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The debate between drivable vs. towable RV rentals can be very circular. For every point, there’s an equal and opposite counterpoint. If you just started researching RVs, Welcome to the RV lifestyle!
The good news is that you’ve made the right choice by “trying before buying.” RVs are an investment like a house or car. So making sure you choose the best one for you and your family/situation by renting first is a great move.
To help you decide between a drivable or towable RV rental, we’ll show you which RV type is most beneficial in 12 crucial factors. You’ll also learn about the additional features many RV rental companies offer.
Finally, we’ll show you a strategy that’ll help you decide. It works for choosing a drivable or towable RV rental and which of your favorite top three to buy.
Drivable vs. Towable RV Rentals- How to Decide
Before you even start looking at the pretty drivable or towable RV rentals or models for sale (and we know how alluring they are), start with being introspective. Here is a list of questions to help you and your family start the conversation.
- What’s your current lifestyle, and how adaptive are you to change?
- Do you want a minimalist lifestyle, comfort camper, or do you want to glamp it up?
- Will everyone sit comfortably in a tow vehicle all day with breaks, or do you want space to stretch out? Also, do specific medical needs require space for equipment while traveling?
- Do you prefer towing a passenger car, using the tow vehicle to travel around the local area, or is this not an issue?
- Is your RV rental budget characterized as value-friendly, comfortable, or fully-featured?
- What type of camping experience do you want? Are you looking for a campground with on and off-site attractions, do you want to explore our national parks, or do you want to escape the grid and road by dry camping remotely?
There are many more questions you can research or come up with yourself. This exercise aims to determine how you want to experience the RV lifestyle. Once you have a good idea, you’ll have enough information to match up with a drivable or towable RV rental that fulfills those goals.
Benefit Comparison of Drivable Versus Towable RV Rentals
Every RV category has its pros and cons. When searching for the best RV rental, you want to start broadly and then narrow it down to the specifics. We’ll show you how drivables and towable benefits weigh against each other in 12 specific areas and which side wins out.
The perspective we’ve chosen is a popular one. We’ll take the approach of someone renting an RV with the intent to eventually buy an RV, otherwise known as the “try before you buy” method.
For those who are perfectly happy renting, this discussion can still help you. As you rent and plan different RV vacations, some RVs are better in certain situations. For example, if you’re looking to take your large family to an amusement park campground, you need plenty of sleeping space that a bunkhouse travel trailer provides.
Those looking to experience dry camping on public land need big holding tanks for water, a generator or solar panel system for power, and power-efficient features. If you’re taking a multi-day drive to grampy and nana’s house, maybe a Class C or Class A is better.
1. What Type of RV is Easiest to Drive?- Drivables
If you’re looking for the type of RV that’s the easiest to drive, look into a compact or standard-size Class C drivable. These van chassis motorhomes are virtually a jump-in-and-go motor coach with plenty of room for everybody. That’s why they’re one of the most popular RV rentals in the country.
Small and mid-size travel trailers are also easy but require some practice to get a handle on maneuvering the camper. If you feel comfortable driving a European or Classic American style Van, you’ll feel comfortable in these mini-mo hos.
2. The Best Size RV for National Parks- TIE
The best size RV for U.S. National Parks is around 27 feet. In 2020, President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). It’s a 5-year plan to update the infrastructure of our national parks. At the time of this article, we’re in the second year.
Part of the GAOA is to extend the length of many campground campsites in the national parks. Some campsites lost length due to plantlife growing, while the National Park Service (NPS) purposely built other parks smaller. RVs were much shorter in the Vintage Era (1945-1970).
Not every park will have campsites that stretch 40 feet. For towables, that length will also need to have enough room for your tow vehicle, which can be over 20 feet. The GAOA also includes fixing the roads to the campgrounds, allowing big RVs and motorhomes to get through, but a significant portion of camp areas won’t have full utility hookups.
In the drivable vs. towable RV rental debate, we’ll call it a tie. Small and mid-size travel trailers will have an easier time getting into the park campsites and better fit in the 30-foot spaces.
Likewise, compact and standard Class C and Small Class A motorhomes will fit in the shorter campsites, but the more popular parks will better cater to the 40-footers after 2025.
3. What Type of RV is the Best for Boondocking – Drivables
The best type of RV for boondocking (dry camping) is the Class B camper van. In certain public land areas where the terrain is rough, the 4×4 camper vans will get you into those uncharted landscapes only few can go.
When you head out into the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) locations, there are some places you can cycle your holding/compost tanks and refill your freshwater. Even if you don’t have the 4×4 chassis, much of the desert region is flat enough to let you explore. Also, with a 4 or 6-cylinder van, you’ll have the fuel efficiency for driving around and back on a tankful.
You could use a fuel-efficient tow vehicle with a teardrop camper, but a camper van will have a kitchenette, climate control, a bigger water tank, and many features a Class A has. That’s why you’ll find that people prefer drivable over towable RV rentals when it comes to boondocking.
4. What are the Best Overland Camper Vehicles- Drivables
Now that we’re talking about rough terrain, nothing beats an expedition vehicle if you’re looking to climb the mountains, ford through swamps, cross the Great Sahara Desert, or navigate through the deepest forest.
Expedition vehicles (ExV) look like extra-large chassis-mounted truck campers, but they’re much more. With the push of a button, you can inflate/deflate the mammoth tires to give you the best traction in whatever terrain you’re about to drive through.
In addition, the interiors can be minimalist but very luxury level simultaneously (e.g., the best queen mattress you’ve ever felt).
Camper trailers like Black Series and Opus with independent suspension can take on the challenges of rock-filled trails, but ExVs are better equipped for deep water and even cold winter camping. So we choose drivable over towable RV rentals on this one.
5. Which RVs are Best in Cold Weather?- Towables
Isn’t RVing a warm-weather activity? But, for those that enjoy skiing, ice fishing, winter sports, and other cold-weather activities, that’s when the real fun begins.
For them, we recommend towable over drivable RV rentals because these specialty travel trailers and fifth wheels have the components needed for enjoying the winter season.
Also, those interested in ice fishing may want to look into ice fishing RV rentals. Sit comfortably on the sofa watching the big game while using the blue-lighted fishing holes in the floor. Who knows, you could catch that prize-winning walleye, and your team could win the game.
6. What’s the Best Luxury RV Rental?- Drivables
Admit it; seeing yourself inside one of those luxury Class A motorhomes would be a dream come true. Moreover, you’d be amazed how many of these gorgeous rolling palaces are rentable.
Of course, luxury fifth wheels can be just as lovely, but that panoramic windshield, 605 horsepower engine, and recliner-level captain’s chair have that siren’s call.
Don’t discount the fivers, but there’s much to be said for the luxury Class A in the drivable vs. towable RV rental discussion.
7. The Best RV for Couples- Towables
Active couples looking to get away for the weekend or take that week-long RV vacation will find towable RV rentals attractive. Mid-size travel trailers are the most diversified subclass of towables on the market. They’re the friendliest, as in:
- EV Truck-Friendly
If your current SUV or pickup truck has a towing capacity range of 5,000-7,500 pounds, you have the right tow vehicle. For the most space in a smaller package, the mid-size travel trailer is the clear winner in the drivable or towable RV rental decision.
8. The Best RV for Large Families- Towables
Large families require bigger RVs. The best RV for large families are bunk house travel trailers or fifth wheels. Standard-size Class C motorhomes can sleep up to 10 people in some models, but during the day, moving around requires playing “human Tetris.” In addition, you may not have seat belts for everyone while traveling.
Bunkhouse RVs have a separate room in the back with bunks, convertible double-sized sofas, and other features to sleep 4 or 5 people. The dinette and sofa in the living room convert to two-person sleepers, and mom and dad still have a door for their private main bedroom.
The large slide-outs, residential-sized refrigerator, extra-large pantry, and massive storage give you plenty of space. You’ll be able to feed everyone, and they’ll have room for their personal items.
9. The Best RV for Empty Nesters- TIE
The best RV for empty-nesters regarding drivable or towable RV rentals also splits down the middle. The two-legged kids are off living their lives, so it’s you, your spouse, and the four-legged fur baby that wants to stay with mom and dad.
If you go with the towable RV types, you’ll find travel trailers and fifth wheels of various sizes made for two people. They’ll have a more luxurious and mature feel to them. Be ready with a V8 SUV or the heavy/super-duty pickup trucks if you’re looking for a lot of space.
Drivable Class C or Class A motorhomes will have the same feel. However, if you won’t have the grandkids coming with you, look for a Class C that replaces the over-cab loft with an entertainment center.
Overall, many of these RVs focus on comfort and convenience, like powered stabilizer jacks. Some even have pet features like a drawer that houses a food dish for your dog or cat.
10. What’s the Most Affordable RV?- Towables
The most affordable RV is a teardrop camper if you want to buy something new. Yet as you continue to try drivable and towable RV rentals, you’ll notice that these used coaches are in good shape.
Generally, when you compare drivables to towables, teardrops and tiny travel trailers will have the best per day/night prices. Some prices might be under $100 a night. The same is true if you’re looking to buy; teardrops and small travel trailers have the best RV dealership pricing.
Additional Features Many Drivable and Towable RV Rentals Companies Offer
Now that you know whether to go with a drivable or towable RV rental, you want to consider the additional features many of the RV peer-to-peer RV rental companies offer.
The additional features offered are perks the RV owners offer their renters to sweeten the deal. Admittedly, they’re an additional cost, but most of the time, the reasonable fee is worth it.
Look for the following:
- Set up at the campsite
- Included outdoor furniture
- Cookware, dinnerware, and linens that have the right look and utility for the RV
- Internet access
- Fuel and holding tank allowance (like a rental car’s fuel allowance)
- Pet deposit
- A towable passenger car
If you feel you’re not ready to tow or drive the RV, the setup option is an excellent choice. Before you arrive, the owner can bring the RV to your campground, set up the coach, and wait for you.
Before they leave, they’ll walk you through the RV so you know how to operate it. Then, after your trip, they come back and pick it up.
Instead of bringing your household supplies and linens, you can use the items they provide. For example, RV mattresses have unique sizes that don’t necessarily line up with residential beds. Also, induction stoves require different pots and pans than gas or electric versions. Besides, do you want an extra suitcase just for cookware and forks?
We could go on, but as you can see, these added perks can make your RV vacation much more effortless. Spend your first and second day vacationing, not running around to the local Walmart, buying what you need. Besides, When the trip is over, will you donate it or pay the airline for added baggage?
A Strategy for Comparing Drivables vs. Towable RV Rentals: Write it Down!
Whether you continue to rent from time to time, or this is your trying before buying phase, you’ll experience a lot in each coach you rent. A great way to compare your drivable or towable rental experiences is to write it down.
Keep a journal of the experience. Create three lists as you go through different RV brands, floorplans, and feature variations.
The first list is for those features you NEED to have in your ideal RV.
The second list is for those WANTS that would be nice to have but aren’t deal-breakers.
The final list will delineate anything you want to AVOID in your future RV. For example, if you are looking at Class C motorhomes, and two of your kids will be sleeping in the over-cab loft, then you want to avoid those that have a 250-pound weight limit.
Check Outdoorsy, RV-ezy, RVnGO, and RVshare for the best peer-to-peer RV rental experience and deals if you’re just starting the rental process. Most importantly, This is the beginning of your RV lifestyle, so have fun and enjoy the process.
About the Author
About the Author:
Although he’s from Motown, Brian Newman is a legacy RVer that grew up on I-75. He, his wife, and two working-class fur-babies have enjoyed the full-time RV lifestyle since 2017.
Like John Madden, he hasn’t “worked” in years because he gets to write about his passion. When he’s not working, he supports his daughter’s dog rescue efforts and disability causes.