Class C vs Trailer

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5pointstar

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I'm ready to buy, I want to start taking the family around the US visiting the lower 48 and Alaska eventually. But I'm torn between a Class C or trailer/5th wheel RV. I haven't bought my tow vehicle because I'm waiting to see which route I go. There is 5 of us 2 adults 3 kids maybe one more kid in the next year. Is there anyone out there that has contemplated the same issue and what was your determining factors?
Thanx
Moses (south florida)
 

kportra

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There are pros and cons to both choices, and everyone has their own preference for their own reasons.  We had a pickup already and only camp within 2-4 hours of home, so a towable made the most sense financially for us.  Also my hubby is comfortable towing and backing it in to a spot.  After I retire and we look at longer trips and older bodies, we are thinking a motorhome may make more sense to us then.

Good Luck.
 

Isaac-1

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Be very careful watching the cargo carrying capacity of whatever you consider.  Many larger class C's have very limited cargo carrying capacity (look up OCCC, CCC and NCC for RV's) as they are built on either 12,500 or 14,500 GVWR chassis.  All that stuff you will want to bring with you on a long trip weighs a lot (pots, pans, food, bbq grill, mosquito shelter, bicycles, tools, food, clothes, ...), not to mention the weight of 5 people and their personal belonging.  This is still a problem with a trailer and tow vehicle as towing capacity is reduced when you add passengers and cargo to the tow vehicle, it just gets harder to calculate as you split the load between a truck and a trailer.  Personally if I were looking at taking 5 people on a great American adventure I would be shopping for a diesel pusher class A, or possibly a Super C of some type, though a gasoline powered class A might do.
 

TheBar

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My opinion is the main factor is how many times a year will you actually use it and how long you stay at each campsight. At first you may use it every weekend. As the kids get older the family may have less free time to go camping.

Sitting unused is much harder on a motorhome because of the engine and drivetrain. Other factors to consider is a motorhome needs a lot more regular maintenance than a trailer because of the drivetrain. Many people tow a car or Jeep behind their motorhome so they have more freedom to drive around once they arrive at their destination. With a trailer you will automatically have the pickup free for those trips. Plus you can use the truck at home for a daily driver.

But you said your plans are taking long extended trips. Which means you probably will only stay in one place 1-2 nights. A motorhome is what I call "plug and play". Back into your spot, connect water and electric, you're done. The next morning unhook the water/electric and drive away. Hitching and un hitching a trailer every day gets old really quick. While driving the kids will have more space in a motorhome than crammed together in the back seat of a pickup long distances, which tends to get on their nerves in the first 20 miles. Children tend to have frequent bathroom breaks which is not really safe but can be done without stopping in a motorhome. That was the biggest selling point for me when my 3 kids were young.

So you have pros and cons and only you can decide which is best for you.
 

5pointstar

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My children are young; 6, 8, and 10. I'll be retired in 5 years, I started visiting National and State parks but wanted to travel more of the US. So the plan is every month at least one or two, 4 day trips then either the summer or winter school breaks taking a couple weeks to a month trips.
If I were to do a trailer or 5th wheel I figured a diesel 4x4. Not sure the differences between towing the two besides the method of connection to the truck.
Also what size RV would I be able to use and have no problem having access to RV parks?
 

Isaac-1

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People manage with all sizes though some national parks have few spaces longer than the 30 to 35 feet
 

thelazyl

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This is my experience:

1.  When my children were young I started out with a small 5th wheel and relied on the salesman who said my existing pickup was sufficient to pull it.  The pickup was NOT sufficient so I bought a bigger more expensive one.  We used the trailer 4 times.
2.  I realized quickly that my kids would travel much better in a motor home (which turned out to be very true)

If I had access to this forum I would have started with a motorhome - either a Class A or C.

However, by the time I realized my mistake and needed a motorhome instead of a trailer I had:
1.  Lost ~$1,500 in depreciation on the small 5th wheel trailer when I sold it after 4 trips.
2.  Spent +$15k on a larger pickup that was big enough to pull the 5th wheel I no longer had

Many years later, with my kids now all grown, I've moved to a Class A and wonder why I didn't START with a class A.  We love it.  The road trips are much more enjoyable.



 

Gary RV_Wizard

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In my opinion 5 (or 6?) people in a Class C is way overcrowded.    With a truck or big SUV you'd have room for everybody to sit (and with seat belts) and potentially more room at the RV site with a good sized trailer. But maybe your family is used to living more closely than us. Even so, where do you put clothing for 5-6 people in a Class C?  And the inevitable kids toys personal stuff? Renting a C is expensive, but it would give you some first hand experience with tiny living space (about 200 sq ft in even the largest C0.
 

ArdraF

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I might be wrong, but I can't imagine three kids, ages 6, 8, and 10, being cooped up in the back seat of a truck for hours of driving from place to place.  I think they - and you parents - would be much more comfortable in a motorhome.  Once you get to your destination you'll need some kind of car to get around and I would recommend something with at least a minimal off-road capability.  There are a lot of national and state parks with four-wheeling roads that can be a lot of fun.  I'm not saying you need a heavy-duty Jeep Rubicon with all the bells and whistles, but there are quite a few less agile vehicles that have a "fun factor" on minimal-to-moderate dirt roads.  We (two of us) started with a Geo Tracker as our first toad and we had a lot of fun with it, not to mention "real" use when we slid into the ditch of a muddy access road going to Chaco Canyon N.P.  We were able to get out on our own because of the 4WD, but several sedans had to be pulled out by some nearby road equipment.  RVers tend to want to see what's around the corner and sometimes what you see is not what you expect!

ArdraF
 

99dart

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I guess I'll throw in my 2 cents worth here. We have a Thor Quantum ws31, the same floor plan is available as a 31W. They also have a bunk bed coach in the 31E. (same floor plan as 31w, but has bunks where 2 closets and 5 drawers would have been). Now granted the quality of the Thor coach isn't first rate, but it is a good place to start. Buying used should get you one that has most all of the "Bugs" worked out of it. I know our floor plan has a TON of inside storage/closet space. We have (5) Five closet door spaces down the drivers side past the stove. Then, 13 drawers below those closets. You also have all the space under the jack knife couch and a large drawer under the fridge & under one dinette seat. All three kids could sleep in the cab over bed without using either the dinette or couch beds. We don't have a ton of outdoor space, but plenty when we travel with our G-daughters. 
https://spec.dlrwebservice.com/sb-rv/floorplan/2016_ThorMotorCoach_Chateau_31W.jpg
https://spec.dlrwebservice.com/sb-rv/floorplan/2016_ThorMotorCoach_Chateau_31E.jpg
 

5pointstar

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I appreciate everyone's opinion and experience. I was hoping for that so I can get different point of views.
 

blw2

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I think the whole "3 kids" thing greatly depends on the floor plan.  We have done and still do ok in ours, but others floor plans and sizes would be a nightmare.

My thoughts... a trailer big enough for a large family requires a big tow vehicle.  Pretty much crew cab truck is your only option.  4 people fairly comfortably, 5 not so good....especially considering you'd also pack "stuff" into the cab with you for the road trip.
And it doesn't take much to  get that crew cab out of teh half-ton category... do you want a 2500 or 3500 dually as a daily driver?

Class C rigs fill a niche for families...better than most A's in that sense...but are plagued with overload issues.  Mine is over 30ft, and is fairly comfortable and has lots of cabinet space..actually way more than we need and we take a lot....
but the rear axle is at it's max and the tank sizes are a bit small.
They used to make a very similar floorplan to mine on an F-550 chassis.  I'd love to have that...would address my issues I think.

and I'll end with this.  We came from a popup....I went back and forth for a long time... bumper pull TT, 5th wheel (both would have required replacing my half ton pickup), or motorhome.  EVERY single time I see or hear a TT pulling into a campground...with the WD hitch screaming away.. or backing into a site, I have a feeling of relief wash over me.  Same thing often when I see one just on the road.  The motorhome can be so easy...especially for short stays or overnights...rest area stops, etc...  pull in after a long drive, set the brake, walk a few steps and stretch out on the sofa...plug in power later...if needed.
 

Jkoht

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I'm going to go completely off the wall here and open another door of thought. There were 3 kids in my family, my parents, and often times a friend of a kid and possibly another adult when we went camping. At times we had 3 adults and 4 kids in a Ford econoline conversion van pulling a dutchman popup camper. The camper was the biggest floorplan available at the time, but it was still cramped and guess what? No one cared! We had a place to sleep, eat, get out of the weather, but other than that we were outside. Either having fun in the campground, or more often, using the van to go on day trips around the area. You don't have to invest a fortune in a motorhome, or a giant trailer to get out with your family and have fun. All those trips are some of my fondest memories growing up. As for kids sitting in your tow vehicle all day you know what I say? Tough it out! The end result is worth the time being bored, and as a side note there's now far more things to occupy a kid than there were even in the 90's when I grew up. Try playing the alphabet game through 3 states.
 

Jkoht

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I'll also add as a post script that before we had the popup we used good old fashioned tents. I still use tents occasionally today, and tents have gotten far better than they were 30 years ago. For less than the cost of a new trailer you can get a very nice tent camp setup.
 

Larry N.

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Jkoht, your suggestions will certainly work for some folks, but the OP specifically asked about class C vs trailer.

Moses, you've had some good responses above, but of course it ultimately comes down to your final choice, which you may get wrong in spite of all the comments above. So take some time to go to one or more RV dealers and walk through some rigs. Once you think you kind of like a particular choice, then try to spend some time in that rig going through the motions of a day or two camping, including setting up the rig (leveling, unhooking, connecting water/sewer/elec, etc.), checking out showers and toilets (don't actually use them) for accessibility and think about making beds, cooking, counter space, storage (both amount and usability for you), watching TV, playing cards at the dinette, and other such. It'll be more than a couple of minutes, obviously, but should help you gain some insight. Hopefully you'll be able to get this "mental" experience in several different kinds of rigs, both trailer and motorhome, and help you figure this out.
 

UTTransplant

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We had four kids, a minivan or 3 row SUV, and a pop up. It was the only type of trailer that fit all of us and could also be pulled by a vehicle that could also hold 4 kids, 2 adults, and the dog. If we had required hard sides, it would have been a Class C. Kids and gear take up a lot of weight in a tow vehicle decreasing the amount of weight you can pull. And we had great times in that rig - lots of long trips to the Colorado and New Mexico from our home in Iowa, shorter trips to upper Minnesota and Wisconsin, other places too numerous to mention. The kids managed just fine on long trips if they had books or games plus a ball or something to play with at rest areas. With just 3 kids, you could use the pickup, but that doesn?t work for 4 kids, particularly if any are in car seats.
 

TheBar

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We have a popup and a Class C with a toad. Best of both worlds. We use the popup for the really long trips since our Durango makes 23 MPG towing the popup vs 8 in the C. Maybe the biggest factor is I can drive 600 miles per day @ 75 MPH, I know that's not recommended and not legal but the cops haven't pulled me over in 45 years. The popup gives you an experience feeling closer to nature which we really love, but we only use it a few times a year vs 30+ in the C. The C is hard to resist. So much less setup, a "real" bathroom vs porta-potty, shower and half tub to wash the grandkids, quality mattresses and 3 sleeping areas (replaced the dinette with recliners so -1), so much more space, and so much quieter. We could full time in the C but 6 days in the popup starts to get old.
 
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