9 Best & 3 Worst RV Brands Out There
If you’re considering buying an RV, you know that they are expensive. And that makes sense; after all, you’re buying a home on wheels. It’s a big commitment, and you owe it to yourself—and your pocketbook—to put in the requisite research. You want to make sure that you get the right RV for you, and from a brand you can trust.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’d love to introduce you to the 9 of the best brands, as well as three of the worst, so you can be sure to avoid purchasing an RV from a brand you can’t trust.
These brands are varied; some of them are some of the oldest RV sellers, whereas others are only a decade old or younger. Regardless of their age, however, each of the RV brands examined below has a great track record of designing and selling fantastic RVs. Innovation, quality, and craftsmanship are incredibly important. Keep in mind, of course, that this is our personal list, and you may choose to go with a brand not on this list. Ultimately, trust your gut and your research, as well as user reviews and other actual RV owners. Before buying any RV do a thorough walk-through, ask questions, and see if you can take it for a test drive. Many RVs can be rented, so you can try a model similar to the one you’re interested in purchasing and take notes.
Lastly, we’re listing the brands below alphabetically; each of the 9 is well-established, well-respected, and makes great RVs. Lastly, we’ll conclude with 3 brands we recommend not giving your business.
Alright, on to the 9 best:
Airstream is one of the oldest RV manufacturers, and as such, have long prided themself on continually pushing the boundaries and perpetually improving their designs. The original lightweight travel trailers, Airstream campers have long been ingenuitive in their use of space; everything in an Airstream is built with functionality in mind. And this has been true since Airstream’s first models hit the road in the thirties; those earliest models, should you ever get the chance to examine one, are still incredibly functional. It is that functionality that guarantees any Airstream you might purchase will never go out of style, because style isn’t the point of an Airstream. Instead, function is—and few brands are as reliably functional as Airstream.
So if you’re looking for timeless function, modern lines, and no wasted space, Airstream is the brand for you. Beside their travel trailer line, their touring coaches—the Atlas and Interstate lines—combine Mercedes-Benz quality and glamor with Airstream function. Like their travel trailers, Airstream interiors are elegant, well-furnished, loaded with amenities. And you can count on great views; Airstreams specialize in wide window frames, allowing for plenty of scenic views.
2. Dutchmen Brands
Dutchmen in and of themselves are a great RV brand, but they also make RVs under other brand labels. Among those best brands are the following:
- Dutchmen themselves. One of the best manufacturers in the industry, they produce travel trailers, expandables, fifth wheels, and toy haulers. This brand offers travel trailers with extensive storage space, extreme comfort with a touch of coziness. The design and decor their trailers provide ensures they feels like a home. They are well built in mostly aluminum, and lightweight while producing good quality and reliability. A great number of these travel trailers provide bunkhouse floorplans, ideal for families of numerous occupants. Simultaneously, they are also offered in small sizes and in ideal floor plans for couples seeking comfort in camping. The weight of these travel trailers are average and as such, are most often best towed by a large vehicle.
- Aerolite is a brand operated by Dutchmen, and offers astonishing travel trailers with up to 10 different floor plans. As the name implies, Aerolite is known for its lightweight builds, as well as for its easy towing and compact designs. Most of the floorplans provide great spacious room and entertainment, as well as extra storage space. The interior design and decor are offered in up to 3 various options to choose from, and essentially appear elegant in style, comfortable, and well furnished. This brand is ideal for any size families and couples seeking lightweight solutions with great living space and an almost luxurious touch without being extreme.
- Atlas. With the features you’ll find in the Atlas fifth wheel and travel trailers, like the massive kitchen island and ample pantry storage, Master Chef kitchen, and residential-size 60×80 queen beds, you’ll have everything you need to explore the world that awaits.
- Coleman. This line consists of 5 different models: Coleman Lantern LT, Coleman Lantern, Coleman Light LX, Coleman Light, and Coleman Light Elevated, each providing a range of floorplans to choose from. This brand offers trailers built in extensively aluminum framed walls, residential grade vinyl flooring, and hardwood maple cabinet doors. The style and decor of these trailers provide a warm and cozy feel with an elegant touch. They provide plenty of storage, particularly providing such space as under sleeping beds and in overhead cabinets. A few of these floorplans are designed uniquely and provide up to 2 expandable sofas, further used for extra sleeping space at night and immense living space throughout the day. The average shipping weight of this brand’s trailers starts from 3,000 lbs and works up to 7,000 lbs.
- Denali.From the moment you step inside either a Denali fifth wheel or travel trailer, you notice functional quality, from storage space to high arched interior ceilings, LED lighting and solid surface countertops to the residential sized queen or king size beds. This is one of Dutchmen’s most popular lines.
- Kodiak. Think of Kodiak as the love child of Coleman and Denali and you have a pretty good idea what to expect. This, too, is an incredibly popular brand, and offers a range of options to meet you where you are, whether that’s the expandable Kodiak Cub line or the Kodiak Ultimate.
- Rubicon. Whether travel trailer or toy hauler, the Rubicon line is again one of Dutchmen’s more popular, and with good reason. Whether looking for luxury, space, or both, the Rubicon has what you need.
3. Forest River Brands
Forest River owns quite a few brands, many of which have great reputations. Among the most favored are the following:
- Coachmen is one of their RV lines, bought in 2008. Coachmen has been making RVs for more than 50 years, and that dedication shows in their motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers. With more than 30 options, odds are good they’ll have at least one (if not several!) RVs that might pique your interest.
- Dynamax. A longtime trusted brand, legendary product integrity and customer loyalty have combined to result in a new generation of RVs, offering casual, easy living interiors with fresh décor options designed to maximize comfort and value.
- East to West. While a newer Forest River line, the quality is certainly there: the new Della Terra, for instance, was just awarded both RV Business’ 2019 Top RV Debut and RV Pro’s 2019 Best in Show.
- Flagstaff. This brand of travel trailers is manufactured by Forest River, built specifically for the benefit of an easy tow with your daily vehicle such as an SUV. The models produced of this brand include: Flagstaff Classic Super Lite, Flagstaff hard side pop-up Camper, Micro Lite, Shamrock, Sports Enthusiast Package, Flagstaff Super Lite, and Flagstaff Tent Campers. Flagstaff E-pro trailers includes various floorplans such as E12RK, E12SRK, E14FK, E15TB, E16BH, E17PR, E19BH, E19FBS, E19FD, and E19QB. The construction of these models includes 6-sided aluminum cage construction, laminated roof and walls, tinted bonded frameless windows, and more. The interior design is very standard and provides efficient comfort for living space. These trailers are ideal for both, families and couples seeking a simple taste and style. The unloaded weight ranges from 1,100 lbs up to 3,200 lbs.
- Palomino is a long-time RV manufacturer best known for their truckbed campers, but they also produce good quality travel trailers. Both their truckbed campers and trailers are affordable and utilize a lightweight construction with full amenities, as do their fifth wheels, destination trailers, and toy trailers. In general, you can expect an interior design that is immensely well furnished and includes maple hand-glazed cabinetry, which adds a comfortable feel to these lines.
- Rockwood is similarly known for excellent quality and comfort. Rockwood trailers are offered in various styles and floor plan models, such as Ultra Lite, Rockwood Roo, Mini Lite, and Geo Pro. The difference between these models is the size they come in. Ultra Lite and Mini Lite appear large in length, Geo pro appears small and compact, and Roo provides slide outs. The similarities of these trailers include their relatively lightweight designs, which offer easy towing. The unloaded vehicle weight on these models starts from 1,100lbs up to 6,500lbs. The construction Rockwood provides is mostly aluminum, with great quality cabinetry in solid wood, and extra simple features that make a difference, causing this brand to stand out in the industry. This brand is ideal for those seeking comfort with high-quality design and furnish, but without a preference for high-end luxury.
- Sonoma is yet another fantastic brand owned and operated by Forest River, with a wide range of floor plans to fit whatever your needs are. All of their models are mostly aluminum built with laminated aluminum framed floors and walls, an outside shower, overhead cabinets with glass inserts and a laundry chute per floorplan. A characteristic of this brand is its options of bunkhouse floorplans for larger families and kids. They offer extensive comfort space for living, and are ideal for any size family, for those seeking good quality design, and more.
- Wildcat is yet another well-trusted brand that offers great quality travel trailers and is owned by Forest River.
Now 50 years old, Jayco is one of the original names in trusted RVs, offering the same quality assurances now as decades ago. Even now, they still offer a 2-year warranty, twice the length of the industry standard, because they know their products are great and stand behind them in a way most companies simply cannot. Their incredible lineup includes everything from pop-ups to fifth wheels, motorhomes and toy trailers. No matter what you are looking for, odds are good Jayco can offer something that if not exactly what you need and want, sure is close if not better.
Four central tenets help Jayco maintain their status as the best of the best: Quality, in construction, engineering, and industry-leading warranty; family focus, with designs and floor plans that are just as family-centric as they were 50 years ago; awards, including the fact they’ve been America’s best-selling travel trailer 13 consecutive years now; and sustainability, including EcoAdvantage touches on every product and the little things that help you save money and gas mileage.
They also offer a fantastic buying guide, designed to help you find the RV that fits your needs best.
Newmar was created by RV people for RV people. As a company, they were founded under a singular, distinct vision: to make the best RVs possible. That’s because their founders, Marvin Newcomer and Marvin Miller, knew how much well-made, functional, innovative recreational vehicles mean to the people who own them. They were RV enthusiasts themselves and had experienced firsthand the passion and enthusiasm which a great RV can create.
And that passion shows in their RVs. An Amish and Mennonite company, Newmar takes the same quiet pride in their motorhomes you might expect upon learning their Mennonite and Amish heritage. As they say on their site, “we take pride in every rivet, weld, and mechanical function.”
That shows in each of their lineups’ offerings. Newmar builds homes you can drive, rather than something you drive and can live in. That distinction may seem minor—until you step inside a Newmar, that is. Each of their 11 coaches is a dream, well-built, sure, but more than that, well-crafted. They feel like homes. Luxury homes, to be exact. And Newmar supports their customers as if they were family, with a standard one-year warranty, sure, but also a five-year limited warranty and fantastic customer service.
6. Northwood Manufacturing
Founded in 1993, Northwood is one of the best examples of Pacific Northwest ingenuity, as well as one of the first RV manufacturers to break through the stranglehold the Midwest once had on the industry. Located just outside La Grande, Oregon, beside the scenic Blue Mountains, Northwood RVs reflect the mountains they’re built alongside. Northwood builds sturdy, dependable, truly four-season equipment. Not only do the fully insulated holding tank areas circulate warm area around the suspended tanks to provide protection from freezing in frigid conditions, but the knife valves are also enclosed to protect them from freezing. A combination of rigid foam, batten, and reflective foil insulation helps keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Similarly, Northwood products are designed with energy efficiency in mind, making great use of LED lighting, and offering solar options.
And the interiors are similarly well built. Not only are the cabinets solid wood and beautiful, but they’re anchored to the RV walls, making both the RV and the cabinets stronger. Odds are good the cabinets in whatever Northwood RV you choose may well be better than the cabinets in your home!
7. Oliver Travel Trailers
While lacking the experience of some of these other brands, what Oliver can offer is absolute top-notch construction. For instance, ever Oliver travel trailer is built with four distinct fiberglass shells: two inner shells and two outer shells. This is in addition to the original aluminum frame! As a result, these travel trailers are perfect for four-season living in a way most other brands simply cannot match.
The double hull functions much as double pane windows would, and when combined with the Dometic Penguin 2 furnace that comes standard, the Oliver stays toasty even on the coldest nights. Additional composite materials built into the shells combined with the use of reflective and insulating materials and an air gap between the 2 shells not only helps keep the interior at comfortable levels it also helps to prevent condensation from forming on the inside.
Similarly, the unique double hull construction helps add additional towing stability, and marine-grade components help ensure everything lasts. As Oliver notes, “Even our frame and entry steps are built of aluminum for a ‘No Steel, No Rust, No Maintenance’ factor.” Incredible storage capacity is built seamlessly into the design, and Olivers are designed so that you can live in them off-grid if you so desire as well, with large freshwater and wastewater tanks, a battery bank, two 20-pound propane tanks (which can be upgraded to 30-lb tanks) and even optional solar packages and remote freshwater refill capacity.
Pleasure-Way builds custom Class B motorhomes on completed Ford, Chevrolet, and Mercedes chassis’. They have a very high standard for quality control, every single coach made is audited, and every craftsman’s work must meet their rigorous standards and testing. And that sort of quality control comes through in their customers’ experiences; never have I heard a single person badmouth Pleasure-Way, so well-respected are their vehicles.
And with good reason! Not only is everything built to order (there are no construction lines with Pleasure-Way, only craftsmen doing great work), but it is all custom work. On average, it takes six weeks and over four hundred man hours to finish just one Pleasure-Way motorhome! Pleasure-Way’s unique construction process strays very far away from most recreational vehicles manufacturers that mass produce thousands of coaches in a fraction of the time, and that differences results in a higher quality construction.
The construction of Pleasure-Way motorhomes involves measuring, constructing and hand-fitting custom made parts onto each individual chassis. Even though all chassis of a particular make and model, such as Mercedes-Benz or Ram, appear to be identical to each other, there can be slight tolerance differences in the body by up to a quarter of an inch, and Pleasure-Way accounts for those differences with their custom work, by hand fitting and trimming each individual part, from running boards to wall partitions, to perfectly fit each particular coach. Once the specific piece has been custom fit, it will be serialized with that particular coachís chassis vehicle identification number and it will be installed later in the production process to that exact unit.
Oh, and did we mention they’re Canadian? You just get a different level of service with Pleasure-Way. Unfortunately, however, they at this time only make Class B motorhomes.
One of the oldest RV brands in the country (first founded in 1958!), Winnebago has more than earned the trust of RVers the world over. Not only are their coaches, fifth wheels, travel trailers, and more all well-built, but Winnebago also offers some of the best after-sale service in the industry, including extended warranties and 24-hour roadside assistance. Additionally, they do a much better job than most RV brands in supporting their customers in finding the right fit for their budget and lifestyle. For instance, they actually run a separate site designed entirely to help RVers determine what they need from an RV in four simple questions: 1)Will it meet my needs? 2) Is it built to last? 3) What happens down the road? And 4) What kind of company stands behind it?
Winnebago can help you answer all four of those questions for yourself, and their wide range of options means you can find what you need, regardless of your budget and travel plans.
For instance, they offer 4 different travel trailers, such as the Minnie Plus and Minnie, ideal for families of 4 occupants, and the Micro Minnie and Minnie Drop, ideal for single or couple adventurers. The floorplans and interior designs of all four models range from simple to average and are ideal for those acquiring a minimal taste in design. These travel trailers are equipped with all necessities for comfortable living. The average weight rating of the Winnebago models start from 2,000 lbs and work up to 6,500 lbs in dry weight. And that’s just their travel trailers!
The 3 Worst RV brands ( In Our Humble Opinion)
As for the worst? The worst RV brands tend not to stay in business very long, fortunately, as people notice when the quality isn’t up to par.
There are a few brands we recommend avoiding, however:
- Gulfstream. Gulfstream used to have a good reputation; however, in recent years, a number of customers have complained of leaks. That’s not something you want to deal with on your camping trip. After all, isn’t part of the point of an RV getting out of the rain?
- Fleetwood. Fleetwood again is a manufacturer that once held a great reputation. Now, though, customers are starting to note that their interiors don’t hold up, requiring expensive repairs as the wear and tear is greater than should be but generally occurs after the warranty has run out.
- Hurricane. Fortunately, Hurricane RVs haven’t been around all that long, and at the rate they’re going, they won’t last long, either. Some customers report it appears as if their RVs were built with repurposed parts, and that’s not something any reasonable person is going to put up with for long.