Are you planning to buy an RV, or are you a first-time renter? If so, there’s a lot of new vocabulary for you to learn.
This glossary of RV terms will help you understand the jargon, slang, and nicknames used by RV salespeople, manufacturers, and enthusiasts.
We’ll cover everything from common RV features to types of RVs, towing terminology, and more. By the end of this RV terminology guide, you’ll be speaking like a seasoned RVer!
What is an RV?
An RV is an acronym for recreational vehicle. An RV can refer to a drivable or towable camper that is used for camping. Many RVs come with some or most of the comforts you would find at home and are more durable than camping in a tent.
Rig: a term for any type of recreational vehicle (RV), including drivable and towable RVs.
Camper: Generally speaking, “camper” means any vehicle that can be camped in but is usually in reference to smaller towable campers, such as truck campers, teardrop campers, or pop-up campers.
RV Terms and Definitions
Two Main RV Types
Drivable: an RV that is driven rather than towed. Drivable RVs include Class A, Class B, Class C, vans, and converted busses.
Towable: an RV that is towed by a truck or SUV or that attaches to the bed of a truck, depending on the trailer. Towable RVs include fifth wheels, travel trailers, tear drops, truck campers, and pop-up campers.
Airstream: a travel trailer brand that is well-known for it’s aluminum exterior.
Class A Motorhome: Is similar in shape and size to that of a bus and is considered to be the largest type of motorhome.
Coach: a term used to describe a Class A motorhome.
Diesel Puller: a Class A motorhome that has the diesel engine at the front of the RV.
Diesel Pusher: a Class A motorhome that has the diesel engine at the rear of the RV.
Class B Motorhome: also known as a camper van, Class B Motorhomes are the smallest type of motorhomes.
Class C Motorhome: this drivable RV is generally larger than a Class B but smaller than a Class A and is characterized by a a bed over the cab area.
Super C or Super Class C: the term used for a larger and usually more expensive Class C motorhome.
Travel Trailer: a towable type of RV that is towed by a truck, SUV, or large van.
Fifth Wheel or 5th Wheel: a type of towable trailer that attaches to the inside of a truck bed.
Fiver/5er: a shortened term used instead of “fifth wheel.”
Toy Hauler: usually a large RV with a space at the back that acts as a “garage” area with a ramp. This area is used to store “toys” such as motorcycles, dirt bikes, small boats, ATVs, etc. Toy haulers are most commonly found in travel trailers and fifth wheels but some motorhome floor plans offer a toy hauler option.
Pop-up Camper: a type of towable trailer that “pops up” and has expanding canvas sides.
PUP: An acronym for a pop-up camper.
Truck Camper: a camper that attaches to and sits over the bed of a truck.
Vintage Camper: any RV that is twenty-five years old or older.
Skoolie: This type of RV started out as a school bus and has been converted into a mobile home on wheels. Skoolies can either be small or full-sized, and are often fully customized to have all the same features as a standard motorhome. Some even install heated floors!
Different Types of RVers
Full-timer: an RVer who lives in their RV all the time and considers it to be their home. They may be stationary or traveling, or a mixture of both.
RV Newbie: an RVer that is brand new to RVing or has only been on a handful of RV camping trips.
Part-timer: any RVer who owns and primarily lives in a sticks-and-bricks home but travels a few months each year.
Weekender: an RVer that typically only uses their RV for weekend trips.
Snowbird: someone who lives in their sticks-and-bricks home during the Spring, Summer, and Fall months but travels in their RV to a warmer location during the winter months.
RV Camping & Traveling Definitions
Honeywagon: a vehicle that empties the black and gray tanks of numerous RVs. These can be found at certain campsites that do not have sewer hook-ups. a truck or trailer that pumps out black and gray tanks.
Levelers (aka Leveling Blocks, Jack Pads, Stacker Blocks, or Stabilizer Pads): are relatively flat interlocking squares that allow you to level your RV more easily and can keep your jacks from sinking into soft ground.
Pull-through site: a type of campsite that you can pull-through rather than having to back-in. These sites are usually preferred, especially for RV newbies or those who are less comfortable backing-in, as they are typically easier to park in.
Wheel chocks: are blocks placed on the outside of your RV tires to keep the RV wheels in place. Chocks prevent your RV from rolling away when your RV is parked and/or detached from a tow vehicle.
Towing & Weight RV Glossary
Towing and weight RV terms can be confusing, but they are important to know if you plan on towing your RV. Here are some key terms to know:
GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded vehicle, including cargo, fluids, passengers, and trailer tongue weight.
GCWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the maximum allowable weight of the fully loaded vehicle and trailer combined.
Towing capacity: This is the maximum weight that your vehicle can safely tow. It’s important to know your vehicle’s towing capacity before you load up your RV, as exceeding this limit can be dangerous.
Dinghy: a slang RV term for a vehicle that is towed behind a motorhome.
Towed Vehicle or “Toad”: A towed vehicle, also known as a “toad”, is a vehicle that is towed behind another vehicle, usually a motorhome. Towed vehicles can be used for transportation or recreation. Transportation towed vehicles are typically small cars or motorcycles that can be easily and safely towed behind a larger vehicle. Recreation towed vehicles are typically larger and heavier, such as boats or ATVs.
Dually: a heavy duty pick-up truck with four tires on the rear axle instead of only two. These trucks have six tires total. Fifth wheels and larger travel trailers are often pulled by dually trucks.
Tow dolly: A platform that carries the front part of a towed vehicle that cannot be flat-towed.
Triple tow: This refers to pulling two different vehicles or trailers at the same time – for example, a truck pulling a fifth wheel with a boat trailer or another trailer behind the RV. This can be dangerous single towing and is actually against the law in some states.
Water, Sewer, & Plumbing RV Definitions
Holding tanks: used by RVers to describe the tanks that hold an RV’s black water, gray water, and freshwater.
Black water: theliquid and solid waste from the toilet
Black water tank: the holding tank that holds the liquid and solid waste from the RV toilet.
Fresh water tank: the holding tank that holds an RV’s fresh drinking water. This tank is typically used when dry camping or boondocking.
Gray water: the waste water the comes from an RV’s sinks and showers.
Gray water tank: the holding tank that holds an RV’s gray water.
Stinky Slinky: A nickname for the sewer hose.
Turd Tote: A nickname for the portable waster water tank.
Dump Station: a place you can legally dump your black and gray water tank when you don’t have sewer hook-ups.
Sani-Dump: another term used for a dump station, where an RV’s black and gray tanks can be legally dumped.
RV Electrical Terms
Shore power: electricity provided to the RV that is obtained from a grounded electrical box, usually at a full hook-up site at an RV park.
RV Design and Layout Terms
Slide-out: a feature that allows an RV that can expand its living space by extending one or more sections outward from the main body of the vehicle while parked.
Undercarriage: this includes the RV’s underside, such as mechanical parts, plumbing, furnace, holding tanks, underneath storage, and more.
Basement: A nickname for the undercarriage.
Wheelbase: this refers to the width of the RV or the distance between an RV’s wheels.
RV Parts, Components & Accessory Terminology
Leveling jacks: The stabilizer devices that extend from the bottom of the RV and keep the RV in a level position while it is parked are called leveling jacks.
LP: liquid petroleum, better known to RVers as propane. This typically powers an RV stove top and oven. Propane can also be used to power an RV’s fridge, heater, and water heater when not connect to shore power, a generator, or solar power.
Share Your Favorite RV Terminology
RVing has its own language, which can be confusing for newcomers and experienced RVers alike as new RV slang terms are coming out all the time.
What’s your favorite RV term? Or maybe terms we missed?