The RV lifestyle has many different definitions. Some use it for quality family time. Others like to find peaceful, relaxing places to escape the chaos of their daily lives. Those who want to shoot the rapids, get some major airtime, or throttle through the fresh powder. A Toy Hauler RV is the ideal coach for outdoor enthusiasts that love outdoor adventure sports vehicles and equipment.
Hang with us and chill as we take you through the many features and benefits of toy haulers. We’ll show you the RV categories and garage versions they come in. You’ll also learn about what to expect in the living space and why they’re better for some lifestyles.
- Toy Hauler floor plans exist in every category except truck campers and Class B motorhomes.
- Toy Hauler floor plans exist in every category except truck campers and Class B motorhomes.
- The loading ramp doubles as an outdoor patio.
- Rear loader garages double as independent living spaces.
- Some campgrounds don’t allow ATVs or motorcycles on the property.
What is a Toy Hauler and Characteristics
A toy hauler is a specialized RV that contains a space to haul adventure toys like ATVs, snowmobiles, kayaks, and other big sports equipment. You’ll find this type of floor plan in every RV category except truck campers and Class B motorhomes.
The term “garage” is the reference used within the industry for the space to haul the adventure toys. Small categories have a platform in front of the coach, while more prominent RVs have a full-size rear wall that folds down that acts as a loading ramp.
The platforms and rear loaders use a non-slip, anti-scratch material in the garage area to hold the sports equipment in place. There are also many tie-down connection points to secure everything during transport.
Generally, toy haulers weigh more than their traditional counterparts. Structural components have reinforced or heavy-duty versions substituted for standard-issue parts. The coaches can have a single, dual, or triple-axle. All of these changes prepare the RV for the additional weight needed for the garage’s needs.
Rear loader toy haulers have different interior living spaces than traditional RVs. The garage uses the back third of the coach. RV designers do a great job making the other two-thirds comfortable by taking advantage of multi-use furniture in the living space.
History of Toy Haulers
The popularity of toy haulers exploded in the past few decades, but there have been many attempts starting in the Classic Era (1971-1989). These forward-thinkers did their best to bring their concepts to market, but the public wasn’t ready.
The first toy hauler RV dates back to 1974. John Conde of Marcellus, Michigan, built the Sky Hawk toy hauler travel trailers. The coaches came in either a 15-foot single axle or the 23-foot tandem axle. It had a gaucho sofa, stainless steel sinks, and three-burner stoves. While his RV didn’t do well, his legacy continues with his grandson, who designs toy haulers in the industry.
There have been other attempts throughout the years before toy haulers became accepted. When they became popular, most RV brands jumped into the sector with their ideas, including America’s most iconic brand.
In 2009, Airstream launched the Panamerica toy hauler. It was 34 ½ feet long and had a dry weight of 7,225 pounds. The problem with the coach was its paradoxical appeal. The primary audience of toy haulers at that time were younger generations. With an MSRP over $85,000, the trailer was mostly cost-prohibitive.
The Panamerica became the modern-day GM Futurliner. Including the prototype, Airstream only produced 19. Airstream still has the prototype, and Actor Ben Affleck has one. If you ever get the chance to see one up-close-and-personal, take a picture with it because you’re looking at a rare piece of RV history.
Toy Hauler Subgroups
We will break up the toy hauler classification into three subgroups based on the garage’s properties for our purposes. When you look at the attributes, RVs have similarities when they have the same garage space type.
Front Open Rack
Pop-up toy hauler campers like the Forest River Flagstaff Sports Enthusiast 28TSCSE and some teardrops have a flat platform in front of the living space with tie-downs along the border. The platform itself has a weight limit better suited to non-motorized equipment and light vehicles. The RV and platform share the same chassis but are independent of each other.
Some teardrops like the inTech Flyer Explorer and small, lightweight toy hauler travel trailers combine the garage with the living space. Once you remove the adventure equipment, movable beds, sofas, tables, and other features take their place. While your traveling with your ATV inside, RV makers do their best to make essential amenities accessible, but the boondocking experience is limiting.
Independent Interior Garage
Bigger travel trailers, fifth wheels, Class C, and Class A toy hauler motorhomes like the Thor Outlaw 38KB have separate garage spaces from the living area. The garage doesn’t affect access to the bedroom, kitchen, or living room. Once you reach your destination and remove your adventure vehicle, the garage turns into a separate dining/bedroom due to the moving furniture.
Many RV manufacturers install climate control, entertainment components, washer/dryer prep, a bathroom, and other features making the garage as comfortable as the main living space. You can give your guest their own space and privacy.
Rear Open Deck
Open deck travel trailers like the Genesis Supreme Overnighter are new to the industry. The coach’s middle and rear is an open platform that you can secure a passenger vehicle on. The front has a contained living space with a bedroom, kitchen, and other features reminiscent of a small travel trailer.
Ideal Tow Vehicles
As you’re shopping around, looking at the various toy hauler models, before you look at any of the features or those parts that make you fall in love with it (which is easy to do), look at the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The RV manufacturer must publish the maximum weight the RV can hold due to RV regulatory authority.
The GVWR tells you how heavy the RV will be if you were to load it up to capacity. Once you know this weight, then compare it to your tow vehicle’s tow capacity. If you’re overweight or brings you to your tow capacity maximum, you’ll want to look at something lighter.
When you’re towing, there are other weights you have to consider. The GVWR does consider gear, the holding tanks (water weighs 8.34 pounds per square foot), passenger weight (but they think the average person around 150 pounds).
It’s like your coffeemaker. Your carafe may have lines that designate each cup, but those lines measure small coffee cups, not the mugs or travel mugs we actually use. While the carafe claims you can get eight cups, you might get 3 ½.
Our point is, the GVWR uses theoretical weights that may not be realistic for your circumstance. There are two “rule of thumb” methods in the RV world that veteran campers use. Either assume between 2,000-3,000 pounds above the coach’s dry weight (empty weight) or consider 30% above the coach’s dry weight for everything else. We added an extra thousand pounds and 10% for the sports adventure toys. This factors in:
- Water in the holding tanks
- Camping gear
- Personal items like clothing, toys, and misc.
- Food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies
- Weight of all people traveling in the tow vehicle
- Adventure toys
Average Weight of Motorized Toys
Loading up adventure toys like kayaks and bicycles add marginal amounts of weight in the grand scheme of things. Before you load up your motorized toys, you need to make sure their weight won’t cross over your maximum tow capacity limit. Below is a list of the average weights of the most popular motorized adventure toys people bring with them in their toy hauler.
Each brand and model has its weight. Some of these vehicles will weigh more or less than the averages below. When you’re packing up your toy hauler, don’t forget to include it in the total vehicle weight.
|Scooters: Electric||220 lb.|
|Scooters: Gas||450 lb.|
|Dirt Bikes||215 lb.|
|UTV: 2-seater||1,400 lb.|
|UTV: 4-seater||1,700 lb.|
|Golf Carts||550 lb.|
|Smart Car||1,550 lb.|
Popular RV Manufactures of Toy Hauler
Only three of the four corporate giants in the RV world build toy haulers. Currently, Forest River Inc., Thor Ind., and Winnebago Ind. build them with their subsidiaries. REV Group (owners of Fleetwood, Lance, American Coach, and others) don’t have toy haulers in production.
Several independents are doing great things in the toy hauler category. Genesis Supreme builds travel trailers, fifth wheels, and an open deck RV called the Overnighter that redefines toy haulers’ possibilities. The open deck lets you tow a vehicle like a car dolly, while the front end has a full-feature RV living space.
|Aluminum Trailer Company||Independent|
|Coachmen||Forest River Inc.|
|Crossroads RV||Thor Ind.|
|Cruiser RV||Thor Ind.|
|Forest River||Forest River Inc.|
|Glacier Ice House||Independent|
|Grand Design||Winnebago Ind.|
|Highland Ridge||Thor Ind.|
|Ice Castle Fish House||Independent|
|KZ RV||Thor Ind.|
|Luxe Fifth Wheels||RV Factory|
|Palomino||Forest River Inc.|
|Thor Motor Coach||Thor Ind.|
|Weekend Warrior||RV Factory|
Toy Hauler Standard Features Expectations
Since toy haulers range from teardrops to mammoth fifth wheels and Class A motorhomes, the complexity of identifying the standard features by class would be insurmountable. For our purposes, we’ll limit this section to travel trailers, fifth wheels, Class C, and Class A toy haulers. The teardrop and pop-up toy hauler living spaces are independent of the front platform. If you want to learn more about their standard features or the category, check out our discussion about them.
For those looking into toy haulers with independent garage sections, you can gain a good perspective of what the living section offers.
Kitchens are going to have full setups with a sink, 2-4 burner stove, oven, microwave, and refrigerator. You’ll find additional counter space with sink basin lids, stove covers, and flip-up end pieces. There will be space and electric outlets for your coffeemaker or other cooking devices
The living room usually has a sofa that’s a multi-use space. It folds-out for guest sleeping and has removable pedestal tables. Bigger versions will have an LED fireplace that has a 5,000 BTU built-in heater.
Master beds will range from full to king-size. There will be clothing storage such as drawers and wardrobe closets. Luxury level versions will have closets for a washer and dryer. Class A motorhome and 5th wheel toy haulers with 2 bedrooms in the floor plan have a loft space that’s ideal for children. Space exists between the garage and the back of the living area.
The majority of toy haulers will have dry bathrooms. Smaller travel trailers will use the kitchen sink as the bathroom sink to save space. Conversely, large fifth-wheels will have a bath and a half or two full bathrooms, where the garage has it’s a bathroom.
Toy haulers will have the same freshwater, grey, and black holding tanks as their counterparts. Some brands, like the Heartland Fuel toy hauler, have 30-gallon gas tanks installed. Many of the ATV and snowmobile trails are in remote places. Having this tank on board allows you to refill your motorized adventure vehicle safely to continue the fun.
Throughout this discussion, we’ve talked about the garage. There are pass-through and other types of exterior bays on many of the various models. You’ll also find a lot of interior cabinetry and strategic storage space under the furniture.
RV manufacturers don’t let space go to waste. When the first models came out in the Neo-Classic Era (1990-2007), many models came with convertible sofas that make into queen-size beds for guests. Today, garages have become independent living spaces. You’ll find two queen-size bunks, washer/dryer prep, bathrooms, climate control, LED TVs, and other features.
If you want a patio space, it’s as easy as propping up the ramp. Dining al fresco, mosquito-free means deploying the screen door, setting up the sofa, and putting up the table.
Power and Propane
Small toy haulers rely on propane for the furnace, stove, oven, and refrigerator while traveling. The bigger luxury-level units that have LP may have propane bottles but rely primarily on electricity for everything. Inverter technology, induction stoves, and other innovations are slowly removing propane from the industry.
Toy haulers have reinforced roofs and prewiring for solar systems. You can use the plug-in port or install a complete panel system. We recommend doing your research before you install a permanent system yourself due to safety concerns.
You’ll always find a multimedia system and a wall to mount an LED TV. Many have outdoor speakers. Bigger versions will have an entertainment center in the garage and multiple TVs throughout the RV.
Depending on the size, furnaces come standard before air conditioners. Larger toy haulers will have at least one air conditioner as a standard component. RV dealers will often order smaller toy haulers with an air conditioner direct from the factory since it’s a popular feature.
Great Examples of Toy Hauler
|The Smallest Toy Hauler||Sunset Park RV Sunray Sport Package|
|The Best Motorcycle Toy Hauler||Grand Design Momentum 376THS|
|The Best Luxury Toy Hauler||New Horizons RV Majestic M48TY4S|
|The Best Teardrop Mini Toy Hauler||inTech RV Flyer Explorer|
|The Best Pop-Up Camper Toy Hauler||Forest River Rockwood 282TESP|
|The Best Ice Castle Toy Hauler||Core Ice 8025ATX|
|The Best Toy Hauler Travel Trailer||Heartland Torque T331|
|The Best Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler||Jayco Seismic 4212|
|The Best Toy Hauler Class C Motorhome||Thor Motor Coach Outlaw 29S|
|The Best Class A Diesel Toy Hauler||Newmar Canyon Star 3927 FRED*|
Matching to Your Camping Style
Positive Toy Hauler Reviews and Ratings
It is possible to use your toy hauler for full time living. Luxury toy haulers and RV categories about 35-feet do make this RV lifestyle a reality. While the living space has many of the same features as their traditional counterparts, a toy hauler’s full-timer experience will differ. You’re living in a smaller space, and you’ll have to be creative with daily routine tasks.
The garage has many purposes. Those that compete on the show dog circuits, like the American Kennel Club (AKC) or Westminster Kennel Club (WKC), find the garage the perfect space for prepping their champion. A toy hauler with 2 bathrooms gives them a tub in the garage for “operation clean dog,” and it’s easy to sweep up after grooming.
The best RV for boondocking is toy haulers. Many of the best trails, rivers, and other outdoor enthusiasts’ desired destinations are remote. Toy haulers now come prewired for solar systems. Gas generators have outlets to plug your 30 amp shore power plug. If you have a 50 amp system, some brands like Champion have a bridge device that connects two generators. The bridge device has a port for your 50 amp cord.
Toy haulers have large water holding tanks to keep you out in the wild as long as possible. We recommend using a portable holding tank to transport your waste water to a safe dump station. Use apps like RV Dump or Sanidump to locate stations nearby.
Is A Toy Hauler Worth It?
Glampers will like some of the top-end toy hauler RVs for the furniture, bedrooms, bathroom features, and kitchen components. Interior design favors darker tones and has a more rugged feel to it. Glampers may want an interior that’s brighter and more home-like. People that want more of an inside lifestyle may prefer traditional coaches where the living space is full-length.
The garage takes up the rear ⅓ of the RV. That can mean anywhere from 6 to 16 feet. The door between the garage and the living space connects to the master bedroom most of the time. For those that want to keep their bedroom sacrosanct, having guests or the kids walking through your bedroom can bring up feelings of violating your privacy.
Some campgrounds don’t allow ATVs or motorcycles on the property. Some of the reasons include safety, noise, and the possibility of harming the landscaping. Public parks with protected plant and animal life have restrictions like this too. Before you make your campground reservations, make sure you review the campground rules. The campground lists them on their website.
There are public and private parks that do have trails specifically for ATV and dirt bikes. Make sure you have active permits and any other documentation required by your state. We also urge you to wear protective gear and ride safely.
The Next Step
If you believe that a toy hauler is the RV that matches your lifestyle, we recommend renting a few of them through a peer-to-peer company like Outdoorsy or RVshare. When you rent from these companies, you’re getting an RV from real owners, not a corporate fleet. When you pick it up, the owners will walk you through the coach to show you how to operate everything.
Some owners offer additional services like driving the RV to the campground and setting it up for you. When you rent, we recommend trying a different brand and floorplan each time to maximize each experience. For example, you could try a Forest River Wolf Pup toy hauler, then a Keystone Raptor toy hauler, and finally a Grand Design Momentum toy hauler fifth wheel.
With this firsthand knowledge and the unbiased reviews you’ve read on the RV Troop website, you’ll have enough confidence to walk into your local RV dealer ready to buy your coach.
After your purchase, make sure to keep up-to-date with our website to learn more about the RV lifestyle. We’ll show you the best tips and tricks that veterans use every day. You’ll also gain insight from experts and customer reviews on the RV world’s latest products and accessories.
Welcome to the RV lifestyle!