What is the Difference Between Class A, B & C Motorhomes?
With such a variety of different types of vehicle available to hire and various names given to the same thing, it is useful to have a guide to understand exactly what kind of RV, campervan or motorhome you need for your holiday.
Before using our dedicated portal to browse for vehicles, ask yourself the following questions:
• How many people will be travelling with you?
• Will you be actively exploring the area in your vehicle or just setting it up in one place?
• What is your budget? Bear in mind that you will have to consider both hire cost, mileage expenses and fuel.
• Do you have the licence to drive the vehicle (the DVLA can answer your questions on this).
If you’re unsure of any camping vehicle definitions, read through the information below before using the Outdoorsy filters to streamline your search.
The first big divide in the world of camping vehicles (known across the pond as recreational vehicles or ‘RVs‘) is between those which are motorised (or drivable) and those which are towable (sometimes referred to by the generic name ‘camper’).
Motorised camping vehicles are further divided into three classes. Class A and C vehicles are what many of us would describe as motorhomes whereas a Class B vehicle will be recognised by most as a campervan, although these are also often referred to as motorhomes.
Class A Motorhomes
Sometimes referred to as the ‘King of the Campground’ or, as the owners of Outdoorsy put it, simply ‘The Big Guys,’ Class A motorhomes are the biggest, roomiest and most luxurious camping vehicles. Despite their size, these coach-like motorhomes are also surprisingly easy to drive.
If you have a lot of people travelling with you, if you are sticking to good roads, if you plan to set up your motorhome in one place, if you have a sizeable budget and if you don’t want to worry about hitching or reversing with a trailer, a Class A is likely to be up your street. Class A’s offer superb visibility, automatic leveling and extensive underbelly storage.
Class A motorhomes are bursting with amenities such as fridges, self-contained toilets, cooking facilities, TVs, entertainment facilities, air con, heating and more. What’s more, passengers can normally use the living space while driving.
Class A motorhomes tend to have integrated sleeping facilities for up to eight people and sometimes for ten or more although owners should normally advertise on a lower capacity basis to avoid complaints. Class A motorhomes tend to range from 21 to 45 feet in length.
Of course, a ‘Big Guy’ comes with a big price tag. The average price is usually around £135 to £215 per night.
Class C Motorhomes
Built on a truck chassis, the Class C motorhome has more in common with a Class A than with the Class B campervan type.
Outdoorsy describe these vehicles as the ‘Not-as-Big-Guys’ and they tend to come in at between 20 and 33 feet in length.
A Class C is easy to drive but the living and sleeping space is more restricted (though still roomy compared to a Class B). They normally include an extendable section of living area which can be pulled out at the destination. Sleeping quarters are often at the back of the vehicle or over the cab, giving them a distinctive shape.
Although they may not have quite as many bells and whistles as their bigger cousins, Class C’s do normally pack in quite a few features. For example, you can expect most to have a fridge, kitchen equipment and self-contained toilet. Class C’s normally provide room for up to eight passenger-occupants.
If you don’t quite have the funds to splash out on an ultra-luxurious Class A, a Class C is your next best bet. Prices tend to be between £115 and £155 per night.
Class B Motorhomes / Campervans
Class B motorhomes, also known as conversion vans, van campers or even simply campervans, are the smallest class of motorised and fully enclosed camping vehicle.
From the much-loved Bohemian-style Westfalia VW campervan to the ultra-modern sleek designs of the 90s and later, Class B’s are valued for their versatility, ease of use and, of course, value for money. Hiring a camper van is likely to set you back between just £75 and £155 per night and, since their built on the shell of a van or panel-truck, handling one will feel similar to driving a van or Chelsea tractor rather than a bus or truck!
As you might expect, the facilities are not quite in the same league as a Class A or Class C motorhome but the basics are usually covered – sometimes more than adequately. For example, you can expect to find a small fridge; cooking facilities and a heating unit. You will usually get a self-contained toilet and fresh water tank too but not always.
A hint for people renting a Class B is to check thoroughly for hidden features as these are often not immediately obvious. To fully enjoy your time in a Class B motorhome, you need to understand that camping is of secondary importance to travelling so you shouldn’t expect luxury or even ‘home from home’ living.
Class Bs are best suited to those who want to get off the beaten track and explore every nook and cranny of their destination. Once the day’s adventures are over, the beds can be pulled out and there is a small living space, suitable for standing but with limited room for moving around. As such, Class Bs are suitable for one to four occupants and are usually between 17 and 19 feet in length.
From motorised camping vehicles we turn to those that are towable, starting with caravans or, as they are referred to on the Outdoorsy website, travel trailers (or simply trailers).
Caravans, also known as travel trailers, camper trailers or by the more generic term camper, are hitched to the back of a vehicle (pickup, utility vehicle, minivan, etc.) and towed to the holiday destination, usually a campsite. Whereas motorhomes provide better performance on standard roads, caravans are often more robust and suitable for less even terrain.
Once in situ, the trailer is unhitched and stabilised, freeing up the tow vehicle for the rest of the holiday period. Caravans can be fairly compact, taking up less than 10 feet in length, or extend to over 30 feet. They are usually suitable for up to eight occupants but some can comfortably take more. If you want some extra living space, many caravan owners will provide an awning as an add-on or even as part of the nightly rate (in which case it will be listed with the facilities).
As with motorhomes, caravan facilities can vary a lot but you will normally be equipped with at least a dining table, fridge, shower, toilet, sink, cooking facilities, heater and TV.
In terms of price, caravans tend to be cheaper to hire than most motorised camping vehicles and significantly less money than the Class A motorhomes. Average prices tend to be between £35 and £100 per day although, as with all of our ballpark price guides, these can vary a lot depending on location, the dates you want to travel and other market conditions. It is natural for owners to hike their rates if there is a popular local event coming up, for example. If you are specifically attending such an event, booking well in advance is advisable.
Caravans come in all sorts of shapes and designs so browsing is well worth the effort. For example, a toy hauler is a type of caravan where the back opens up to reveal a large ramp door.
A fifth wheel camper is a towable vehicle which attaches to a powerful vehicle via a specialised ‘fifth wheel’ coupling. This sophisticated U-shaped coupling is designed to provide extra stability and manoeuvrability even at high speeds.
The term fifth wheel is a relic from the 19th Century when a special type of hitch was designed to help improve the turning circle of four wheel carriages. These early hitch designs incorporated an extra horizontal wheel as part of the front axle assembly.
Fifth wheels are a popular alternative to motorhomes due to their fuel efficiency and comparatively low rental cost for their size. Although the towing vehicle will burn more fuel than usual due to the extra weight of the camper, this still usually works out less than a gas-guzzling Class A motorhome. Add this together with an average rental price of between £45 and £120 per night and you can see the appeal if you’re on a moderate budget.
Fifth wheels, which tend to sleep up to six people and be between 20 and 40 foot in length, often contain impressive features, extra slide-out living space and lots of storage. For example, some fifth wheels contain a full kitchen island, washing machine, king size beds, full height wardrobes and even fireplaces!
Before you jump over to our ‘Browse’ section and start looking at fifth wheels there are a few additional considerations you will need to think about. One of the biggest factors is ensuring that your towing vehicle is legally allowed to pull the trailer! This can get quite complicated due to the various different weight ratings that govern the maximum allowed load for both towing vehicle and trailer.
Your towing vehicle will have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) which determines the maximum allowed gross combination weight (GCW). The GCW refers to the actual weight of the loaded towing vehicle together with the loaded trailer (including all passengers and filled water tanks, etc.). There is also a curb weight which doesn’t include passengers and may or may not include the driver and optional equipment depending on the manufacturers definitions. This is used to determine the cargo carrying capacity (CCC) and payload.
As well as being within the GVWR, your chosen fifth wheel must also not exceed your towing vehicle’s gross axle weight rating (GAWR) rating nor any individual tyre weight ratings, found by dividing the gross axle weight (GAW) by the number of tyres on the axle. The weight on the fifth wheel coupling itself (the king pin weight) is added to the towing vehicle’s gross vehicle weight (GVW) and should be between 15 and 25 per cent of the gross trailer weight (GTW).
You should also compare the types and sizes of vehicles’ various holding tanks to estimate how often you will be filling and emptying them. There are normally three different types of tank. The fresh water tank is self-explanatory, the grey water tank captures runoff water from the shower and sink and the black water tank is connected to the toilet.
Also, larger fifth wheels may fall foul of campsite length restrictions so be sure to investigate this (especially if you are planning to visit a National Park.
A truck camper is an ordinary truck which is converted into a camper by attaching a living area using customised tie downs. Some convert into a rooftop camper to keep you well off the ground and away from the worst of the insect life. Most truck campers are easy to set up and contain an impressive list of features such as heater, stove, fridge, sink, solar energy collector and inverter (for heating and charging devices), satellite connectivity and an outside shower.
Truck campers are usually between 7 and 15 feet long and renters can expect to pay around £55 to £105 per night. This type of accommodation is usually suitable for up to four occupants.
Also known as pop up campers or folding campers, folding trailers can be towed by a normal car using a standard hitch. When you arrive at your destination, the trailer is folded out to reveal a screened, caravan-style living space.
Most folding trailers will include double beds, a sink, cooking hobs and a small dining area. Larger versions may also add in a toilet and shower.
A similar type of unit is the trailer tent which has to be pegged down when unfolded.
Top Campervan and Motorhome Brands
Camping is such a personal and varied experience that it is difficult to draw up a definitive list of top brands. However, it is widely accepted that Winnebago provide the cream of luxury motorhomes. Winnebago’s extensive range includes the roomy Class A Vista, high-performing Class C Minnie Winnie and all new Class B Revel.
Other popular brands worth investigating include Thor, Fleetwood, Leisure Travel Van (LTV), Airstream, Hymer and ModVan. For fans of retro outdoors culture, the Westfalia VW campervan is as popular as ever.
Renting out your Campervan or Motorhome with Outdoorsy
If you are an owner (or interested in becoming the owner) of any of the above types of motorised or towable campervan, you can use it to generate a secondary income stream via the Outdoorsy peer-to-peer platform.
There are no joining or membership fees for listing your vehicle but Outdoorsy will take a small transaction fee from every successful booking.
As well as opening up your campervan or motorhome to an active marketplace of intrepid explorers, Outdoorsy takes much of the tedious work away by organising high value insurance cover, processing payments, providing 24/7 roadside assistance and pre-checking renters’ driving history and licence details.
After registering with the Outdoorsy website, you can set your availability and fill in details about your vehicle and service including make and model, pricing, amenities and rules. You can also specify one of three different cancellation policies.
If a prospective renter decides to book your campervan or motorhome, you can review their profile and star rating and decide whether to approve the hire. On acceptance, Outdoorsy will release the payment in 24 hours and you should see it in your bank account, via direct deposit, within the next three to five days. You will then arrange a handover day where you will meet with the renter, walk through the finer details with them and hand over the keys.
Outdoorsy’s platform is ideal for both individuals with one or more campervans and for businesses with a fleet of vehicles. For business owners, Outdoorsy offer the WHEELBASE system for inventory management and utilisation reports.
To get started with the world’s largest and most trusted peer-to-peer marketplace for the camping community, click the ‘Join‘ link in the main menu.