Friday, March 24, 2023


Debating slide outs: Should my next RV have one or not? (with poll)

Slide out or no slide out? My wife and I are looking for our next travel trailer and pondering if a slide out is in our future. Our current trailer is soon to be 13 years old and we are ready for something new. The next trailer will be number 6 for us since we married. Our first four trailers were family friendly, three of them bunkhouse units, and none have contained a slide out.

We began our search for a new trailer last year as availability and prices began to normalize after the pandemic. We quickly discovered that slide outs have pretty much been incorporated into everything except for the smallest travel trailers.

Those of you that follow our travels know most of our camping is out and about on public lands. Our RV serves as a base camp, someplace to eat, sleep, bathe and to carry/store our supplies and gear. Even when we are “at camp” we are sitting outside enjoying the sunshine or campfire. Rarely do we spend extended periods of time inside our trailer except at night when we are sleeping.

As we look and make remarks about new travel trailers with a slide out, most everyone tells us how spacious they are. While the spaciousness is nice, we don’t need open floor space, we need storage. Most all slide outs containing a couch or dinette lack overhead storage. In many cases, you also lose storage under the couch or dinette, when they are located in a slide out.

Slide outs can malfunction

Since slide outs have moving parts, it is just one more thing that can break or malfunction, making them problematic. As someone who has been in the industry long before slide outs were introduced, I have become  somewhat jaded as to them being dependable.

“There are all kinds of motorhomes on the market today, but almost all of them have slide outs. This is generally good because slide outs can expand your living space. But they also create their fair share of frustrations and annoyances.” Per RVer blogger Emily Lawrence.

Original slide out designs required deeper steel frame rails under the trailer to accommodate the slide out and mechanisms required to move the slides in and out. Until recently, towable RVs equipped with slide outs were more expensive and considerably heavier than RVs of comparable length without them. Putting “frustrations and annoyances” aside, my thought was, who wants to pay extra, pull more weight and lose storage space for the benefit of “spaciousness”?

Non-slide trailers are limited

Maybe things have recently changed. Maybe it was time to join the masses and purchase a travel trailer with a slide out. Otherwise, it would be difficult to find a trailer that meets our needs as non-slide units are limited.

I began to study up on the most recent slide out mechanisms. As I studied the options, I decided a unit that utilizes a Schwintek mechanism seemed to be the best choice. The Schwintek is lightweight, self-adjusting, cost effective and easier to maintain as it provides easier access to the motor and track. These features eliminated my “cost more, weighs more” objections, and the design appeared nearly foolproof and easier to maintain.

However, that all changed when I went camping with a friend that has a new fifth wheel equipped with five slide outs, three which utilize Schwintek mechanisms. Upon arriving at camp they were unable to extend one of the kitchen slides. It would go out part way, become unsynchronized side to side and then jam.

Luckily, I recalled reading an article on from Dave Solberg on how to override the system, and we were able to extend the slide, which let our friends access their refrigerator. Inspection found metal shavings, torn gaskets and other signs things have been amiss. It had to be overridden again to be retracted. A couple weeks later I heard from my friends that the other slide in the kitchen had begun acting up, too.

Schwintek motors can fail

Not long after, while on a Zoom call with other contributors, I learned from a RV repair facility owner that they had “hundreds” of failed Schwintek slide out motors at their facility. Oh, and my friends with the new fifth wheel, after months of it sitting at a RV dealer without being repaired, they returned it back to the factory in Indiana for repairs.

Stuck slide out
This RVer didn’t let a slide out problem delay their travels!

Needless to say, my wife and I are back to square one of our search for a new travel trailer, one without a slide out. This was further confirmed by a recent survey that asked the question,Have you ever had a problem with a slide out that delayed your travel?” Sadly, 34% of the respondents replied they had. Keep in mind, these were just problems that delayed their travel, not any and all problems like leaks, damaged flooring or other problems.

Slide out survey
The author says no thank you to results like this. (The current poll is below.)

For me, RVing is about enjoying leisure time away from life’s problems, not being held hostage by a problematic slide out. Have RVs become too complicated? This is a question I posed more than a year ago and my answer is now, and maybe always has been, YES! For now, I am staying as old school as possible. As I have said for many years, “As long as the wheels of my travel trailer go round and round, it will never leave me stranded.” Tires, wheels, brakes, and bearings I understand, can maintain myself and field repair when needed.

Slide out or no slide out: What are your thoughts and experiences? Please vote in the poll below, and tell me why you voted that way using the comment box below. Maybe someone can change my mind?



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Jeffery H.
22 days ago

During our travels I sometimes visit a well known national RV chain, and when approached by a member of the sales team and asked what I’m looking for, I tell them I’m looking for a new travel trailer without slide outs and without swooshes painted on it. They never have one. They are persistent in their sales tactics and I say, “Nevermind, I’ll just keep my Airstream.”

1 month ago

We’ve owned a 40’ 2006 Monaco Knight PDQ since new with pana-slide. Finally got fed up with slide issues and bought a class B. Problem solved.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

Agree there should have been a “maybe” response.

My feelings are based on how often the owner will be relocating. If you stay a week or more in one location, and travel for months at a time, slide-outs can be a true sanity saver. No way could we stay our stationary seasonal 6 months without a bit more room.

But we have a 2nd, much smaller travel trailer for touring (and the seasonal relocation as our big RV is stored in the seasonal locale). This smaller TT has no slide-outs. Slide-outs add towing weight and when touring, we live as much outside our TT as in it.

1 month ago

I had an extensive discussion with an RV tech about slide-outs. He said all have problems. He mentioned Schwintek as very difficult to repair. If you can do without slides, do so. They’re a blessing (if they work) and a curse (twice). My next RV (if there is a next) will have as small and few slides possible. God help you if you have 3 or more slide-outs or have monster slides (like 10’+).

1 month ago
Reply to  Dave


1 month ago

Yes only because”maybe” wasn’t offered. Schwintek work very well on smaller (up to 8′ length) slides without a lot of extra weight added to the interior by the owners. Many mobile RV techs will affirm that Schwintek failures are commonly associated with 3 things:

Overloaded with heavy “stuff”
Not doing regular maintenance
Not synchronizing with every extension/retraction

All of the above are covered in Schwintek product literature which can be acquired from Lippert.

Last edited 1 month ago by bill
1 month ago

I’m literally the same boat. 13yo TT no slide, no problems. Kids are grown and wife and i are looking at a classC and are going no slide as well. Just me her, couple dogs and occasionally adult daughter. We spend our time outside except to sleep or raining.

John Roberts
1 month ago

The way I use my RV (a 1996 Class B van) does not jive well with slides. Mobility is key, I get off the road, sleep, and get back on the road. Slide-outs would be an unnecessary complication for the type of travel I do.

1 month ago

Some units with one slide out can be fully functional with slide out in. The key is shopping for the layouts you prefer. If you can be happy with slide out in. Keep it as an option.

Steven Vineyard
1 month ago

Yes if it is not a Schwintek! I am having my Schwintek’s changed out to Vroom next week.

1 month ago

You mention those who follow your travel. I’m interested. How do we follow?

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  Van

Hi, Van. Thanks for asking. All you need to do to read more of Dave Helgeson’s posts (always very interesting!) is click on his name in the byline at the top of any of his posts, or click here: Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

1 month ago

Dave Helgeson, It sounds like you need a trailer geared for outdoor use. Look into the LANCE 2075. It has no slide , geared for an outdoor kitchen, 2 outdoor awning areas for seating, pass through windows.

captain gort
1 month ago

My little Rockwood 2106S has 1 shallow slide with a couch in it. When the slide is in, its just as accessible and usable as when the slide is out. I like that- especially, when I pull over for a “pit stop” or a quick snack in a crowded roadside rest, shopping center…or even when parked on a residential street in front of my house. If the slide fails, it has a sure-fire manual crank mechanism, too.

captain gort
1 month ago

The most expensive trailers DON’T have slides! (example: Airstream)
Slides are great- until they aren’t.
Especially bad: Rigs that are essentially unusable unless slide is extended.

Gary A.
1 month ago

You have clearly already convinced yourself you do not want a slide. Buying one makes no sense. I am guessing you are a full timer. We are not, we thoroughly enjoy the space a slide provides. I cannot imagine why people need so much storage as you described. We never come close to our max weight. I mean clothes, food, small grill, couple lawn chairs do not weigh much. We have empty storage in our trailer. Go with your gut. Or rent a slide trailer for a short trip to experience the feel. Then decide.

1 month ago

As with most things in life, it depends. With your camping style (and ours) slide outs are unnecessary. We were a bit concerned about not having them before purchasing our older diesel pusher, but found with just the two of us and spending most of our time outside we don’t miss the extra space. The added bonus is being able to move around freely while on the road.

Don Waggoner
1 month ago

If you don’t want it and don’t need it don’t get it.

Scott full timed for 17 years
1 month ago

No slides = less maintenance or problems. If you full time then slides give you more room. If you are just short tripping (30 o 60 days on the road.)
I would go with no slides.

Robert Hugh Hoy
1 month ago

The smaller the trailer or motorhome, the greater the fractional increase in the internal volume. It’s simply a math solution. So, if you’re thinking about getting a small RV or trailer , get one with a slideout.

1 month ago

My criteria is that the RV must be marginally functional with the slide retracted. Bathrooms & sleeping area must be accessible, refrigerator and some food storage should be accessible as well. If a rig meets this criteria then having a slide is a bonus but the RV is still usable if the slide fails. Our Arctic Fox 5th wheel had 2 slide outs and very little was lost if the slide failed (which did happen on one trip). I would never buy a rig if I couldn’t assess the functionality with the slide in.

1 month ago

Questioning it = not happy with it. You will have more widgets of happiness without. Plus anyone who may possibly borrow or rent will not have an issue.

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