So you want to join me for an RV tailgate, but you are just shopping for an RV? You’ve got a blank slate in which to work instead of trying to adapt a current RV into a tailgating RV. So let’s take a look at the best features for RVs specifically for tailgating.
There are thousands of RVs out there from you to choose from, so let’s take a look at what the important features are to help you narrow down what you want in an RV!
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Why RV Tailgating is the Best Tailgating
If you’ve found us before here at RV Tailgate Life, you already know – RV tailgating is the best tailgating!
You make lifelong friends, better than most tailgates.
Because you spend more time with these people.
Here in the South, at non-NFL stadiums/parking lots, it is get there on Friday (or Thursday or even Wednesday) for a Saturday game and don’t leave until Sunday.
You’ll make great friends and a lifetime of memories.
But you can’t have an RV tailgate without the RV. So let’s take a look at what you should be searching for.
See Also: 10 Things to Know About RV Tailgating
Searching for the Best Tailgating RV
One thing that I like to do when I’m searching for an RV (or just daydreaming about the next RV!) is to take a look at RVT.com listings.
In one place online, you can look across dealerships all over the country, at new and used RVs to see what you think you might like. Get a feel for the different prices and different features, then narrow it down to a couple that you want to check out in person.
Then take a daytrip to the RV dealerships to see if they have one similar to your perfect RV. But don’t feel like you have to buy from that dealership. I like to step foot in the make and preferably the model to see what I like or don’t like. Sometimes, I find that what I thought I wanted after looking at the online reviews I really didn’t want after seeing it in person.
So then I return to RVT.com to continue looking and eventually find the best deal anywhere in the country.
Motorhome or Towable RV?
When you are starting with a blank slate, one of the first questions you’ll need to answer is whether you should get a motorhome or a towable RV.
Motorhomes are going to be the self-propelled RVs – the ones with their own engines like a Class A or Class C motorhome. Meanwhile, a towable RV is going to be one that does not have its own engine and will need a truck or large SUV to tow it.
The answer to this is going to depend on several factors:
- Money – for comparable living RVs (ie similar features in size, sleeping, kitchen), motorized RVs are going to be more expensive. Because you have to account for the engine.
- Towing Vehicle – much of the cost savings from getting a towable though will be taken up with the cost of your tow vehicle, if you don’t already have a suitable truck or large SUV to tow your RV. If you already have a suitable truck, then yay, you can bank the money and get an even nicer towable RV!
- Your Comfort Driving – Are you comfortable driving a large motorhome? Are you comfortable towing an RV?
- How Many People Travel? – Different RVs have different capacities, so this isn’t a straightforward answer. But as you look at Tailgate motorhomes, take a look at how many seat belts that they have and whether that’s enough for your traveling party. Also, if you have smaller children that need car seats, you won’t want them in a side-facing seat common in many of the RV sofas. Meanwhile, larger trucks and vans may have more seating available for you.
- Vehicle at Destination – many people will want to be able to go on side adventures during a tailgate and having the tow vehicle available can make it easier to do things like go for a quick trip to the grocery store for forgotten items, etc. Of course, you could also tow a SUV or other vehicle behind your motorhome as well if you think you’ll need one. Or use Lyft or other rideshare options.
Can You Tailgate with a Travel Trailer?
The answer is most definitely, yes.
While I have a motorhome and that’s my preference, many more people tailgate with travel trailers.
One thing that you will want to consider is the parking situation with your travel trailer. Often, you’ll have to park the travel trailer and your truck in separate locations due to space considerations. This usually isn’t a bad thing, but just keep an eye on the combined length of your trailer and your tow vehicle.
Size Matters, Kind Of
When you are looking for an RV, you should keep into considerations on size – length, most importantly. But also height and width.
Not all RVs are created equal here. And the smaller the RV, the more options you have for where you can stay and where you can park.
But overall, specifically for tailgating, the size is rarely an issue. It can be, but when you are in parking lots or open fields, space is less of a consideration than if you are spending a lot of time camping, in say older campgrounds at National Parks.
But smaller RVs can fit into more places than larger RVs. (yeah, it’s a duh, but worth mentioning)
So what’s the best Tailgate RV type?
I’ll say this – anyone that gives you a clear cut, definitive answer for this question is lying to you. I’ve seen all the different types of RVs used for RV tailgating – yes, even vans and skoolies. And converted ambulances.
It is really all about what works for YOU!
Now let’s look into the actual features a little more…
An Awesome RV Kitchen
Like I said earlier, we often tailgate for at least Friday-Sunday for a Saturday college football game.
That means that we are often eating Friday lunch and dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast together. Often as a group in a potluck fashion. And you won’t be feeding just your family. You’ll be having a group – your non-RV friends will be joining you, trust me.
And yes, much of the tailgate experience is ALL about food. Seriously, we eat a lot. And if we aren’t eating, we are talking about the next meal.
For the best RV tailgate experience, you’ll want a nice RV kitchen. This is going to include: the largest fridge that you can fit to accommodate all the food and drinks, a stove, and a microwave — get the hybrid microwave/convection oven. A regular oven is optional, but nice if you like to bake or prepare large meals.
But don’t skimp on RV kitchen storage. Basically, we need to bring our regular kitchens with us.
Sure, we could get by on a handful of basics, but for awesome tailgate feasts, you’ll want it all. Pots, pans, dishes, drink pitchers, kitchen gadgets…. the list goes on and on.
What About Outdoor RV Kitchens?
A lot of new RVs come with a great outdoor kitchen setup – often with a dorm-style fridge, a sink, maybe even a built-in grill. And storage.
These RV kitchens are great, if you have them. They make entertaining easy – you can fill the outdoor fridge with beer and other drinks, have an easy clean-up station, and be the hostess with the mostess.
But if your RV doesn’t come with an outdoor kitchen (and honestly, most don’t), you’ll be creating an outdoor kitchen. And that’s why you need this next feature…
In the RV tailgate world, we do most of our RV living outdoors. We might sit around watching football games on TV (before or after our game), but we will be doing it outside!
That means that we have chairs! And more chairs!
And tables and lights. Don’t forget the cute table-top decor.
Or the cornhole boards. The pop-up tents for shade. And fans and misting stations. Fire pits.
We’ve got flags, and Genturi systems, and a whole lot of other RV outdoor living accessories.
It doesn’t take long for all this stuff to add up, especially in size. That’s why the RV basement storage feature is so very important!
Can you fit all your tailgating gear into the RV basements? You’ll want to look for maximum RV basement storage. The bigger, the better.
And that pass-through storage you get on diesel RVs — let’s just say “chef’s kiss.”
Your ideal RV for tailgating is going to depend on how many people you want sleeping in your RV during any given tailgate.
How big is your family? Will they be bringing friends along with them? Do you want your drunk tailgate friends to be crashing with you?
These are all considerations in choosing the best RV for you.
Another thing to keep in consideration, especially if you have small children is when they go to sleep and when they wake up. Usually, kids are sleeping in the living quarters (living room) or in a Class C, the compartment over the driver’s seat. So you’ll want to know whether you can climb around the sofa pull-out when you are ready to get to bed. How loud is the RV? Will the kids be able to go to sleep while the party rages on outside?
Some RVs handle this better than others. They may have drop down bunks over the driver in a Class A or bunk bed compartments in larger motorhomes. Some dinettes fold down into sleeping quarters that don’t take up any extra room. Some RVs, usually travel trailers or fifth wheels, even have separate bedrooms that can hold the other sleepers.
Personally, I wanted a big master bedroom space, but limited other sleeping quarters. One or maybe two other people max. That means it is easier for me to tell my friends that they can only visit the RV tailgate, but not sleep overnight. Keeps things like water usage to a minimum.
Water Tanks – Size Matters
Most RV tailgates happen in school or stadium parking lots. Without hookups.
That means that you have to bring your own water and then carry it away at the end of the tailgate, often without even a sewer dump nearby.
Since we have to bring our own water, the size of your water tanks matter… all of the tanks.
In the case of most RV tailgaters, especially those with larger families, size really does matter. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.
Not only will you want a sizeable fresh water tank, but you’ll also want sizeable black and gray tanks. Remember, these are the waste tanks and they will fill up once you use that freshwater tank. And most RV tailgate spots won’t have a way to dump your tanks.
See Also: RV Waste Tanks Explained
A tailgate isn’t just about the game you are about to go to. It’s mostly about the party, centered around your sporting event (or concert or other event).
Parties are better with entertainment.
That can mean things like cornhole and TVs to watch the games.
It can also mean karakoe and light-up beer pong.
Many of the best tailgating RVs have some of these entertainment options built-in.
- Outdoor TVs
- Satellite Dishes
- HD Antennas for local stations
- SiriusXM for music
- Bluetooth Speaker Systems
Outdoor Lighting Systems
You know the saying “everything gets hotter when the sun goes down”? That’s the RV tailgaters motto.
The awesome thing about night tailgates is how creative you can get. Things light lighting systems are pretty cool.
Sure, you can have simple lights over the awning or door. Or you can go all out with string lights, rope lights, under carriage/slide lights, and on and on and on.
Having as much of these built-in make RV tailgating so much better. At least the setup and break-down that you’ll be doing every weekend.
A Generator to Power it All
Just go ahead and assume that you will not have any power hookups available at an RV tailgate. Sure, a handful of places do, but most do not. And without a generator, you’ll be severely limited on where you can go tailgating.
I highly recommend that you look for onboard generators.
First, you won’t have to worry about carrying gas to refill it. Or you know, actually refilling the generator every couple of hours.
Second, they are very unlikely to “walk away” or get stolen during a tailgate, where some of the stand-alone generators may.
Third, you can run them while you are driving. Making it easier to have the air conditioner cool the RV before you even arrive at the tailgate.
Solar is a Nice to Have
Solar panels and the battery bank are nice to have for tailgating, especially when the weather is nice and you don’t need the air conditioning.
But take it from this experienced RV tailgater – you need ALL the power and solar just won’t be enough most of the time.
Especially not if you are spending any of your time tailgating in the south. I’ve had 100 degree tailgates in October. Air conditioners are required!
But even most of the entertainment options and cooking and everything else all take up a lot of power.
That’s why I consider solar a nice to have, but not a requirement in a tailgating RV.
Other Nice to Haves but Not Requirements
There are a few other features that are nice to have in an RV for tailgating, but I don’t consider them requirements.
- RV Closets – If you are only using the RV for short weekend trips and maybe a week or two for vacation, RV closets aren’t the biggest thing on your priority list. Sure, you won’t turn them down, but the RV closet just isn’t the selling feature like it would be for a full-time RVer.
- Washer and Dryer – Again, this is really nice to have. And I love having mine in the RV. But I don’t consider them a requirement for a weekend trip. They take a lot of water and power to run and if you are just going out for the weekend and without hookups, you can often get by with what you bring.
- Fireplaces – If you go without the fireplace, you’ll usually get a little more storage space in the living area. This can be great for kitchen and RV living accessories. The fireplace can put off some extra heat, but so can a small portable space heater.
These features may be more important for you, though, when you consider other trips you might be taking in your RV. Or maybe you want to spend the entire season in your RV, following your team from stadium to stadium where things like the RV closet and the washer and dryer may be more important.
What are the Best Features for a Tailgating RV?
While there is no one-size-fits-all RV for tailgating, there are some common RV features that I look for in a great tailgating RV:
- An awesome RV kitchen for cooking tailgate feasts
- Lots of basement storage to house all your tailgating gear
- Enough sleeping space for your tailgate family
- The bigger the water tanks, the better.
- Built-in Entertainment Options
- An onboard generator to power it all
Don’t be afraid to search the listings over at RVT.com for some inspiration for your next Tailgate RV!
What do you consider the must-have RV features for tailgating? Comment below and maybe I’ll add them to the list!
Or considering a specific make and model? Drop a comment and I’ll let you know my thoughts on that particular RV for tailgating.
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