RVing 101: Types Of Campers, Trailers, and Airstreams

types of campers

RVs, campers, trailers, campervans, Airstreams— there are so many different types of motorhomes on the market in 2022. Understandably, it can be a little confusing if you’re new to the RV lifestyle. We all want our vacations to be perfect, especially first time RV renters (welcome!). And there are so many different types of campers and trailers not counting traditional RVs to choose from. However, the good news about all of this diversity is that there’s an RV rental for everyone! 

To help you out, we’ve created a guide breaking down the most popular class of RVs on the rental market: campers and trailers.

Below, we’ll go over each of the main types of campers that you can find on RVnGO, including who they’re best suited for, how much they cost to rent, and what makes them unique. Plus, we’ll talk a little about Airstreams, the trending brand in RV rentals.

Campers

types of campers

What is a camper?

Camper is the name that’s colloquially given to most towable RVs. There are five major types of campers that are on the rental market, all with their own unique features. Even among the individual types of campers, sizes and layouts are often variable within brands.

The five major types of campers are:

  • Toy haulers
  • Pop-up campers
  • Travel trailers
  • Teardrop trailers
  • Fifth wheels

What’s the difference between campers and trailers?

Basically— there is none!

Campers and trailers are used interchangeably to describe the same type of RV. Although in some cases there are specific names given to RV types (such as travel trailers), camper is still often the catch-all term used to describe them. The only exception to this are fifth wheels, which we’ll get to below.

Are campers the same as campervans?

white campervan

Although the word “camper” is in the name, campervans are a different class of RV than campers. The boho, DIY designs of campervans often spotted on Instagram are Class B RVs. Although they’re often similar in size, campers are defined by their need to be towed to and from campgrounds. Campervans are, simply put, converted vans, no towing required. 

Campervans are convenient for people that are looking to get into the RVing lifestyle that are apprehensive about towing. However, the drawback to not having a towing vehicle with you on the road means that your shelter is also your main way of getting around. For people that are looking to drive around a lot or simply prefer the freedom of having their car be separate from their living space, campers are the better option. 

Types of campers

Toy Haulers

types of campers

Toy haulers are campers with storage space that can be used to transport small recreational vehicles like dirt bikes or ATVs. Haulers are typically the size of regular travel trailers and in many cases the storage areas can simply serve as additional storage or living space if not needed. 

For people that do wish to transport large items, toy haulers almost always come with a ramp or lift by the garage. Because of their size, plus any additional weight in the garage, these trailers need to be towed by a fairly strong towing vehicle, like a truck.

Pop-up Campers

pop up camper by fire

A hybrid of tent camping and RV comfort, pop-up campers are a best of both worlds for many. The base of the camper is a traditional— but small— layout. Typically, they’ll feature a small kitchen and dinette with bench seating and a small bathroom. When the camper is parked and unhitched, fabric pop-outs expand to the sides and above the camper for additional sleeping space. The fabric is a sturdy and weather proofed material like canvas to provide adequate shelter against the elements.

Pop-up campers are either hard-sided or soft-sided, meaning that the material on the sides of the RV will either be stiff and better insulated or more airy. Hard-sided pop-up campers work well for people that want less potential exposure while they camp. Soft-sided are more open, with a breezier airflow that can be desirable for a more authentic camping experience. 

Because of their compact size on the road, you don’t need a truck or SUV to tow them. Plus, using a small trailer opens up more campsite opportunities that are sometimes restricted to larger RVs.

Teardrop Trailers

teardrop trailer

The smallest of all campers, teardrop trailers appear exactly as the name suggests. Often clocking in at less than 1,000 lbs, the trailers have a teardrop shape that’s easy to maneuver and tow. In fact, because of their small size, they can be towed with nearly any vehicle on the market.

Teardrop trailers provide a very basic camping experience. Most have room for a bed or sleeper sofa and some storage for camping supplies. A retractable flap in the exterior of the trailer typically contains a sink, mini-fridge, and some counter space, with more storage for things like cooking supplies or food.

Ideal for couples or people traveling alone, teardrop trailers are a great choice for people that want the comfort of an insulated shelter while camping without the bells and whistles that come with larger trailers.

Fifth Wheels

fifth wheel camper by water

On the other side of the size scale of campers are fifth wheels. Fifth wheel campers are characterized by their gooseneck layout and large size, and are ideal for large groups. They often come with a multilevel design and offer plenty of storage and living space, sometimes even with multiple bathrooms. The gooseneck portion of the camper rests on the bed of a truck while being towed, making trucks the only type of towing vehicle that supports them. 

Despite their size, fifth wheels may be easier to tow than travel trailers of similar weights. This is because of the support from the truck bed in carrying the gooseneck end of the camper, which increases the stability of the hitch. 

For more information on fifth wheels and their similarities/differences from travel trailers, click here.

How much does it cost to rent a camper?

Because of the wide range in size and amenities that campers offer, it’s difficult to pin down an exact cost estimate. Smaller campers like teardrop trailers or pop-ups can be as little as $70 a night. Full size travel trailers often fetch anywhere between $100-$200 a night or more depending on the amenities inside. 

What are Airstreams? 

airstream rv rental

Airstreams are a relatively new brand of camper trailer that are extremely popular on social media. They’re easily identifiable by their sleek exterior design, with curved edges and metallic casing. Although compact in size, the interior of an Airstream features updated materials and feng shui, often in boho style.

It’s worth noting that Airstreams aren’t a completely different type of camper; they’re simply a different and trendy brand. 

How much does it cost to rent an Airstream?

Because of their popularity and high demand, Airstreams often cost more to rent despite their smaller size. Depending on the location you’re renting from, Airstreams may start at around $200 a night.