How do you choose a perfect RV? I spend a lot of time looking at RV’s. Too much time according to my husband. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I am the type of person that gets an idea in my head and then I obsess. In other words, I’ll spend hours and hours looking and researching, and right now that research is focused on Class A toy haulers. My two biggest obsessions besides my family are travel and RV’s. It is what I enjoy so it is where I want to spend my time.
I would like to say that a benefit of my obsessive research is that I hope it contributes to us making the right decision on our next RV. This is a big purchase and so many considerations. In this article, I will outline what attracts me to a Class A Toy haulers. It may not be the perfect choice for you, however, it should help you think through things to consider as you are deciding what will work best for you.
5th Wheel Toy Haulers
Let me first start by outlining the first RV’s we had. We do have full reviews on both of these if you are interested. My point here is to describe why we choose each of these. I had never considered buying an RV or traveling via RV until my brother purchased a toy hauler to haul his razor ATV to the mountains. When we moved to Colorado, I fell in love with riding ATV’s on the hundreds of miles of mountain trails. We purchased a couple ATV’s, truck and trailer and would take day trips to the mountains to ride. Then my brother purchased the toy hauler and started taking longer trips. Ryan, our boys and I set up a tent. Then the research began….
With the multiple toys that we had (4 in total – a side-by-side, razor and 2 dirt bikes), we needed a large garage but as small as possible due to weight limits of our truck. The best option we found was the Vengeance Rogue 295A18. It would fit all our toys, had two queen beds and a smaller couch in addition to the master bedroom. We all had room to sleep. I was so excited that I had adequate supplies packed when we picked it up from the dealership, we headed right to Cherry Creek RV park in Denver to spend our first night.
After we made this purchase, we began watching several YouTube channels of RV traveling families. Ideas began to formulate. We sold our house that same summer (not to travel full-time unfortunately) but we wanted to downsize and have a different layout. Between the sale of our house and moving into the new house, I convinced Ryan to hit the road. We had a little under a month and were going to be living in the RV. We headed from Colorado, through Utah, Idaho, up the Oregon coast into Washington and then back home. It was beyond wonderful. I loved it!! It gave me the bug to travel, travel, travel.
When our boys were younger, our two younger boys refused to sleep apart from each other. They had their own separate bedrooms and own beds but always ended up in Peyton’s full size bed. I moved Preston’s bed into Peyton’s room and Preston still chose to sleep in Peyton’s bed. Now that they are older, they hate being anywhere near each other while sleeping. Funny how time changes things. None of the three boys would share one of the queen beds in the toy hauler. There was a smaller couch that served as our third bed. The only issue was that it was near the sink and Matthew constantly complained about the water that I dropped on his head.
Travel Trailer Bunkhouse
While the toy hauler set up was perfect for hauling the toys to the mountain for the weekend, we decided we wanted a different set up for longer road trips. As we have to work while we are on the road for a long trip, a separate bunkhouse room would be nice so the boys could sleep in or watch movies while we sat at the dinette to work. Then came the purchase of the Grand Design Transcend Bunkhouse. We loved this layout and having a travel trailer.
We were concerned about moving from a 5th wheel to a travel trailer and whether it would be more difficult to drive. Trailer sway was a major concern, but that was easily fixed with the pro-pride hitch.
Having a fixed dinette (not a bed that turned into the table), having a separate room with a door for the boys and having set beds that did not have to be moved to travel was great. We enjoyed several longer trips in the Transcend. We headed east to Iowa to visit family and headed west to San Diego spending time near Las Vegas and at the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, then the boys hit a growing spurt.
In our Transcend, there were ‘L’- shaped twin bunks with a full bed lower bunk. My first concern was that the boys would be kicking each other and fighting. That didn’t happen. However, when two of your boys all of a sudden hit their teenage growth spurt and are 5’7″ – 5’9″, it becomes more tricky to make sure they have adequate space to be comfortable.
Taking Dogs In Your RV
Did I mention we also have three big dogs? Two siberian huskies and a german shepherd. They are adorable but have to come into consideration whenever we are making our travel plans too. In the cab of the truck, with our growing boys, we had to seat basically four adults plus Preston (who is still under 5 feet tall at this point). Plus three large dogs.
When we had the toy hauler, the 5th wheel prevented us from putting the dogs in the bed of the truck. We would strap two kennels in the toy hauler and two dogs would ride in there. We would squeeze one pup in the back seat with the boys. On long drive days, being crowded gets uncomfortable.
With the travel trailer, we would put kennels in the bed of the truck (also a benefit of the travel trailer is use of the bed of the truck). While I prefered the dogs riding in the bed of the truck, they were not protected from any weather elements. The kennels are covered but that doesn’t mean it won’t get hot or wet.
The more we talk about travel plans, the more we have leaned towards purchasing a Class A. On travel days, the dogs would be able to ride more comfortably. The boys would have more room to stretch out too.
From our research, set up and moving is much easier than a 5th wheel or travel trailer. Ryan has always preferred to keep the number of stops to a minimum because of the work that it takes to set up and take down at each stop. Not me. There are so many places that I want to see that I like to move and check out new places. Well, I like adequate time to explore a destination but I also want to keep moving and exploring. Having a Class A should make that set up and tear down easier.
At stops that do not feel as safe, we would be self-contained in the RV to fix a snack or use the restroom. The exception, of course, is that the pups need to be walked outside. It won’t solve that issue but we would have the ability to stop for our needs without exiting the rig.
Class A Toy Hauler Area
Would a Class A, one that is not a toy hauler, work? Yes, of course. And they are much easier to find. We would need the bunk over the cab and then possibly two large couches for beds. While there are Class A’s with bunks, confirming they are long enough for the boys would be my first concern.
While the class A toy haulers area makes the living and kitchen area smaller, I love the idea of having that space. We do not have ATV’s or a motorcycle that we would haul on our trips, however, we are bikers. Pedal bikes. And we love, love our biking. With 5 of us, we need room for our bikes. We had a bike rack on the back of the travel trailer for our bikes. That also meant the bikes were exposed to the elements if it was raining or windy.
When we were not out riding our bikes, we would lock them up at the RV park. However, as you may know, bikes can be an expensive investment for nice bikes. My husband jokes his mountain bike, a Cannondale Jekyll, costs more than his first car. I would feel much more comfortable if we were able to lock the bikes in the class A toy hauler area verses a tree at the RV parks.
And, maybe someday down the road, we could get a golf cart. Or mopeds. Doesn’t that sound fabulous!?!
One other advantage of a class A toy hauler, and toy haulers in general, is the deck that is used for loading but can be set up as a patio. On our 5th wheel toy hauler, that was one of my favorite things! I loved being able to set up the patio. With the ‘fence’ around the patio, it was a great place for the dogs to hang outside but were still contained and close to me if I’m in the RV.
The Best Class A Toy Haulers
There are several different brands and floor models we have looked at. What is best for us may not be best for you. That being said, here is my list of the best class A toy haulers for our family:
Thor Outlaw Class A: 38KB
As I mentioned above, there are very few options for a Class A toy hauler. My favorite is the Thor Outlaw Class A 38KB. This RV has a bunk over the cab. Bed #1 for boy #1. There is a drop-down queen bed in the garage area. Bed #2 for boy #2. There is also a ‘sky bunk’ in the garage that provides bed #3 for boy #3.
I love that there are three fairly separate places for our boys. One of the big reasons I love traveling in the RV is small space living and being in close contact with all five of us. (Not like in our sticks and bricks home where they hide in their rooms.) However, there are times when you need your space or quiet time away from everyone else. This RV has the option for each boy to have a little space as their own.
Thor Outlaw Class A: 38MB
The Thor Outlaw Class A 38MB is very similar to the 38KB with the exception of the toy hauler area. Instead of the sky bunk area, there are two queen beds. This is similar to our first 5th wheel toy hauler. It works and provides a taller space in the garage if you need a taller space. However, as mentioned above, I love the sky bunk for the separation it provides.
Newmar Canyon Star
Newmar Canyon Star is the other option for a Class A toy hauler. The advantage to this choice is that there is a 2021 model that is diesel. However, there is no overhead bunk so the bed availability does not work for us. However, if you don’t need as many beds as us, it may be an option for you!
Gas verses Diesel Class A Toy Haulers
As there are very few Class A Toy haulers, options are slim. We loved having a diesel truck and when we first started considering a Class A, we wanted a diesel. Unfortunately, it is not currently an option for Thor. With a gas Class A, we will be limited in the weight for a vehicle we tow. We have considered that I will follow behind Ryan driving the RV in our vehicle instead of hooking it up to tow. An advantage of teenage boys is also that we have more drivers to drive our SUV (not the RV!).
Traveling through the mountains may create a challenge with a gas verses a diesel. However, if we have to take it slower, we will. It is all about weighing the pros and cons of what is most important to you.
As I mentioned, I love looking at RV’s and have checked out tons of options. One of my favorites is a mid-bunk 5th wheel. It provides a separate bunk room for the kids but also has a rear living room and kitchen area. This creates a huge area for the kitchen and living room. I absolutely love it! It was one of my top choices as we were looking at 5th wheels. Some mid-bunks have a lofted bed above the mid-bunk. You typically have a ladder in the hallway to the master bedroom to crawl up into the loft area.
A challenge I have found in the mid-bunk floor plans are beds that are large enough for the boys. The lofted area provides a large bed. In the bunk room, the beds we have seen are usually too short. While Preston is younger and smaller, he would fit on a smaller bed but that does not provide a long term option for when he grows.
The 5th wheel option also brings back up the space within the truck for three growing boys and three large dogs. With a 5th wheel, we do not have an option to put the dog kennels in the back of the truck. The kennels would have to be strapped into the trailer for the dogs to ride in the back. Not being able to monitor the temperature has me worried about my pups along with imagining the motion while moving down the road. I’m not a fan.
Best Truck To Haul An RV
We have also considered a 5th wheel toy hauler. We have friends with this layout and it has double queens in the back which would work for our boys. In addition, it has a lofted area in the living/kitchen area with another bed. We had considered going this route too. However, most toy haulers with these features, they are large and you need a 350/3500 truck. Our Ram 2500 is not large enough to pull most larger 5th wheel toy haulers so the truck would also have to be upgraded.
Depending on where you are traveling, large trucks can be challenging. When you have one vehicle and its a larger truck, it can be difficult to navigate cities. In certain areas, we have found that it is easier to Uber or take the train/bus than try to maneuver or park in the large truck. I have an extremely difficult time parking the Ram 2500. You typically find me at the back of the parking lot or as far away from most cars as possible. If you are in a busy city, such as when we were in Seattle, parking in the back lot is not always possible. Seattle has such narrow streets and we were even too tall to get into one parking garage.
Now, I know that the majority of RVer’s have large trucks. We did too. It is all about figuring out what works the best for you and your family, what your preferences are and prioritize what is most important to you.
Where to Purchase Class A Toy Haulers
As I have been searching for Class A Toy haulers, it does not appear to be a common type of RV to be found on every RV lot. I search dealer sites along with RV trader. When we are ready to pull the trigger, I know we will need to be ready to travel a further distance in order to buy the one we want. While we purchased our first two RV’s here in Colorado, I know that may not be possible with this next purchase. If we find the right rig, it is okay to travel to buy it.
Let us know in the comments what other considerations you are contemplating or did contemplate when selecting your RV. No matter what you choose, don’t forget the main reason you are RV shopping. For us, it is to get out there and explore. Whatever the next RV we purchase, I look forward to all the memories we will create on new adventures!