Some novice and veteran RVers use towable RVs for weekend and full-time adventures. Many who use them absolutely love them. But being the most popular doesn’t make them perfect or the best choice for everyone. Today, we want to share with you seven reasons we think you might want to avoid a towable RV. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- What Is a Towable RV?
- Types of Towable RVs
- 7 Reasons to Avoid Towable RVs
- 1. Need an Expensive Tow Vehicle for Larger Towable RVs
- 2. Towing Gas Mileage Can Be Insanely Bad
- 3. No Access to Trailer While Traveling
- 4. Notoriously Poor Construction on Certain Brands and Models
- 5. Very Little Storage on Smaller Towable RVs
- 6. Difficult to Hitch/Tow/Set Up When Solo
- 7. Learning Curve of Towing and Backing Up
- Towable RVs Aren’t for Everyone
What Is a Towable RV?
A towable is an RV trailer that is not motorized. Rather, it requires a separate tow vehicle, usually a truck or SUV, to pull the RV via a hitch. On the other hand, a drivable RV, often referred to as a motorhome, has an internal engine. Meaning, you can drive the RV itself without a tow vehicle.
Types of Towable RVs
Before we get to the reasons you should avoid towable RVs, let’s take a look at the various RV trailer types.
Fifth wheel RVs are a popular choice. These are generally larger RVs that can reach 44+ feet in length. They utilize a hitch in a pickup truck’s bed, which creates a more stable towing experience. Fifth wheels provide a generous amount of storage space in outside compartments and plenty of room inside.
Newer fifth wheels also come equipped with auto-level functionality, which makes setting up a breeze. After getting as level as possible, just unhitch and press a button, and the trailer will begin to level itself. Getting at least somewhat level helps keep the leveling system from lifting your wheels off the ground.
These units are often trendy amongst those choosing to travel full time but also used for recreational camping. However, because fifth wheels hitch to a truck’s bed, many fifth wheel owners miss the bed space for storage.
Plenty of large and small travel trailers are great for different camping styles. If you want to travel full time or make memories in a local campground on the weekends, there’s a travel trailer for you.
Travel trailers connect to your tow vehicle via a ball hitch and receiver system. The travel trailer’s size and weight will greatly determine what size vehicle will be required to efficiently and safely tow it. The correct hitch and truck for towing a travel trailer will minimize sway and prevent unsafe towing conditions. You’ll find travel trailers as small as 13 feet and as long as 40 feet.
You might have a dirt bike, golf cart, or other large toys you want to bring with you. Toy haulers are similar to a fifth wheel but have large doors on the back to store toys of various sizes. The garage portion of these RVs can be a multi-purpose space that allows users to customize the space.
Toy haulers are built on heavier frames to help them haul loads in the garage space. Due to the heavier structure and the weight of items in the garage, you’ll need a larger truck to tow these.
Many toy haulers will require a dually truck for effective and safe towing. The largest of toy haulers can reach an impressive 48.5 feet in length!
Other Towable RVs
Not everyone that owns an RV requires a large amount of space. Some RVers only want a shelter and place to sleep. Pop-up campers, hybrids, and teardrop trailers are a few options for campers not requiring much square footage or amenities. Because each of these RVs is often lighter, they might not need a large tow vehicle.
Pop-up campers are compact campers that collapse into themselves for travel but expand vertically and horizontally when set up at the campsite. These provide the bare necessities for individuals or small families seeking adventure on the weekends. You may not have a bathroom or shower, but many campgrounds offer these facilities.
Hybrid campers are a mixture of travel trailers and pop-up campers. They often look like a standard travel trailer with rigid sides but have canvas pop-outs on one or more ends for extra sleeping space. This provides optimal use of the main living space without taking up room for beds.
Teardrops are among the smallest RVs you’ll see in a campground. They’re designed for one or two campers maximum and often require an outdoor kitchen for cooking and meal prep. There are even certain models intended for rugged terrain that enable campers to take their trailer to remote locations.
7 Reasons to Avoid Towable RVs
While many people love their towable RVs because they provide a comfortable home on wheels, we’ve got seven reasons they might not be for you.
1. Need an Expensive Tow Vehicle for Larger Towable RVs
It’s easy to buy a towable RV that’s too big for your tow vehicle. It’s a common mistake that many RVers make, which often requires an expensive truck upgrade to safely and legally tow. Many RVers think their tow vehicle is more capable than it is and are severely disappointed to discover it’s not after signing on the dotted line.
Depending on the size and where you plan to use your trailer, you could easily spend $50,000-$70,000+ on a truck equipped to tow your trailer. No one wants to sign more financing paperwork shortly after buying a towable RV.
2. Towing Gas Mileage Can Be Insanely Bad
Depending on the size of your tow vehicle, you might already have lower miles per gallon. Hook up a few thousand pounds of additional weight to your tow vehicle, and you’ll see the MPGs drop considerably. It’s not uncommon for larger diesel trucks to average 8-10 miles per gallon when towing larger rigs and gas counterparts to average 7-9 miles per gallon.
The costs of towing your towable RV to the campsite can quickly add up, especially if you regularly camp far away. You’ll discover there are some hidden expenses in RVing, and fuel expenses are one of them.
3. No Access to Trailer While Traveling
Your towable RV may be large enough to store all of your possessions, but you won’t have access to them while traveling. You’ll have to park your rig, go outside, and then into the RV to make use of all the fancy amenities your towable RV offers. It’s much more convenient to have access to your bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom without ever having to geet out of the vehicle.
4. Notoriously Poor Construction on Certain Brands and Models
A few brands are exceptions to the rule, but many towable RV brands and models are poorly constructed. Many RV manufacturers use the cheapest possible components and materials but put a premium price on the finished product.
You don’t have to peruse reviews or Facebook groups for long to discover that there are few happy campers when it comes to their towable RV’s initial construction. Even brand new rigs can face issues that need repair.
5. Very Little Storage on Smaller Towable RVs
Smaller towable RVs like pop-ups or teardrop campers have very little storage space. You may get lucky with these models and have a small front storage compartment or get even luckier if it’s a pass-through storage compartment. Most of these units barely have enough storage space outside for a weekend’s worth of supplies.
Inside storage space is also at a premium with smaller rigs. We’re not just talking about clothing items but also essentials like food and cooking supplies. Figuring out how to store the gear you’ll need often requires both trials by error and luck.
6. Difficult to Hitch/Tow/Set Up When Solo
There are several unique steps for hitching, towing, and setting up towable RVs. While a solo camper can do these things on their own, it’s not ideal. Having multiple sets of hands and eyes during each of these steps ensures a smoother process.
We highly recommend having a partner to help during the hitching and setting up process. Lining up your truck to the small ball can be difficult and frustrating when solo.
Many trucks have cameras to assist, but it’s much easier with a partner. Being able to divvy up responsibilities during setup makes camping much more enjoyable. Forgetting steps during this process can ruin a weekend of adventuring.
7. Learning Curve of Towing and Backing Up
Towing and backing up a towable RV doesn’t feel natural. Everything you’ve learned about driving and backing up goes out the window when you hook a trailer to your vehicle. Your instincts tell you to turn in one direction, but the RV will turn in the opposite. It might feel like you can only learn to back up an RV through trial and error.
Towing an RV requires being aware of many potential hazards. How your trailer responds when turning, whether sharp or not, is entirely different from piloting a drivable RV. For some people, the fear of towing or backing up pushes them to select a drivable RV.
Tip: Check out How To Tow An RV: The Beginner’s Guide if a towable RV still sounds right for you!
Towable RVs Aren’t for Everyone
Don’t get us wrong; we love towable RVs and think they’re great for adventuring and traveling the country. But we know they’re not for everyone, and we want you to be aware of the most significant downsides. Overall, we hope our list helps you consider the whole world of towable RVs before making a big purchase.
Do you have a reason to avoid towable RVs that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.
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