Sunday, April 26, 2009


Disclaimer: What follows is MY opinion - with Odel’s suggestions taken into consideration. :) Everyone’s needs and desires are highly individual; my comments are intended to give you something to think about as you consider your own needs and desires. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and opinions; I'm sure other readers will enjoy your outlook.

The “perfect” rig doesn’t exist. Your purchase will be a compromise between the ideal traveling rig (small and nimble, with a great turning radius, fabulous visibility, and excellent fuel efficiency) and the ideal “home” (spacious, commodious, and built with solid, long-lasting components).

Everyone will draw that line in a different spot, depending on their budget and their capacity to enjoy close quarters. We have met fulltimers in truck campers or tiny travel trailers on one end of the spectrum, and in 45 foot, quad-slide diesel pushers or 40 foot, 5-slide 5th wheels towed by semi-tracters at the other end of the spectrum.

Scoopy is a 38’, double-slide diesel pusher with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 31,000 pounds, powered by a 350 horsepower Cummins engine, and she is the right compromise for us. When we are parking in a narrow, wooded back-in site in a Forest Service or state park campground, she is TOO BIG! Sitting in an urban RV park for a month, or on any rainy day, she is TOO SMALL! But for our current travel habits, she is the right compromise.

A 38’ foot, double slide motorhome is the smallest unit we can live in comfortably together. If we COULD be comfortable in something smaller, I would want it - because the smaller your rig, the wider your selection of campsites and the easier your travels. We have sufficient storage for what we need/want to carry, but have to dance with each other a bit as we move around the rig.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want anything larger. Add two more feet in length and you give up some excellent, slightly shorter campsites; add another slide or two and you give up excellent, narrower sites. The top photo was taken in a Louisiana state park, where we snagged one of the last few sites - in a larger rig, we would have been back out on the road. In this photo, we were out on the road; fortunately, no one else drove through this remote campground.

On the subject of slides:
-- Two slides on the same side are better than two slides on opposite sides. Why? Because slides on the same side don’t add additional width.

-- Each extended slide makes accessing your basement storage more difficult. Add another slide or two and you will be on your knees crawling around on the ground more frequently to get into your storage bays - and dodging trees and bushes more frequently simply walking around your wider rig (photo below).

-- On some rigs, the storage bays are attached to the slides and extend out with them. Much easier access to your stored items, but you give up a lot of storage space. If you have long items (a ladder, for instance, or golf clubs) or heavy items (an auxiliary chest type refrigerator/freezer) to carry, check the dimensions of the available storage space carefully.

-- Each additional slide adds weight to your rig, diminishing the Net Carrying Capacity (the amount of “stuff” you can carry) or adding to the GVWR (the total weight you are moving from one place to another).

-- Each additional slide increases the likelihood of mechanical problems.

-- Slides definitely add space to the interior of a rig - but it isn’t storage space, and not usually work space (though some multi-slide units include a nice kitchen island), it’s floor space. Great if you have a big dog (or several dogs) or kids, or like to host parties.

-- Almost as important as the additional space are the additional windows with the light and views they provide. Although we didn’t realize it at the time we made our purchase (super-newbies that we were), our bedroom slide is perfect in that respect: the windows are on either side of the head of the bed (rather than behind the bed). We can open the windows to catch a nighttime breeze, or lift the curtain for a peek outside if we hear an unusual sound or want to catch the sunrise. Very nice.

We‘ve been inside several rigs with 3 or 4 slides, and they are wonderfully roomy… but for our current lifestyle, the additional weight, the additional width, the inconvenience of accessing the “basement” storage, and the potential for additional mechanical problems are not worth the added interior space. Check back in a couple years. :)

Next in this series: TOO IMPORTANT TO OVERLOOK


  1. I take it that the photo is of your bed. How in the world do you change sheets? Any photos of that feat? Bobbie

  2. I have a bed that is positioned like yours, with a window at either side, and I love it. The bed is totally walk-around except for about 2' at the head, which is easily reached for changing sheets. Mirrors add a feeling of spaciousness, and mine are the sliding closet doors across the very front of my 5ver.

    I agree also that slides give you more floor space, but with 2 dogs I have no choice and I still don't have a lot of floor space left over for me!


  3. Bobbie, I laughed when I read your comment, and took a look at the photo.

    Yes, it does look impossible to change the sheets! Gypsy is right, though... just in front of the windows (the part of the room you can't see), the slide ends and the bedroom widens to allow plenty of walking space around the bed. The only spot that is tight is in the slide - the part you can see in the photo.

    So easy to "see" when you are familiar with the room - it didn't occur to me what a poor representation appeared in the photo.

  4. I am so enjoying this series (entire blog actually). We are still wannabes, and will go considerably smaller, but you give a lot of food for thought. Thanks.

  5. You have interesting notes on slides. The common argument here is whether you need one or not. For me, slides are highly recommended if your RV’s going to stay parked for a long time. If you plan to go mobile frequently, you might have trouble with this equipment. Thanks for sharing and stay safe!

    Rosalinda Rudloff