What Adventure RV is best for me?

Choosing the right RV for your adventures

You don’t wear high heels to play soccer and you don’t wear cleats to a black-tie affair. Shoes are designed for specific purposes, so you buy the right shoes for the activity. Buying an adventure RV is a lot like buying new shoes—they both help you get to interesting places, but you’ll want to make sure they are the right size and fit for your future adventures. Adventure RVs take RVing to the next level. They come at a higher cost (here’s why) but allow more freedom to travel and camp anywhere. If you’ve decided adventure RVing is right for you, the next step is answering the question, what is the right adventure RV for me?

When buying an Adventure RV, the main consideration is the type of off-road adventuring you are planning. Will you be taking it across rocky deserts and mountains on weeklong overland journeys, or using the RV as a basecamp while you hunt, fish, and hike in the hills? Will your RV be used for extended periods of time, or do you need it so you can play hard on the weekends?

Other things to consider when buying an adventure RV:

  • What is your budget?
  • How many people can it sleep?
  • What size of vehicle do you need to tow it?
  • How long does it take to set up?
  • Does it require any sort of routine maintenance?
  • What type of amenities does it have? For example, do you need a toilet or shower?

There’s a big price difference between buying a pair of shoes and buying an adventure RV, so it’s critical for you to know the answer to these questions that will help you find the right fit the first time. At Bish’s RV we have seen (more times than we care to admit) instances of “buyer’s remorse,” when a customer didn’t take the time to answer the questions and discover which RV was best for their camping goals. To help you find the perfect adventure RV, we’ve put together a short list that describes the different types of RVs so you can find the best fit for you.

The 5 types of Adventure RVs

  1. Expedition Vehicle:  Fully equipped heavy-duty motorized camper
  2. Travel Trailer Off-road:  Towable trailer with amenities for comfort
  3. Tear Drop:  Small but rugged, minimalist towable trailer 
  4. Pop-Up:  Light-weight, towable trailer for smaller towing vehicles
  5. Truck Camper:  Rugged hard-shell camper carried in the bed of a pickup truck

Expedition Vehicle

When you check out an expedition vehicle up close, it’s hard to decide whether the robustly designed exteriors or their fully loaded interiors are more impressive. Expedition RVs have it all, and, as the most expensive type of adventure RV, the price tag reflects it. With an expedition vehicle, you are paying for incredible luxury features that other types of adventure RVs don’t offer—things like plush seating for you and your guests, a spacious dinette table, multiple beds, sink, stove, toilet, shower, and storage space. Expedition vehicles are motorized and don’t require you to tow anything behind, so wherever you go, your homebase is always with you. These RVs come in a variety of sizes, from off-road adventure vans to 40’ long heavy-duty motorhomes. Expedition vehicles are for people who want the thrill of extended, overland journeys through untamed territories, but still want to enjoy all the comforts of home. 

Cost: $60,000 to $1,900,000
Basecamp Setup Time: Minimal
Motorized: No Towing necessary
Good for: Overlanders, extended travel, and families

Adventure Travel Trailer

There’s nothing quite like camping in the outdoors; however, if you prefer setting up basecamp where there are no paved roads, then you may want to check out an adventure travel trailer. Adventure travel trailers are super-versatile and come in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes, most of which are outfitted with amenities like spacious seating, kitchenette, sink, stove, shower, toilet and sleeping for 3 or more. These RVs weigh significantly more than a traditional travel trailer of the same size due to the added weight of their heavy-duty construction—which also means these adventure RVs cost more than traditional RVs. Travel trailers must be hitched behind a tow vehicle and moved to their destinations. The size and weight of a unit will determine the size of the vehicle you will need to tow it, but, generally speaking, they will require a large truck with significant towing capacity. Adventure travel trailers are great for people who plan on setting up a remote basecamp for the weekend to hunt, fish, climb or play hard in the outdoors. 

Cost: $15,000 to $500,000
Basecamp Setup time: Minimal to moderate
Towing: Medium to Large Towing Vehicle necessary
Good for: Destination camping, weekend warriors, families

Adventure Teardrop Trailer

It can be hard to get the full, extreme experience of being miles from civilization when you’re bringing all the luxuries of home along with you into the wild. Teardrop adventure campers offer a minimalist solution to RV camping in the backcountry, while helping you experience raw nature in all its glory. These small but sturdy campers are sparsely furnished, most equipped with just a bed on the inside and a small pull-out kitchen on the outside. Adventure teardrops do not have interior seating, showers, or toilets, so you will have to have other solutions for personal hygiene while camping. This doesn’t mean teardrop campers are not good for extended overland trips. Oh no, quite the opposite! The lightweight, compact size of a teardrop trailer makes it perfect for hardcore overlanding, while their small size and versatility mean they’re also great for basecamp style camping. They are also easier to tow, not requiring a large tow vehicle, since they are small and light. For these reasons, adventure teardrop trailers are an ideal hybrid camper for minimalists who enjoy both long-distance excursions and/or destination camping in remote locations.  

Cost:  $8,500 to $95,000
Basecamp Setup time:  Minimal to moderate
Towing:  Small to medium towing vehicle necessary
Good for:  Overlanders, destination camping, small vehicle owners, minimalists

Adventure Popup Trailer

You don’t need a big, powerful truck to haul a decked-out adventure tailer to your favorite off-grid destination, if it’s an adventure popup trailer. A popup is lightweight and offers many of the same amenities as a travel trailer. The main feature, which people tend to either love or hate, is in their name—they pop up. These trailers weigh so little they can be towed by a small SUV or Jeep. The downside of a popup is you must take the time to unfold all the moving parts to get it set up. Some adventure popups have inflatable tents as their shelter, which, we will admit, is super cool. These inflatable popups don’t completely eliminate lengthy setups, but they do significantly reduce the time needed to get your camper ready to enjoy the outdoors. Popups typically come outfitted with interior seating, beds, and storage, as well as an inside kitchen or an exterior pull-out kitchen. Many popups even come with a toilet and shower. Adventure popups are for people who want more comfort than a teardrop trailer, yet still need a lighter-weight trailer they can tow with their smaller, off-road vehicle. 

Cost: $10,000 to 100,000
Basecamp setup time: moderate to extreme
Towing: small to medium SUV or Truck
Good for: Destination camping, weekend warriors, small vehicle owners, families

Adventure Truck Campers

Truck campers are possibly the most versatile of all the types of Adventure RVs. A truck camper doesn’t need to be towed and can travel anywhere your truck can go, provided there’s enough height and side clearance. These remarkably comfortable campers attach to the inside of your truck bed and most come equipped with slightly better amenities than a teardrop camper, typically including a bed, sink, dinette, and storage space—plus some even have a shower and toilet. Because they are attached to your truck and are easy to haul, truck campers are great for both long-distance overland expeditions as well as a short weekend trip up the rocky trails for some much-needed playtime in the hills.  Adventure truck campers are for truck owners who may need to use their truck for regular driving but also want to use it for some extreme off-road camping. 

Cost:  $25,000 to $165,000
Basecamp setup time:  Minimal to moderate
Towing:  Attached to truck, no towing necessary
Good for: Overlanders, destination camping, truck owners

Ask an Expert

Once you answer these questions, you may feel you have pinpointed the type of Adventure RV you think will be perfect, but just like shoes, they’re not “one-size-fits-all.”  There are many different subsets and designs for each of these RV types. We recommend you call or visit a manufacturer or adventure RV dealer and talk to a real person to get some individualized answers. Our outfitters at Bish’s RV truly love talking about RVs. (They really do—sometimes to the point where it’s hard to write because they’re talking on and on about how awesome RVs are). Once you know what you want to do with your RV, have done the research and talked to an adventure RV expert, you’re ready to make one of the best decisions you will ever make—purchasing your adventure RV.

Find the right RV for your adventures at Bishs.com