel trailers are the largest towable RVs. A fifth-wheel hitch connects to the bed of a heavy-duty truck, providing a smoother and more stable ride. These multi-level trailers often have bedrooms upstairs and include amenities like slide-outs, bunkhouses, outdoor kitchens, and office spaces.

Travel trailer

Travel trailers are versatile RVs that come in various lengths and weights. They usually have a kitchen, sleeping area, bathroom, and convertible living space. Some larger travel trailers feature slide-outs and extra amenities. Travel trailers range in size from 20 to 45 feet and require a tow vehicle with a proper hitch and tow rating. Smaller travel trailers fall into the tiny trailer category.

Micro trailer

Micro trailers, also called tiny trailers, are small RVs featuring flexible living spaces. Types include teardrop, fiberglass, clamshell, and some pop-ups. Some come with indoor kitchens and wet baths; others have outdoor kitchens and convertible living-sleeping areas. Their lightweight nature makes them popular for towing with smaller SUVs and trucks.

Toy hauler

Toy haulers have a garage or multi-purpose utility space built into the RV to carry recreational equipment like motorcycles and ATVs. Travel trailers and fifth wheels are the most common types of RVs with the toy hauler feature, although it's not uncommon to see a motorhome with a toy hauler garage. Toy haulers often have a kitchen, bedroom, and large living spaces and sometimes include bunk houses, outdoor kitchens, and more.

Pop-up tent and hybrid RV trailers

Pop-up tent campers and hybrid RV trailers have lightweight, collapsible tent sections and hard-sided bottom sections for kitchens and storage. Easy to tow and budget-friendly, they can sleep up to seven but may be noisy and have limited storage.

Portable RVs

A portable RV is a compact recreational vehicle designed for easy transport and mobility. This category includes lightweight, foldable, or expandable designs, like pop-up truck campers or overland-style vehicle tents. You don't have to register a portable RV in many locations because it doesn't have a VIN (vehicle identification number).

Truck camper

Truck campers fit in pickup truck beds and often need a one-ton or dually truck for support. They typically have hard sides, a bed, a kitchen, and a toilet or wet bath. Lightweight truck campers may have a pop-up roof with tent-like material on the sides. Some luxury truck campers even feature slide-outs for added space.

Frequently asked questions

What's the difference between a camper and an RV?

People use the word camper as another word for a towable RV. Campers typically refer to travel trailers, pop-up trailers, and A-frame trailers, but teardrops and other tow-behind trailers can also be called campers. Truck campers are also referred to as campers.

What is a conversion van?

A conversion van is a cargo van that's customized into a living space by a third-party. Even though conversion vans and Class Bs look similar on the outside, conversion vans are not titled as RVs. Van upfitters and small-scale manufacturers can apply for an RV title by certifying their vans meet RVIA (RV Industry Association) and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) safety codes.

What is a campervan?

People use the word campervan to describe any van with a living space inside. Class B RVs and conversion vans can both be called campervans.

What is the most popular RV to rent?

Class C motorhomes are the most popular rental RVs. People like to rent Class C RVs because they drive like heavy-duty trucks or SUVs, have a lot of interior space, and can sleep up to 7 people.

Where can I learn more about the RV lifestyle?

The RVezy blog has almost everything you need to know about RVing and the RV lifestyle.


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