If you’re just dipping your toe in the water that is RVing, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe you don’t understand the description of an RV you’re researching online, or the dealer you’ve talked to is using words that you’re unsure of and you’re afraid to ask what they mean. Maybe you’ve been doing this for a while already, yet still, some of your fellow campers seem to be speaking an entirely different language when it comes to talking about their RVs. It can be a tall task to learn all of the terms associated with RVing, so we’ve gathered some of the most important ones here for you to reference. Whether you’re buying your first RV or just trying to relate to your neighbors in the campground, we’ve got you covered.
RV Terms and Definitions
1-in, 1-out: A rule many RVers live by that means if you bring one new item into the RV, you have to get rid of one old item.
2-2-2 Rule: A rule many RVers adhere to that suggests you travel less than 200 miles each day, arrive by 2pm, and stay at least 2 nights. This is a strategy to prevent travel exhaustion.
Basement: The storage area in a motorhome located underneath the main body of the vehicle and accessed from the outside.
Black Water Tank: Where your sewage water is held.
Boondocking: Also known as dry camping or wild camping. This is when you camp without any hookups for water, sewer or electricity, often on public land such as Bureau of Land Management land (BLM) or national forests.
BTU: Stands for British Thermal Unit. This is a measurement of heat that is used on RV air conditioners and furnaces. It represents the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
Caravanning: When RVers travel from site to site together in separate rigs.
CCC: This stands for Cargo Carrying Capacity. This is how much weight your RV is capable of being loaded with, or the maximum weight of personal items you can bring along.
Class A: Also known as a coach or a motorhome. This classification of RVs is the largest and most expensive.
Class B: Commonly referred to as camper vans. This classification of RVs is typically the cheapest and smallest.
Class C: This vehicle classification is a compromise between Class A and Class B. They feature a sleeping area above the cab.
Cockpit: This is the area where the driver and copilot sit in a motorhome.
Dry Weight: This refers to your vehicle’s weight off the assembly line.
Dump Station: A location where you are legally allowed to dump your black and gray water tanks.
Fifth Wheel: This classification of RV is towed behind a truck. It has a gooseneck that extends over the back of the truck and connects via a device in the truck bed. These are typically easier to tow than travel trailers.
Fresh Water Tank: Where your drinking water is held.
Full Hookup: A campsite with water supply, sewer/septic, and electricity.
Gray Water Tank: Where your used sink and shower water is held.
Moochdocking: Also known as driveway surfing. This is when you park your RV in a friend or family member’s driveway or on their property.
Pull-Through: A campsite with easy arrival and departure access where you don’t have to back up at all to park or leave.
Puller: A Class A motorhome whose diesel motor is located in the front.
Pusher: A Class A motorhome whose diesel motor is located in the rear. It’s typically a smoother and quieter ride than a Puller.
Slideout: A feature in motorhomes that allows a portion of the vehicle to expand and create more living space when the vehicle is at rest.
Snowbirds: People who live up north in summer but travel south for the winter months, usually to Florida or Arizona.
Sticks and bricks: A term that refers to a “normal” fixed location home.
Toad: Also known as a Dinghy. This describes the “towed” vehicle behind your motorhome.
Tongue Weight: The weight shouldered by the hitch ball on the tow vehicle, usually 10-15% of the gross vehicle weight.
Tow Rating: The maximum weight the manufacturer determines a vehicle can tow. You’ll want to make sure your tow vehicle has a high enough tow rating for your RV.
Travel Trailer: This classification of RVs is pulled behind a truck but does not hang over the truck in any way like a fifth wheel would.
Wallydocking: A term describing boondocking in the parking lot of a Walmart.
Weekend Warrior: Also known as Weekenders. This describes people who live in “sticks and bricks” homes during the week and travel in their RVs on the weekends.
Workamping: The act of exchanging work for a free campsite, utilities or a wage.
RVing 101: RV terms and definitions
Now that you’ve read our RV dictionary, you’re well-prepared to chat about RVing with even the most seasoned of RVers. If you’re looking for ideas on where to head next, check out our favorite RV destinations on our blog!