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What Is a Mini Motorhome?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated May 23, 2024
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The term "mini motorhome" typically refers to a type of motorized recreational vehicle (RV) that is constructed on a light truck or van chassis. These RVs can be identified by their largely unmodified light truck or van cabs in addition to cab-over bunks or storage areas. They are usually referred to as class C motorhomes, as the term "mini motorhome" can be somewhat misleading. The longest class C motorhomes are shorter than the largest class A motorhomes, but they can still reach well over 30 feet (9 meters) in length. A mini motorhome can also contain all of the same amenities as the class A variety, including generators, slide-outs and bathroom facilities.

There are three main classifications commonly used to differentiate types of motorhomes. Class A motorhomes are the biggest of the three, as they are built on a medium duty truck or van chassis. These motorhomes can exceed 40 feet (12 meters) in length and are also among the tallest RVs, aside from fifth wheels and bus conversions. Class B motorhomes, or camper vans, are on the opposite end of the spectrum. These RVs often contain bathroom and kitchen facilities, though they usually maintain a similar form factor to unmodified vans.

Class C motorhomes are in the middle of the other two designations where size is concerned, since they are built on light duty frames but can be much longer than traditional vans. The shortest models are around 20 feet (6 meters) in length, though the longest are closer to 35 feet (10 meters). Most mini motorhomes feature an unmodified van cab, which is the easiest way to visually identify this class of RV. The body of a mini motorhome is typically both wider and taller than the cab, and they usually include some type of cab-over bunk area. This can allow even a casual observer to tell the difference between a bus-like class A and a mini motorhome.

One primary benefit of the mini motorhome is the extra storage or sleeping space offered by the cab-over component. This extra bunk can allow a class C motorhome to have more sleeping accommodations than a comparably sized class A. The van cab and overhead bunk can negatively impact the interior living space though, as most class A motorhomes are capable of rotating both the driver and passenger seats for use when the vehicle is parked. In the case of most class C motorhomes, the driver and passenger seats are only useful when actually driving the vehicle.

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Discussion Comments

By gimbell — On Sep 05, 2011

@VivAnne - I think the answer to your question will vary a lot depending on who you ask. Neither mini motor homes or regular ones are better, they're just two options for people who prefer a smaller more portable motor home or a larger one that potentially has more space inside.

If you like portability and think of less space as cozy, a mini motor home is better for you. If you are one of those people who wants to practically have your house along while camping (kind of defeats the purpose of leaving home to vacation, in my humble opinion) and don't care that it will take more effort to transport, then a regular motor home is ideal for you.

By VivAnne — On Sep 04, 2011

Okay, so mini motor homes can have all of the same traits -- generators and such -- they can be the same length as a small ordinary motor home, and they can have even more beds than one. Is the only different between the two the way the mini motor home is put onto the chassis, or is there some hidden advantage to a regular motor home, here?

Also, are there any big price differences between a mini motor home and a regular motor home?

I'm trying to decide which one to buy, and I would love to understand the differences between the two better so that I can make an educated decision. The article helped get a clear idea of the sizes mini motor homes can be and such, I just wonder whether they or the ordinary ones are considered "better".

By laukkonen — On Sep 04, 2011

I've never had trouble sleeping in a cabover bunk, and I'm not usually fond of tight spaces. They just don't seem that confined, since one whole side of the space is open to the main living space of the motorhome. My motorhome is a class A, but that's for other reasons.

By ahain — On Sep 03, 2011

@SkittisH - I have slept in one of the over the cab beds, and yes, they're extremely close to the ceiling. If you've got a problem with close quarters and feeling claustrophobic, I advise that you go for a full size motor home and not a miniature motor home.

As for the comfort level, if you don't mind having your face inches from the ceiling it's not bad. The mattress comfort would probably rely on the individual motor home model, but the one I slept on was quite comfortable. After a long day of hiking and doing other camping activities, it was great to get into a bed instead of sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag.

By SkittisH — On Sep 02, 2011

I always wondered if a big mini motorhome had a comparable amount of space instead to a small regular one. The over the cab thing for a bunk bed sounds nice in theory, but are they comfortable to sleep on? I would imagine it's terribly claustrophobic up near the ceiling like that.

Has anybody here actually slept in one? Was it comfortable?

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