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Why It’s a Bad Idea to Put a Bathtub in an RV Camper

Why It’s a Bad Idea to Put a Bathtub in an RV Camper

If you’ve been RVing for a while, you might have thought about installing a bathtub. You may miss the relaxing suds and a glass of wine, or maybe you want a better set-up for your kids. However, an RV with a bathtub may not be the best idea. In fact, it might create a lot of problems. Let’s look at why you shouldn’t put a bathtub in a camper.

Can You Get an RV With a Bathtub? 

Some RVs come with a bathtub. These are usually smaller shower/bathtub combos and not the tubs you might have in your house. If you have an infant or toddler, these bathtubs can be the perfect solution for creating an enjoyable bedtime routine while camping. However, they won’t work for an adult who wants to soak.

RV bathroom with bathtub installed
Many people love a soak after a long day of adventures, but a bathtub in your RV can be a risky move.

What Are the Benefits of a Camper With a Bathtub? 

For some RVers, having a bathtub means more storage space. It might sound comical, but often, bathtubs store plants, diffusers, or other items on travel days. Some also use bathtubs to hang wet clothes, so the added length means more drying space on laundry day or after swimming.

For other RVers who use the bathtub as intended, it makes the bedtime routine seem more normal for kids. Many kids enjoy playtime in the bathtub before going to bed at home. It helps parents to have a bathtub in their RV to keep to their structured bedtime routine. Kids may go to bed more quickly if their routine is consistent.

More extensive travelers also appreciate the added space of a bathtub because it provides additional room for them to wash. RV showers can be tiny, with little elbow room to turn around. Having the increased space of a bathtub creates a more comfortable shower experience.

SOAKING TUB!! 2019 Montana 3921FB or 3920FB Keystone Luxury Fifth Wheel RV

What Are The Disadvantages of a Camper With a Bathtub? 

On the other hand, many RVers despise bathtubs. It takes up precious space that they could use for something else, like a linen closet or a washer dryer combo. Bathtubs can become the “catch-all” area, hiding miscellaneous items RVers don’t know where else to store.

Another disadvantage of having a camper with a bathtub is the added weight. If you were to take out the bathtub and replace it with a standard RV shower, you’d free up space and the weight you could use for other camping necessities.

Can You Install a “Real” Bathtub in an RV Camper?

Technically, you can install a residential bathtub in an RV. However, that doesn’t mean you should. You may think that relaxing in a tub would be an excellent end to a long camping weekend, but the reality is there are too many problems that could occur by installing a large bathtub in a small space. Plus, it would be a complex remodeling project.

flipping nomad bathtub
The Flipping Nomad Has successfully put bathtubs in RV’s! Source: The Flipping Nomad Ultimate Montana

Why Is It a Bad Idea to Put a Bathtub in an RV Camper? 

Adding a bathtub would be pretty challenging. A residential bathtub would not fit in most RV bathrooms and would also be too heavy. Plus, filling up a soaking tub would use a lot of hot water that most RV water heaters can’t supply.

RV camper bathtub and toilet
Filling a bathtub in an RV will use a lot of precious fresh water.

Uses a Lot of Water

Many RVers enjoy dry camping because of the freedom they have to explore remote areas. They enjoy getting away from private campgrounds and submersing themselves in nature.

However, when you don’t have water hookups, you can’t fill a bathtub. Most fresh water tanks won’t supply enough water to fill a tub. Even if they could, the rest of the family would be without water for the duration of the camping trip because you would have used it all.

Risk of Water Backing Up (Fills Up Gray Tank)

If you did fill up the bath for a nice relaxing soak, you’d then have a problem draining the water after your bath. The gallons of water you used to fill the tub have to go somewhere, and most gray tanks will overflow with that much water. If you’re boondocking, you’ll be without a sewer hookup to drain the water in your gray tank.

Pro Tip: Make learning the ins and outs of your gray tank easier with our Practical Guide to Your RV Gray Water Tank.

Most RV Water Heaters Can’t Keep Up

If you want a bathtub and always camp at full hookup campsites, you will also need to invest in an on-demand water heater. RV hot water tanks are usually for 6-12 gallons. Perhaps you could get 20 gallons of warm water out of it, but you would use a lot of propane and water. Bathtubs require too much hot water for an RV hot water tank. If you can’t fill it up with hot water, what’s the point of having a bathtub? 

Truma AquaGo On-Demand RV Water Heater - Overview and Thoughts

Takes Up Too Much Space

A camper with a bathtub means taking precious space from the tiniest room in the RV. Most RVers prefer a linen closet, extended vanity, or more room to move around in their bathroom. When you don’t use the bathtub that often, it becomes a burden because of the space it requires.

Most RV Tubs Are Too Small for a Good Soak

Because RV bathrooms are so small, the standard shower/bathtub combo units are usually too cramped to take a bath comfortably. They provide added room for showering, but taking a bath is almost impossible for adults. If you’re looking for a good soak, rent a cabin for the weekend or wait until you get home.

A “Real” Bathtub Would Be Too Heavy for Most RVs

Some luxury diesel pushers come standard with bathtubs. However, these motorhomes cost upwards of $400,000 and have a GVWR of over 30,000 pounds. Their designers made them to carry heavy loads.

On the other hand, most other RVs, like travel trailers, fifth wheels, and even other motorhomes, don’t have the cargo-carrying capacity to handle the weight of an actual bathtub. No one wants to spend the money to install a residential bathtub only to have it fall through the floor.

Get Your Hot Soak Another Way

If soaking in a bathtub brings you joy and relaxation, book campgrounds with hot tubs. Some high-end resorts may have hot tubs at individual campsites. You can also bring along a portable hot tub or bathtub.

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Find an inflatable one at Walmart or Amazon and take it with you the next time you go camping. Enjoy a hot soak while listening to the birds and feeling the breeze.

inflatable hot tubs
Skip the bathtub and invest in an inflatable hot tub instead!

Pro Tip: Want to buy an inflatable hot tub for your RV? We found the best options on the market.

Is an RV With a Bathtub Worth It?

In the end, finding an RV with a bathtub isn’t worth the search. Installing an actual bathtub isn’t worth the time and effort either. Manufacturers don’t make RVs to withstand the weight of a residential bathtub or provide that much hot water. You could also do more damage to your rig by undergoing a remodeling project to install one. Ultimately, it’s probably best to find other ways to enjoy a soak.

Do you have a bathtub in your RV? Share your experience in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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John

Friday 10th of June 2022

Like the "Skip the bathtub and invest in an inflatable hot tub instead!" photo. Looks like Peter is wondering how/why John is in the wrong/right hot tub.

Good post. I had to read it because I thought one of your subscribers may have asked the question and thought "No" is going to be a very short article.

Have to admit I've never seen a bathtub in any RV, Trailer or 5th wheel at any RV park, RV dealer, RV show or RV ad.

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