Learning the RV Lingo: Tips for Newbie RVers

5:00:00 PM La Mesa RV 13 Comments

Your Powerful Ultimate Beginners glossary on RV Jargon

Whether you call yourself the nature type or an outdoor enthusiast, the opportunity to travel and see the country is enhanced after you get your first RV. After throwing a few essentials into a duffel bag, you go to pick up your RV and begin your “RV Honeymoon”.

As an RV amateur you become increasingly aware that beyond the excitement, planning your first trip and completing the purchase, there are some details you may have missed.

Your RV’s NCC is maxed out, your toad is all hooked up, the galley is stocked and you think you’re ready for your first boondocking trip in your RBR.

As a courtesy from several RVer’s, we compiled some of the terms used by RV enthusiasts to make your next camping adventure or first RV purchase smooth sailing.

As a newcomer to the world of RVs, it’s helpful to know some of the terminology used when talking about RVs. Learning the lingo might help you with buying an RV as well as talking to other owners. Plus, you might be able to convince other RVers that you are a full-timer, even if you’re not.


Chassis – Metal frame supporting the engine and bodywork.

Cockpit – Area where the driver sits.

Basement – Storage area beneath the floor of the RV, usually accessible from the outside.

Boondocking (or Dry Camping) – Camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities. You can    still have electricity from the batteries or generator in your motor home and water from your fresh water holding tank.

Dinghy (or Toad) – Vehicle towed behind your RV.

Dump Station – Facility where you can empty your black and gray water holding tanks (see holding tanks for description).

Extended Stay Site – Park or campsite where you can stay for a longer period of time, even up to an entire season.

Full Hookup – Campsite with direct connections to electricity, sewer and water amenities.

  Galley – Kitchen.

Holding Tanks – There are three different holding tanks on most RVs:

Black Water Tank – Holds all water and waste from the toilet.

Fresh Water Tank  – Stores fresh water that will be used in the sinks, shower and toilet while dry camping.

GensetAn RV’s electric generator

Gray Water Tank  – Holds all the water and waste from the sink and shower  drains.

Pull-Through – Camping site that allows you to pull through when you set up and leave the area. You do not have to back into or out of a pull through site.

Puller – RV with the engine mounted in the front of the vehicle.

Pusher – RV with the engine mounted, typically diesel, in the rear of the vehicle.

RV – Recreational Vehicle. It combines transportation and temporary living quarters for recreation, camping and travel.

Rig – Another name for RV.

RBR – Really Big Rig.

Shorepower – AC power source to plug into at the campground

Slideout – Portion of the RV that can extend to create more room inside.

VBR – Very Big Rig.


Newbie – This describes someone new to the RV world.

Full-Timers – People who live in their RV full-time or at least the majority of the time.

Part-Timers – People who use their RV for more than a few weekend trips a year, but who still use it less than full time.

Snowbirds – Those who live in their RV in the south during the winter months and move north in the summer time.


Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) – The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, fuel, water, propane, supplies, and passengers.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – The manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Net Carrying Capacity (NCC) (or Payload Capacity) – The maximum weight of fuel, water, propane, supplies, and passengers that can be added to an RV without exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating   (GVWR).

Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) (or Dry Weight) – The weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies, and passengers.

RV Resources:
Complete RV Glossary provided by Good Sam Camping: http://bit.ly/RV_Glossary
Family Motor Coach Association glossary of motorhome terms: http://bit.ly/Glosssary_of_motorhome_terms
Solar installation tutorial from Jerry and Cynthia of RVRoadtrip.us: http://rvroadtrip.us/library/solar_install.php
Long term and year Round campgrounds and RV Parks: http://www.whenwerv.com/campgrounds_destination/long_term_rv_parks.jsp

Are you looking at selling your late model Class A, B, or C RV? Our used RV professionals have extensive experience in assessing the value of your used motorhome. We make the selling of your RV as easy as possible. With La Mesa RV, selling your motorhome is easier and fairer than ever.


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