By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A poll running on the fulltime RVers’ club, Escapees, website asks: What type of RV do you fulltime in? We found the results rather interesting. In order of use:
50.56 percent do so in a fifth wheel. 23.6 call a Class A diesel pusher home. 12.36 a Class A “gasser” unit. 5.62 percent an “other” type of rig, aside from these that follow. 4.49 percent are Class C motorhome users; 3.37 percent in travel trailers. Pulling up the rear at ZERO usage, respondents didn’t use a Tiny House, Class B, or Airstream trailer.
Putting the usage of both types of fuel in a Class A motorhome leads us to the conclusion that Class A motorhomes (total 35.96 percent) and fifth wheels at 50.56 percent are pretty close competitors. But what makes fivers and Class A motorhomes such a choice for fulltime RV living? And what sets them apart?
Push comes to shove, it seems like from the comments made by their respective users, much came down to how long it took to set up or break camp. The commonly held belief is that it takes less time to hitch up a fifth-wheel trailer to a pickup than it does to hitch a toad car to a motorhome. Now don’t start shooting at us, we’re just the messengers – that’s what the folks seemed to say. For your own purposes in choosing one over the other, if it’s true it’s quicker to hitch up a fiver, then the next question is, how much time do you spend traveling, versus how much time do you spend in one place?
But the commentary on “Class A versus Fiver” issue also seemed to have some other oft-repeated arguments. It seemed like those who sided on the Class A side of the coin, of those who had at one time or another owned both motorhomes and fivers, turned on the matter of step-climbing. We can speak from experience on the fiver side of the matter. As our bones began to creak with age, getting up and down the steps to the bedroom did in fact influence us. Not to buy a motorhome, rather, we joined the 3.37 percentile group and moved into a travel trailer.
Other matters of concern? Storage. Several former-fifth-wheel-users-now-motorhomers said they’d found a loss of effective living space when moving out of their fivers. There is something to be said about the space taken up by the “flight deck” edging in on the living area – although with seats that turn 180 degrees away from the windshield, some of that might be offset. As to storage space for tools, equipment and other “treasures,” this was a contentious point. Some said fifth-wheels had more storage area, while other motorhome users were vociferous about the excellent basement storage area found on many Class A units.
There are a lot of factors to be weighed, and like most things in life, “your individual experiences may vary.” Cost obviously weighs heavily in the balance. If you go to a fifth-wheel, then your RV will likely cost far less than a comparably sized motorhome. But then add in the cost of the pickup. If you lean toward a motorhome, do you already have a suitable toad car? If not, add that price, and the cost of a dolly or tow-bar system to haul it. Do you have any problems driving “around town” and parking a pickup truck, particularly a dually? There are other points of disagreement. Would you rather get in a collision in a Class A motorhome, with little dividing you but a windshield and air, or in a pickup with big crumple zones? We could go on and on.
Maybe this whole thing is a “Chevy vs. Ford vs. Dodge” argument. If you’ll spend much time in camp, “living” the fulltime lifestyle, the principle concern should be the actual floor plan of your rig, be it a motorhome, fifth-wheel, or any other form of RV. If you’re going to live in your RV full time, better be happy with the livability of the rig itself, otherwise, you may find yourself leaving the lifestyle far before it’s time to otherwise “hang up the keys.”
Photo montage credit: Fifth wheel: .Larry Page on flickr.com; Motorhome: Thor Motorcoach on wikimidia.org