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So you’ve probably surmised from all the RV review posts we’ve put up that Stef and I are in the market for a new RV. We’re having a bit of a tough time finding one that both meets our needs, AND is a better fit for us than the one we already own outright. So I thought I’d share what we’re looking for in this post, in the hopes that someone else might be able to benefit from the thought process.
As we’ve been RVing for a while, we have a pretty good idea of features we would use, things that are important to us, and things we can’t stand or don’t want. We also know how we like to use the RV itself – the kinds of trips we take and what we do when we take them. These experiences have helped shape our requirements, and certainly our “must have” requirements.
You’ve probably already seen The RV Remodel page. If you have, then you know I’m reasonably handy, and could make most RV modifications myself. This factors into our decision too. You see, some things are easy enough for me to change – say, adding more battery capacity, or changing the lights to LED. These changeable things lead to some of the items on my 47 point checklist that I attach to the reviews.
But there are some things I can’t change – like, the length of the coach, or the type of fuel it uses – and since I can’t change them, they need to match up with our requirements right out of the (very large) box. So with that said, let’s have a look at our Absolute Must Have Criteria. (there are only 5)
Under 24 feet long
This requirement comes from how we use our RV. We rarely stay someplace more than one or two nights. There’s just too much to see! Since we’re almost always moving, we want to be maneuverable. We also use our RV to go to bicycle races, and, since they usually just start on the side of the road, there’s never room to park a large vehicle. This 24 foot total length requirement eliminates any towable RV. This has led us to concentrate our search on Class B, B+, and very small Class C motorhomes.
This is a requirement that we didn’t realize until we’d had an RV for a while. Having to “convert” spaces from sleeping, to dining, to living or whatnot is a pain. It also means that everyone has to get out of bed at the same time. Further, even if it’s a really cool Murphy bed or something – it’s just a hassle when you have to do it twice a day, every day. We like to get away from hassles, not to have more of them. This is the one area where Das Bus lets us down – we have to make a “decision” each night about when to convert the coach to a sleeping configuration. And we have to wait until everyone wants to get up before we can convert back to a livable configuration in the morning. (Plus, then we have to store all the linens and pillows…) A permanent bed is a must-have in our next RV.
I’ve gone 45 years without showering while sitting naked on the toilet. I don’t intend to start now. Almost every class B I’ve seen – except ours – has a “wet bath” on one side. I’m sure they’re nice and they work fine and all. I’ve gotten in them, and they seem like they would be OK. But when it gets down to it, I’m just not interested in having to remove the toilet paper before taking a shower. Stef, being a girl, is even less interested in a cramped , double purpose shower. Our current RV has a dry bath. Anything less would be a step backwards.
4 season capability
We often take the RV out in the winter. During the remodel, I took some extra steps to ensure that our water lines (which are all IN THE HEATED SPACE) would not freeze. We’ve been out in very low temperatures and have been fine. I don’t want to give this up. So, when I see an RV with water lines running underneath, it’s a huge turnoff. Yes, I could tear the RV apart and relocate the water inside, but in a new RV, I shouldn’t have to.
Indoor Bike Storage
I admit that this probably isn’t a consideration for most. I’ve mentioned before on this site that we take the RV to bicycle races. If you’ve never looked into it, a racing bicycle is stupidly expensive, so carrying them on a hitch, or storing them outside overnight is out of the question. In our current RV, we can fit them inside, but it blocks the access to our sliding door – it’s a tradeoff, but it’s working for us. If you’re a B or B+ manufacturer reading this, a bicycle on a fork mount is approximately 67 inches long, 40 inches high, and 20 inches wide. We would ideally be able to fit two of them in our next RV, preferably in a storage area.
So those are the Big 5. A “no” on any one of them would throw an RV out of consideration because we already have an RV with only one “no”. But there are a lot of other things in an RV that would factor in to our decision one way or another. Again, given that I can change most things myself, I’m only going to concentrate here on the things I can’t change. So with that, here is the list of Pretty Nice Features to Have. (there are only 4)
Yep – mileage. Das Bus is a diesel, and I currently get around 20 miles per gallon without even trying. I can’t do much about the mileage in a new coach; it gets what it gets. While I might be willing to trade a little mileage for the perfect RV, I can’t see myself driving a 6mpg motorhome. I’d go nuts every time I filled up. Our current RV has set the bar pretty high here.
This might be something that I technically could change, but it would be very difficult and I just don’t want to. I don’t think anyone enjoys spending time at the RV dump, and I’m no exception. Without getting too personal, I’ll just say that we put plenty of fluid through our tanks, and I’m not interested in dumping any more frequently than we do now. Our current capacities for fresh/grey/black are 25/24/and 30 gallons. So some of the RVs I’ve seen with 14 gallon holding tanks just aren’t going to cut it for us.
I’m probably in the minority here, but I don’t like slides. I have a number of reasons for this. First and foremost – it’s related to the permanent bed item above. We just don’t want hassles, and moving slides in and out is just another chore we would have to do every night and every morning (and in some RVs, every time we wanted to stop for a sandwich). Also, slides are just another thing that can go wrong, leak inside your RV, etc. I just don’t want to deal with them. And finally, in typical floorplans with slides, the inside is very cramped or unworkable with the slides in. I’m not saying I absolutely won’t purchase an RV with slides. But I am saying that if any feature of the RV is un-useable with the slides in (like a bed you can’t get into, or a sofa that blocks the refrigerator from opening) we won’t consider it. We’ve found the non-slide floorplans work better for us.
One fuel source
I’m secretly hoping that the Roadtrek ETrek is going to start a new trend. I would very much prefer to do away with the propane system in our next RV. I have nothing against propane, but it seems like extra junk to carry around (tank, lines, regulators, etc) when there are other ways of accomplishing the same tasks. Cooking can be done on induction burners or a diesel cooktop. Hot water can also be had through diesel or electric, we have an all-electric fridge now, and air conditioning CAN be run off batteries (subject to their capacity). We rarely use our current generator, and it would be great to get rid of that also. It CAN be done, and I applaud those manufacturers that are taking the first steps. A motorhome with this feature would certainly warrant a second look.
So there you have it. That’s what we’re looking for. There are lots of little items, like “do we like the shower spray nozzle”, that I’m not listing out because they’re easy enough for me to change. I figure some refitting of any RV is inevitable, so I’m not going to get hung up on those. I still care about those details, and I’ll still consider them in reviews and when I look at any coach. But when it gets right down to it, it’s the RV that finally meets these 9 criteria that will ultimately push us to make the jump.
When you put them all in a handy comparison table that Das Bus always wins, it looks like this:
|Potential RV X
|Must Have Criteria
|Under 24 feet long
|4 Season Capability
|Indoor Bike Storage
|Pretty Nice Features to Have
|One Fuel Source
Seriously. Das Bus always wins. Always.
So that’s what we’re looking for. Hopefully this will help someone else in the process of picking out a new coach. Or, hopefully this will help some manufacturer finally produce the perfect motorhome for our Fit RV lifestyle. Cheers!