RV vs Camper – What’s the Difference?

Beginning the journey of recreational travel or searching for alternative living solutions often involves choosing between an RV (recreational vehicle) and a camper. Both offer the allure of adventure, but you need to understand the unique features that differentiate them. This knowledge helps newcomers and seasoned travelers choose the ideal solution for their next expedition. 

Keep reading to learn the difference between a camper and an RV, the advantages and disadvantages, different model types, and how to choose the best one for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Camper and an RV?

The most significant difference between a camper and an RV is the inclusion or lack of a built-in driving system. Campers don’t have independent driving capabilities, with trucks, SUVs, or other towing vehicles moving them between locations. Conversely, RVs don’t need a secondary vehicle for transport; they have their own integrated driving system. You can hop in, turn the key, and go to the next place with an RV. 

RVs boast extensive electrical systems, thus more amenities and appliances, while campers have smaller electrical systems. Either can be used for off-grid living or camping, but you’ll want to invest in long-term, reliable electricity sources, such as EcoFlow Power Kits. These are modular electrical generation and storage options permanently installed in the motorhome to power all your essential devices. Of course, you’ll need to calculate what size you need before purchasing one. 

What Is a Camper?

Campers come in various sizes suitable for any preference and meeting any need. They typically need to be connected to an electrical grid at the campsite or attached to a portable power station to use any appliances or devices. Their simple electrical system makes campers cheaper than RVs, but they must be near an electrical source to utilize their amenities. A camper offers a more rugged outdoor experience than an RV. 

Types of Campers

Travel Campers

Travel campers are the most popular camper for general use. They include a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area, and a living room. They are versatile, coming in many sizes, with larger travel campers often having slideouts for extra room. Your vehicle must have a hitch and a sufficient tow ratio to pull a camper. Travel campers typically have smaller storage space but are more budget-friendly than other options. 

Fifth Wheel Campers

Fifth-wheel campers are the most elaborate and common campers for full-time living. Fifth-wheel campers attach to the truck bed instead of latching onto a hitch, making towing more stable than travel campers. A section of the camper protrudes over the truck bed, making this a two-story camper. You can expect multiple slideouts, bathrooms, bedrooms, and full kitchens with fifth-wheel campers.

Pop-up, Teardrop Campers, and Truck Campers

These campers are more rugged than travel or fifth-wheel campers, offering the most natural outdoor experience. Because of their simpler designs with simplicity in mind, they are a cheaper option. Pop-up campers are collapsible, lightweight, and easy to tow, with a bedroom, a small kitchenette, and sometimes a bathroom. 

Teardrop campers are simple and lightweight, with a curved top. They have a sleeping area and usually a kitchenette with a sink and stove. Some models have a refrigerator. 

Truck campers mount into the bed of a pickup truck. They are very compact but have a sleeping area, a small bathroom, a kitchenette, and storage space. If you want to explore the local area, you can easily unmount them from the truck. 

EcoFlow 100W Flexible Solar Panels are great for these campers if you want to avoid a permanent electrical solution. These panels flex to the curvature of a van, allowing them to mount to any surface. Combine flexible solar panels with a portable power station, like the EcoFlow DELTA Series, to store solar energy for later use. 


  • Budget-friendly: Campers are generally lower priced than RVs. However, fully-equipped campers are near the same price as lower-end RVs. 
  • Mobility and flexibility: After unhooking your truck or SUV from the camper, you can drive this vehicle into town or to a nearby excursion without disrupting the campsite.
  • Less maintenance: Since campers aren’t second vehicles, you don’t have to worry about oil changes, engine repairs, or fluid flushes, unlike RVs. A camper saves you time and money with ongoing maintenance. 


  • The hitch: The camper must hook to the vehicle after packing your campsite, which is an additional task. Before driving off, ensure proper connection to avoid troubles while on the road. 
  • Fewer amenities: A camper is not as luxurious as an RV. They have fewer amenities; you can still have the basic amenities like a refrigerator, bathroom, or kitchen, but not all travel campers offer this. 
  • Smaller: Creativity is vital inside a travel trailer for storage and sleeping arrangements. Choose multipurpose pieces to maximize the space since it is smaller than entry-level RVs. 

What Is an RV?

Unlike campers, RVs can be driven independently, and are designed with an integrated electrical system to power all your luxury appliances and gadgets. Living in an RV full-time has become a popular, generally cheaper alternative to living in a traditional house. With an RV, you can have all the comforts of a home with spacious interiors, but you’ll still have to consider investing in a generator if you plan to be in rural areas. 

Types of RVs

Class A RV

These are the largest RV class and have the most luxury and comfort. They’re built on a heavy-duty chassis to accommodate spacious designs and many features. You can expect Class A RVs to have full-sized appliances and ample storage, with at least two slide outs to increase the interior size.

Class B RV

Also called campervans, Class B RVs are the smallest on the market. These are great for full-time living as they’re easy to drive, national park friendly, and can fit into a parking spot. You can easily take these motorhomes camping all over. 

Class C RV

These are the most commonly rented RVs, combining features from Class A and Class B RVs while being easily drivable. They look small and compact from the outside, but they pack a lot of room in their slideouts and cab-over bed features. 


  • Spacious: RVs are bigger than travel campers. They have all the amenities for comfort and larger living areas and can comfortably fit numerous people. 
  • Ease of setup: Once you arrive at the campsite, you only need to hook up lines if required. Then, when you’re ready to leave, you can unplug and drive away, which is much easier than a camper. 
  • Tow your car: If you want to bring your everyday vehicle along, many RVs can tow it. Not only can you enjoy spacious living quarters, but you can also have a smaller car to drive around.  


  • Most expensive: Upfront, an RV is more costly than a camper. RVs are larger and have more amenities and upgrades, increasing their value. 
  • Storing: Finding a spot to store an RV when unused is challenging. Residential associations may restrict keeping them at the house; third-site storage can be costly. 
  • Parking: Large RVs require larger parking spaces, limiting accessibility in some locations. Particular campsites have restrictions and weight limits on RVs they can accommodate. 

RV vs Camper – Which One Is Right for You?

Choosing between an RV and a camper depends on your preferences, budget, travel style, and needs. RVs are more integrated and filled with amenities, while campers are lightweight and more immersive with the outdoors. If budget is your main priority, RVs have higher upfront costs and ongoing maintenance upkeep that can add up. Campers are cheaper to purchase but require a towing vehicle if you don’t already have one. 

RVs supply all the amenities: kitchens, bathrooms, and large sleeping areas, offering a cozy home experience. With campers, the amenities vary by type– some have more amenities than others. Finally, you should consider your parking needs. RVs are large, and many require spacious parking spots, while campers are generally more compact and can maneuver in smaller places well. 

Ultimately, it comes down to which one meets your needs. Before buying an RV or a camper, renting both for different trips and comparing your experience may be helpful. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Cheaper To Pull a Camper or Drive an RV?

The difference in cost between the two involves many factors, and comparing them is difficult. A smaller RV is cheaper upfront than a larger camper with all the bells and whistles. The Class B RV is more affordable than a top-of-the-time fifth-wheel camper. But it would help if you accounted for maintenance costs, insurance premiums, and fuel efficiency. 

Final Thoughts

Campers and RVs are great options when going camping. Campers are towable units that range in size and features to meet any need, with some models offering a more rugged experience, like pop-up, teardrop, and truck campers, while larger models like towable or fifth-wheel campers provide more comfort. RVs range in size across the three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C, and you can drive them independently of another vehicle. They offer more luxurious amenities and extensive living spaces and are more integrated. 

Choosing between the two comes down to personal preference, as both have advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of choice, you’ll need dependable electricity if heading off-grid. Check out EcoFlow Flexible Solar Panels and EcoFlow Power Kits to power your next adventure. 

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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