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RV Trends and Purchasing Tips

Camping and RVing are more popular than ever before and why people are choosing this lifestyle has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The RV industry has responded to this—and the demand to ‘go green’ and limit fossil fuel use—with practical and functional units and smart and efficient technology. These changes are impacting the long-term future of the RV industry.

RV Trends

Compact and lightweight

Class B motorhomes and campervans under 8 meters (or 25 feet) generally fall within the small RV category as do fifth wheels under 20 feet that can be towed by half-tonne trucks. Demand is high for compact and lightweight units, including Class Cs under 25 feet and travel trailers under 2,500 lbs that can be pulled by SUVs and small cars. Younger couples and eco-friendly families discovering RVing are changing the RV landscape.

The Escape E17 Hatch by KZ RV is lightweight, measures 22 ft in length and is designed for accessing gear and bringing the outdoors in

Many of these options are good for smaller budgets and are often better for backcountry camping. They are easy to maneuver, have (or aid in) good to decent gas mileage and boast smart use of space with functional items such as Murphy beds, dinettes with slide-outs and convertible tables.

Electric and solar power/off-grid capabilities

Advances in solar technology and lithium-ion batteries are contributing to more sustainable and affordable ways of generating power. Some RVs are now wired solar ready and are equipped with powerful roof-mounted solar panels and controllers, large capacity inverters, high-efficiency lithium batteries, and advanced electrical management systems, which allow people to reach backcountry, and in BC some frontcountry, destinations where there are no utilities.

Ember RV’s Overland Series 171FB and Overland Micro Series ROK, which stands for ‘rear outside kitchen’, are compact and off-road ready

“We are noticing that a lot of RVers are choosing to camp in smaller, off-road, off-grid adventure-style trailers,” says Chase Paylor, GM of Woody’s RV World in Abbotsford, BC. (The company also has locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.) Woody’s RV recently added Ember RVs to its lineup of compact trailers suited for off-road fun.

RVs specific to adventuresome types feature off-road tires with extra ground clearance, built-in bike racks and special gear closets and ‘garages’ for hauling outdoor gear. Fold-down outdoor dining tables are also on the must-have lists.

ProLite’s E-Volt, manufactured in Quebec, is fully electric and uses renewable energy. With its four 100-watt solar panels, 3,000-watt inverter and 250-amp lithium battery, it converts 12-volt energy into electrical power and can run RV and personal appliances. With a max headcount of three and a dry weight of 1,990 lbs it also fits into the lightweight and compact category.

Some RV units are specially insulated for energy conservation (including the use of tempered glass) and sound reduction. Accessory-wise, there are now solar powered LED lights and headlamps and portable solar packs for charging laptops and cell phones. Several US-manufactured RVs have also been ‘Certified Green’ by TRA Certification for energy code compliance.

Indoor/outdoor living trend

Manufacturers are coming up with new ways to bring the outside in with rear hatches and doors on trailers and panoramic windows in campervans. Added to this are outdoor kitchen and grilling options which are increasingly popular. Inside, kitchens have become lighter and brighter (gone is the dark wood cabinetry) and are more incorporated into living spaces. These features make it easier than ever to embrace nature. 

Workspace options/new technology

According to an RV owner demographic profile study by GoRVing, people planning to buy a RV in 2022 intend to use it an average of 25 days per year, up five days from previous years. “This increase is indicative of the changing attitudes towards remote work and the ability for more people to be able to work from a destination more frequently than traditional vacation days afforded in the past,” says the Association’s website.

Specializing in Luxury Campers the Wonder Rear Twin Bed by Leisure Travel Vans

Access to technology, including cellular and Wi-Fi service while camping, has become increasingly important, particularly for many first-time campers and RVers and families opting to home school. This has resulted in greater demands for RVs with workspaces or a flex space as well as an increase in the number of people renovating used RVs to suit such lifestyle needs.

Manufacturers have answered the call by equipping models with features like natural lighting, workstations/flip-up counter extensions, chairs for both working and dining and multiple charging stations for phones and computers. RV automation has improved with updated central control systems and apps that work from afar to adjust lighting, heat and air, entertainment systems and even wind sensor awnings that detract when the wind is too strong.

Pet-friendly perks

RV manufacturers have recognized that more and more people are hitting the road with their pets by introducing layouts with features specific to animals such as spaces for crates and beds, pet stations and pet-specific drawers with food bowls, outdoor tie-down clips and pet washing stations/showers with hot and cold faucets. Some companies even offer heavy duty bug screens should Charlie decide to chase that chipmunk and the ability to add ramps for senior dogs. In addition, numerous RV rental companies/platforms now offer pet-friendly units, some with pet-specific sleeping areas.

Purchasing Tips

So, you have decided to buy an RV. First, you will need to answer these questions: What is your budget? Will it be new or used? Who is it being purchased for and where and how often will it be used?

Write down what features you ‘need’ or want and if you’re looking for a towable trailer, campervan or motorhome. How will you finance your RV; will it be cash or credit? Look for a flexible payment plan if need be. Will you go through a dealer or purchase it via a private seller? Many dealers offer financing through a variety of lenders.

Travel Trailer & Motorhome | Go RVing Canada

Do online research, speak to family and friends (or friends of friends) who RV, visit a few dealerships or even a RV show and keep your eyes and ears open for financing deals. Some buyers wait until the end of the RV season for possible price drops.

When you are ready to purchase a unit get it inspected. If it’s a privately sold used RV ask or hire a seasoned RVer or maintenance professional to check for any humidity, exterior and interior damage/wear and tear and any other potential areas of concern.

Think about what may come about after your purchase. Can you afford annual repairs plus insurance, particularly if you will be making monthly payments? According to GoRVing Canada the minimum down payment for an RV is between 10% and 20%.

“Customers should be asking themselves, ‘Will my dealer support my purchase after the sale?’,” says Chase Paylor, GM, of Woody’s RV World in Abbotsford.

If you purchase via a dealership find out what they offer in terms of after-sale support. Do they have a reputable maintenance and parts department and are they willing to answer questions, of which you may have a few?

Pros of buying a NEW RV: No risk of wear and tear; latest design and technology; ability to purchase what you really want and/or to customize unit; manufacturer warranty; ability to purchase extended warranties

Cons: Higher sticker price (dependent on model and features); higher insurance premiums than a used RV; after-sale sticker depreciation.

Pros of buying a USED RV: Money savings; option to renovate or restore as you wish; cheaper to insure than a new RV.

Cons/risks: Upgrades may be costly; damage/wear and tear may not be visible (i.e. humidity, mold); possibility of no manufacturer warranty.

If buying used, a general rule is to avoid RVs over ten years of age.

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For places to camp in BC check out the Camping Map

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Published: March 3, 2022
Last Updated: March 4, 2022

Marney Carmichael by Marney Carmichael

Marney Carmichael is a freelance journalist originally from Northern Ontario. She has lived and worked in seven countries and spent many years exploring and snowboarding in BC. She loves walking with her hound dogs and is currently rediscovering Canada with her family.