Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Comparison Shopping - Fifth Wheel vs Class A

It was a beautiful day yesterday, and we decided to go to Penticton.  We ran a couple errands, but just for kicks, we decide to look around at some class A RVs.  We had done extensive tourings of fifth wheels and travel trailers.  We had intentionally omitted class A s from our studies as we had the trucks and knew we wanted something we could tow.

The advantage of a travel trailer is that you still have the full truck bed for storage, but a 5th wheel is more stable in towing.  We chose the fifth wheel after looking at many models.  We were quite content in our choice as it is the only one we saw that truly looked like a full time home.

Full timing requires special considerations that snowbirds or summer holidayers don't need to be as particular about.  Some of the features that we especially like about our floor plan are:

  • Separate kitchen and living room - almost every other design we saw has the dining portion right beside the couch.  When you are a couple permanently living in a unit, separate spaces provide the ability to not constantly be living in each other's laps.
  • A full desk space for proper "office" functionality
  • Fireplace - only an option, but adds a cozy homey feel that just tweaks it up a notch :-)
  • Good angle for living room seating to viewing of the entertainment centre and tv.
  • Entrance closet (pathetic though it is, it can at least hold a few coats and shoes)
  • Glide out pantry - saves space by using accessible depth of cupboards.
  • Full double sinks in kitchen
  • Free standing kitchen table. (although ours doesn't have it, a lot of kitchen chairs now have small storage units under the seats.  Useful for cameras, phone books, laptops, spices, and assorted shallow storables)  
  • Corner shower with bench
  • Central skylight with sliding cover in kitchen - A lot of units are rather gloomy inside because there is a constant balancing act between windows and cupboards.  Kitchens usually loose out in the window department.
All these factors being considered, we continue to find no other unit that feels as much like a real home as ours.

That being said, as we started living the experience of full timing we have become aware of some of the benefits of having a class A style RV.

  • Easier maneuvering
  • If you tow a small gad-about vehicle, it is more fuel efficient for puttering than a big diesel truck
  • When traveling as a couple, any faulty securings can be tended immediately by the passenger while traveling (first had experience relayed on the Dec 19 post - sub-catagory, anchoring contents for travel)
  • Most now have a very spacious 2 - 4 door fridge
  • Basement storage is ample
So we walked through several coaches and although there were varying forms of niceness about each, some of the drawbacks we found in all were:

  • No entrance closets in any of them
  • No desk / office space
  • The couches are alway angled so that you either lounge across the couch, or watch the tv from a side view
  • The sinks in the kitchen were at best a sink and a half.  A lot were extremely shallow.
  • Headroom in the whole coach is like the nose portion of the fifth wheel - only about 7', so tall people don't have a lot of reach up space (when toweling off after a shower or pulling sweaters over the head for example, you will start to notice that this is actually an issue)
  • The showers were smaller, and we would have missed the seat.  (It is handy for things like lower body wash down)
In the long run, we came away still content in knowing that we love our home.  :-)

The day is moving along, and I need to go for a walk, so I will bid you



  1. I have similar gripes about class As. I toured quite a few at an RV show last weekend and I have to say that the vast majority of them are designed for show, not livability. They're tacky and have useless floor plans. For the price of a cheap gas puller, you can get the best diesel class C out there or one heck of a swanky truck and 5er combo. I favour motorhomes, so I'm partial to class Cs because they offer the same thing you love in your rig--well defined spaces. Even though you're in a huge 5er and I'm in a small mh, our rigs really aren't that different in terms of floor plan and amenities.

    Totally agree about skylights--Miranda has the four and they're one thing I'm going to miss when I upgrade. Most new rigs don't have that much light coming in from the roof.

  2. I think the biggest problem is that for privacy on the A, the bedroom has to be in the rear, but for passage through the vehicle, you basically need a straight channel through, which forbids better living room layout.
    If they put cupboards over the cab, and the entertainment centre on the left or right side, at least then it would be directly opposite each other. I also wish all rigs would address an entrance closet. If they can put a second toilet, surely they can fit a small cupboard for coats and shoes!!