It’s important to know the difference between an RV and a camper van if you’re planning a road trip and are thinking about buying or renting one or the other. “RV” and “camper van” are two names that many often use interchangeably, so it can be difficult to know how they relate to and differ from one another. Let’s explore the features of both types of vehicles and what they can offer you as a consumer. Knowing what the difference is between RVs and camper vans will help you make a fully informed decision when you decide to buy or rent one in the future.
What Is an RV?
Let’s begin by defining what an RV is and highlighting some key features. A recreational vehicle (RV) is a general term used to describe any vehicle or trailer with living quarters. In other words, a vehicle classifies as an RV if you can drive it and it has designated spaces for eating, sleeping, and bathing.
“RV” is an umbrella term that includes three classes: A, B, and C. The classes differentiate an RV’s size, characteristics, and price points. Some common types of RVs include motorhomes, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.
Classes of RVs
Class A RVs are typically the largest and most expensive option because they offer the most features. In a Class A RV, you can expect distinct rooms such as a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. These spaces can range from basic to luxury, but the interior is large enough to accommodate several amenities.
A Class B RV typically looks like a van, so there’s less space than a Class A and fewer interior features. Due to the smaller size, you can also expect a lower price point. Some common vehicles in this category include camper vans such as Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter vans. In addition to recreation, you can use this type of vehicle to travel to and from different job sites if you work on the road.
Lastly, a Class C RV is a vehicle that has a sleeping and storage section that hangs over the front cab. Due to their smaller size, many have slide-outs to expand the vehicle’s square footage. Although the name would suggest otherwise, those in the RV industry generally consider Class C vehicles to be a midpoint between Class A and B options. This type of motorhome splits the difference between a larger Class A coach and a smaller Class B van style.
Benefits of Class A RVs
A Class A RV is a great option if you like to spend your days on the open road but don’t want to sacrifice the comforts of home. A spacious floorplan and luxurious amenities make traveling in a Class A motorhome hard to beat. Many of the largest coaches can accommodate full-sized residential appliances and even fireplaces, so you can enjoy all the modern conveniences. A Class A vehicle provides a lot of space for storage and relaxation, making it perfect for traveling with a large group or as a family. These RVs typically sleep up to eight adult passengers.
With so many features and a large amount of space to spread out, you can drive long distances without worrying about feeling confined. Keep in mind a Class A RV is quite large, so it will take some time to adjust to driving and parking the vehicle.
Benefits of Class C RVs
In terms of size, Class C RVs sit between the large Class A and the compact Class B camper van. Many enjoy Class C vehicles due to their smaller size and natural driving feel. It may be easier to handle a Class C size RV if it’s your first time operating such a vehicle.
With raised sleeping or storage areas that extend over the cab and the opportunity for multiple slide-outs, you can still enjoy a comfortable amount of space. In general, Class Cs are the ideal size for couples or families of four to six people. A Class C RV may be the right option for you if you don’t want to compromise on comfort but you feel better equipped to operate a smaller vehicle.
What Is a Camper Van?
Now that we’ve established what an RV is and explored the benefits of Class A, B, and C vehicles, let’s discuss what the difference is between RVs and camper vans. A camper van is a specific type of recreational vehicle. As mentioned above, camper vans fall into the Class B motorhome category. These vehicles are compact but they still pack a punch by offering a range of amenities, including a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.
A camper van is a great way to hit the road in comfort and style if you frequently travel by yourself or with a small group. A Class B coach is a great entry point if you’re just dipping your toe into the world of recreational vehicles.
Camper Van Benefits
Due to their streamlined designs, navigating the roads in a camper van is easier, whether you’re driving around town or cross-country. A Class B motorhome is typically under 20 feet in length, so you can park most of these vehicles anywhere you can park a car or van. In other words, you won’t need to worry about finding an extra-wide parking spot to accommodate your vehicle.
Keep in mind a camper van is taller than a traditional van or SUV, so you will need to account for additional clearance height. Due to the smaller size, camper vans are also more fuel efficient than their Class A or Class C counterparts.
A camper van also offers sufficient living space if you’re traveling with a small group. Most camper vans do not come with slide-outs to increase your space, but some models can accommodate one. Regardless, a camper van has everything you need for life on the road, including a galley kitchen, comfortable sleeping quarters, and a restroom.
Many camper vans offer the ability to attach gear and accessories if you enjoy biking or participating in water sports once you’ve reached your destination. Racks mounted to your van’s rear or roof are perfect for storing bikes, kayaks, and other outdoor equipment.
Lastly, you can install additional screens, such as a bug screen, to your camper van to enjoy the outdoors without those pesky insects flying into your vehicle. The Bug Wall offers a Ford Transit mosquito net that allows you to keep your van doors open without worrying about constant bug bites. Check out our selection of bug screens today to find the perfect fit for your camper van.