When some people think of recreational vehicles (RVs) they think of behemoths. But these days, campers come in all shapes and sizes. Smaller RVs may be the perfect choice for couples or solo travelers who don’t have the need – or the budget – for bigger motorcoaches. To help you find the best small RV for your needs, we researched offerings from the top names in the RV industry.
After comparing features, quality, costs, and customer reviews, the team picked the best small RV in five categories. This list is a good place to start if you’re shopping for your next camper.
Top Small RVs
|Ford Warranty||Length of Coverage|
|New vehicle limited warranty||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Powertrain warranty||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Corrosion warranty||5 years/unlimited miles|
|Safety restraint warranty||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Emissions defect and performance warranties||Up to 8 years/80,000 miles|
|Diesel engine coverage||5 years/100,000 miles|
|Hybrid and electric vehicle unique component coverage||8 years/100,000 miles|
What Makes An RV A Small RV?
The term “small RV” is a little vague, but it generally refers to smaller classes of both driveable and towable RVs. For the purposes of this list, that means RVs under 25 feet in length. This excludes most Class A motorhomes, but manufacturers produce smaller RVs in every other category.
Small motorhomes and towables offer serious advantages over their bigger counterparts. For starters, small RVs are much easier to maneuver in and out of campgrounds. They also weigh less, which means better gas mileage for the vehicle towing it or the camper itself.
#1 Airstream Basecamp 20: Best Small Travel Trailer
RVInsider score: 4.8 out of 5.0
Key feature: Panoramic window
Starting price: $54,400
The Airstream Basecamp 20 is our selection for the best small travel trailer. Between its near-perfect review score from customers on RVInsider and Airstream’s well-deserved reputation for quality, it’s an easy choice for the top of this list of the best small RVs as well.
This travel trailer manages to pack a lot of functionality into 20 feet without creating a cluttered interior. It does so by employing clever convertibles in its living spaces. The bench in the rear of the Airstream converts to either a king-size bed or a split twin bed and seating area. The dinette converts to another sleeping area if needed.
You also get a wet bath and fully plumbed kitchen in the Airstream Basecamp 20, making it adequate for full-time living. However, the feature our team enjoyed the most was the panoramic window that takes advantage of the trailer’s curved shape to provide a striking view of the great outdoors – the reason you hit the road in the first place.
#2 Winnebago Revel: Best Small Class B RV
RVInsider score: 3.6 out of 5.0 stars
Key feature: Off-road performance
Starting price: $210,292
The Winnebago Revel topped our list of the best class B RVs. When it comes to RVs built for exploring off the beaten path, it would be difficult to find a better option among class B motorhomes.
The Revel was designed from the ground up to be a performer in off-road situations. A capable four-wheel-drive system and upgraded suspension on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter base allow this camper van to go just about anywhere. Once you arrive, the interior makes your stay comfortable.
This Winnie’s touchscreen-controlled hydronic heating system is among the best in its class, meaning you can stay comfortable even in extreme conditions. Removable countertops and a well-thought-out dinette are just some of the design touches that help you create plenty of functional spaces within its 19-foot floor plan.
#3 Escape 5.0: Best Small 5th-Wheel RV
RVInsider score: Not rated
Key feature: Durable construction
Starting price: $40,495
Many fifth-wheel campers are too big to qualify for this list of the best small RVs. But at just over 21 feet long, the Escape 5.0 makes the cut. While many “fivers” require a large truck (1-ton or above) for towing, you can easily and safely tow the under-4,000-pound Escape with most half-ton trucks, even while it’s fully loaded. That translates into huge cost savings in fuel and in the cost of your towing vehicle.
Despite its size, the Escape still has a lot of the same features people expect in a fifth-wheel camper. There’s ample, comfortable sleeping space and ample built-in storage. While the wet bath and kitchen are admittedly compact, they’re still adequate for extended boondocking.
What stands out the most about the Escape 5.0 is its overall design and build quality. The towable features a one-piece fiberglass construction that’s much more durable and aerodynamic than most of its competitors.
Whereas many campers are built on a mass-market frame or chassis, the Escape sits on a proprietary frame designed just for this RV. That means you can expect it to last, which makes its sub-$45,000 MSRP all the more impressive.
#4 Leisure Travel Vans Unity: Best Small Class C RV
RVInsider score: 4.6 out of 5.0 stars
Key feature: Fuel efficiency
Starting price: $172,070
At 25 feet, 1 inch, Leisure Travel Vans’ Unity is technically a little too long for this list. But given all there is to celebrate about this small Class C motorhome, we made the call to include it here.
If luxury is what you’re looking for, the Unity should be one of your first considerations. Beautiful wood cabinetry and French-seamed synthetic leather upholstery adorn an interior worthy of design magazines. Clever uses of its interior space – like an optional Murphy bed – allow for plenty of sitting and dining areas as well as a large bed.
But it’s not all aesthetic. Leisure Travel Vans’ Unity is a performer, too. In fact, that’s where this camper excels. This Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-based driveable is outfitted with the German automaker’s 3.0L BlueTEC diesel engine. That allows the Unity to get up to 18 miles per gallon on the highway – a feat for RVs in this class.
#5 Little Guy Mini Max: Best Small Teardrop Trailer
RVInsider score: Not rated
Key feature: Towability
Starting price: $25,114
Teardrop trailers are the smallest category of RVs. And at just over 17 feet long, the Little Guy Mini Max is the smallest entry on this list of the best small RVs. But that small space doesn’t mean owners will sacrifice much in the way of features.
The Mini Max offers a wet bath, a plumbed sink, and a dual-burner stove. The Little Guy teardrop also comes with a marine-grade dinette set that converts to either a queen bed or two twin beds, making full-time RVing an option. But since it has an interior height of 6 feet, some RVers may not be able to stand upright, which is something to consider.
One huge benefit of the Little Guy Mini Max is its huge dual-pane windows, which allow for plenty of light and sweeping scenic views while still keeping the interior cozy. It also features decent interior and exterior storage space for its size.
But perhaps the Mini Max’s best feature is its towability. Its dry weight of just over 2,300 pounds allows you to tow the Little Guy with smaller trucks, midsize SUVs, and even some crossovers. That means many people won’t need to buy new vehicles along with their campers.
Small RVs: What You Should Look For
Small RVs exist across most RV categories, from truck campers to fifth wheels, so you’ll find different issues and concerns depending on which category you’re shopping. However, there are consistencies across every category of RV. When you’re looking for the best small RV, pay special attention to the following items, regardless of category.
If you’re a first-time RV buyer, understand that many features on RVs are prone to breaking. This unfortunate inevitability is due to the constant vibration and jostling that comes with RV travel. Issues like interior paneling and fixtures coming loose or mechanical components like slide-outs and awnings malfunctioning are common among almost every brand of camper.
Even so, some RV brands have a better reputation for quality than others. You can investigate RV quality by reading customer reviews and industry ratings. Understanding whether a brand uses a separate inspection group rather than the assembly team for pre-delivery inspections can also give you an idea of build quality. But seeing it in person is the best way to learn about the build quality of an RV.
Buying an RV is a huge investment, and it can be a hassle to complete repairs in a timely manner. For those reasons, it’s worth taking the time to investigate a camper’s manufacturing quality before you make a purchase.
The relationship between owner and dealership is a little more significant with RVs than it is with cars. While every dealership under a certain vehicle brand is obligated to fix cars of that brand regardless of where they were purchased, the same does not apply for RV dealers. That means you’ll want to buy your RV from a reputable dealership with a good service reputation.
Most RVs come with a one-year warranty of some kind. These warranties typically cover manufacturing defects, yet they can be quite restrictive. Considering that defects and breakages are very common with RVs, this is something to factor into your decision.
Another thing to consider is whether or not a warranty transfers. Some manufacturers allow you to transfer your warranty to a new owner, while others don’t. This is an important consideration if you’re planning on selling your RV in the near future, or if you plan on buying a used RV.
RV manufacturers offer 3D renderings, video tours, and detailed floor plans to help you get an idea of what an RV looks like inside. While these are certainly helpful when you’re shopping for the best small RVs, they’re no substitute for an in-person walk-through.
When you see an RV up close, you can touch the materials to feel their quality and get a better understanding of how different floor plans will suit your needs. You can see the types of hardware the manufacturer uses, like cabinet hinges and TV mounts. You can also get a sense for what spending time in the camper actually feels like.
Again, an RV is a major purchase for most people. If you’re buying a new RV, you’ll lose a lot of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. Taking the time to see an RV in person can help you avoid a very expensive mistake.
Common Small RV Issues
Any experienced RVer can tell you that issues are to be expected with any RV. But many of these issues can be avoided with proactive and attentive maintenance. Understanding the most common issues you’ll come across with even the best small RVs can help you spot issues before they become major problems.
Here are some of the most common issues you’ll see with small RVs:
- Plumbing issues: A fitting for plumbing that’s even slightly off can cause a major leak. The constant vibration from travel means that the eventual misalignment of fixtures, plumbing, and even the water tank is nearly unavoidable.
- Broken door and window seals: Being constantly jostled around can pull seals away from doors and windows.
- Electrical problems: Just like with plumbing, the constant movement and vibration from traveling can dislodge wires and electrical fixtures. This can result in issues with your electrical system ranging from outlets not working to serious fire hazards.
- Malfunctioning slide-outs: The slide-outs that allow some RVs to expand their floor space are heavy mechanical components that can easily become misaligned.
- Awning issues: Though not as serious as slide-out issues, problems with retractable awnings are common.
How To Choose The Best Small RV For You
Buying an RV – even a small one – is a major financial decision. Some of the campers on this list of the best small RVs cost as much as a house. Even the least expensive options cost as much as a new car. So, it’s important to take your time throughout the shopping and buying process.
Here are a few simple steps to finding the best small RV for your needs:
- Determine your budget.
- Figure out your needs and make a list of important features.
- Decide which class of RV is right for you.
- Make a list of your top choices.
- See your top choices in person if you can.
- Get quotes on your top choices and compare them. Consider additional costs like taxes and dealer fees.
- Choose your best option and, if needed, get financing.
Ultimately, the best small RV is the one that fits all of your criteria. This list can give you a great start on your search. It may be time-consuming, but you’ll appreciate finding the right small RV when you’re adventuring in comfort far from home.