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Are Small RV Rentals The Best Choice?

Published on January 8th, 2021 by Peggy Dent
This post was updated on July 26th, 2023

small RV rentals

Are Small RV Rentals The Best Choice?

Now with the prevalence of private RV rental companies, a person can rent literally any size and type of RV for a weekend getaway or an extended stay.

You can rent big-rig size fifth wheel toy haulers or a 45’ motorhome, but for the following reasons, small RV rentals are best for the majority of renters: maneuverability, cost, features, and access.

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RV size matters

When talking about RVs, size really does matter. The overall length, width, height, and weight of an RV impacts virtually every other aspect from its functionality to comfort, and when I’m talking about comfort, I’m not just talking about having a comfortable bed and dinette. I’m talking about your comfort driving and maneuvering the rented RV through traffic or on remote country roads.  

Small RV rentals come in three basic configurations: truck campers, camper vans, and compact Class C motorhomes.  The largest of these three is the compact motorhome which are typically about 20’ in length. The truck camper is about the same length because it consists of a camper shell mounted on the back of a Ford 150 XLT SuperCab truck which is itself over 19’ long, while the camper vans are approximately 15’ long and somewhat narrower than the other two.

However, the length is only one consideration when renting an RV. The width, height, and weight of the rig are equally important and will impact the renter’s comfort and enjoyment of the rented RV. The larger the RV, the harder it may be to drive, back, and maneuver through tight traffic, in small campgrounds, or on backcountry roads.  But the size also impacts the type of amenities that come in the RV. 

For example, the campervan has a 5-gallon fresh water tank. It has a pull-out small refrigerator under the bed and a small sink and single burner stove also stored under the bed.  There is no bathroom facility in the van conversion and 5 gallons of water is quite a bit of drinking water but will not last long for washing dishes, or cooking, so the amenities of a van conversion are quite limited.  They have some of the features of the slightly larger rentals but a camping experience in one of these will be a more rustic outdoor living experience with fewer creature comforts.

On the other hand, the compact motorhome comes with a queen bed over the cab, a dinette, larger tank capacity, more outside storage, a kitchen area in the back of the RV, and an on-board toilet and shower. It too can support a rustic outdoor living experience but does provide sheltered cooking, storage, sleeping, and recreating spaces.

RV rental cost

Another benefit of small RV rentals is the total cost of the rental.  The bottom line is the larger the rig, the more they cost to rent and drive. Additionally, when renting an RV you’ll need to pay for insurance and you may want to purchase accessory packages to go with your rental.  

Those accessories could be a sleeping package, kitchen package, outdoor gear, and a host of other add-ons.  Each one is not that expensive, but together they do start to add up. So, if you’re starting with a nightly rental of $99 compared to a nightly rental of $400 to over $500 for a larger Class A motorhome or fifth wheel, the cost savings are an obvious benefit to renting a smaller compact motorhome, truck camper, or camper van.

The roads to many destinations are not big-rig friendly. Photo by P Dent

Features and ease of use

Larger vehicles come with more features like larger tanks, an entertainment center, multiple burners on the stovetop, a microwave, larger refrigerator, a generator, and more, but these added features can also complicate the use and operation of the RV.

Smaller RV rentals are best because all the complicated operational issues are kept to a minimum.  Most of them do not have leveling systems or slide-outs, two features commonly found on larger rental units that can be incorrectly used and cause damage to the vehicle.  The small RV rental units have enough features to make them completely enjoyable without the fear of “wrecking” something because you forgot a detail in the operational use of that feature.

Renting a smaller RV is best to gain access to all the remote destinations. Photo by P. Dent


One of the most obvious reasons renting a smaller RV is best is its maneuverability and the access a smaller RV will give you to remote camping destinations. A small RV is shorter, narrower, lower, lighter, and easier to drive than a large Class A or Class C motorhome, and for a novice RVer, they are certainly easier to maneuver than a fifth wheel or long travel trailer.  

Many backcountry roads are not recommended for oversized vehicles. The turning circumference of large RVs makes a narrow winding road a hazardous adventure, while the smaller camper van and truck campers are about the size of any standard truck or sedan, so they can handle just about any road condition.

State Park
Where do you want to go on your next RV trip? Photo by P. Dent

Even the compact Class C motorhome can be safely driven on most roads, across narrow bridges, through low tunnels, up and down winding roads, and into the backcountry. All of these small RVs can easily be backed up and parked by novice RVers. They fit in most campsites including rustic forest service or national park campgrounds.  

When renting a smaller RV, campers can go to all the remote places they have longed to visit and know that their travels will not be hindered by the size of their rental. The small RVs are best because they give you full access to almost any location anywhere in the US and Canada, and after all, isn’t that why someone rents an RV in the first place?

RV rentals

Check out these RV rental companies for small RV rentals:

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