Jump to content

Class A vs Fifth Wheel

Recommended Posts

My husband and I have been full timers in a 2015 Class A 35 ft Itasca Sunstar. We love this unit but we can not winter camp in it for in was not built for that type of camping. We are looking to sell it and go with a four season(winter package) fifth wheel. Can someone who has full timed in both give me their Pro's and Con's. I am getting a lot of mixed reviews. It does seem older people like the RV's because they can go potty while traveling. I don't feel that's a good enough reason.


We did find a Grand Design 37ft fifth wheel we really love. Any feedback on this company. I do know it's a fairly new company.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First, welcome to the Escapee forums. We are pleased that you have chosen to join us and we will do all we are able to support you and share what we know.


I'm wondering what the reason is that you can't winter camp in your Sunstar? I just looked at the specs on the Winnebago forum and it looks to have most of what we usually recommend for cold weather camping and is equipped pretty much like our class A, gasoline powered motorhome was and is about the same size. It has heated plumbing and waste tank bays, dual pane windows, and if you chose to get it, there is an "all weather upgrade package." I'm not quite sure what it is that you expect a fifth wheel to have that isn't in your present class A.


RVs come in a wide range of types with motorized in both class A & C and even the class B is occasionally lived in. The most popular are fifth wheel RV trailers because they have the most living space for the size and length, but the motorhomes have the advantage of more ready access to things while traveling and easier park and setup.


I don't really understand where you are getting the mixed reviews? Most of us believe that the type of RV we prefer is the best, but that is because we pick what fits us and our lifestyle best. We lived in our 36', gasoline powered class A that was very similar to your Sunstar (a Cruise Master) for nearly 12 years as our only home, having sold the stick house when we retired. We owned it for 14 years and spent time in it in all seasons of the year. I don't recommend your present one for a winter in the high mountains or the northern states of this country, but then there are very few RVs of any type or brand that most of us could spend a really harsh winter in comfortably.


Are you thinking of full-time RV living or just of some winter trips in your RV? We could probably give better advice if we knew a bit more about you and about what it is that you want to use the RV for.


Welcome to the group and please feel free to post, ask questions, or comment on other threads as often as you wish! :D

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think with any RV you'll have to do some additional things to comfortably winter camp. Even if they have a winter package, RVs are cold in winter. The main thing you'd want are dual pane windows and an enclosed underbelly to protect the tanks somewhat. Some advertise a 'heated' basement but usually all that is is a furnace vent. If you don't use the furnace it won't heat. Also, RV furnaces are a waste of energy. We also used a catalytic propane heater which gives nice even heat. Keeping the windows covered with foam insulation helps a lot. If you would be parking it for the winter and trying to use it, you'd have to put some kind of skirting around it. Winter camping can be tricky. Good luck!

Full-timed for 16 Years
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Motorhome
and 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th Wheel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just went from a 38' 5th+MDT to a 2015 Winnebago Vista 36Y. Just spent our first winter season in it. We do have a catalytic heater which we brought from the 5th and that is our main heat except for first thing in the morning. It has been fine, I really don't see any difference between winter camping in a MH vs. a 5th. I don't understand why you think there would be.


We were concerned about losing a lot of space going from the 5th to the MH but we have adapted. The shallow slides were out biggest problem. We wanted to add recliners and get rid of the sofa so we ended up bolting 2x4s to the slide floor and bolting the recliners to the 2x4s. Not very pretty looking but solved the problem and we can still walk through the motor home with the slides in.


The positives we see with the MH(we switched our allegiance due to age, 40 years in a trailer of some sort) is easier setup, convenience, in the AM we don't need to carry maps, papers etc. to the truck and the reverse at night. Negatives is less space than the 5th(understandable), and the low ceiling bugged us for a while. What we liked on the 5th was all the space and storage, our dislike was having to setup(for $$ we could have automated some of it) and moving stuff from the trailer to the truck each day. In actuality the MH was a lot more expensive option but it came with a lot more bells and whistles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've only fulltimed in a good brand 5th wheel. I agree with you on the going potty while underway is not safe nor desirable. However to add to the above, you need to call the manufacturer you are considering, then call your manufacturer for the Itasca and compare their R ratings for insulation on roofs and walls and floors.


See what I think is not being said is that RVs are all pretty much built the same with vacuum bonded walls with the same foam inside and pretty much the same thickness on both Motorhomes and 5th wheels with the exception of custom built buses and they are up to the builder. If you do buy another dual pane thermal windows help a bunch by eliminating all the condensation moisture inside the windows that may run down the wall and damage the wall and flooring if a lot drips. They do help with insulation and with noise making the RV much more comfy. We have had one with none and the same one with storm windows inside added and the difference was amazing.


So the bad news is that no RV has 4 inches of R-19 insulation in the sidewalls, nor 12" blown in the roof like a house. In very cold weather under 30 degrees we always stay where we have electric hookups because the furnace will drain the batteries pretty quick alone, and the propane runs out weekly or a bit less unless we have at least one 1500 watt ceramic little electric heaters on.


The insulation, or lack in most RVs also counts as much in summer when running the A/C. However some folks have a basement A/C larger unit or two rooftops, even three so that can be worked around by a lot of bucks.


Bottom line is that you can be cozy but it will cost in fuel or power, and those windows and any custom "Polar" packages offered may help too.


Like the smaller water heaters that run out of water much faster than big home water heaters, we have to adapt and take short showers in most RVs except those with the instant on water heaters, it takes some extra investment in as much insulation in windows and doors as you can order, but they will never be as insulated as a recently built home with fiberglass 4" thick or better.


Hope that helps.

http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998

When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius


“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know where you plan to winter at, but we have wintered now in the south for 6 years. We are in a class A and with no experience with a 5th wheel, cannot compare. We do have heated bays and we do leave our furnace set at 60 at night. We do not use much propane over a winter as we aren't in an area that gets below 40 for many days during that time. We use an electric heater during the day. I think no matter which unit you have, you learn where your cold comes from and make changes to help the unit retain more heat. We are happy with our choice of a Class A. Now if we were going to stop traveling, a 5th wheel would be great to put on a lot or a piece of property more permanently. The interior is more like a home.

Pat DeJong

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think no matter which unit you have, you learn where your cold comes from and make changes to help the unit retain more heat.

Or, at least, feel like you need less heat. Like the throw rug I put under my desk to make my feet feel warmer. It was just enough too long to curl up a bit at the ends thus blocking drafts while also insulating my feet from the colder floor. That let me set my thermostat a bit lower than I would have otherwise.


Linda Sand

Blog: http://sandcastle.sandsys.org/

Former Rigs: Liesure Travel van, Winnebago View 24H, Winnebago Journey 34Y, Sportsmobile Sprinter conversion van

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Fifth wheel will have more living space when setup as compared to a Class A of the same length.


Considering you will likely spend more time LIVING in the RV than DRIVING it, that fact may or may not weigh in your decision.


No matter what you decide, it will be your best decision until you decide otherwise. Lacking experience, you will likely learn pretty quickly YOUR set of pros and cons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've RVed in a C-class, A-class, and 5th wheel. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. For full-timing, we prefer the 5th wheel due to it's expanded living area, less money tied up in an engine that's not being used, and a high-end 5th wheel is less expensive than a high-end A-class. For potty breaks, every trip I look and plan for pull-over stops along the way whether that's a fuel stop, rest stop, picnic area, or just a lay-by and those are plugged into my GPS. Even with an A-class, the driver has to pull over somewhere.

Rex & Karen

Libre y pobre en La Casa Rodante

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

RVers Online University


Our program provides accurate individual wheel weights for your RV, toad, and tow vehicle, and will help you trim the pounds if you need to.

Dish For My RV.

RV Cable Grip

RV Cable Grip

All the water you need...No matter where you go

Rv Share

RV Air.

Find out more or sign up for Escapees RV'ers Bootcamp.

Advertise your product or service here.

The Rvers- Now Streaming

RVTravel.com Logo

  • Create New...