We attended a couple shows in the past but just drifted around looking at rigs with no goals in mind. Earlier we decided to have a plan this year to try and decide between a 5th wheel or a class A motorhome. Karen also set a goal of not eating dinner at the show, so we managed to squeeze that in as well. Our daughters in-laws went with us. They own an RV and attend the show as something fun to do. Thank you Tom and Jolene for not only driving but providing the home-made pizza for dinner!
I’ll get right to the point and say our overwhelming opinion, for us, is a 5th wheel was more appealing than a class A. Most importantly because we felt a 5th wheel provides better living space for long-term stays. I can see the value of a motorhome as well but they don’t appear to fit what we see as our planned style of travel.
I was able to talk to several would be experts to include a DRV Mobile Suites factory representative (they were bought-out by Thor), an employee of the Kansas RV Center out of Chanute Kansas, and a couple of sales people. I sat inside one of the Montana fifth wheels talking with one couple who are going fulltime this summer. This was enjoyable until they mentioned my family had left the rig without me. I can get easily sidetracked when talking about something interesting, like RVs.
A meaningful comment I heard from a salesman was selecting between a 5th wheel or a class A, for the most part, involves considering if you want to be more comfortable driving or more comfortable while living in it. He mentioned class As can loose their appeal when parked for long periods. The most worthless comment I heard came from a salesman when asked for the gross vehicle weight rating of a heavy 5th wheel which was 19,500. I said that would take more truck than I wanted to purchase. His reply was why did I think the gross weight was so important because “I’d never be hauling full tanks of water”. I’m new to RV research but have to think if one was going boondocking you might want to top off the water tank. Having studied up on the various components of an RV I have to say I’m proud of myself because I’ve started to learn what to look for.
One older couple were trading in their DRV fifth wheel on a smaller gas class A. I would have liked to talk with them to find out the reason. Figured it would not be proper to talk with them while they were negotiating with the salesmen. By the way, many of the rigs were marked down close to 20% off what they say were the retail prices. (Update 9/13/15 – After months of reading forum threads I’m of the opinion 20% is on the lower side of the discount one should expect. Many say start negotiations closer to 30%. Of course having a trade-in complicates it a bit. That’s another topic.)
We went through a number of 5th wheels to include a few popular “fulltime” makes. Generally, floor plan was not that important to us at this point. However we could not help checking out various plans. I have to tell you all of us thought the front living room floor plan in a 5th wheel really creates a feeling of separate spaces. Also the bedroom in this floor plan felt close to a stick built homes bedroom with the taller ceiling and extra walking room around the bed. (Update 8/5/17 – Don’t look at an RV comparing it to your home, it’s a different beast – post a comment if you wan to know more.) Although the basement space was more limited compared to a rear living room floor plan. I can understand what people have been saying about you will walk in the perfect unit and know it. We are still considering another comment we heard which was “buy the third rig you would own – first.”
We spent four hours at the show to include a little extra time sitting in fifth wheels. As we were not purchasing a rig we did not spend time in the shower, on the bed and other important areas. I consider the trip a success in that we seem to have come to a consensus a fifth wheel is a better fit for us. And we had fun with friends along.
I can retire in 3.5 years, although I may postpone retirement until a few years after I’m 55. Wow, I hope counting down in half year increments does not become a habit! We have plenty of time to choose the right rig. It was nice to see a few that very well could become that used rig we buy at a later date.
Sorry for not taking any photos. Figure you all know what an RV show looks like anyway. I’ll also pass along it turned out to be a useful idea to print out the list of what rigs were going to be at the show and then highlight those we (I) most wanted to see. We also looked at a couple of smaller trailers that might make for a temporary rig should we decide to purchase one for vacations before going fulltime.
When Karen and I arrived home we talked about retiring earlier than later. She says lets do it now, we can figure out how to make a living. It’s nice to know she is excited with the idea of it all.
Here are a few of the rigs we stopped to see not included toy haulers:
- Fifth wheels:
- Forrest River Cedar Creek
- DRV Mobile Suites
- Evergreen Lifestyle
- Keystone Montana
- Heartland Bighorn
- Jayco Pinnacle and Eagle
- Open Range
- KZ-RV Durango Gold (replaced the Stone Ridge)
- A few smaller rigs such as a Keystone Cougar lite weight
- Diesel pusher:
- Thor Palazzo
- Newmar Dutch Star (out of our price range)
- A bunch of others we cannot afford unless they are six years old.
- Gas class A
- Thor Hurricane
- Winnebago Adventurer
- Rigs we wanted to see but did not make it to the show:
- NuWa Hitchhiker FW
- DRV Tradition FW
- Arctic Fox FW
Let me know if you have any questions about other things we may have seen or learned about. Thanks for reading and hope you are doing well with your travels or planning.
We went back a second day and only looked at possible fulltime 5th wheels. We also talked to every factory representative we could find.