Recreational vehicles built and sold in Australia are classified into several categories. Here is a helpful glossary summarizing the key differences of each RV type to give you a bit of background information. While we’ve done our best to summarise the main types out there, when it comes to RVs, the world is your oyster, and you can customise so many features to suit you, so keep an open mind!
Camper & Tent Trailers
Tent trailers typically comprise a box trailer, used to store cooking and camping equipment, plus a lift-out tent for sleeping and living space. Often light and small enough to be towed by small vehicles, there are also off-road versions for rugged terrain. A step up from tent trailers, camper trailers are generally more comfortable and convenient, but still easily towed by smaller vehicles. They are generally easy to set up, and provide generous room and equipment, usually including gas cooker, refrigerator, table and sink. Good for: Campers are great for those wanting to take the next step up from your basic dome tend, without investing a lot of money or buying a new tow vehicle. Because Campers are generally lighter, they can be towed by a larger variety of cars.
Class C Motorhomes
Class C Motorhomes range from economy to luxury models built on a cab-chassis with a caravan-style body. Weighing 4.5-7 tonnes, and measuring 6-13 metres, they retain the donor vehicle’s cabin, often with an overhead bunk. Slide-outs are increasingly common. Good for: Campervans are great for road-trips, while the Class A and C Motorhomes are more suited to living life on the road, as they come with all the mod cons. Depending on the weight, you may need a special license to drive a motorhome, but you will also have the security of being able to go straight from living to driving without having to unhitch.
Slide on Campers
Slide-on campers are designed to sit on the back of a ute, pick-up or light truck and can have features similar to a caravan or camper trailer. They allow for towing a separate trailer and can be parked on built-in jacks to enable separate use of the ute. Good for: Because Slide-ons attach to a ute tray, they are great for those who also want to take a boat trailer or similar on their travels as the slide-on does not take up the vehicle’s capacity to tow.
Caravans vary greatly in size and format, anything up to 10 metres long with up to three axles. They are often equipped with two comfortable berths, but can have up to six or more berths. Fit-out can be basic or luxurious, and some have slide-outs for extra space. Good for: Caravans come in so many different shapes and sizes, depending on the make, model, and the level of customisation. They are great for year-long trips, or living in!
Fifth-wheelers are towed by a truck or pick-up via a hitch similar to that in a semi-trailer – the
“fifth wheel” – fitted to the bed of the tow vehicle. Usually large and luxurious, they normally feature a raised master suite above the hitch. Good for: While fifth-wheelers allow for a better towing experience, they do require a dedicated tow-vehicle so they are best for those planning to spend the majority of their time in it.
Pop-tops are similar to fully equipped caravans, sometimes even with en suite, but with a pop-up roof providing up to half a metre of headroom. Their low profile reduces wind resistance when towing and facilitates storage in a garage or carport. Good for: Because Pop-Tops retract, they are easier to store than regular caravans so are are good option for those who won’t be on the road year-round and so will need to be able to store it in a garage.
Class A Motorhomes
Class A motorhomes are typically
top-end RVs, 7-12 metres long and 7-14 tonnes, with custom bodywork on a specialised RV chassis or adapted truck chassis. Usually fitted with all luxury amenities, they can cost up to half a million dollars, even more.
Campervans / Class B Motorhomes
Campervans – Class B Motorhomes – have a compact fit-out in a high roof or pop-top van. They can be driven on a car licence and used as a passenger vehicle. Equipment usually includes kitchen, eating and sleeping, with ensuites in larger models.
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