Do you have a need for speed in order to explore hard-to-reach places or to simply have a little fun? Then you’re probably the owner of some off-road vehicles (ORVs) or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) such as quads and dirt bikes. But maybe you prefer mountain bikes, small boats, canoes, motorcycles, and even gliders. And the perfect way to bring these toys along on your travels is with a sport utility RV, also commonly known as a toy hauler.

Let’s talk about choosing a sport utility RV. This type of recreation vehicle presents the best of both worlds: a space to hold equipment and gear for your favorite outdoor hobbies, and a decent – sometimes downright luxurious – living space. Plus, the back of the trailer folds down to be used as a ramp so that you can easily load and unload your “toys.” If you are considering a sport utility RV or would like to make a change or upgrade to your current choice of RV, then consider these questions as you conduct your research to find the perfect one:

  1.  Where will I be most of the time?
    Where you spend your time will help determine the size of the sport utility RV, as they can range from 16 feet to over 40 feet. If you are going to be outside a lot, then a smaller towable trailer with a simple living space, which might also double as the cargo area, may be all you need. These have tighter floor plans and smaller amenities, but they still offer a place to sleep, cooking conveniences, and a wet bath. Some of these smaller sport utility RVs also offer slide outs to give you more room.
    If you’re bringing the toys along but a lot of your time will be spent in the RV, too, then find a sport utility RV with more of the comforts of home. This might entail looking at larger sport utility RVs with dedicated cargo bays separate from the living quarters. These can be trailers –travel trailers or fifth wheels – or motorhomes. When that space is not in use, it can act as an additional living area, a kids’ playroom, or even an extra spot to sleep.
  2. Should I get a travel trailer or fifth wheel?
    Generally, sport utility RVs that are fifth wheels maneuver and tow more easily than sport utility RV travel trailers, but they do cost more. The sport utility RV fifth wheels will provide you and your fellow travelers with more space whereas a sport utility RV travel trailer’s design will try to conserve space. The other option is to go with a motorhome. Dealers will be able to offer you more insight and advice to help with making this decision.
  3. Can my tow vehicle handle it?
    Let’s say your heart is set on a sport utility RV travel trailer that is 34 feet long. Can your current tow vehicle handle the weight of the trailer and all the stuff you’re going to pack inside? You might need to upgrade your vehicle or consider revisiting your wish list for your sport utility RV so that you can keep your current tow vehicle.
  4. A sport utility RV for all seasons?
    The time of year you will be using your sport utility RV and where you are geographically (northern Michigan is a lot different from southern Ohio) will help determine what utilities and structural features you need to be on the lookout for. If you’re mostly into winter sports, or plan to use the sport utility RV for full-time living or year-round camping trips, then you’ll need to find one that will provide you with adequate protection as well as a build meant to withstand colder weather. This includes such things as heated tanks, insulated tank areas, enclosed dump valves, heated water lines, and additional insulation. Again, don’t hesitate to speak with dealers and with other RV owners about what you might need.

You really have your choice of floor plans from the country’s RV manufacturers. You just need to start looking and asking questions. Once you have the sport utility RV of your dreams, go out and make some memories. In a future article, we’ll feature several hot spots in Michigan to go off-road. In the meantime, take a look at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website for PDF maps of ORV/ATV trails around the state.