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Old 02-26-2018, 11:03 AM   #1
EricHarmon
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What RV length is the "correct" length for a given model?

Hi, my wife and I are shopping for our first RV, and we've pretty well settled on the Montana line. I have a question that's been completely unclear to me, and yesterday got even muddier.

Some background:

Yesterday we drove a couple hours to Asheville, NC to look over some fifth wheels on the lot of a Camping World there. I'm getting really confused about lengths. For example, we looked at the Montana 3950BR, which I really like because I think an office would be immensely useful. However, I'm not crazy about a 40' 5" length for our first RV. I intended to look at the 3121RL (35' 0" long) but there weren't any on the lot.

There are two main issues I have in mind when asking the question in this post:

1) I've heard that RVs over 35' long are considered big rigs, and may be more difficult to maneuver in some campgrounds that don't "cater" to big rigs.

2) I've also heard that RVs over 40' long aren't even allowed in some campgrounds.

The salesperson at Camping World yesterday told me that you go by the first two digits in the RV model number. So the 3950BR is considered a 39 footer, while the 3121RL is considered a 31 footer. He said that the other few feet hangs over the back of the truck so it "doesn't count". I can understand that perhaps the campground isn't going to run out with a tape measure to measure the exact length of the RV, so is it indeed true that the 3121RL is going to "act like" a 31 footer? Or do I go by a manufacturer specs, and treat the 3121RL as a 35 footer?

If I go by the manufacturer specs, then what is the 3950BR? Is it a 40 footer or a 41 footer?

Thank you so much in advance for helping to clear this up for me.
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:19 AM   #2
adams7806
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We have a 2016 3160RL and it is 35'6" long. When we go to a campground we always look for sites that can accommodate that length. Even though some of the length hangs over the front, it still counts!
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:24 AM   #3
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We have a 3121RL and it is exactly 35' long. The model numbers are not a accurate reflection of the length. See the manufacturers specs and trust them over what a salesperson tells you.
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:31 AM   #4
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Eric,

You need to look at the specs to get the length and then that is suspect at time. The size of your rig is a personal decision. Need to ask yourself; where do you want to camp, do you need other beds, do you have a size constraint where you plan to store, what are you comfortable pulling and what kind of truck do you plan to pull with. There is not a lot of difference in pulling or backing any of the Montanas from 35-42 feet. Nor is the price difference huge. We went with a 35 foot model based on storage constraints and it is the perfect size for 2 people. There are some campgrounds that it is easier to get a 35 footer in but you will still find plenty of spots for a 40 footer. The one type campground that size matters a little more than others are national parks and some state parks.
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:50 AM   #5
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We have looked at hundreds of rigs and like previous posts you can’t trust the model number to reflect length. And some folks consider the length to be king pin to tail while others say nose to tail. I don’t know which is actually correct.

We started in a slide in camper and always went larger as we traded and are now at 42’. No crime in starting small and less expensive in case you decide that you don’t like the lifestyle. Nearly everyone I ever talked to kept going larger.

We have never been turned away from a campground but you will find some locations where the sites were developed before the longerunits became so popular or were designed by government tree huggers who don’t like big rigs. But your only talking 6’ longer and the actual percentage of sites that would accommodate 35’ but not 41’ 5th wheel isn’t that large. Your going to find a lot higher percentage of sites that are too unlevel, wet, narrow etc... for ANY RV.

A longer trailer will of course weigh more and that will impact your choice of tow truck (if you want to start a really long and heated debate ask about trucks on here). You won’t notice any difference running straight down the highway but a longer unit will be a little tricker in tight spots

The big upside to a longer unit is the dramatic improvement in “livability”! Just a couple feet WILL make a dramatic difference in the feel of the interior and overall floor plan.

There are dozens of questions only you can answer that impact your choice in floor plans. It is almost an absolute certainty that there will be things you figure out that you love/hate about any unit you end up with. Everyone develops their own list of “must haves” and “deal killers” for shopping and those lists evolve over time. You can be almost assured that if you like the lifestyle your first rig won’t be your last!
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:08 PM   #6
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2X what mtlakejim said.

Plus when not in a tight spot the longer the rig the easer it is to backup. The longer the distance from the king pin to the center of the trailer wheels the easer it is to back. Just ask any professional truck driver.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:10 PM   #7
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Okay you are trusting a bunch of strangers for advice on such a big purchase.

Going down the road there is not a lot of difference between 35 and 40 foot. Now parking is another matter. on a 40 foot things happen slower than on a 35 foot. ie the shorter the camper the faster it reacts to turns backing up. Our is 40.5 feet long. Some sites you may have to park in overflow parking. Best advice I can give is don't look at length as much as what floor plan you like the best. if you get is down to 2 floor plans, one is longer than the other-- get the longer one. I cannot tell how many times DW went for the shorter one only to say it was too small after having it for short while. Then after you get the one you want got get the truck to pull it.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:11 PM   #8
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We have a 331 rlt. The specs says its 36.5 feet long. The actual measurement from pin to bumper is 39.6 long. We are looking at a new unit and the dealer says they can make what ever length we want on the registration. so we are going with 40 foot on the new one thats specs at 42.5 feet but from pin to bumper is 43.9 feet. That gets us in our rv park as they use the registration for length call outs. Don't go by the specs, there not right.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynemoore View Post
2X what mtlakejim said.

Plus when not in a tight spot the longer the rig the easer it is to backup. The longer the distance from the king pin to the center of the trailer wheels the easer it is to back. Just ask any professional truck driver.
you were just a bit faster typing than me!!!


BTW you know you are obligated to come back and tell us what you settled on.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:40 PM   #10
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RUN! don't walk away from CW and that salesman. The model number has NOTHING to do with the length. If he tells you it does, then anything else he tells you is suspect. The Montana specs list the length of each model. However the don't include the ladder and pin box extension. This usually adds 12" to 14"

CW has a bad reputation here and if you read a while you will see why. Try to find a dealer who will support you when you need assistance.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:47 PM   #11
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All the above. You absolutely can not go by the model number. Montana web shows lengths for each model. And virtually all are longer than that implied by the model number.

40’+ is generally not a problem in private RV parks. But in federal, state, city, and COE parks it can be. Many have some sites that will handle those in the 40’ range. But often the number is limited and those tend to be taken first. Many of those parks have length limits less than 40’ so good idea to check first if you go that long.
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl n susan View Post
RUN! don't walk away from CW and that salesman. The model number has NOTHING to do with the length. If he tells you it does, then anything else he tells you is suspect. The Montana specs list the length of each model. However the don't include the ladder and pin box extension. This usually adds 12" to 14"

CW has a bad reputation here and if you read a while you will see why. Try to find a dealer who will support you when you need assistance.
Camping World does get a bad rep. And most of the time rightly so BUT they move far more units than anyone else for a reason, you wonít beat their price if you work them hard against other dealers. While service after the sale does have value, you will have to decide for yourself what that value is worth to you. For me it is very little as I know once the warranty work is done. I can take the camper to a service ONLY shop for repairs or do it myself. Some will argue that the dealer will prioritize you over others if you buy from them but personally I havenít experienced that. Sales dealers only do service because they have too! Find a good repair only shop if you want it done right and fast!
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Old 02-26-2018, 02:06 PM   #13
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Carry a tape measure with you at all times when looking at a RV that is the only way to get the correct length. Purchase the Rv that meets your needs.When you book a CG look at the CG specs and what size rigs they can handle. Driving it ,parking it, backing is something you will learn to do no matter what the length. We are not a fan of CW to purchase a RV BUT your skill as a negotiator will determine the price you pay.If you travel a lot 's CW are all over the country and service may be easier.There are good dealers and there are bad dealers CW is no exception.
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Old 02-26-2018, 02:10 PM   #14
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What I've noticed with the Montana, almost every one is at least 40' overall, no matter what model number says, so when booking, tell them it's 40'.
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Old 02-26-2018, 04:29 PM   #15
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We always let the CG know we are 40 feet /4 slides when booking.We have not been turned away for a very long time.
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Old 02-26-2018, 06:44 PM   #16
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We have a 3950BR and yes there are some older campgrounds you may not fit in but it has not been a problem. When I get reservations I call it 40'.
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Old 02-26-2018, 06:45 PM   #17
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My 340bh is 40 feet so go with the spec sheet. And stay away from camping world. Check out rv outlet in ring gold Virginia.
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Old 02-26-2018, 07:36 PM   #18
CaptnJohn
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My 370BR is over 42' so one theory does not work.


My last 3 5ers bought at CW in Myrtle Beach. Best price (sold the most units of all CWs in 2017) and great service too.
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:20 PM   #19
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Keep in mind Montana measures length from the center of the kingpin to the end of the rear bumper. You will have a foot or so of "nose" ahead of the kingpin and the extra distance of the ladder can add some length also. The rear cap on a legacy sticks out even further, as does their ladder My 2015 3100 rl is actually 2 feet longer than the specs call for. As for length and parking, a lot depends upon where you want to park. Many Corp of engineers and state parks will have limited spaces available for extra long rigs. Most commercial RV parks will have plenty of room. Some places won't let you park your truck on the grass, so even though your trailer may fit the spot your TV may preclude you from being able to park near your trailer. It seems that many of the campgrounds around the lakes were built many years ago and even though they may have a deep site they may be difficult to back into due to trees or rocks in inoppertune locations. Perhaps instead of slide outs they need to make slide ups so that we can have the room of a 40' trailer in 30' Long one!
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtlakejim View Post
Camping World does get a bad rep. And most of the time rightly so BUT they move far more units than anyone else for a reason, you wonít beat their price if you work them hard against other dealers. While service after the sale does have value, you will have to decide for yourself what that value is worth to you. For me it is very little as I know once the warranty work is done. I can take the camper to a service ONLY shop for repairs or do it myself. Some will argue that the dealer will prioritize you over others if you buy from them but personally I havenít experienced that. Sales dealers only do service because they have too! Find a good repair only shop if you want it done right and fast!
I have to agree with Carl and his comments on CW. There are VERY FEW CWs that actually know what they are doing in the way of sales or service. There are a few but VERY FEW! They have a tendency to sell and that is it. I agree with Carl and run from this salesman and find someone and another dealer that knows what he/she is talking about. When I go out and look at new units and a salesperson approaches me the first thing I ask him/her is do you own an rv? If they say "yes", I them ask them what size and kind? I also ask them what they tow it with IF it is a towable unit and not a Class A, B, or C. Most salespersons will tell you anything to make a sale period!
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