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The big Outdoorsy guide to RV classes

From Class A motorhomes to Class C RVs


When you’re first looking at RV Classes to rent, you start hearing words like Class A and Class B. What do these classes of RVs mean? We created this guide for RV classifications for that exact reason. This guide will help you understand the three different classifications of motorhomes. When assigning a class, size dictates whether the rig is classified as a Class A, Class B, or Class C motorhome.

The world of RVs may seem huge, but when you boil it down, there are just two major categories of RVs: motorized and towable. Let’s start our tour of RV classes by talking about motorized RV classes.


RV Classes
RV Classes

Motorized RV classes

Motorized RVs are self-contained units you drive — or even live in. The three different classifications — A, B, and C — are all motorized RVs. The most important and somewhat strangest thing about how they’re named is that they go from largest — Class A — to smallest — Class B — to middle-sized, which is Class C. Let’s start with Class A motorhomes.

What is a Class A RV (also known as the big guys)?

RV-Classes-A
Winnebago RV Class A
  • Chassis: the Class A motorhome is built on either a vehicle chassis, commercial truck chassis, or a commercial bus chassis, and runs on either diesel or gas, depending on the type of engine
  • Amenities: the Class A motorhome is usually fully loaded with all the amenities of home including usable living space
  • Camping style: the Class A is the biggest RV class size and often most luxurious and expensive — it’s great for extended stays at one location, full-time RVing, or for people who want the feeling of a house on the road
  • Space: sleeps from one to eight people
  • License: Class A RVs are relatively easy to drive and don’t require a special license
    Size: 21 to 45 feet long

What is a Class B RV (also known as the smallest guys)?

RV Class B
RV Class B
  • Chassis: the Class B motorhome is the smallest RV class. They are also known as campervans or conversion vans, and they are built on a smaller vehicle chassis than the larger Class A. The Class B is a great choice due to the price, versatility, and ease of operation
  • Amenities: the Class B motorhome usually includes cooking facilities, a small refrigerator, a heating unit, folding beds, and limited living space. Sometimes Class B motorhomes have a self-contained toilet and a fresh-water tank, but not always
  • Camping style: the Class B is the smallest RV class size, which is perfect for quick weekend getaways
  • Space: sleeps from one to four people
  • License: Class B RVs don’t require a special license
  • Size: 17 to 19 feet

What is a Class C RV (also known as the middle-sized guys)?

RV-Classes-C
Mercedes RV Class C
  • Chassis: the Class C RV is a smaller version of the Class A motorhome, and it is built on a truck or van cutaway chassis and operates on a gas-powered engine
  • Amenities: the Class C motorhome most likely will have sleeping quarters above the cab and more sleeping space in the back. Some Class Cs have a slide-out option that helps increase the living space when the RV is parked. Class Cs are also equipped with many of the same features as their bigger counterparts, such as refrigerator, cooking facilities, self-contained toilet, heating and air conditioning, and an array of appliances and entertainment equipment
  • Camping style: the Class C has great versatility — large enough for a longer getaway but small enough for a quick escape
  • Space: sleeps from one to eight people
  • License: Class C RVs don’t require a special license
  • Size: 20 to 31 feet

Towable RV classes

Just like the name implies, towable RVs are pulled behind a vehicle. Here is our breakdown of trailer classifications:

What is an RV folding trailer (also known as a pop-up camper)?

pop up camper
Towable folding trailer
  • Characteristics: the folding trailer is a trailer that can be easily towed by an average class size car or SUV equipped with a proper towing package. The sides fold down for easy storage and towing. These campers are usually inexpensive in comparison to other RVs, but provide a nice enhancement to the camping experience
  • Amenities: the folding trailer includes a couple of double beds, screened-in sleeping place, sink, faucet, cooktop, and small dining area. Bigger units may have a toilet or shower

What is an RV travel trailer?

travel trailer at campsite
Towable travel trailer
  • Characteristics: the travel trailer is a trailer that requires a vehicle such as an SUV, pickup truck, or van with a special hitch. The vehicle must be equipped with a specific towing package that controls the sway of the trailer when in motion
  • Amenities: the travel trailer usually provides all the living amenities that motorized RV classes do, but not always. Some have outdoor kitchens, no bathrooms, cassette toilets, or fewer amenities than a Class A, B, or C

What is a fifth-wheel trailer?

fifth-wheel RV trailer
Fifth-wheel trailer
  • Characteristics: the fifth-wheel trailer gets its name from an extension on the front that extends over the tow vehicle and ends with a plate that looks like another wheel. This wheel attaches to the cab of a full-sized pickup truck that tows it. It is important to have the correct tow vehicle when using a fifth-wheel RV
  • Amenities: The fifth-wheel has plenty of room inside; some even have slide-outs to make a larger living space once parked. The unit usually includes a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Because these fifth-wheels provide the best comforts of home, these are great choices if you are staying in one spot for an extended period, or if you want to take toys — like motorcycles or ATVs — with you if your trailer is a toy hauler-equipped fifth-wheel

An illustrated RV class cheat sheet

RV Classes
RV Classes

 


The RV class checklist

Each RV class has unique qualities that offer travelers tools for an incredible vacation. Choose between RV classes based on these key factors:

  1. How many travelers need beds?
  2. Will you be touring many locations or staying in one location for an extended period of time?
  3. What is your vacation budget, including insurance and mileage expenses?

How do RVs and Driver’s Licenses work?

A majority of RV classes can be driven with a regular driver’s license. Some states require a special license for larger RVs. Since each state issues licenses, the rules can vary for each RV classification.

  • In Connecticut, a different type of license called a Class 2 is required for trailers above 10,000 pounds
  • In Hawaii, a Class 4 license is required for trailers weighing more than 15,000 pounds and less than 26,000 pounds, so you need a commercial driver’s license for units above 26,000 pounds
  • In Wisconsin, there’s an RV exemption in the commercial driver’s license manual for motorhomes and fifth wheel mobile homes provided the rig isn’t longer than 45 feet

See our Outdoorsy RV driver’s license requirements for details on each state. Also, check out this fantastic checklist of the classes of RVs that can help break it down.


Originally published in June 2016, this post was updated in Jan 2017 and Feb 2020.

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